November 27, 2019

CHAMPION—November 25, 2019


Champion Preschool Art

Friends and families will gather together all across the country this week for the great feast of Gratitude.  We can learn when the National holiday of Thanksgiving was declared and by whom.  We can study the various legends that speak to its origins.  We can be grateful every day for our friends, our families our homes and good fortune.  Much of that feeling of gratitude comes to us as we compare our lot to so many much less fortunate.  Thankfulness is best exemplified in a willingness to lend a helping hand.  There are lots of ways to do that.  The smallest act of kindness can have far reaching results.

Last week we were expressing our thanks to our Veterans and those serving in our military today.  Jacob Casper is a member of the National Guard.  He was kind enough to join in the Veteran’s program at Skyline School last Friday, resplendent in his dress uniform and an inspiration to Skyline students.  The Champion News called him Jason instead of Jacob—an error for which we apologize.  Our old friend, Esther Wrinkles, who wrote for The Herald for more than 50 years, once advised that making a mistake might provide an occasion to revisit a subject.  We will take the opportunity to again thank Jacob and all those who are serving now and all our Veterans.  We can enjoy our National holiday in safety and security thanks to them.  While we are at it, we can thank Jacob’s mother.  Mrs. Casper is the art and music teacher at Skyline.  The hallway galleries there are always a reflection of her ability to inspire our young artists.  We can look forward to another of her splendid musical productions when the students present their Christmas program in a few weeks.  Time is rushing by.

Champion Luxe Krider has her birthday on December 2nd.  She has been doing that since 2014.  Skyline fifth grade student, Emma Webster, celebrates on the 4th.  Bobette Spivey has her big day on the 5th.  Also enjoying the 5th is third grader, Michael Hall.  Ed Bell and Zack Godshall enjoy the 6th.  They do not know each other but they have family in common.  The 7th is shared by Ethel Leach and Noam Chomsky.  They are not acquainted either.  He is a noted American cognitive scientist and historian.  One of his great ideas is that if we do not believe in freedom of expression for people with whom we disagree, we do not believe in it at all.  Chomsky will be 91 years old on his birthday.  Ethel will be much, much younger.  She is a local historian and can tell you a story about almost any local individual or their uncle or grandma.  She has a great smile and a good memory for the birthdays and special occasions of all her friends and family.  She sends nice cards.

Greta aboard La Vagabonde.

The day was pleasant enough Wednesday for the Champion mid-day jam to take place on the porch.  It was a little breezy but not too cool.  Two young beginning musicians joined the group–Briley on xylophone and Bella on ukulele.  While they were learning a little about playing with other people, the older people were all thinking about when they first began to play.  Music is a lifetime endeavor and it is lovely to see youngsters starting out early.  Arvin was back to hear some of his favorite songs.  The Vanzant Bluegrass Hall erupted in applause on Thursday at the entry of fair Lena Bell and her long time fiddling beau.  It was a happy reunion making for another enjoyable evening.  After the holiday, the jam will resume every Thursday at the Vanzant Community Building—pot-luck at 6:00, music 7:00-9:00.  Everyone is welcome.  Bring your acoustic instruments and your voice to sit in or come just for the fun of it.  Louise, a visitor from Washington State, had attended the jam the previous week.  Her Dad said that she had been surprised and pleased at the friendliness of everyone she met, not just at the jam but in the whole area.  He made a point of taking her sightseeing down on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek to the Re-creation of the Historic Emporium.  He calls it The Champion Mall and will tell you that he once got lost looking for the North side of the Square in Downtown Champion.  Louise had her first successful deer hunt and an overall good visit, so expectations are that we will see her again.

As to the matter of last week’s question, “Why is it not a mark of highest honor for the rich to pay taxes?”  A reader responded, “Charity is a cold grey loveless thing.  If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim.”  That is a quote from Clement Attlee, who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951.  Those were tumultuous times, even as these seem to be.  Still, we have many reasons to be grateful.  Send your thoughts on the subject, your lists of blessings, your ponderous questions or your favorite method for making sweet potato pie to  We wish everyone safe travels over the holiday.  Sunday was the eleventh day for adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta, and her Dad to be onboard La Vagabonde, now out in the middle of the North Atlantic, about half way to their destination.  That is not the kind of travel most of us will ever experience, but any trip that brings you to a celebration of Love and Gratitude is a good one.  There will be photographs taken and much reminiscing together with expressions of hope for a good outcome to the world’s troubles.  Optimism is a staple in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

A frosty Champion morning.

November 20, 2019

CHAMPION—November 18, 2019


Skyline Veterans Day
Skyline Veteran Mr. Prock

The freezing, blowing, unpleasant weather on Veteran’s Day caused Skyline R2 to close early that day, so their Veterans’ Celebration was delayed until Friday afternoon.  Mr. Prock, himself a Veteran, put together a great program that started with the Pledge of Allegiance.  At its conclusion, eight men stood in a line while the whole student body and many visitors filed passed them to shake their hands and thank them for their service–seven Veterans and Jason Casper, a current member of the National Guard.  Champions thank them all for their service and we thank the great little school that is providing this kind of important civic understanding to our young people.  These kids will remember participating in this program and what it all means.

Several of our Skyliners have birthdays coming up.  Caleb Barker, a 4th grade student, and 8th grader, Abby Whittier, have the 17th for their special day.  It is said that Dean Brixey was once a student at Skyline.  He has grandchildren attending now and has his birthday on the 18th.  Elva Ragland went to school in Champion and Julie January enjoyed some homeschooling.  Both have birthdays on the 19th.  The dynamic mother of Skyline Alumni, now known as ‘Grandmother, Dear,’ has the 23rd for her tie-dye celebration.  Seventh grader, Faith Crawford, and former Skyline teacher, Lannie Hinote, now basking in Mountain Village, Alaska’s relative warmth, share the 26th.  That happens also to be the special day of young Thomas Jarnagin, John’s grandson, who will be four years old!  Carolyn Nunn Harvey and Uncle Al, the Lonesome Plowboy, share the 27th.  They never met each other but they have a birthday in common, as well as some loose connections.  Billy Strong is in the 5th grade.  His day is the 29th and Lane Watkins, 6th grade, has the 30th for his big day.  All you current and former students, you teachers, grandparents and people with loose connections, you Champions, may your days be pleasant ones as your friends and families acknowledge you.  Eat that happy birthday cake and ice cream.  Celebrate while you can.  Life goes by fast!

Arvin Schroeder is a fan of music.  He likes “Twinkle Twinkle,” “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “This Old Man,” and any number of tunes of that ilk.  He will have his first birthday on December 31st.  It is a treat for jammers to play for him.  He happened in to the Historic Emporium on Wednesday and got an ear full.  He paid for it with smiles.  Another music lover is Glenn Branstetter.  He has been making it over to the Vanzant Jam on Thursdays for a while and seems to really enjoy himself.  He had a long history with the Kitty Clover Potato Chip Company traveling up and down 14 Highway and other roads delivering Kitty Clover potato chips to all the little country stores and schools.  Now days a person can purchase a Vintage 1983 Kitty Clover Potato Chip can on the internet.  On the can it says “All natural, no preservatives.”

Veterans Day flag folding demonstration.

Shelby, with the Douglas County Health Department, will be in Champion from 8:30 until 10:00 on Friday the 22nd doing blood pressure screenings.  She will also be at Skyline School on Tuesday, the 26th, from 8:45 to 10:30.  It is a genuine amenity to the area.  It may be that the more of us who show up for Shelby’s visits, the more she and the DCHD will be able to help us take care of ourselves out here on the wild, wide, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek.  Out on the wide Atlantic, adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta, was on her sixth day onboard La Vagabonde. That is a 43 foot catamaran being sailed by some nice Australians who are taking Greta to Spain. On Monday they were north of Bermuda, heading for the Azores.  She said they had some rough weather but that she is very happy and comfortable.

A distant, thoughtful Champion writes in with some good questions.  “Why would someone who has billions of dollars prefer to hide that money in off-shore accounts when he could be bragging about how many taxes he paid to nourish his own part of the world?  Why is it not a mark of highest honor?”  That question sort of jars a person’s head.  If he has three billion dollars and pays one billion in taxes, then he can say with pride, “‘My billion dollars in taxes provided a home and health care for every Veteran, improved infrastructures, increased teacher’s pay and resources, helped farmers, countless old people and sick people, protected the environment, and on and on.”  He can say that and still have two billion dollars.  America is the Land of Opportunity with the understanding that there is no limit to how good things can get.  Another person, who has been reading “Reason To Stay Alive” by Matt Haig, chimes in over the internet to say that happiness is not very good for the economy.  If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more?  Still, we cannot sell an anti-aging moisturizer unless we have people worried about aging.  We cannot sell insurance unless people are worried about loss.  People buy the new smart phone to keep from feeling left behind.  Who profits from our anxiety–from our worry?  It might be that guy with the billions.  Feel free to send your thoughts on the subject or your own head jarring questions to  Matt Haig says that to be calm and comfortable with our own non-upgraded existences is kind of a revolutionary act.  That is the way it is with us in Champion–Looking on the Bright Side!

Skyline Percussion Orchestra

November 13, 2019

CHAMPION—November 11, 2019


Old Glory

Almost everyone we know is a Veteran or is the child, grandchild or parent of a Veteran. We have 438,100 Veterans living in Missouri 9.4% of the population—here in Douglas County about 12%. This week well-deserved special attention is devoted to them as we celebrate them and their families for their commitment to protect and serve our country. We look forward to reading Skyline R2 School’s winners of “Patriot’s Pen” essays and extend our thanks to Mr. Prock, Skyline’s own Veteran. He spent time in the middle-east in recent years. “Join the Navy and see the world!” was a recruiting slogan in the past, but it turns out that joining any branch of the U.S. Military is liable to take you anywhere in the world. And when our Veterans come home, they bring with them a greater understanding of our place in the world. Their experiences ‘over there’ may make them more understanding of other cultures and certainly more appreciative of the land they pledge to support and defend. Sometimes Veterans do not want to talk about their time there, but sometimes they do. It does not hurt to ask, and it is never inappropriate to express gratitude for their service. A grateful Nation owes an everlasting debt. May we pay it in full! The fast moving cold front, complete with ice pellets, snow, rain, dropping temperatures, and strong winds, caused officials to close school down at Skyline at one o’clock on Monday and to cancel school for Tuesday. There was to have been a Veteran’s celebration, scheduled for 2:30 that would have included music, patriotic speeches and a demonstration by Mr. Prock about the correct way to fold our Flag. The celebration may have been canceled, but, hopefully, the reason for it stays in the consciousness of our young students—voters and soldiers of the future. Meanwhile, Champion cattle gathered along a barbed wire fence for shelter.

Skyline’s PTO Fall Festival was a splendid success. The chili was fantastic and the support shown by the community for our important little rural school is commendable. We live in a good part of the world. This wonderful, warm week-end was busy for many as they brought in fire wood, drained hoses, set faucets to drip, filled the bird feeders, insulated dog houses, checked the flue and anti-freeze and chinked drafty windows. The glorious week-end had one Old Champion ignoring the signs, planting garlic during the wrong moon phase as indicated by trusted farmer’s /planter’s almanacs. It is to be noted that many a successful gardener adheres to the do-it-when-you-can philosophy. There will yet be days warm enough to shovel that good stuff and to nourish the garden with insulating leaf blankets.

If we have leapt directly into winter, we did not get much in the way of autumn. Marty Robbins sang “When the Work’s All Done This Fall.” It is a ballad of the combined versions from Norman Blake and Doc Watson, a poignant story of a cowboy determined to get home—home to his Mother. He had left under her protest and had strayed long and far. Just as he recognized his error and his longing for family and for home, tragic fate intervened. It is the kind of sad song that touches the hearts of every sentimental hillbilly, cowboy, or lumberjack, salt sea sailor, baker, farmer, grocer or grandma. The world is full of poignant tragedy. If the opportunity presents itself to help ameliorate suffering, it is a Champion notion to do so. Admonitions aside, music opens doors, hearts and thought processes. Enjoy. Sing loud, on key if you can, but don’t let that stop you.

Winter seems to have come upon us quickly, but we will have days warm enough to let us get a little something done. Our adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta, is off in North Carolina having good conversations about the difference between weather and climate and other associated realities. It is funny. It is sweet that people, who love each other, yet believe opposite things about politics, religion, climate change or chili recipes (beans or no beans), still can care about each other. They still hug and laugh, make thoughtful inquiries about each other and say, perhaps just to themselves, perhaps with eyes rolled, “Bless her/his heart.” The wild vicissitudes of the weather might give some of us an opportunity for those inside wintertime projects that we consider on sunny days–gluing that broken vase, dusting or organizing those photographs, photo documenting spider webs or deer through the window, purging old files, practicing our favorite songs, tidying the pantry, catching up on correspondence, reading, trying new recipes or old ones, napping, ad infinitum. It is an excellent set of circumstances that allows a person to choose how his day goes. Farmers, firefighters, military personnel, postal carriers, EMTs, health care providers, volunteers for Meals on Wheels, law enforcement people and many others…lots of people have to do their jobs regardless of weather conditions. Some of them, during the course of busy days, can stop in at the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square for coffee, conversation and a warm-up by the wood stove that has warmed and comforted generations of Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion cattle huddle by a barbed wire fence.

November 5, 2019

CHAMPION—November 4, 2019


Trick or Treat!

Halloween at Skyline R2 was fun all day—fun for everyone! That was on top of the fun the preschool, kindergarten and first graders had on their fabulous field trip to the Rockbridge Rainbow Trout and Game Ranch earlier in the week. Now there is more fun coming up on Friday night at the Skyline PTO Fall Festival. From 6 to 7:30 there will be chili and hotdogs, carnival games and the chance to support this great little rural school. Many of the newcomers to the Skyline School District are retired people from other parts of the country. Real estate values and tax rates would make this part of the world attractive for retirees even if it were not the incredibly beautiful place that it is, with its hills and trees and running water, with the glorious distant vistas and hidden treasures. School is always a big part of any community and Skyline appreciates the newcomers and their backing of the young people who are going to be running things around here before long. Some of those kids having birthdays soon are eighth grader Hailey Hall, who celebrates on November 4th; sixth grader, Mason Solomon, on the 7th; seventh grader, Justin Borders, and third grader, Alex Webster, on the 9th; fourth grader, Madelynn Vivod, on the 13th and third grader, Isabella Jeffrey, on the 14th. Happy birthday to all you Skyline Tigers and welcome you retirees from wherever you came to join this great community. We hope to see you at school on Friday evening. The weather is going to be perfect.

The Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department had an excellent event on Saturday. It was their tenth annual chili supper/auction. The Vanzant Community Building was packed. The food, the music (Backyard Bluegrass for the tenth year), the auction and the fellowship fun made for a great evening. The revenue generated will help sustain this vital volunteer organization that provides aid when it is needed most. All our area volunteer fire departments provide mutual-aid to each other when it is needed. We live in a great part of the world.

While we are extolling the virtues of our place on the planet, let us say, “Howdy, and thank you” to the gentlemen doing the county road works. A while back floods had taken out a low water crossing and made a mess of things up on Cold Springs Road. For a little while it was impassable, then for quite a while it was just rough and rocky, but serviceable. Now it is a fine, smooth concrete slab, arguably the best looking one of the several on that two mile stretch of rough and rocky. Seriously, we really appreciate the hard work it takes to keep our roads in good shape.

Cow farmer, Bob Leach, had a birthday on Monday. He will get his card in Champion on Wednesday. He likes Gene Autry’s songs like “Sioux City Sue.” Emerson Rose was in town recently. She is a Champion granddaughter with a birthday on November 5th. We remember a lovely woman on the 6th, who never liked having her birthday publicized. Foster and Kalyssa’s granddad, Wayne Wiseman, has the 7th as his special day. The 8th belongs to the grandfather of Seamus, Lizzy, and Zak. He introduced us to the word weltanschauung and changed our world view. Friends remember Chuck Barns on the 11th. He traveled the world doing big construction, and finished his career in Norwood at The Plant Place a few years ago. He had some great stories to tell and played a mean hand of bridge. The sterling Jill Sterling is an amazing artist. She specializes in minutia and will tell you that she ‘does things with stuff.’ Carol Callahan Barnhart has the 14th for her birthday. She lives up in Mountain Grove but has Champion connections. So does Fern Bishop. Her family will celebrate her on the 14th as well. The 15th is for a Waldo Champion now up in Springfield doing good works and improving the internet.

Parts of the following paragraph appeared in last week’s posting here but none of it made it into ink. The Herald edits The Champion News pretty heavily sometimes. Sometimes it is about length and sometimes about content.

Changes in the foliage over the past couple of weeks have been marvelous to watch—from green to flamboyant to brown and soon it will just be winter’s vertical gray brush pile. It all seems dramatic because just a few weeks ago we were experiencing 90 degree days. We often remark about the swift passage of time, but this seems abrupt. We will still have some nice fall days ahead, so we are not to despair. Each day will be appreciated for its own qualities. Since the only constant is change, we can expect dramatic changes from day to day—weather. What we see over a thirty year stretch is climate. Ruby Proctor said that when she was a girl in Champion, there would be snow on the ground sometimes from Thanksgiving to Easter. Ruby was born in 1925, and saw the climate change in her 88 years. Think back. When is the last time we had one of those long, hard winters? Local health food stores, Jean’s Healthway in Ava and Meadowbrook in Mountain Grove have buttons with the likeness of adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta Thunberg (pronounced ‘TUNberg’). Get one and wear it to spark conversations and perhaps raise an awareness of the real concerns of millions of young people around the world. In 1960, there were 3.032 billion people in the world. Today there are 7.7 billion of us. These “interesting” times have many suffering and many endeavoring to help alleviate that misery. Some people abhor any form of social activism as futile and unnecessary if they do not perceive their own lives to be affected. “Why should I bother?” Bother because there is no other place for us to go. We are all in it together—world citizens. Champions! Looking on the Bright Side!