January 27, 2020

CHAMPION—January 27, 2020


Photo by Brent Nunn

Wednesday was another lovely day down on the wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek. Shelby came from the Douglas County Health Department to help Champions keep track of their blood pressure. Henceforth, she will be at Henson’s G & G on the 4th Wednesday of each month. Hopes are that she can rework her schedule a little so that she can stay just a little bit longer into the morning. This last Wednesday she had to scoot to get to a class she teaches about diabetes and healthy eating. She says diabetes is on the rise in this area so we are glad that the DCHD is actively addressing the problem and we are always glad to see Shelby. Thanks!

Brent Nunn shared a picture of the old Champion Store on line. It was a great shot of the old building in the snow. He said, “I remember the older gas pump, before unleaded gas. The old pump had a manual crank that was turned by hand to get gas. The road ran in back of the store and followed Fox Creek past where we lived, and on to Denlow.” Mark Hutchison responded to the picture and said, “I remember going there with my grandpa Herbert Hutchison. Life seemed more fun in those days–sitting on soda crates, eating a candy bar and visiting with Ed Henson. For a little boy life didn’t get much better than that.” Jasper (Donnie) Alsup, who lives in Oregon now, said that the school bus stopped there on the way to Skyline every day. He caught the bus up the road with his cousins, Proctor boys. He is glad to know that some of the good things about the world have not changed.

Around here we have beautiful landscapes, great live water, a pretty good infrastructure, a lot of nice people, and something that is called a ‘live-and-let-live’ attitude. All of that goes to make this a pleasant place to enjoy life. One of the keys to getting along is that ‘let-live’ part of the equation, as in ‘mind your own business.’ A newcomer, someone whose parents or grandparents were not born here, need not stroll into the community with the idea of improving it overly. Improve yourself all you like, and if you have done a good job of it and set a good example over a few decades, you might perceive a subtle shift toward your goal, though there is no guarantee.

Judy Sharon Parsons

That recurring theme about the swift passage of time is again appropriate. We will soon turn a page on the calendar, looking at February 1st, 2020. That is a big day for young Zack Alexander, a handsome adolescent with a back belt in Taekwondo and an appreciation for Tasmania. He has Champion grandparents. Just on the other side of Fox Creek from the Historic Emporium lives a man, Linda’s husband, who will have completed his 8th decade and will embark upon his 9th on the first. Good luck to you, young and old. Happy Birthday.

On February 2nd friends remember a great woman. She said, “I have loved loving you guys.” She knew then that she was fading away and she did, but she is still very much in the memories of her many friends and family and in the conversations of her precious granddaughters who called her Nana. Her youngest grandchild, Felix, just turned two years old. He may not remember much about her because she passed away when he was so young, but he looks like her and has that open loving way that she embodied so beautifully. We smile when we think of you, Judy.

On Groundhog Day we consider Punxsutawney Phil. Some here are fans of the folklore, but do not necessarily ascribe to it, since Gobbler’s Knob is about 850 miles northeast of Brushy Knob, the weather patterns are dissimilar. Still, we liked the movie and are willing to listen to Sonny and Cher sing, “I got you, babe” over and over. February 2nd is about half way between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox, so it is a pretty good bet that we will have six more weeks of winter. Three remarkable ladies enjoy the day for their birthday. Angie Heffern up in Springfield, tornado survivor and mother of sterling Champion grandchildren, shares the day with talented artists and grandmothers Charlene Dupre of Norwood and Florida, and Connie Grand, grandmother and quilter deluxe.

Some folks do not understand Roman numerals and do not know what NFC and AFC mean. Yet they will be in front of their televisions for the LIV Super Bowl. They will enjoy the game without the frenetic audio–just with some relaxing music playing in the background. There will be beverages and snacks and sound speculation that a win for the Chiefs will result in many little boys being named Patrick and little girls named Lavon come November. Good luck. Go Chiefs—you wonderful Champions! Looking on the Bright Side!

Kansas City Chiefs

January 21, 2020

CHAMPION—January 20, 2020


A visit to the archives of The Champion News (www.championnews.us) gives us this:  “January 18, 2010:  Champion is a privileged place.  No resident or visitor, however casual or important, can deny it.  Even the National Resources Conservation Service has used Champion as a source and inspiration.  Champions know the NRCS to be part of the United States Department of Agriculture.  A soil scientist from Wisconsin traveling in these parts wrote, ‘It sticks and stacks.  It squeezes through cracks.  Between your toes goes mud.  It plops and drops and oozes and goozes.  Thick or thin, it’s mud!’  The piece goes on to extol virtues of mud and what a glorious and wonderful mud is this mud.  Champions agree that a little dirt cannot hurt and yet, while still not at all complaining, they indicate that they prefer their mud a little warmer.”  Ten years later, cozy around the fire with victuals aplenty, not much has seemed to have changed, but it is a different world.  We grow through what we go through.  A trip to town on a cold, sunny day reveals a winter beauty in exposed topography and subtle color contrasts.  Champions can enjoy the splendor of today, mud and all, particularly knowing that Spring is only 42 days away….what a wonderful world!

Still making beautiful music together.

Susanna and Wesley Hancock celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary on January 19th.  She had some lovely things to say about him, how good-looking he is and what a great husband he has been.  He was born over on Fox Creek and grew up in Mountain Grove.  After high school he moved to Idaho where he and Susanna have lived all these years.  He has a raft of good looking kin-folks in this part of the country.  He and Susanna get down this way every now and then.  Congratulations!  Susanna said, “Wesley and I met at a local café called Hazel’s, where I was working at the time.  It was ‘love at first sight’ for me and I chased him unmercifully until I caught him or he slowed down and let me catch him.  We were married here in my hometown of Wilder, Idaho on January 10, 1963.  Yes, I still have my wedding dress which my aunt made.  We have been happily married for 57 years now with four fantastic kids, 12 loving grandchildren, and 6 great grandchildren.  We live across the field from where I was raised and are very active in our church and community.  God has really been good to us and we can’t thank Him enough for the blessings he has given us all these wonderful years.”  Susanna is following one of those Champion Rules by which to live:  When it is good say so.  “You’re perfect just the way your are, I wouldn’t change you if I could.”

How could we forget Dolly Parton’s birthday?  She is quite a bit older now than our Preeminent Champion, with whom she shares the day, the 19th.  Our Champion keeps us in necessities at the Historic Emporium, and Dolly, among many other accomplishments, has given away 130 million books as of December 2019, through her Imagination Library program, supported wholeheartedly in Champion.  J.C. Owsley is a cattle farmer who knows the difference between the price he gets for his cattle and the price of beef in the grocery store.  He used his birthday to promote the Organization for Competitive Markets, the mission of which is to define and advocate the proper role of government in the agricultural economy as a regulator and enforcer of rules necessary for markets that are fair, honest, accessible and competitive for all citizens.  That is a lofty goal, but he is a tall guy.  Skyline second grader, Blake McIntosh, shares his birthday on the 24th with kindergartener Lexi Webster.  Young Thomas Jarnigan can sing to his old dad that day.  The 26th is for eighth grader Brooke Johnston, and also for the Champion Cowboy’s sweetheart, Joyce.  Skyline alumnus, Katherine Alexander, is a great fan of the octopus and of his garden and will party big time on the 27th.  On the 28h, we remember a favorite turkey hunter, Dwight Collins.  He passed away last March, but his great smile and infectious laughter is part of the collective community memory in Vanzant.  The 29th is for Kimberly Wallace in the sixth grade.  “Gramma loves u!”  That is what Loneda Bennet wrote to Paislee Renay Robbins concerning her third birthday, which was on January 18th.  Gramma’s birthday will be on the 30th, along with James Brixey who was 40 years old in 2012.  Seventh grade’s Erika Strong also enjoys the 30th for her day.  Your friends in Champion wish you all the best of birthdays.  Enjoy.

For those who like to read for a little while before going to sleep, an excellent choice of reading material is the almanac.  There are a number of different almanacs available these days, but generally they are small, paperbacks of about 100 pages.  They are not liable to be damaged by having been dropped on the floor as you fall asleep, and not likely to damage you if you drop it on yourself.  Moreover, there is an abundance of information that can be helpful to you even if you are not a farmer or gardener—interesting things like astronomy, fishing, weather forecasts, and all kinds of helpful hints for things you can do when you get up tomorrow.  Rest well you Champions!  Looking on the Bright Side!


January 13, 2020

CHAMPION—January 13, 2020


Goat Cart

Telephone lines and internet connections buzzed over the past few days as friends and family checked in on one another to verify that everyone was safe during the storm that swept from west to east across the whole country. “I just called to say I love you.” We count our many blessings and extend our condolences to those who have fared less well.

A Hoover Apple

“I don’t like you, Gene Crane!” said a little girl to the little boy back in the 1940s. “You talk funny.” By ‘funny’ she was objecting to his saying ’ya’ll’ instead of ‘yens.’ His family had moved to Missouri from Tennessee, so he could not help it. She was a neighbor girl, part of a big family, who lived across the road. They had a cart that looked like something out of the Little Rascals with different sized wheels, pulled by a goat. They were neighbors for years and she never did like him. Getting acquainted with him in front of the vegetable aisle at the grocery store, an Old Champion found him to be a nice enough fellow. He and his wife live in town now. They no longer garden. She must stay out of the sun, and, getting older, he finds it easier to just go to the grocery store. Standing there, looking at the turnips, he said they used to call them Hoover Apples. Hoover was president from 1929 to 1933, during the worst of the Great Depression and was described by Mr. Crane as having been the worst president we ever had up until recent times. As to the Hoover Apples, Champion native, Ruth Hicks, reported that at one time things were so dry around here that all that would grow was turnips. The cows ate turnips and the milk tasted like turnips. Now those Hoover Apples are a delicacy lauded for their great nutritional value. We have entered the ‘twenties’ again and are reminded that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Who could have predicted what these last hundred years would see? C.S. Lewis said, “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different?” Will we gain any insight from the past that will help us navigate the future?

Janie is a three year old, long haired Chihuahua, a recent gift to Wanda from kin-folks. The little five pound dog arrived one day, was lost the next day, then was found and returned to Wanda by good neighbors the next day. Thoughtful kinfolks and good neighbors are Champions!

Here are some Skyline School birthdays: Aaliyah Irby, 6th grade, January 16th; Jacob Brixey, 4th grade, January 18th; Hunter McChesney, prekindergarten, January 20th; Kyle Barker, 7th grade, January 21st; Elizabeth Hinote, 5th grade, January 22nd. Two charming fellows celebrate birthdays on the 11th. Bob, down on Teeter Creek, is making tinctures and decoctions to help us stay healthy. Champion Wilburn Hutchison lives less than a quarter of a mile from where he was born 86 years ago. He has many great stories to tell and a big community of friends and family who love to hear them. Diane Wilbanks and Jerry had some beautiful white mules and have a lovely spread down on a deep, wide creek. Robert Graham has a couple of guitars, a mandolin and a big repertory. Diane and Robert share the 13th for their birthdays. That was also the birthday of the late Norris Woods. His tombstone has a banjo carved into it. He had a winning smile and a very friendly, encouraging way about him. “Life is like a mountain railroad,” he sang and that song always brings him to mind. The 17th is for the delightful Mary-Agnes (Brooke) Quiet-Timber, turning a page into a new adventure. Mary Beth Shannon has the 18th for her birthday and Sparky for a husband. The Preeminent Champion shares her birthday with J.C. Owsley. He used to live over by Crystal Lake, but now lives over in Jordan where he raises longhorn cattle and climbs in the saddle every chance he gets. The 20th is for charming Sharon Woods, Norris’ daughter-in-law who is known for bringing fun to any situation. That is also the day that lovely Beverly Barnhart will sing that special song to her handsome Alvin. The Champion News would like to extend congratulations to all you celebrants of your natal anniversary and a General Alert that Brenda Coffman Massey will have her birthday on the 22nd, so look out. Be advised, fun is on the way. Shelby, from the Douglas County Health Department, will be in Champion that Wednesday, the 22nd, doing blood pressure checks, free of charge until about 10:00 a.m. She helps us stay healthy so we can have more birthdays.

Big thunder-booms on Thursday caused lights out for a second at the Vanzant jam. Simultaneously, a power-surge fried an internet modem up on Highway C, a television down on Cold Springs Road, and popped a porch light on Fox Creek Road. Bad weather has caused havoc for many, so be prudent in your travels and grateful for your good fortune. No use being pessimistic. It wouldn’t work anyway. Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion cardinals brighten a gray winter day.

January 8, 2020

CHAMPION–January 6, 2020

Champion was a wildly busy place all during the holidays. There were people on horseback ambling through the countryside, maybe singing, “I ride an old paint.” It is a song with a mysterious beginning, a lonesome middle, and a mystical end. Harley and Barbara were in town, but even some of their favorite mischpocha did meet up with them. Harley was seen cruising up and down Cold Springs Road on a nifty four-wheeler. Hopes are that that Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri family conclave was as full of riotous good humor, lavish feasting, and memory recounting and building as was the Texas, Louisiana, Champion assembly and all the other sweet family gatherings in the area. The General reported that the annual red-neck party was very small on New Year’s Eve and was over by 9:30. He said, “There must not be very many rednecks around this area anymore or maybe they are ashamed to identify as one.” Most likely there are as many rednecks as ever and, by definition, they are shameless. It just turns out that some are getting old and not willing to stay up until 9:30 p.m. Others may be accordion shy, though there was a splendid version of Auld Lang Syne played on said squeeze box and posted on the internet for all the world to see and hear. It was a good way to end an old year.

On January 3rd Donna Mullens Gainer wrote: “Today we lay our Dad’s body in God’s green earth next to our Mom, his wife of 64 years. He instilled in us the values of hard work and the motto of, ‘if you can’t be on time, be early.’ Dad never knew a stranger and was always there for whoever needed, especially his grandchildren, whether it was a ride to school, change a flat tire or even come by to scrape your windows in the winter. Dad was never one to sit around. He would always find ways to keep busy. While he is now with his beloved wife and family who left this earth before him, we are left with broken hearts that only time and loving memories can heal.” She was talking about Pete Mullens, Walter Presley Mullens, and her Mom, Bonnie Brixey Mullens, who passed away in July. They were a sweet couple and will be missed at the Denlow School Reunion.

A number of December birthdays of Skyline School students went un-sung in print through the holidays. Starting anew, Jacob’s Dad, Arne celebrates his birthday on New Year’s Day. Teeter Creek’s musical grandmother also has that day for her own birth anniversary. The 2nd belongs to Leland Isley, Champion nephew, and to xylophonist, Kabella Clark, who was born in 2012. The 3rd is for Arne’s boy, Jacob, and for our adopted Champion granddaughter, Greta, who is now 17. She has accomplished a great deal for a person so young. Another bright, beautiful and busy young woman, Sami McCleary Hutchison, had a birthday on January 4th, but she will hold off until May for her party so she can wear her flip flops. The 4th is also the birthday of Lena’s little brother. She routinely whips him in Scrabble every Wednesday morning. He says she cheats, but she probably does not have to. That may also be the special day for one of The General’s nephews. He will get that song or another one sung to him the next time he shows up at Champion. Felix Maverick Osage Parsons has his second birthday on January 6th. Mr. Bud, Skyline School’s mechanic, also celebrates on the 6th, as does 5th grade student, Aryn Miller. Travis Hathaway was 20 in 2017. Elizabeth Johnston Lawrence has the 9th for her special day, together with Skyline 7th grader Kaylee Casiano. Happy days to all you people celebrating being alive. It is a good thing.

The world is in an uproar. The danger zone is everywhere,” so sang Ray Charles. Still, optimism is the key-word for the New Year in Champion and gardeners are leading the way. The garlic planted in November 9th is up and looking good. One old gardener has invested in half a pound of purple top turnip seeds and the plants are up almost an inch high. He says it is a cover crop, but he will be happy for the greens. He will plan to have plenty of turnips on hand if Lem and Ned make an appearance in the spring. They are wild for turnips and are willing to do most any kind of chore that the old man shirks or just not have time to do—best of all, they sing while they are working. Come down to the wild, wide, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek to share your favorite work songs or to just soak in the charm of one of the world’s truly beautiful spots–Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!