June 24, 2020

CHAMPION—June 21, 2020


The appreciation day for paternal parents was a resounding success. The internet was graced with the images of many a fine old gent in his younger days, many of whom have passed on, though the mystic chords of memory hold them close to us no matter how long they have been gone. All those fine fathers and father figures with us now, who work to perpetuate the lessons and values of their predecessors, either want to be the kind of dad they had or want to be a better one. The negligent, hardhearted and heavy handed ones do not get much celebration. Hooray for you good guys and mighty men, and thanks for all you do to teach, guide, protect, strengthen and inspire your off spring.

Jake is a three and a half month old blue heeler who has made a home with Bob and Ethel. He is helping them get over having recently lost the old dog that had been their companion for 16 years. They have been in the hay these days and all seems well with them. Ethel opens gates, cooks and is ready with tools or parts when things break down. They are looking forward to getting back down to Champion one of these days and were glad to hear that things are well here. That is the good news we hope applies to all our friends and kin. With still only three confirmed cases of coronavirus in Douglas County, we are considering ourselves fortunate while we still take safety precautions. The primary election coming up in August is one of those opportunities to participate we do not want to miss. Any registered voter can get an application for an absentee ballot by calling the County Clerk’s office (683-4714) or by stopping in at the court house. When you return your ballot by mail it will not need to be notarized if you are 65 years old and if your reason for voting absentee is your concern over the coronavirus. If you are mailing in your ballot, it must be there 13 days before Election Day. A person can also request an application for a ballot on-line at the Missouri Secretary of State’s office. Some folks are most hopeful that the whole Country will be able to vote by mail at the upcoming National Election. Some are deeply opposed.

A good conversation with Jody Henson revealed that she and Royce are doing well. He will be 87 in October and is still mowing five lawns a week. Jody does all the driving but they are not going much. They have been doing church at home with the East Sunshine Church of Christ via the internet. A good neighbor has been getting their groceries for them for the last three months and vehemently refuses compensation. She says the Bella Vista Hensons and those in Houston are all okay and their families as well. They are wondering if the Champion School Reunion will be happening this year. When we find out, we will let you know.

A Fish Emulsion mystery: First of all, Jonnie is a sweet dog. Just like Old Rattler, she would not harm a fly. Well, actually she is rough on flies, wasps, mud-daubers and hornets, but the rabbits, armadillos, squirrels, ground hogs, possums, lizards, toads and frogs she leaves alone. She would like to play with some of them, but they run away. She came in the other night stinking of fish, which is most unusual, since we have not been fishing, and there are no fishing holes near about. The next day the half full pint plastic bottle of Fish Emulsion appeared in the front yard with the top badly chewed up. Thinking she must have taken it from the neighbor, on the next trip to town a replacement was purchased. The neighbor, however, said that the stuff did not come from them. So the mystery is who has lost a pint of Fish Emulsion up on Cold Springs Road? Stinky. But sweet is the fragrance of the elderberry blossoms. It may be almost too late to harvest a few for elderflower fritters. Blackberries are blossoming and raspberries are already purpling the tongues of itinerant wanderers.

At home, three crows harassed and harried a hawk all across the sky above a Champion garden early on the first morning of summer. They have their own worries and dramas and we have the leisure from our garden bench to observe, assess and judge without the exact perspective of either party. The birds might say, “Mind your own business,” but they hardly pay us any mind. So the best we can do in these stressful times is what Mother said, “Act like you have good sense.” We are doing the best we can out here on our garden benches. Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!


June 18, 2020

CHAMPION—June 16, 2020


At 4:43 p.m. on Saturday, June 20th, the sun will be directly over the Tropic of Cancer and for the whole world The Summer Solstice marks the longest day of the year. It is the day when the earth is farthest from the sun and the day many consider to be the first day of summer—astronomers do, but meteorologists think summer begins on June 1st. Up in the Arctic Circle they will have 24 hours of daylight. People around the globe will celebrate with feasts, picnics, dances and music. In Northern Hemisphere cultures the day is traditionally thought to be mid-point of the summer season and midsummer celebrations are common in many European countries. The Swedes and others put up maypoles and fun ensues. We say the sun is over the Tropic of Cancer, but we could also say that the Tropic of Cancer is under the sun and the sun does not come up and go down, but the earth spins around and around. Perspective is a tricky business. The very same thing can look different to people depending on many variables, yet we are all Earthlings.

Mail to The Champion News (Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717) suggests that the whole earth is such turmoil, that perhaps we need a common enemy to draw us together. This crack-pot would like to see real aliens show up and he says they should easily be identifiable by color, not our Earthling red and yellow, black and white, but some different color like blue or chartreuse or purple. He also thinks they should be configured differently, like people but with lizard heads and hands, and either really big or really small, so there would be no way they could pass for human. They would come in nasty, people eating swarms and it would be OK to hate them. Everybody in the whole world would hate them. They would stop hating each other and just hate the nasty aliens. While our cracked-pot is out looking for space aliens, the rest of us can work on trying to get along with our fellow humans here on our planet.

Our appreciation of the USPS only grows as we are so much at home these days. The USPS has always been a vital amenity for rural people. Mail-order is still important in the country, though many of us may be shopping on the computer rather than with the Sears and Roebucks catalogues that were a mainstay back in the day. We have been getting our packages reliably for a long time. We handle our finances through the mail and get those precious grandchildren’s photographs and drawings. If we were broadcasting on Radio WTCN, “your dedication station,” we would dedicate this one to John—“John the Generator.” Thanks to all you mail carriers out there on your rural routes.

The Vanzant Bluegrass Jam reopened on Thursday with good safety precautions in place. There was plenty of room for social distancing and hand sanitizer and gloves were available. Some had masks or bandanas down around their necks. It was a small gathering which seems just the right size even though we look back with great fondness to the place having been packed in days gone by. Maybe it will be like that again one day, but for now, our good judgement must prevail, like Luke Combs says, “Six Feet Apart.” Meanwhile, we can enjoy Tim Tamborino’s postings on the Midwest Bluegrass Directory. He shared a piece recorded on June 14, 1923, of Fiddlin John Carson doing “The Little Old Log Cabin in The Lane.” He said, “Many music historians consider this song to be the first recording of a country music hit, and the first country music recording with vocals and lyrics.”

“Wild flowers don’t care where they grow,” according to Dolly Parton, who is a favorite in Champion on account of her great music and her terrific Imagination Library. She has given away millions of books now. She has also been reading bedtime stories for children on-line during the pandemic lockdown. Roland R. Kemler said, “What a lonely place it would be to have a world without a wildflower.” He is an acclaimed photographer who said that pursuing the beauty that nature has to offer is his greatest adventure. He is welcome to venture down any of our rural lanes to be dazzled by the wildflowers and overarching boughs. Along the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek, at the bottom of several lush, green hills, where country roads meet the pavement is one of the world’s truly lovely places—Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!


June 10, 2020

CHAMPION—June 7, 2020



The good news that Skyline voters approved the raise in the operating tax levy is offset a little by the Governor’s announcement of $131 million in budget restrictions on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. There may be help from the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) in the short term, but all our schools will share in the shortfall. Back to the good news: the Skyline community supports our school and will continue to do so while adjustments are having to be made. Superintendent Donnie Luna, all the staff, and the school board will be doing the hard work of keeping our great school going strong. Thank you. And thank you to everyone who is being safe in the pandemic.

Private W.A. Masters, United States Army Air Corps, WWII Anti-Fascist

The Merriam Webster Dictionary folks define “fascism” as #1: a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition. #2: a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control. 75 years ago all Americans fought against fascism. All our “Greatest Generation” of World War II Veterans were anti-fascists. My Dad and all my uncles were anti-fascists. Woody Guthrie had a sign on his guitar that said, “This Machine Kills Fascists.” We may remember him best for “This Land is Your Land.”

Gardens are glorious this year, sending some new fresh vegetable to the table every day and blooming with the optimism of much fruit to come. One Champion noted that when her garden is weed free, well mulched, attractively arranged and bursting forth with produce, no one stops by to see it. On the other hand, when she has let it get away from her and it is weedy, diseased or failing, she can hardly keep people out. They want to take pictures! So it goes. The omniscient they say any time you see a pretty garden there is someone in it. All this isolation makes it easier to be out there even if no one sees. Things that only you see in your garden make it the pleasant place to be in today’s tumultuous times—a butterfly with a tattered wing, a beautiful ribbon snake, or visitors to a dandelion. These recent nights have been so bright a gardener could almost work in the middle of the night. The lightening bugs might help.

Local hay-makers have done a good job dodging the rain and fields are dotted with big round bales. Sometimes the air is full of the hum of distant hay making machinery. It looks like a good year for hay so far. Monday night’s rain was 2.5 inches in North Champion. J.C. Owsley up in Cross Timbers (or over in Jordan) reported almost four inches piling up in his rain gauge and at 8:20 in the morning was still coming down. Cooler weather is on the way for a few days, they say. Last week some were looking for their 12-inch, 3-speed oscillating fan. It is the Ozarks at the end of Spring with summertime fast headed our way.

Show and tell at the Historic Emporium has been interesting lately. A gas powered flat iron was on exhibit there for a while, and has since been taken to a recycler. Another item was brought in the other day by a regular Champion visitor and was identified as a horse clog. It is a three pieced wooden apparatus configured to go around a horse’s foot in such a way to prevent the animal from being willing to run. It is an old thing, but it would still work.

The reward for making a recent rare trip to town was running into Karen Ross. Karen was the Champion mail carrier for a long time. She has another route now and seems to like it just fine, though she asked to be remembered to all her old Rt. 72 friends. Her husband, Mike, is running for sheriff of Wright County, so she must be extra busy these days. We miss Karen, but are very pleased with our new guy, John. Often lately his is the only vehicle going down Cold Springs Road. The USPS has always been an important amenity for rural people. John is doing a good job and is much appreciated.

These are being beautiful days in Champion in spite of the great National and global turmoil. In times like these we think of FDR. He spoke often of our four great freedoms: freedom from fear and want and freedom of speech and religion. Those are things we contemplate in the comfort of our peaceful, rural homes. Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!