August 28, 2020

CHAMPION—August 27, 2020


Wilbur the Woodchuck

Virginia Canada lives up in Columbia these days, but she has deep roots in the Denlow/Vanzant/Champion metroplex. She graciously shared the “We Are the World” video on the 35th anniversary of the original performance. She said, “This touched my heart, a beautiful song…we need this feeling of love and compassion now.” She just celebrated 25 years with her sweetheart and is full of the optimism that comes with true love and security. Her positivity is contagious and we appreciate it. John Lennon said, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

Mary Goolsby and her handsome companion made the journey to Champion on Wednesday to secure their tickets for the “No-2020-Skyline VFD Picnic Quilt.” “Wow! What a beauty!” The drawing will be October 1st, and Mary is hoping to be the winner. She will tell you that she is a very lucky person. They have always been avid supporters of the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department. Several years ago Mary won an old fashioned milk can at the picnic. Now that they are no longer in use in the dairy business, the once common items have become nice porch decorations, ash trays and have sometimes been filled with concrete to support a rural mail box. This one was adorned with a painting of the Old Champion Store–a nice piece of nostalgia. The artist signed the work, “CMD 09.” Mary would like to know who the artist is. It is a mystery—Milk Can Mystery, bringing to mind the Milk Cow Blues. Mike Satterfield’s swinging fiddle has brought that one to the Vanzant Jam on a number of memorable occasions when Mary and her handsome companion were in attendance. Recently the two of them have been showing off his beautiful 1946 Studebaker pickup. It is his favorite on account of his having been born himself that very year. Any number of Champions can claim that distinction, but without that fine ride.

Judy and Eldon Russel were unexpected and very welcome guests at The Historic Emporium down on the wide wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek on Wednesday, and more so for having brought the Dora Pie Queen, Roberta the Chanteuse with them, together with her beautiful old guitar, which came to her when she was in high school in Dora. The first song she ever sang in public was “Silver Threads and Golden Needles.” She still sings it, as well as “There Is a Time” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky” and many others. It is hard to hold back when it comes to “Yippie ti yea! Yippie ti yo o!,” though she has been seen to smile when others join her for this refrain. The General agreed that her presence had increased the quality of the mid-week recital by more than one hundred percent. The next time Judy Russel comes to the Wednesday Open Air Sometimes Porch Jam, she will be regaled with an a capella version of “Fallaste Corazon,” a Mexican song which caught her attention once at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam.

Barbara Krider had a beautiful birthday up in Elmwood, IL. “Thanks to my daughters for the lovely flowers and dinner out. I love them both for their thoughtfulness.” Her sister-in-law, Reta Krider, also just enjoyed a birthday. It is a joy to see families celebrate each other.

A thoughtful Champion from up Tar Button Road shares a good thought from her daughter concerning internet behavior: “Post wisely over the next months. Contribute to discourse, not division. Check your facts. Resist memes and cheap digs. Create beautiful content. We can transcend the bitterness and be better, even when we disagree.” A Champion living now in Springfield, seconds that message. From a prominent Champion Spouse comes a thought to ponder: “There will always be a ‘lie’ in believe, an ‘over’ in lover, an ‘end’ in friend, an ‘us’ in trust, and an ‘if ’in life!” Another Old Champion thinks about the advice, “take a sad song and make it better.”

Was it a mistake to name Wilbur? If he is the critter eating the sweet potato plants he might have to go. It might be easy enough to ‘4-10’ him out of his tree, but maybe deer are feasting on the succulent sweet potato foliage. A deterrent has been placed over the sweet potato patch, so time will tell. Hopes are that Wilbur is innocent.

Some good advice comes from a postal worker in Texas. He has been with the USPS for 27 years and says the thing we can do as individuals to insure our mail moves quickly is to use the full nine digit zip code as you address your mail and to make it big and bold. So, if you can solve the mystery of who painted Mary’s milk can, or if you have histories or suggestions to share, or inquiries, address them to: The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717-9446. Be sure to include your nine digits on your return address to make it easier for your correspondents to speed your important mail to you. It may take some learning and adjusting to make this a new habit in our routine communications, but learning and adjusting seems to be the mode-o-day. Learning and adjusting is what we are asking of our school administrators, teachers, staff and students as school opens. Good luck to the Skyline Tigers! Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!

The sweet potato patch.

August 20, 2020

CHAMPION—August 17, 2020


Nearby Bears

It was an unusual time in Champion and surrounding areas on Monday morning as residents were not in their second day of recovery from the Skyline VFD Picnic. In years past the post-picnic mantra has been: “Great picnic! Whew!” Sarah Cloud, who has deep Champion connections, lives in Hurricane, Utah. She said she still has glassware that she won in a dime toss at the Skyline VFD Picnic in 1992. “Grandma Bonnie always tried to bring us kids down for it. Sure miss being close enough to drop in.” She is glad to be getting tickets in the mail for the “No 2020 Skyline Picnic Quilt.” It will not be as much fun as the picnic, but she is helping to keep the Skyline VFD going so there can be a 2021 Skyline Picnic.

No 2020 Skyline Picnic Quilt

Joy Ann Coonts Firrell reported “Hurricane in Iowa” and posted pictures of widespread destruction caused by 100mph hurricane-level winds that raged across Iowa and Illinois last week. The governor said that 10 million acres of cropland was damaged, as well as many silos and much other damage. Recovery will take some time. On her next visit to Champion she will have stories to tell about the Derecho. She will be getting some tickets too, just to help her remember her friends and family in Booger County who are wishing her well.

Diane Strickland spent ten years in Michigan, but she is back home in the Ozarks now and living over in West Plains. She makes a trip to Champion now and again just for nostalgia and for closeness with family. She will be interested to know that somewhere within a radius of few miles of the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion live multiple black bears. She should have been around Wednesday when The General sang his special version of “The Bear Went Over the Mountain.” His grandsons denied having taught him the song. It’s a good idea to sing when you are out in the wooly woods of deep Central Booger County. Sing out loud and, if you see a bear, try hard not to run.

In a bit of good news, a Champion from Champion-East found the horse that he had thought might have been stolen the night before. “False alarm! There is a swamp on my west border, about half a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide. I started at the top and worked south. Visibility was about ten feet between plants and vines. After thirty-five minutes I’m hearing branches snapping and Moe about ran me over and out he went back into our pasture.” He thanked friends, near and far, who had commiserated with him in his loss. They joined him in relief. “I’m getting dumber by the day,” he said, but that could be said of all of us. Banjo player, Steve Martin, just had his 75th birthday. He said, “Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.”

A Skyline School alumnus writes in to advocate for kindness. “Imagine,” he said, “if the guys that went to high school with young Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr. had only been nice to him, how different he might have turned out.” His class mates at the duPont Manual High School in Louisville Kentucky who grew up together might have been unkind to a newcomer from Athens, Alabama. The girls may have spurned him. Nevertheless, he has become one of the most influential people in the world. One might think that his experience with polio as a young child would have made him compassionate with people who lose their financial security to illness.  He said his family “almost went broke” because of the costs related to his illness.  Well, we do not know what all has happened in his life that has caused him to be the way he is–with all that money and all that influence and still so few good works.  He is only 78, so there is time for him yet.  Bless his heart.

It turns out that it was “The Young and the Restless” that has had the Cowboy’s attention at 11:30 a.m. most weekdays for decades. They have stopped filming now due to the pandemic and have defaulted to old re-runs from years gone by. The Cowboy is aggravated about the whole thing and was spotted in Champion at about 11:30 last Wednesday a little agitated. Agitation is easy these days. A current subject for it might be the lack of broadband internet in rural Douglas County. The White River Valley folks are said to have the money and to have been in the planning for years. Now would be a good time to get it going. Feel free to address other concerns with Senator Blunt at (202) 224-5721, Senator Hawley at (202) 224-6154 and Congressman Smith at (202)225-4404. They appreciate your call.

Call some old friends or neighbors today. You never know whose spirit you might lift. Find out about their gardens and tell them if you have seen bears. Ask them to tell you something for which they are grateful. The answer may be something as simple as wildflowers growing by the garden fence. One Old Champion is grateful that, so far, Wilbur has only been interested in walnuts, pokeberries and oregano.

There is no glory in defeating a weak opponent. The combination of events and circumstances (the virus, bad weather, aggravation, disappointment, isolation, politics, unrequited love, etc.) has produced a ripsnorting humdinger of an opponent. We endeavor to persevere, helping each other in whatever ways we can. Nothing makes a person feel better than helping someone else. Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!

Wilbur snacks…


August 13, 2020

CHAMPION–August 10, 2020


Cowboy Jack was heard to say that he heard someone say that the very best time to water the garden is just before sun up. That works a hardship on certain individuals who have become accustomed to a solid eight to ten hours sound sleep between intermittent interruptions. With no cows to milk, no hay to pitch, or chickens to feed or hogs to slop, some Old Champions just get up when they do. Morning has broken. Of course, the Cowboy is a fairly regimented person. Do not attempt to delay his leaving Champion if he is on his way home to his soap opera. Is it “The Days of Our Lives” or “As the World Turns” that has his devotion at precisely 11:00 a.m. each week day? (It turns out, he is a fan of “The Young and The Restless.” He is aggravated now because they are not filming new shows on account of the virus, so they are going back to the beginning of the program with reruns. He came to Champion about 11:30 on Wednesday!) A local Spoon Virtuosi says she does her watering at night. She is the fan of the Roma tomato, for which her esteemed grandfather, on account of their configuration, had a comical bovine anatomical term. They are ripening and that makes her happy which benefits the rest of us on account of her beaming smile. It is contagious.

Almartha’s Bard has gained new favor on account of his infrequent appearances and altered costume. He missed the music of the porch jam because, he said, Lena Bell has moved their scrabble game up to 8:00 A.M. on Wednesday mornings from 7:30 and that she spends a lot of time thumbing through the dictionary trying to beat him. He said her Fiddler had been going to the barber shop for a little while, but once the number of Covid cases began rising in the county, there are 100 now; he is mostly hanging out at home. Hopes are that he has learned some new old songs or remembering ones like “Sitting on Top of the World.”

Go to the mailbox for fun if you have distant grandchildren. Go there for your medications and your bills. The kerfuffle over voting by mail may impact this vital service. We can call Senator Blunt at (202) 224-5721, Senator Hawley at (202) 224-6154 and Congressman Smith at (202)225-4404 to suggest to them that the USPS is imperative for rural people. It needs all the support it can get so that old folks can get their medications and newspapers and so that our much appreciated retired old postal carriers can get their pensions. While you are chatting with our representatives, you might inform them that there are 3,865 people in Douglas County (population 13,373 as of 2018) who receive Social Security as old-age people, survivors and people on disability. That is about 30% of us. Efforts to undermine or defund Social Security will not go over well with Ida Mae and her folks.

While you are making phone calls, remember your old friends who may still be sheltering at home for their health and who might be getting lonesome. You might ask them about elderberries. They are ripening at a ferocious rate. While they are tedious to stem for processing, they are said to have medicinal properties supporting the immune system against the flu and common colds. There are good recipes for elderberry syrup that include ginger, cinnamon and cloves as well as honey or sugar. Your old friends have great storehouses of information to share. Just ask them. One might tell you about Abby and Martha Brewster, a couple of old maids, who had a special recipe for elderberry wine. It is too late now for elderflower fritters, but think about them for next spring. They are a favorite of a favorite nephew.

The recent wonderful rains have made weeding a delight. Why, the weeds fairly jump up into your hand. Even The General has had unusually good success with his garden this year. He says he has tomatoes enough to give away. He attributes this success to having watered the plants during the dry periods. Fall garden crops that can be planted now include beans, beets, spinach and turnips. The Missouri Botanical Garden folks say that spinach may germinate better if the seeds are refrigerated for a week before planting. Popeye the Sailor was often pit against formidable adversaries and was always able to prevail on account of spinach.

The No-Skyline-Picnic-Quilt is getting some good action down at Henson’s G & G in Champion and on The Champion News Facebook page. Distant Champions are receiving tickets and return envelopes in the mail. It will be a surprise to many, but we have until October 1st to generate some much needed revenue for our wonderful volunteer fire department. Some folks are just stopping in the store to donate the dollars they had in their budget for the picnic. Keep a bright hope for better times ahead and take a drive down our beautiful country lanes and out through the amazing country side for a reminder of our good fortune to be Champions! Looking on the Bright Side.


August 7, 2020

CHAMPION–August 3, 2020



Quatrefoil Quilt

The Champion School Reunion has been cancelled for this year.  It has been held on the Saturday before Labor Day for at least 36 years.  Some local old-time Champion may know exactly what year it was started.  This is the first year it will have been cancelled.  The growing number of Covid cases in rural areas and the age of most attendees make this a wise move for this year.  Next year will surely be a different story.  Scroll through the archives here to see past reunions and keep a bright hope for better times ahead.

Connie Freeman and her quilt-guild friends have made many donations to Veterans through their Quilts of Valor program and to other worthy causes over the years.  The Knights of Columbus auctions off one of her quilts every year.  The one she has graciously donated to the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department is a real king size beauty.  The pattern is called Quatrefoil and it is worked in pastel shades of green and blue, made to last.  Her studio is in her lovely home in a remote part of Douglas County.  She is happy to have the volunteers, fire fighters and first responders, of the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department looking out for her, her home and her property.  She may hear “You Can Quilt That Out” from some of her clients—she does good work.  Go down to the wide, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek and view her contribution in the Meeting Room of the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion.  When we think of picnic quilts we are reminded of Esther Wrinkles, one of the founding members of the fire department.  She made many for the fire department and always endeavored to sell more tickets than anyone.  A local banker laughed and said any time he saw Esther coming in early August, he reached for his wallet.  Tickets are $1.00 each or 6 tickets for $5.00.  You can send a check to the Skyline VFD, Rt. 72 Box 254, Norwood, MO. 65717 and Betty will fill out your tickets for you.  Or, you can share your mailing address at and we will mail you tickets and a photo of the quilt.  If you live far away, we will ship the quilt to you when you win on October 1st.  Good luck and thanks for supporting our vital fire department.

August has arrived in a delightful way with rain and break from the withering heat.  The heat will be back and may seem more belligerent for the respite, but as Chief George said in The Outlaw Jose Wales, we will “endeavor to persevere.”  Entertainment in the canning kitchen has included a variety of old cowboy movies together with some lofty theatrical productions like Sir Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet.  Mel Gibson did a quite rite version of the play as well.  It was said to be the tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind.  As tomatoes and pickles went into the jars, that speech about the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” spoke to our current state of affairs.  If opposing the sea of troubles can really end them, there is hope that these tumultuous times may evolve into better days for everyone.  Sometimes it is hard to find beauty in the storm.  A noted local counselor is worried about November.  He says we have never had violence around an election even through wars, pandemics and depressions.  The level of vitriol is unprecedented.  Local contests have been decided and now we know who loves the king more.  Meanwhile, the ‘pop,’ as the jars seal, incites optimism.  Lincoln’s optimism was that “with malice toward none and charity toward all,” we bind our wounds.  Henry Fonda did an excellent performance as Lincoln in John Ford’s movie Young Mr. Lincoln.  So far, there are forty of jars of tomatoes and sauce in the pantry and more in the pot.  Excellent!

The internet has been graced in the past few days with many pictures of Amaryllis Belladonna.  That is the botanical name of what is known in these parts as the Surprise Lily or Naked Ladies.  It is a wildflower in South Africa, leafless on naked stems which give the Ladies long legs.  Sometimes driving down a shady country lane there survives a lonely reminder of a garden and a home-place where some homemaker, now gone on to a better home, planted bulbs shared by a friend.  There are Iris gone wild now up on Cold Springs Road, and day lilies transported down the road by the road grader.  In the spring old home places are marked with daffodils, forsythia, narcissus and lilacs.  The endurance of nature is comforting as we think about the old folks at home.

Did Jonnie actually tree Wilbur, or was it just a coincidence?  Are there enough butterflies in your garden?  On top of all the difficulties going on in the world, many are suffering through terrible storms.  Neither the weather nor the pandemic nor political strife is a respecter of persons.  We will hope for the safety and health of our friends, our families and all our fellow humans.  We are full of gratitude and optimism in Champion, Looking on the Bright Side!