January 27, 2021

CHAMPION—January 25, 2021


New birds in the neighborhood.

Champion is full of good news. There are new birds visiting in the neighborhood. The water table enjoyed a sudden surge overnight, swelling streams and working sump pumps. Neighbor Jackson, who lives at the confluence of the Clever Creek and the Old Fox, said it had been bone dry for three months and this morning it is seven feet deep and forty feet across. Going up Cripple Creek, going in a whirl! Traffic on Cold Springs Road is liable to be slim for a few days and the mail may arrive from the south. Those charming and handsome gentlemen who work for the Douglas County Road Department will have plenty to do as the waters recede. What other good news? Oh, yes. The Chiefs are going to the Super Bowl! Buttons are popping off vests. Throats are sore from the shouting and menus are being planned for the party. (Par-Tee!) The General is tuning his accordion and Granny is grinning. A celebration is just what the doctor ordered.

Robert Burns

Groundhog Day on February 2nd coincides with astronomy’s cross-quarter day, marking the midpoint between the winter solstice and spring equinox. Some gardeners are sowing seeds already in hopes of an early spring. We have our hopes up for a number of things: that our dear friends and families all stay well and safe and that, ‘er long, the pandemic will wane; that we may soon embrace distant loved ones and go about as in days of yore. Until then, we must remember to stay in touch with each other. That is what our phones are for and our great USPS, now in full operation again in Norwood. We need to cheer each other on. It is lovely to be remembered. While we are at it, remember to save those ‘Best Choice’ and ‘Always Save’ UPC bar codes and the ‘Box-tops for Education’ coupons for the Skyline R2 School. You can drop them off at the school, at the Historic Emporium on the north side of the Square in Downtown Champion or mail them to Rt. 72 Box 486, Norwood, MO 65717. Mr. Luna and all the staff there are doing a splendid job of keeping our vital little rural school going. They are preparing our young Champions to be the responsible citizens who will be running things in a few short years—schools, farms, banks, businesses, hospitals, government, etc.

“Oh would some Power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us.” On the occasion of his birthday, we celebrate Robert Burns (1759-1796) and the remarkable insight of the young Scotsman. It may be as hard to see ourselves as others see us as it is to put ourselves in another’s shoes. When the shoe is on the other foot and tables are turned, are we likely to treat our neighbors with the kindness we once so recently longed for from them? Burns lived a short desperate hardscrabble farm life that did not dim his joy of being alive, even in a world shot through with terror and darkness and fear. He wrote over three hundred songs celebrating love, friendship, work and drink. They were sometimes hilarious, or full of tender sympathies and most often proffering hope and courage. Music brought down anxiety back then as it does now, so remember the great smile of Norris Woods with his wonderful banjo singing, “Hot corn, cold corn, bring along the demijohn,” or conjure up whatever tune makes you feel good about being alive. Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!


January 13, 2021

CHAMPION—January 11, 2021


1973 Fastpitch softball team

The first photo to pop up on Monday morning’s Facebook feed was the 1973 Fastpitch softball team of the Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming. There were a dozen fine looking young men, all of them fit and focused. And there was General Fastpitch himself, front and almost center, just a little to the left. Joy Ann Coonts Firrell commented, “Looking good in this picture, Robert, but my eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be.” When queried about his ‘no hitter,’ he responded that because of the Wyoming wind, he always managed to hit two or more batters a game. J.c. Owsley said, “I’d still hate to have to catch you. Your pitches could still burn through a good catcher’s mitt.” J.c.has the physique of a catcher and is learned in myriad subjects, a cowboy who likes to sit a big white mule. Back to sports, the blonde football neophyte says, “All this trouble for $.25! They toss the coin and then spend an hour, on the clock, yelling, ‘Get the quarterback!’” It looks like the Kansas City Chiefs (14 & 2) will play the Cleveland Browns (11 & 5) next Sunday. The Old Champion self-appointed Grandmother of the Chiefs says, “It is lovely to have something wholesome and exciting to look forward to!”

Matthew Henry

Last Wednesday’s extraordinary happenings have prompted a wide variety of responses on social networks, as well as phone conversations and face to face exchanges. The charming Champion Spouse writes, “When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond. That’s where your power is.” Kim Linder Porter posts, “Be careful not to dehumanize those you disagree with. In our self-righteousness, we can become the very things we criticize in others and not even know it.” Aunt Tiffany Marie Putnam, formerly known as ‘Aunt Mary,’ now wants to be called Aunt Tiffa. She says that she was a teenager during World War II and is fully acquainted with antifascists. “My father and all his brothers, and my mother’s brothers were all antifascists. They every one wore uniforms of the United States Military and fought against Hitler. They had the full support of every breathing American.” Aunt ‘Tiffa is way up in her 90s now and will tell you that old women can get away with speaking their minds. While we are all comfortable expressing our views to people of like minds, some eloquent listening to each other might help us be less anxious. Back in 2006, Lonnie Krider, in his Sunday lesson, quoted Mathew Henry (1662-1714), “If truth is once deserted, unity and peace will not last long.” We are treading lightly with each other’s feelings these days and that is a good thing as it is figured that, ultimately, we all want the same things—a safe, just, prosperous Nation of Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!


January 8, 2021

CHAMPION—January 7, 2021


I have no words to address yesterday and cannot think of another song that will make us feel better. So here is the most recent pre-insurrection post, a bluebird in the snow and hope for tomorrow. God bless America.

CHAMPION—January 4, 2021

December’s waning moon was still bright enough to make Saturday night’s skiff of snow luminous. It melted away as soon as Sunday warmed. Early risers on Monday found fog filling the low spots and the week ahead is destined to be cool and colder–wet and dryer the way it has been in these parts this time of the year for many of our recent years. By this time next week the political climate will be revealed and good neighbors with opposing views can smile while playfully presenting the packets of Kool Aid each has been saving for the other. As they, each perhaps unknowingly, embrace the philosophy of perspectivism, they are equally sure of the clarity of their own version of objective truth and amused at the almost comical obtuseness of their otherwise perfectly convivial neighbor. “But would he pull you out of a mud hole?“ That is the salient question. Certainly your good neighbor would, but would your politician?

An Old Champion has adopted a whole string of grandsons without their even knowing about it. After many decades of thinking football was a brutal, noisy, absurd waste of time and money (Think of all the good that could be done with the billions spent on sports.), she has fallen headlong through the pandemic’s constraints into full-fledged fanaticism. She sees every one of those gallant Kansas City Chief’s players as her own precious grandsons and grunts with them when they hit the ground, amazed that they can get up and do it again. She is yelling, “Get him! Get him! Get him!” when some opponent tries to run off with the ball and bellows, “Shoot! My little sister could run faster than that!” The old girl is learning terms like off-sides, conversion and why someone might punt. For other ladies who might not know, the offence is the team in possession of the ball. It is all very exciting. The General himself says that he hopes the Chiefs do not lose another game this year–14 and 2 so far. She imagines that other teams have fans too, but she wonders why.

Among mail and other communications to The Champion News this week a niece writes, “I hope the New Year doesn’t bring back ‘normal’ but instead creates a new and better normal.” That is reminiscent of poet, Rainer Maria Rinke (1875-1926), “And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been.” Additionally, we are admonished by Neil Gaiman in the Douglas County Herald to freely make mistakes, because that is how we learn. There is much we need to learn going forward. One remarks that by Monday most New Year’s resolutions had been broken already. Another says not to voice your resolution. That way when you falter, you will be the only one who knows you may have let yourself down. Some folks have corn beef and cabbage with their black eyed peas. Others just have cornbread with their good luck peas, appreciating the simplicity of the meal that many, in these hard times, would find lavish. On a happy note, Harley, Barbara and Diane were in town for about a week visiting with family and their favorite locals. Hoping perhaps to see them next time, we remain Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!