May 27, 2021

CHAMPION–May 24, 2021


Bud Hutchison’s Memorial Trail Riders

Ten riders made the 9.5 mile ride out of Champion and back on Wednesday, May 19th. Sisters, Debi Grace and Jennifer Wolf, went a little further for a total of 15.7 miles. Andrew Harden has been leading Bud Hutchison’s Memorial Trail Rides since Bud passed away in 2018. Pictured here, perhaps in order, are Jennifer Wolf of Pontiac, Debi Grace of Edgar Springs, Isabel Warren, Jeannie Kapraum, all of Dora, Dana Harden, Caleb Harden, Andrew Harden, all Champions, Calvin Chambers and Sara Johnson, of Dora, and Bill Winkelman of Ava. About half of them were personally acquainted with Bud, and the rest enjoy hearing the many stories about him as the Champion of the Road Rides.

A venerable Old Timer once said that when he was a kid, Champion would be so crowded with people and horses and wagons on Saturdays, that you could hardly get around. It was a market day with buying and selling, trading, and visiting. Wednesday was kind of like that with Bud Hutchison’s Spring Trail Riders going and coming and the regulars drifting in and out. It is a treat to sit on the veranda and listen to the old folks reminisce. There were some rowdy days way back then. Ever time I go to town, the boys keep kicking my dog around.

A Fox Creek Family had grandparents visiting from Idaho. They live near the mountains and like to explore the little communities that they say remind them of Champion. This was their first visit here in three years and they were very much enjoying it. One of their grandsons, a Skyline student, beat the daylights out of The General in checkers. The General said he would not play with the youngster any more, but he did pick up his guitar again and the family joined in for a few songs with their sweet harmonies. They are generally acapella singers, but didn’t mind a little accompaniment in this informal setting.

Sharon Sanders is another accomplished checker player who has had rivalry with The General in the past. They may each tell a different story about those school days long ago. She says that the Douglas County Museum will have a drawing for a beautiful red, white and blue quilt in August. August 21st, she thinks is the date. The pattern is called Kaleidoscope Star. Stop by the Museum on Saturdays between 10:00 and 2:00 to get a look at it and to buy tickets. Sharon reminds us that the $20.00 membership dues in the Douglas County Historical and Genealogical Society are due on July 1st. You can mail them in: Douglas County Museum, P.O. Box 986, Ava, MO 65608. You can get your quilt tickets in the mail too. Quilts have long been excellent fund raising items in this part of the world. Last year, when we were unable to have the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department Picnic because of the pandemic, Connie Freeman donated one of her creations that brought in about $1,200.00 for the fire department. Most of those tickets were bought through the mail at six tickets for $5.00. We live in a generous part of the world and we like our quilts.

After a long year of mostly being at home, it will be a joy to gather again at Denlow for the 35th Annual Denlow/Fairview School Reunion on Saturday. There is always an excellent pot-luck luncheon and then fun and fellowship out in the pavilion. Everyone with a connection to these little schools or with a connection to someone connected with them is welcome to attend. There will be get togethers all over the country during the Memorial Day weekend to acknowledge those who serve and who have served in the U.S. Military. It is a chance to say, “Thank you.” While we are at it, we also pay respects to our families and many friends who have passed away. That growing number makes us aware of our own mortality and of the joy and beauty of being alive. It is a good time to express our love for each other while we are on this side of the ground. Champion–Looking on the Bright Side!


May 23, 2021

CHAMPION—May 17, 2021



“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” said Audrey Hepburn.  After a year of anxiety and uncertainty, it is a reassuring exercise to be out in the plot again with the weeds, the compost, the loamy loam, and the optimism.  The coldest May on record has some gardeners running behind their routine schedule.  Others, who never rush to get things in, are generally as successful as the early birds.  The first ripe tomato in Champion is on its way one of these days.  The quest may again be canning jar lids.

Bud and Wilma Hutchison

It was a lovely surprise to see Wilma Hutchison at the Vanzant Jam on Thursday.  She was in fine voice and knows all the old songs.  Most likely she will be at Champion on Wednesday to welcome the trail riders when they come in from the adventure called Bud’s Spring Trail Ride.  Bud passed away three years ago, but his friends have kept his spring and fall trail rides going.  They doubtlessly share good memories of him as they amble along.  From The Champion News on May 23, 2016:  “It was reported that Bud Hutchison gave a short but brisk bronc-riding exhibition and managed to stay on top the whole time.”  It would be nice to hear more about that escapade.

Lena’s younger brother returned to the Bright Side for a little fun on Wednesday.  He declined the chocolate cupcakes saying he was on a diet.  Other than his weight, he had not much changed since early last winter—still full of it — “it” being yarns, popular opinions, observations and clever quips.  One of these days Bob and Ethel might make an appearance and perhaps Don and Reba will show.  They will be a welcome sight.

2019 Denlow Reunion

The 35th annual Denlow/Fairview School Reunion is coming up on Saturday the 30th.  There will be about a dozen or so students of those schools and several dozen of their kinfolks and friends in attendance.  “They’ll sing of the old and they’ll sing of the new.  They’ll sing of the changes in years.  I can’t tell a lie.  Last night we had pie for the first time in twenty-four years.”  That may not be one of their songs, but there will be some music and definitely a lot of fine reminiscing.  Some of those memories will harken up old farmer advice like making fences horse high, pig-tight and bull strong.  There will be admonitions to still keep skunks, bankers and lawyers at a distance and to plow around stumps.  Hula hoops will be strictly banned this year as the spectacle from several years ago is yet too vivid in our collective memory.

A gentleman is said to be someone who can play the accordion but does not.  The General is, therefore, a genuine Gentleman.  Lynnette Cantrell says, “It is a fact that one of the only activities that activates, stimulates, and uses the entire brain is music.”  Lynette plays a wonderful mandolin and encourages music everywhere she can.  In a letter to Alan Lomax in 1940, Woody Guthrie said, “Music is some kind of electricity that makes a radio out of a man and the dial is in his head and he just sings accordingly to how he’s feeling.  The best stuff you can sing about is what you saw and, if you look hard enough, you can see plenty to sing about.”  The Gypsy has plenty to sing about.  She is lucky for numerous reasons.  One reason is Buddy the Wonder-dog.  Last week she had taken plants in against a sudden cold snap, when Buddy snapped to a black snake that had hitched a ride inside.  Between them, they ushered the reptile out and summarily dispatched it.  The Gypsy will warns plant lovers to take care in your beautiful flowering pursuits.  Pursue beauty and music at or in person down on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Old Fox Creek in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Ivy-leaf Geraniums

May 15, 2021

CHAMPION—May 10, 2021


A Champion spring…

Pete, Uncle Ray and Frankie

Local ancient lore had us believe that the last frost date for Champion is today.  After a few warm days, a cold morning seems extreme and a personal affront to have to pick ticks out of one’s long-handles.  The season of rapid change transformed those vertical gray and brown brush piles into glorious full-blown oak trees in just a week.  August will be here soon, and we will long for what we now think of as too much rain.  Last week Reba said Don caught a seven pound, twenty-seven-inch-long Walleye at Stockton Lake in perfect weather for a good day of fishing.  Pete posted pictures of himself and his Uncle Ray Hicks holding crappie on their foray last week.  Pete said his was the biggest one he ever caught.  It may be good fishing weather, but gardeners are holding off on planting their tender crops.

Maybe Uncle Ray will be at the Denlow School Reunion again this year.  It always happens on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.  LaShell Upshaw Bearden will there.  She had such a good time with all her kinfolks at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam on Thursday, she will not be able to stay away.  She was related to almost all of them in the whole people-packed Community Building.  Her second cousins, Kalyssa and Foster, took their turns in the music circle on fiddle and mandolin doing “Boil Them Cabbage Down” and other great tunes.  (There was a great video of the song posted on the Facebook by Grammy Upshaw Krider, but Facebook would not share it with The Champion News, so readers will have to settle for a version by The Grascals.)  This bunch is a splendid example of a big loving family and of the music of family laughter.  LaShell had always tried to get on her phone, with no success, but when she tried with her computer, she was rewarded with fifteen years of fun, much of which involved her family.

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2021

The last week of school at Skyline will be a busy one.  Nine eighth graders are graduating on Tuesday.  Prekindergarten to fifth grade will have their Field Day on Wednesday.  Thursday will have the eight graders on their class trip to Silver Dollar City and Friday will be the Awards Day and the last day of school.  The year has gone by quickly or slowly depending on who is asked.  Mr. Luna says there will be no summer school this year due to a construction project in the kitchen area.  There have been several excellent upgrades to the school this year.  We do not know if Mr. Luna and the Skyline School Board will be doing the actual building, but we know their good efforts have made the students feel valued.  Our little rural school is the heart of the community and those students will be running things in just a few short years—the schools, farms, businesses, banks, hospitals, and government.  Go Tigers!

Humming birds are humming and Indigo Buntings are bunting.  Out every window is an avian delight.  Gardeners look up from their toil to locate that bird whose song has caught his ear.  It is a beautiful time of the year.

Robert Frost said, “Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.”  We will keep saying that Bud Hutchison’s Champion Trail Ride will happen on Wednesday the 19th.  Riders will rendezvous on the Square and be ready to take off at 10:00 a.m.  Yard dogs and deep creek crossings will be some of the challenges, but they will amble back in after a few hours to enjoy ice cream and fellowship on the wide veranda of the Historic Emporium in Downtown Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


May 7, 2021

CHAMPION—May 3, 2021


2021 5K Tiger Prowl Donut Run

The 2021 5K Tiger Prowl Donut Run started at 8:00 a.m. at the Skyline R2 School on Saturday, May 1st.  The first one across the finish line was Skyline graduate, now Mountain Grove High School freshman, Rowdy Woods, with a time of 26 minutes.  Rowdy was first in his division of 18 and under.  Second and third were Jaycee Hall at 30:24 and Evan Homer at 30:53. Andrew Harden was second to cross the line, at 28:30, and first place in the adult division.  Second and third were Jim Hurt, at 31:00, and Tamara Collins, at 44:18.  The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department joined with the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department to provide security for the run along Highway C.  Superintendent, Donnie Luna was stationed at the half-way turn around point for encouragement and support.  Tabatha Hurt kept track of the time and was there at the finish line with water for the 36 runners and walkers.  She also officiated at the awards ceremony, where the winners were presented with gift cards.  There were bananas and donuts and an abundance of great door prizes that had everyone feeling like a winner.  Physical fitness makes learning easier and promotes positive attitudes.  We do better when we feel better.  Just ask Mr. Gray.  We may not all be able to handle a 5K, but the quarter mile paved walking trail at the school is available for anyone to use.  It winds along the edge of the woods and features a lot of shade.  It is a real health care amenity—one of many benefits for the whole community because of this thriving little rural school.  Go, Tigers!

Since 1945, we, together with Great Britain and various cities in Western Europe, have been observing V-E Day on May 8th to celebrate the defeat of the Nazi war machine and fascism during World War II.  The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says that around 300,000 of the roughly 16 million American World War II Veterans are still alive.  The youngest are in their 90’s and the oldest are over 100 years old.  Champions extend their Love and Gratitude to them and to all the men and women who serve and have served in our Nation’s military since that time.  Thank you for your service.

In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation designating Mother’s Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor Mothers.  This year it is on May 9th, and the mailboxes and phone lines will be inundated with expressions of Love and Gratitude.  A much-missed Mother admonished: “Just act like you have good sense.”  She left us in 1975, but those words keep her alive in our hearts.  We try, Mother.  She loved Mark Twain and his quote, “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”


The Pioneer Heritage Festival folks are looking for people with ‘old time skills’ to share their knowledge at the event this fall.  Follow this link and volunteer to help perpetuate those talents and abilities that made it possible for our ancestors to survive here.  Carissa O’Connell-Ainsworth and family moved to Douglas County last summer from Illinois and have just now had the chance to walk around their property.  She is a new member of the Facebook group “Love My OZARKS” and said they were lucky to have found this place.  She said the kids soon got over not being able to get cell phone service in the valley.  Maybe they will find their way to the Fox Trotters Showgrounds in October for the Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks or over to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Old Fox Creek any time.

Tigers prowled up and down and down and up Highway C on Saturday at the Skyline fun run.  It was indeed fun and another good thing that came out of the day was hearing that Bud Hutchison’s Champion Trail Ride is scheduled for May 19th.  That information came from Andrew Harden who took the reins of that historic trail ride at Bud’s passing.  He also took second place (for the third time) in this annual 5K race.  His time this year was 28:30.  In 2019, it was 29:30, and in 2018, his time was 23:45.  It seems that he is slowing down, but not by much.  Speculation is that running in blue jeans slows a runner by a minuscule percentage that might add up.  His daughters think he could do it faster on a horse.  Another good thing about that day was overhearing a Skyline alumnus, and winner of the race, cheering on and encouraging the other runners, as well as reassuring students about to graduate that the transition to high school is great.  “You’re going to love it,” he says.

More positivity has an Old Champion relating that the heavily humid air brings out the aroma of next year’s firewood stacked so beautifully in his shed.  The General has another wave of kinfolks headed this way, so Vanzant is about to be awash in fun again.  Gardeners are getting busy.  Potatoes are up and looking good.  Share anything positive with us at or through our wonderful USPS to TCN, RT. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


May 1, 2021

CHAMPION—April 26, 2021



May Day is on the way. It is coming with warm weather and carries with it lots of history. Recent history has to do with the struggles and gains made by workers and the labor movement that gave us ideas like the forty-hour work week and child labor laws. Ancient history carried over in many places around the world celebrates the return of spring and, in some places, requires singing and dancing and cake. Willie Nelson said, “We are the same. There is no difference anywhere in the world. People are people. They laugh, cry, feel, and love, and music seems to be the common denomination that brings us all together. Music cuts through all boundaries and goes right to the soul.”

The Prize

Bob and Mary will soon be taking in a couple of musical shows in Branson after a fine dinner out. They already have a beautiful basket of flowers hanging in the garage where they keep Bob’s bright red 1946 Studebaker pickup truck, the vintage of which has special significance for Bob. The tickets to the shows and the flowers in the basket were part of the prize for the “Sponsors Choice” in a recent rally sponsored by the Lakeland Pharmacy in Willow Springs. They will kick up their heels and show us how to have a good time. Bob and Mary are about the cutest couple since John and Marsha. Their good friend, Glen Brandstedder, was reading The Champion News about seven o’clock on Thursday evening and decided he could still make it over to the Vanzant jam. He arrived in time to hear some good tunes and to visit with friends seldom seen these days.


Marge Carter writes that it is time to head back to Wyoming. She and Doug will leave on May 1st. They have just seen their first hummingbirds. She said, “We have three birdhouses mounted in the yard. One has a chickadee momma sitting on her eggs. Another has bluebirds. Two have hatched, two to go. The third has a nest built but no eggs. Must have decided to lay elsewhere.” Marge and Doug are another cute couple and their Champion friends will look forward to seeing them when they get back this fall. She will have to make cookies for him for both trips–going and coming.

Driving over to another county gives you the opportunity to see how their dogwoods responded to the 23° temperatures last week. Do they have Mayapples up there in Wright County on their beautiful country lanes? A person does not have to go far from home to be in a brand-new place. We live in an interesting part of the world. Probably everyone everywhere thinks that about his home place, but we know it. It is exciting, however, to find out how much we do not know–say even about Mayapples. With just a little study, we learn they grow in colonies via underground rhizomes and that every part of them is toxic except the ripe fruit. With a little luck, we could run into those folks at Teeter Creek Herbs and learn from expert, Bob Liebert, or another herbalist, Eddie Richardson, who has recently located somewhere around Norwood. They could tell us about the medicinal properties of Mayapples and how they go about turning plants into medicine. We have interesting people in our lives. Having been away from each other for so long, it is exciting to see old, i.e., longtime, friends and new ones. Everyone can teach us some of what we do not know. A friend said, “I love people that have no idea how wonderful they are and just wander around making the world a better place.” We know how lucky we are here in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Bob’s 1946 Studebaker pickup truck.