December 21, 2021

CHAMPION—December 20, 2021


Christmas greetings from Royce and Jody Henson--champion Champions!
Clever Creek at 76

From Vera Cruz to Vanzant various rain reports from the Thursday-Friday deluge topped four and five inches.  Frank Martin shared a video of the Warren Bridge on Bryant Creek near Dora where the road disappeared into the torrent.  Mike O’Brien said that his car almost got washed off that crossing back in his misspent youth.  A heroine–a farm woman pulled him back on to solid ground with a chain on her tractor.  There were numerous pictures posted of a great pile of debris on Highway 181 near Hodgson’s Mill.  “Turn around.  Don’t drown.”  You want to be home for Christmas.  Closer to Champion, Fox Creek came well up and Clever Creek as well, perhaps not so dramatically, though the exciting weather episode lessens some of the anxiety over fire danger locally.  Monday morning found those handsome gentlemen from the Drury Shed out on their road graders tidying up.  Many other places have not fared so well, and Champions reflect with concern on their distress and their long road to recovery, even as we count our blessings.

Clever Creek in Champion

All accounts of the Skyline Christmas program glowed.  Music director, Cheyenne McIntosh, wrangled the whole student body into a lovely performance to warm the hearts and tickle the holiday fancies of all the friends and families attending.  The General and The Gypsy had nothing but praise for the presentation when they arrived later at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam.  There, along with the regular fare of classic bluegrass tunes, the pickers and grinners shared a sweet stream of Christmas songs—Christmas Time’s a Coming, Silent Night, Silver Bells, Feliz Navidad, and the like.  The crowd neglected to sing that birthday song to Mary Goolsby, Herbie Johnston, and Jerry Wagner, but they will make up for it next time.  We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy Birthday!

A keen Champion observer reports that while shadows are generally considered to be dark, many on Sunday’s frosty, frosty morning appeared brilliantly white.  Big broad fields appeared to have been snowed upon until the sunshine raced across the valley greening them green again, if a little paler shade.  He also remarked that on the longest night of the year it was nice to have a full moon, even if it seemed very far away.  Starting today, Monday, we can expect a brighter future all the way until June 21st.  Every day will be having a little more daylight in it until summer starts.  Keep up with celestial happenings, photographs, and music at  We are reminded of the swift passage of time and that down here on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Old Fox Creek we are full of gratitude for home and family and full of sweet Christmas Spirit.  Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!

County Road Crew
County road crew maintaining our beautiful roads.

December 14, 2021

CHAMPION—December 13, 2021



December 20th will mark the day when the days begin to be longer again. The daylight will last longer, little by little. As it is now, by five or earlier, the sinking sun guilds the treetops for a few fleeting moments before darkness envelops our hills and hollows. But then, on a clear night, we are blessed to live in a dark part of the Nation where light pollution does not interfere with our stellar star gazing. It all balances out.

That important list is being checked for the second time. Naughty or nice is the question. It is not subjective. The season is upon us. Wes and Suzie Freeman write that they are still hillbillies, even though they have lived in North Texas for a while now. They have been married 56 years and are, as are many, balancing health issues with doing things they enjoy. For Suzie that is quilting. She is currently working on the last five blocks of the Fool’s Puzzle, which has 32 pieces per block, all hand pieced. Wes builds wooden truck models that are amazingly accurate depictions of rigs you see on the road. Suzie hand-makes her Christmas cards bringing the spirit of the holiday to everyone on her list.

Christmas Spirit Week at our Skyline R-2 School will be a lot of fun for the students as they dress the part through the week. The Christmas Goodie Box sponsored by the Skyline R-2 PTO will be given to the winning ticket holder at the Christmas music program on Thursday evening. It is full of cookies, cocoa, candy canes, chocolate, and other seasonal taste treats. The real treat will be the music program. Children singing Christmas music can melt the humbug out of any grouchy grinch, warming hearts with nostalgia, love, and hopes for world peace and goodwill to everyone. Friday will be the last day of school for a while. When students return to the classroom in the New Year, they will have endured the frenzy and excitement of the holiday and will be ready to knuckle down and buckle down for their studies. Skyline Tigers become solid citizens as they grow up. Champions!

Having a birthday so close to Christmas is an aggravation less troublesome as age accumulates and gratitude for waking up and for making it through another year kicks in. Mary Goolsby and fiddling Herbie Johnston will be happy on the 20th and Chris Dailey and another fine fiddler, Jerry Wagner, celebrate on the 21st. That is also the big day for Skyline fourth grade student, Paige Jonas. Chase Cauthron is a second grader who shares his birthday with his dear old Dad, David, and with Rowdy’s grandmother, Sharon Sikes, up on Cold Springs Road, and with flintknapping archer Butch Stone. Christmas day gives us many reasons to celebrate and among them is the birthday of Joann Anderson, a sweeter smile you will never see. Happy everything to all of you.

Phone calls and emails have come to Champion from many places inquiring about damage and about our safety during Friday’s wave of terrible weather. As we count our own many blessings, our heartfelt sympathies go out to the many who have suffered loss and who will be in the recovery process for years to come. Our hopes are that they will find comfort and solace and relief. Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


December 10, 2021

CHAMPION—December 6, 2021


It seemed early in the season to see “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Saturday night, but the year is going by so quickly that it may be right on time. We have learned that this was the first movie Jimmie Stewart made after he came back from a stellar performance in the U.S. Airforce during World War II. They say that those emotional scenes on the bridge were a product of the post traumatic stress he endured. It is a sweet story, though one Old Champion is still aggravated that old man Potter did not return the eight thousand dollars Uncle Billy mistakenly gave him. Still, the thought is there that our lives may have more impact than we know. Mother said, “Just act like you have good sense.”

Emma Webster is a seventh grade student at Skyline R2 School. Her birthday was on the 4th of December. Michael Hall, fifth grader enjoyed the 5th for his big day. That was Dawn Henson’s birthday too, a Champion down in Houston, Texas. Two first grade students have birthdays on the 10th. They are Westin Nava and Levi Hall. The eleventh day of the month is for Eva Coyote, Kai, and for Loretta Upshaw. Fourth grader, Kennedy Hinote will party on the 13th. The 14th is a big day for photographer Shannon Alexander who shares it with Spike Jones. Seventh grade Skyline student Hannah Castillejos will have the 15th for her special day. Your Champion friends and neighbors hope that your celebrations meet all your expectations.

Unseasonably warm weather has been lovely, but a little rain was welcome on Sunday evening. Though official rain gauges were not well placed to receive an accurate measurement, there were reports of an inch in the on and off thunderstorm. It has been a dry season with fire danger growing. Deep gullies, bluffs, stump holes, rocks and steep hills form the difficult terrain our volunteer fire fighters face as they answer our calls for help. Support your volunteer fire department every chance you get. The volunteers are all first responders looking out for our health and safety.

Skyline’s Archery Team made a good showing at Saturday’s tournament in Norwood. They will participate in five more tournaments this year. Coaches, Jana Brixey and Deborah Barker, are looking for sponsors to help promote the program. Contact the school at (417) 683-4874 to lend a hand. There are fifteen Skyline archers are honing their skills and learning that practice proves productive and provides positive perspective for patient participants passionate for perfection.

The KC Chiefs did not seem to need much help in defeating the Denver Broncos. They would probably have won even if Daniel Sorensen had not made that interception and run seventy-five yards for the touchdown in the fourth quarter. New fans to football are excited about our Chief Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!


December 4, 2021

CHAMPION—November 19, 2021



Business has been brisk at the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in downtown Champion. Deer season and the approaching holiday added to the routine hustle and bustle on Wednesday. Nana Gini from over between Buckhart and Richland kept melodious time for the Sometime Porch Band, which included The General and The Crooner. The storyteller told about how General Custer sent his band with the bagpipes and drums back down the river and only took his bugler with him to the Little Bighorn. The Farmhouse woman and the nephews were encouraging of the musicians as were some of the comers and goers.

More excitement Wednesday came at 8:53 in the evening with an Earthquake over just north of Poplar Bluff. Another one shook Wagoner, Oklahoma about a minute later. They measured 4.0 on the Richter scale. A woman in Mountain Grove said, “My whole house shook. I was sitting on the couch by the windows. My dogs bolted and barked like crazy. Windows shook. My husband tried to say it was the wind. I knew better and thought it was an explosion or something. It scared us.” Someone over in Squires reported feeling it, though it was all still and quiet in Champion.

An unnamed local fellow came over one of the hills in Sleepy Hollow recently to find an eagle feasting on some roadkill. Sleepy Hollow is just south of Norwood on Highway C and north of the intersection of Y Highway–near where J.R. and Janet Johnston used to live. The fellow slowed down so as not to hit it and was rewarded by the sight of the great bird taking off with a big hunk of something in its powerful talons as it soared away. Old Champions have been seeing one soaring over the valley, perhaps over to the Henson Centennial Farm where Deward’s daughter lived for many years. She loved the eagles. Deward’s granddaughter lives on the place now, continuing her mother’s appreciation of all our natural wildlife and wonders.

Skyline’s archery team has started practicing. Their first tournament is December 4th in Norwood. This is a great program being overseen by Mrs. Barker and Mrs. Brixey. Archery is another of those skills, like music, where a youngster can see the value of practice and reap the rewards of improving skill. Off in the future, these students, archers, and musicians, and will look back on their school days with great nostalgic fondness. A guy named Zig Ziglar said, “Look back in forgiveness, forward in hope, down in compassion, and up with gratitude.” It’s Thanksgiving time and gratitude is what we are all about in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

CHAMPION—November 29, 2021

Georg meets Jonnie
Georg meets Jonnie
Having a bath...

Contentment is served up with leftovers even unto Monday, some of them from a Champion Thanksgiving center piece—the double-breasted four legged chicken. Good food, music and rambunctious children make for a happy holiday. Most will agree that people, our families and our friends, serve as the source of most of our Gratitude. The Mohawks say, “We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things.” A tall order these days, yet we strive. The miles of smiles across Champion gatherings with near and distant dear ones pave the long happy road of Precious Memories. How they linger! Loved ones, departed from this life long ago or just yesterday, somehow return to us in our mutual memory especially at holidays. They bring with them the sweet smile that says, “How blessed I am to have known you!” Some of their struggles and triumphs may have helped shape our attitudes and influence the decisions that we have made, so they are with us yet.


Wrong again! The Champion News erroneously reported that the November 17th earthquakes were felt in Squires and Fyan, but not in Champion. A vigorous chorus of corrections were voiced from Mr. Yellow, who became a wildcat–all shook up, and from Mr. Smith, whose frosty beverages took a walk across the table. Pictures swung on walls and dishes rattled on shelves all over Champion. However, the seat of The Champion News rests upon oak logs that still have the bark on them since 1873, when the tops of them were flattened to support the building. The logs are resting on big rocks. All this understructure must act as shock absorbers since Ezra Henson’s old house stayed steady as a stalwart ship on a still silent sea. Such is our excuse. It was simply inaccurate, incompetent reporting as opposed to fake news or opinion. As to opinion, one old Champion opines that minds can rarely be changed. Left or right, they are both up tight and unrelenting in their certitude. He says, “It’s kind of funny in a sad way.”

Skyline students and others around the country will be singing “Silent Night” on December 16th for their music programs. This is a joyful time of the year with much and many to celebrate. The Whetstone Crooner shares his birthday with Champion Luxe Krider on December second. We remember Luxe’s granddad, Lonnie Krider, on December fourth. Spunky, sparky, spritely Ms. Spivey has the fifth. The sixth is ringing for Mr. Bell and Professor Godshall. The seventh is for Noam Chomsky and lovely, lively Ethel Leach, whose green tomato pie recipe triumphed as the Summertime Pie Champion. They, together with Georg, the Bridgers, and the Prominent Champion and Prominent Champion Spouse (nee: P.C. Girlfriend), all Champions, Felix the Farmer, the Fine Fiddler, Mr. Kitty Clover, the Judge and Johnny Rainbow, The General and The Gypsy, the Crooner, and the J.c. Mooner, all their friends and loved ones, all musicians and storytellers and everyone else were lumped together as the target for much love, appreciation, and gratitude. Thank God for you Champions!—Looking on the Bright Side!

Georg saying good bye...