February 24, 2022

CHAMPION—February 21, 2022


Ozark beauty.
Ozark beauty.

“Time goes by so slowly, and time can do so much.” This up-tempo doo-wop song tells the tale. Sharry Lovan and Gina Holligshad donned their poodle skirts and bobby socks to sing back-up with Do-Wop David Whetrock at the Star Theatre in Willow Springs on Saturday. The General, illustrious (and authorized) reviewer of all arts for The Champion News, reported: “This was a super fantastic excellent show.” The New Grass Attack had played there on Friday, also to excellent reviews. Here is a great YouTube video of that performance. Cheyenne McIntosh, one of the guitar players and singers in that group, is our music teacher at the Skyline School. We are fortunate to live in a part of the world so rich in musical talent and appreciation.

The Road Home

Certain songs remind us of certain people. “Waiting For a Train” and “I Wonder How The Old Folks Are At Home” make us think of Jerry Wagoner, a favorite fine fiddler. “Hot Corn Cold Corn” and “Life is Like a Mountain Railway” bring banjo player Norris Woods to mind. “Once More” calls up memories of Lonnie Krider with Wayne Anderson and his family. Who will be the entertainment at the Skyline VFD chili supper on March 19th? It is sure to be a stellar evening with all that good food, the chance to hob nob with neighbors and to meet new ones in support of our volunteer firefighters. And music!

Esther's Place
Esther Keller Wrinkles’ home place.

More Skyline birthdays in February are those of first graders, Makenzie Jonas and Rayleigh Harvey, on the 9th and the 18th. Prekindergarten student, Sadie Hurt, has her birthday on February 23rd, the same day as third grader Antonella Castillejos. Other Champion birthdays are those of Joanna Bell on the 21st, and of Skyline alumnus, Staci Krider Cline, on the 23rd. The 24th is for Ruth Fish Collins with her lovely velvet voice, and for Arne Ahlstedt, already in the garden starting seeds on the most fertile days, the 21st and 22nd. Those are also Presidents’ day and Washington’s birthday. Tomorrow will be written numerically as 02-22-2022. Time is nebulous already, and with eleven days in the month sporting twos, it is just two too much. March on. Spring is on the way in just 28 days!

Thunder in February–frost in May is a local adage. Old Champions used to say, “There’ll come a day in February when the dog looks for the shade.” Those are the nice days, the warm ones. And on the cold ones, some are doing the deep cleaning that brings surprises. Many old folks are paring down, trying to let go of their life-long accumulation of worldly goods, a daunting task. Newly found letters from old friends, long gone, and rediscovered precious mementoes fuel nostalgia. We look back lovingly on sweet parts of the past and we look forward to better days ahead in Champion–Looking on the Bright Side!

Orville’s Barn

February 17, 2022

CHAMPION—February 14, 2022


Good news comes from the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department that they will be having a chili/ham and bean supper on March 19th. There will be lots of good live music and it will be like old times. The ongoing pandemic has played havoc with Skyline Picnic for the last two years, so it will be a real treat to get together again in support of the little organization that allows us to have homeowner’s insurance, in addition to protecting our lives and our property. Firefighters responded to a structure fire off Highway 76 on Saturday afternoon. Photos posted on the internet showed the residence an almost complete loss, though some personal items may be salvaged from rooms not totally involved. Imagining such a loss might cause us to be more cautions in our daily lives, though fires can be sparked by any number of things beyond our control. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter or looking to find some other way to support the Skyline VFD, call 417-543-2377. Meanwhile, save the date March 19th and get ready for some good food, good music and good fellowship.

Coach Jana Barnes-Brixey said, “A big thank you goes out to Ava Reddi Mix and Robert Upshaw for their donation for the Norwood tournament Friday night. Their donation covered the tournament fees for our archers. We are so grateful for the support from businesses and private donors during this archery season!” Coach Debora Barker said, “Congratulations to those who scored a personal best last night! Our season is quickly coming to a close, but here is still time to keep growing. We are proud of all our archers!”

It seemed strange not to care which team won the Super Bowl. Football fever flagged except for the fun of the Pro Bowl where the commercials were in English, but the commentary was in Spanish, and the players were having fun and being gentle with one another. Chief’s fans will look forward to next season, meanwhile the Boys of Summer will be busy with spring training soon. Sport is a good diversion from the strife and vitriol of much current daily discourse. Mrs. Helen Mirren says, “Before you argue with someone, ask yourself, is that person even mentally mature enough to grasp the concept of a different perspective. Because, if not, there’s absolutely no point.”

Great displays of vegetable seeds, seed potatoes and onion sets are suddenly in our local stores. It is a joyful reminder that spring is on the way. Gardeners are eager to get their gloves on and get busy. At the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam on Thursday someone said, “Hello, Judy. How are you?” Lovely Mrs. Russell sparkled, “I’m ready for the garden!” Ere long, regular attendees at that pleasant function will be sharing plants and seeds and then cucumbers and tomatoes. Tony Church shared some tasty jalapeno jelly with The Champion News—sweet and hot!

Donna Mullens Gainer has deep connections to Champion and a birthday on February 16th. That is also the big day for Skyline 8th grader Madison Bradshaw. Trish Davis, who is a great Frank Sinatra fan, and Linda Clark, of a bluegrass dynasty, will both party on the 17th. The 18th is for a favorite Veteran, Pete Proctor, and the 19th for his sweet Mother, Ruby, who is remembered fondly for her wonderful smile and great humor.

Valentine bouquets might still be fragrant and lovely by the time this is in ink, but chances are the chocolate will all be gone. Do not be discouraged, for the candy counter that was the focal point of generations of local children in the old Champion Store is still well stocked and is well situated in the Re-creation of that Historic Emporium located on the North Side of the Square in downtown Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


February 8, 2022

CHAMPION—February 7, 2022



The Year of the Tiger began auspiciously enough with our Skyline R2 School Tigers out of school for much of the week. According to Chinese scholars, the tiger embodies courage and bravery, so even in times of struggle, resilience and strength will prevail. As snowmen melt and school buses run again, our students will be glad to be back in the classroom sharing their wintertime adventures with their friends.

Douglas County Museum

Gloriously beautiful winter weather put the kibosh on the “Wreckreashun (sic) and Liars Club” meeting at the Junction for a few days, but it is doubtlessly back in session now with half a dozen stalwart historians and prevaricators outdoing one another. Meanwhile, Sharon Sanders, of the Douglas County Museum is introducing us to a new place in Douglas County each week. Already we have learned about Ann and Arden and this week she is investigating Arno. She is going through the alphabet featuring spots that were established enough to have a post office. While Champion may never have had a post office, we have had some splendid mail carriers in the past and still do today. Thank you, Homer Akers, Cletis Upshaw, Ben King, Bob Chadwell, Karen Ross and now John Webster and all the substitutes who have filled in over the years. Neither rain nor hail nor sleet nor snow nor dark of night has stayed our swift carriers from the completion of their appointed rounds. Champions every one!

Well, just how independent is a hog on ice? Recent weather prompted such questions. Bob Holt said people should know that he was more independent than that. YouTube is an internet feature that lets us connect with folks we wish we had had the chance to know and to revisit friends and loved ones. This week of staying inside provided an opportunity to watch eighteen minutes of Bob Holt playing fiddle with Hugh Strawn and JR Johnston on banjo, Gordon Peacock and Alvie Dooms on guitar, recorded on November 22, 1999, at the McClurg Jam. What a treasure! Holt said, “Music doesn’t have to be old to be good, but it has to be good to get old.” Speaking of old, as the world turns, The Cowboy has had another birthday. It was Monday at about 11:00. Tuesday, the eighth, is for Skyline fifth grade archer, Aidan Acree, and for the lovely Sarah Rucker down in Austin, Texas. She is an accomplished health care professional and mother of some spectacular Champion Grandchildren. Vanzant native, Clare Shannon Johnson, enjoys the thirteenth for her birthday and Valentines’ Day is for Shelby Ward, a great Champion niece.

Valentines’ Day is for everyone. Smell the roses, eat some chocolate and, like all Champions, Look on the Bright Side!


February 1, 2022

CHAMPION—January 31, 2022


Seed catalogues remind us that spring follows winter. Our almanac tells us that the best days to start seedbeds this month will be the 11th through the 13th and the 21st and 22nd. With a cold week ahead, daydreaming about warmer days and planning the garden might be as much energy as can be directed that way, between feeding the stove and hauling ashes. More than one grass and brush fire has been started by disposing of hot ashes improperly. Our volunteer fire fighters, always on alert to protect our lives and our property, appreciate your thoughtful caution. They will be glad for the changes in seasons too. Other interesting changes include the arrival of six big Clydesdales up on the High Road. They have plenty of territory to roam and may have been there for some while but just happened to be near the road when the Champion observed them. Farther south, another beautiful horse captured the gaze of the passer by. This one, all white and gleaming, posed for a photo.

Here is a lovely episode of the Vanzant Jam from back in 2014. Thanks to Tim Tamburrino. You may recognize some old friends.

We’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather whether we like it or not. Winter has been rough already on the east coast and New England and some severe stuff is headed our way. Plenty of good firewood, propane and electricity will keep us warm, as we lament the hardships of neighbors to the north. Wilbur, the official wild Champion Groundhog, will not stroll out of his deep, cozy den and prance about for the benefit of a great gaggle of guessers and gawkers. Folks up in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania will be having their big day this week. Their population is 5,770, but it swells significantly on the second as they celebrate Phil, their pet prognosticator. On that day here, we celebrate Angie Heffern, Charlene Dupre, Connie Grand, and precious friend, Judy, who is well remembered and much missed. Other folks having big days will be Sarah Cloud, Darrah Collins, Glenn Cooley and Zack Alexander. They all share their birthday on the first. The General’s son-in-law, Tom Barker, had his big day on January 28th. Birthday acknowledgements remind us of the swift passage of time and how lovely it is to have friends and family, even if by marriage.

Here is a chance to hear Herbie Johnston and friends at the Bootheel Bluegrass Festival, thanks to a lovely posting on Facebook by Sharry Lovan.

The Kansas City Chiefs are sharing a valuable opportunity. Long-time fans and new ones can grapple with how best to exhibit graciousness in loss. Just imagine how such a lesson might have benefited certain young people back in the day. Hope, up until the very last second, still ran through the kingdom only to be suddenly shattered–given way over to despair. The jubilation of the victors seems somehow excessive, though doubtlessly less excessive than our own euphoric triumph would have been. So, while gratitude for the experience might be a hard reach, acknowledgement of the effort it took win is somewhere in the neighborhood of graciousness, followed by whether we like it or not. School children will see that adults, however disappointed, can accept defeat and yet carry on with civility like Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!