March 27, 2022



Turnout for the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department chili supper on Saturday was excellent even with all the other events going on in the area. It was lovely to see old friends and neighbors again after such a long time. The food was tasty, the music wonderful, and the support of the community for this vital organization was most heartening. It will be exciting to see construction begin on the new fire station which is being funded by a block grant from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. When that will happen has not been determined, but it will be a boon to the organization and to the community when it does. Tim and Sara Tamburrino made the trip down from Springfield to enjoy the evening and to video the bands. Tim is about to have a knee replaced, so he said he would have plenty of time to edit and post while he is recuperating. He has also asked if the Skyline School is still looking for donations of guitars for their music program. There are probably good guitars languishing under the beds of any number of folks in these parts that could come to life again in the hands of Skyline students as taught by Cheyenne McIntosh of the New Grass Attack. An old timer said that if these instruments are not being played, they might as well be stove wood. There were several ‘old timers’ in the crowd on Saturday. In the event that some of them might not consider themselves to be in that group, names are being withheld to protect their illusion of youth. It was a good time for young and old thanks to the hard work of many volunteers. Champions all! Looking on the Bright Side!

Tim Tamburrino
Tim Tamburrino recording the show for the Midwest Bluegrass Directory.

Possum Trot
This band is called Possum Trot. Herbie Johnston is the fiddler. In the front row watching is Alvie Dooms, Jerry Wagner and Sally Prock.

Finley River Boys
The Finley River Boys’ fiddler started playing when he was 4.

The New Grass Attack
Skyline School’s music teacher, Cheyenne McIntosh, is on guitar and vocals with The New Grass Attack.

Sally, Jerry, and Alvie
Sally, Jerry, and Alvie enjoying the show.

Alvie and Bret
From one end of the fiddle to the other, these two have it covered.

March 17, 2022

CHAMPION—March 16, 2022



Saturday’s sixteen degree morning did not seem to hurt the daffodils and the clock springing forward has little effect on old Champions who are no longer ruled by it. They awoke on ‘Pi (e) Day’ (03-14) with gardening in their thoughts. The almanac informs them that good potato planting time will be coming up from the 18th through the 21st. Meanwhile, one saw a bee on Sunday, a wonderful harbinger of Spring, which arrives officially on the 20th. The 23rd is a big day for birthdays. Skyline VFD firefighter, Don Powell, shares the day with Elva Upshaw, The General’s daughter, with Don Bishop whose firewood has not yet rolled down onto Highway 14, and with Judie Pennington who is ready for mushroom season. Enjoy your special day and all your other days as well.

One time, shortly after the turn of the century, a Champion invited Geoff over for chili. The dinner was going well until he said, “Chili? Where’s the beans? This is just hamburger soup!” It turns out the Champion was an ex Texan and couldn’t help it. She said her Daddy had said, “If you’re gonna have chili, have chili. If you’re gonna have beans, have beans.” But over time, she has grown to appreciate Ozarkian chili and especially as it is served up by the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department’s Ruth Hamilton. She and her friends are stirring up a batch that will hit the spot at the chili supper at the Skyline School on Saturday night. To their credit, there will also be ham and beans, an Ozark specialty, and pies of all kinds, baked up by the Skyline VFD membership. Ruth has also turned out a beautiful Double Wedding Ring quilt that will go on the silent auction block, together with some Branson tickets and other goodies. The benefit is for the volunteer fire department that helps us get home-owner’s insurance and helps us when we need help the most. First responders are cool. They will start serving food at 5:00 and the music will start at 6:00! Great music, by the way—Finley River, Possum Trot, and New Grass Attack. The proceeds of the evening will go toward essential firefighting equipment and general operating expenses. A chance to step up and help out is a chance to take!

The big circle at the Vanzant Jam leaves listeners and musicians all feeling better at the end of the evening. Woody Guthrie said, “Music is the winds that sigh in the leaves on the tree of life, and I find it pretty hard from day to day to keep from getting out on a limb. But in my day, there was lots and lots of folks out on limbs—I’m just hoping that in your day there won’t be so many.” It turns out that these days there are quite a few in that situation. In all the ways we can, if only in our best hopes and prayers, we strive to be of help to those struggling in these difficult days—Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!


March 10, 2022

CHAMPION—March 7, 2022


Country lanes are beginning to bristle with daffodils planted long ago by previous residents and scattered by the road graders over the years.  That bright yellow heralds the beauty to come.  Many gardens will feature sunflowers this year in solidarity with the folks in Ukraine as they struggle to defend their democracy.  While we acknowledge our own good fortunes in these difficult times, we are mindful of the suffering and chaos going on elsewhere.  In a rare and welcome consensus, we send our best wishes and prayers for those folks in harm’s way wherever they may be.

Sunday night’s threatening weather reminds us that spring is indeed on the way.  The almanac says that the next good days for starting seedbeds will be the 11th and the 12th.  The 13th is the day to remember J.R. Johnston on his birthday.  He passed away in 2019, but any banjo strumming to an old tune brings him sweetly to mind.  In last year’s episode of The Champion News we read, “The soothsayer said, ‘Beware the Ides of March!’”  We can be wary any day of things unknown, and we can celebrate any day for the good things we do know.  As to good things, the 15th of March (the Ides) is the birth anniversary of Supreme Court Justice Ruth B. Ginsberg; of Sam Lightnin’ Hopkins, Texas bluesman; of Jacob Masters, now batting about 400 for the Saints over in Liberal, Kansas; and of his crooning second cousin, 30 years his senior far over the wide Atlantic.  Another good thing coming up is the Skyline VFD Chili Supper on Saturday the 19th.  The star of the silent auction will be the Double Wedding Ring quilt made by Ruth Hamilton.  Good music, food, and fellowship in support of the VFD will make for a great evening.  Kaitlyn McConnell has been sent her Chili Supper Invitation.  She will get to see Ozarks Alive!  Many local activities will be happening that night, so everyone, be safe in your travels.

Hovey and Dawn

Champion friend, Kaitlyn, is out collecting stories from folks with long memories.  On March 3rd Dawn Henson posted a picture of herself and Kenneth (Hovey) marking 55 years of marriage.  She said, “55 years with this guy!”  The picture is of an attractive and optimistic young couple starting out on life’s journey together.  Their friends, Beverly and Alvin Barnhart, have recently commemorated their 60th anniversary.  Hovey and Alvin must have been a real pair of rapscallions back in Mountain Grove High School.  They could tell you stories.  Long lasting marriages and friendships are well worth celebrating.  It is a treat when distant Champions stay in touch.  Distant Kentucky cousins, Mickey and Cathie Alsup Reilly, made a surprise visit to the Vanzant jam on Thursday, treating The General and his big, wild bunch to a bunch of fun.  They were just out on a tear, dropping in on friends and kin who did not know they were coming.  Surprise of the good kind–always welcome in Champions!  Looking on the Bright Side!


March 7, 2022

CHAMPION—February 28, 2022


Way back before former President Regan did away with the F.C.C.’s Fairness Doctrine and deregulated the media, there was a news commentator named Walter Cronkite. He was often called ‘the most trusted man in America.’ He said, “War itself is, of course, a form of madness. It’s hardly a civilized pursuit. It’s amazing how we spend so much time inventing devices to kill each other and so little time working on how to achieve peace.” Some Champions managed to spend most of the week with no television, instead, enjoying the company of some young, energetic, interesting visitors who arrived just ahead of the ice storm. The grimness of the world situation will still be there when the fun of a family visit is just another lovely memory stored up in the hearts of Old Champions.

The Finley River Boys, Possum Trot, and New Grass Attack will be the entertainment at the Skyline VFD Supper on the 19th of March. Save the date! It is a chili/ham and bean affair with deserts donated by the fire department membership. If it is anything like those kinds of events in the old days, it will be a lively affair. Seldom seen neighbors will be there along with some of our new neighbors, all expressing support and appreciation for the dedication and hard work of our Volunteer Firefighters. Perhaps some representative of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks will be there to talk about the new fire station. For sure, it will be a good time for a worthy cause.

Buffy St. Marie was born on February 27th on the Piapot Cree First Nation reserve in Canada. She was adopted by a family in Massachusetts where she flourished in her musical gifts as she grew up. One of her great songs is “Little Wheel Spin and Spin.” In some cultures, it is a custom to burn a candle on the birthday of a deceased beloved family member or friend, just as an acknowledgement of that person’s life and of the affection felt for him. So, on March 2nd, a candle is lit for Leopold—a dynamic individual, much missed. Dennis is bluegrassing in the back yard and picking and grinning on various stages, in area living rooms, and local barbershops. His birthday is the third of March. The fifth is for Linda up in Norwood, tending her beautiful garden and dealing good bridge hands. That is also a day to celebrate Krenna Long who lives north of Norwood and Cindy Winchester, Texas’ precious San Antonio Rose. One of Diamond Jim Brady’s kin has the sixth of March for her big day and the eighth is for Sue Murphy over in Mountain Grove, playing her mandolin singing ‘Just Because.’ Kay, who used to make brooms and maybe still does, shares her birthday on the ninth with Micha who is a California cousin of Felix the Farmer. Birthday candles burn with delight because of you!

Hopes are that everyone enjoyed some good shut-in time during the cold spell. Lots of hot chocolate and afternoon naps have us rested up for warmer days to catch up on the outside chores. Country people rarely run out of something to do. Sometimes they just spend an hour gazing out at the beauty of the countryside. Get an eyeful of it for yourself down at the end of the pavement on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion Daffodils
Champion daffodils in the snow.