May 27, 2022

CHAMPION—May 23, 2022


Trail Riders: Jeannie Kapraun, Cindy Hufham, Inguna Sotelo, Andrew Harden, Dana Harden, Lydia Harden, Bob Wheeler, Jeff Alcorn

Bud Hutchison’s Champion Trail Ride has been called his Memorial Trail Ride since his passing in 2018. At the end of the ride on Wednesday, May 18th, there were still stories circulating about him out on the wide veranda of the Champion Store as the riders relaxed with their ice cream. Andrew Harden leads Bud’s rides these days and reported that Wilma, who used to document them meticulously is now in an assisted living home up in St. Louis near her family. No bad dogs, bears or treacherous creek crossings marred their journey this time and no run-away horses. It was marked by beautiful scenery and good conversation. New to the ride was Inguna Sotelo. She lives in Gainesville and was riding her 16 year old ‘plantation’ horse, Gray. Jeannie Kapraun of Dora rode Lilly, Cindy Hufham from Rogersville was on Diamond, Jeff Alcorn worked with Dusty, which he bought recently from Carl Loftus. Bob Wheeler was on Rosie, who is officially called Reflection of a Rose. Lydia Harden was on Mable and Dana Harden on Diamond. Their dad, Andrew, was riding his 25 year old Ginger. He was excited about the 4C Summer Youth Rodeo for kids 18 and under over at the Cold Creek Cowboy Church. The first of the seven summer rodeos was May 22nd. The next one will be June 12th with events like Mutton Busting, Calf Riding, Chute Dogging, Goat Tail Tying, Calf Roping and more. Champions will look for more of these rodeo hands on future spring and fall trail rides through the Bright Side.

Fifty-six Skyline R2 School students are enjoying ‘Jamming into Space’ with the STEM activities going on in summer school. They have until June 14th to soak up science, technology, engineering, and math along with some other interesting things. Karen Tamblyn reported that everyone is having a good time. Conner Jonas had a good time on his birthday back on May 12th. He is a seventh grader. Jennings Harley is a prekindergarten student with a birthday on May 24th. That is also the big day for Chase Cauthron’s mom, Mandy. Jacob and Jenna Brixey did not go to summer school but enjoyed an adventure with their mom and grandmother on a ferry across the Big Muddy and then on into deep caves, horse parks, waterfalls, mountains, and pyramids. They know how to adventure. More May birthdays include Teresa Wrinkles on the 22nd and the lovely Lena Belle Wagner on the 26th. That may also be the big day for John Webber, granddad of Thomas, though at Vanzant on Thursday he indicated tat his birthday is some months hence. Ed Henson’s birthday was May 27, 1903. We miss him. Champions of a certain age have precious memories of the lovely gentleman. Brylee Clark was born May 28, 2010 the day after her great grandmother’s birthday. The 28th is also the birthday of Dale Thomas. He and Betty started the Pioneer Heritage Festival. It is still going on in a different permutation, but a pleasant affair nonetheless.

Jessie Mae Miller’s birthday is May 28th. Friends will look forward to seeing Jesse Mae again at the Denlow/Fairgrove School Reunion on her birthday. The General expects that there will be another good crowd, though in years past (see the May 12, 2008 post here) he has referred to them as “you thieves and thugs, scoundrels, bootleggers and bushwhackers.” Look for a full report of the 36th annual affair next week.

Meanwhile, we celebrate Memorial Day. Its history goes back to the American Civil War when citizens placed flowers on the graves of those who had been killed in battle. We honor all our Veterans along with our many dear loved ones and ancestors who have found their places in our cemeteries. We will find our way there too, but until then we will be Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!

Bob Wheeler and Rosie
Bob Wheeler and Rosie
Jeannie Kapraum and Lilly
Jeannie Kapraum and Lilly
Rosie's Rubdown
Rosie gets her rubdown.
Jeff Alcorn and Dusty
Jeff Alcorn and Dusty
Inguna Sotelo and Gray
Inguna Sotelo and Gray
Off they go...
Up the hill.

May 23, 2022

CHAMPION—May 16, 2022


Cloud cover obscured the lunar eclipse Sunday night for those of us here on the Bright Side, and while some were disappointed, others were grateful for the gentle rain on new gardens and for the absence of damaging storms.  Many splendid images of the event taken from all over the country and shared profusely on the internet prove to us that it really happened.  ‘Twas in the month of May.

The program handed to all the parents, grandparents, family, and many friends attending the Skyline R2 School Eight Grade Graduation ceremony said, “Your future holds endless possibilities. Congratulations to this year’s class.”  Members of the 2022 graduating class of our Skyline R2 School are Alain Ambroziac, Maddie Johnson, Jenna Brixey, Lydia Harden, Aaliyah Irby, Gracie Nava, Mason Solomon, Lane Watkins, and Shelby Wilson.  Six of them will be going to Norwood in the fall.  One will go to Ava, one to Lutie and one to some place in California.  Among them, in the future, they plan to be veterinarians, photographers, brain surgeons, barrel racers, pro-motocross racers, welders or mechanics, zoo workers, famous archers, forensic scientists, YouTube professionals or cops.  Their aspirations may change as time goes by, but the solid foundation provided by Mr. Luna, the Board of Education, the dedicated Teachers and staff of our outstanding rural school will stand them in good stead no matter what lies ahead for them.  Go you Tigers–Champions every one!

Bud Hutchison’s Memorial Trail Ride is scheduled for Wednesday and hopes are that the weather will cooperate.  A tour through The Champion News online archives ( finds a report of this trail ride each May for the last 14 years.  The first report in the May 12, 2008, issue began, “Pamplona, Spain has the Running of the Bulls every year.  Champion has the Champion Spring Trail Ride.  It came off again ‘without a hitch.’  Bud Hutchison has played a major role in its success for many years, and it has been going on for a long, long time.  It was reported that there were about forty riders this year, that they took their regular route and had a good time.”  Last year there were ten in the bunch and a full report can be seen in the May 24, 2021, posting.  Andrew Harden has taken the reins of the trail ride since Bud’s passing in 2018.  He came in third, on foot, in the adult division of the Skyline School 5K Fun Run back in April.  Does Andrew prefer riding to running?  Champions want to know and want to express appreciation to him for his part in continuing the long standing tradition, part of what keeps Champion Looking on the Bright Side!


May 13, 2022

CHAMPION—May 9, 2022


‘Twas in the month of May!  Mother’s Day had phone lines and the internet buzzing with good wishes for the women who nurtured, protected, and taught us how to take care of ourselves and to be good people.  It is lovely to know how many were able to get together with their Mothers in person.  We are reminded to acknowledge them while we have them.  Many of us have long since lost our Mothers, but the memories of their good lessons and good humor are with us every day and we know we were loved best by them.  It is as wonderful to be one as it is to have one.

These sunny days find Champions busy in the garden.  One uses newspapers for mulch and does some of her best reading there.  Jason Hoekema does an excellent job covering local school sports, and by the end of an article, a person feels like she has been to a ball game.  The positive attention to our schools must surely encourage the students.  They are our future and some of the best reasons we must be optimistic.  One laughs about the letters to the editor.  It is almost as if we have the F.C.C.’s Fairness Doctrine back.  It was repealed in 1980 by President Regan and deregulated the media.  Before then, on controversial issues of public importance, there was a requirement to fairly reflect differing viewpoints.  (Even our hearing aids are marked red for the right and blue for the left.)  The conservatives and liberals contributing to The Herald are the two wings that keep the bird flying.  While it is the opinion of some that newspapers are best used for the bottoms of bird cages, it is fun to stand out in the sun to recycle the news in the garden.


Kenneth Anderson


If good fortune should allow us to become octogenarians, hopes are that we can do it the way Kenneth Anderson did, surrounded with loving family and friends.  Sons, Doug and Matt, and their families poured in from Buffalo, Iowa and Arcadia, Florida.  Those and other family surprises from all over the country, as far as California, brought lumps to the throats of family and friends alike.  Barbara was smiling all day.  Congratulations to Kenneth for his interesting life journey since 1942, and to whoever in his family orchestrated the lovely party.  Attending were many notables, including The Gypsy and The General and numerous of his children, grandchildren and nephews, all Kenneth’s kinfolks, together with Herbie’s aunt and uncle.  There were several regular readers of The Champion News there including Sandy Newspaper, who recalls having had to edit the article occasionally in years past.  Kenneth’s party was on Saturday, but his actual birthday is on May 8th, sharing this year with Mother’s Day and every year with VE Day, Victory in Europe, which we are all hoping for these days.

Drop us a line at or at TCN, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717, or show up in person for some beautiful scenery, nostalgia, and optimism.  You know where it is–Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

An Old Champion’s Bright Side

May 8, 2022

CHAMPION—May 2, 2022


Champion gardeners are wishing the worrisome wind would lie down/die down and wishing that we could space this everlasting rain out in half inch increments over the course of the summer. Some are complaining that by the time it dries up enough to mow, they will have to bale their lawns. But, on the Bright Side: What a beautiful day was Sunday! May Day with sunshine and every spring blooming thing at its most vibrant with every imaginable shade of green draped over the rich rolling topography, polka dotted liberally with cows of all colors. In the realm of gripes, ours are puny against those of much of the world. We gratefully acknowledge our good fortune, even as we pick ticks and look for the Watkins Liniment and the Hadacol.

Darcy and Donnelle, intrepid travelers from Idaho, made their farewell appearance in Champion on Wednesday. They were on their way to Marshfield for Cherry Blossom doings and then onward and upward in a rambling fashion toward home. They were ushered down the wide, elegant stairway of the Historic Emporium with family embraces and admonitions for safe travels as the Sometimes Porch Band played on. They rambled so that after visiting the Precious Moments Memorial and Laura’s House on The Prairie in Kansas, they missed a turn to Minneapolis, where they did not want to go anyway, and Darcy cautioned social media friends not to believe Donnell, as she was “making stuff up.” Who does that? Later we learned they had been to a place called Nowhere, and through rain and snow finally making it home after 19 days, 4860.5 miles through seven states.

The Sometimers were joined briefly on the Porch by Angie Yoakum, who was entreated to share her lovely voice. Hopes are she will linger longer next time. Alejandro, Alex, sang and played a few tunes on The General’s guitar. From California, he was visiting his Polish chicken farmer friend and the lovely Miss Remy. About that time, David Whetrock showed up on his sleek, black motorcycle with its well working muffler. He also took a turn on The General’s guitar, singing that Bob Dylan tune, Wagon Wheel. He engaged in exciting dialogue with the Californian on such matters as flying planes, ultralights, lawnmower kites, go pros and drones, and their shared favorite piece of Reggae music. The session dissolved when the farmer announced that he had to catch and crate six hundred chickens before night fall, David had to go climb something tall, and The General was ready for his nap.

‘Twas in the month of May. May Day—the hopefully happy, happy birthday for Skyline teacher, Terri Ryan, and for first grader, Holden Johnson. The seventh and eighth days of May will be to celebrate Gracie Nava, an eight grader, and prekindergarten student Dahlia Winter. School is coming to an end with the eight grade graduation at 6:00 pm on May 10th and the last day of school will be a half day on May 12. Summer school begins on May 16th with the theme of “Jammin into Space,” doing a lot of STEM activities. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math are all fun and exciting for kids and a large part of what makes the world go around, along with farmers and musicians and charming shop keepers down on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Old Fox Creek. Word is out about an exciting party for Kenneth Anderson who is becoming an octogenarian. He is already a Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


May 1, 2022

CHAMPION–April 25, 2022


Excitement comes along with warmer weather.  Darcy and Donnelle are out on a tear.  The pilgrims from Idaho, after several unnecessary turns, came ambling through the territory on Wednesday, bravely fording the deep, swift waters of Fox Creek to enjoy a family sit-a-spell around the old wood stove in Downtown Champion.  Charlie Smith was there too.  She came over from Mt. Home to hear her mom sit in with the Sometimes Porch Band.  If that were not enough, the northerners showed up at Vanzant where they feasted with family and friends.  It was there that the charming Donnellle was subjected to the roasting jibes of The General who ushered her into the family fold with his musical rendition of Reincarnation.  Where do cowgirls go when they die?

Jim and Kenny, those good looking cowboys from Mountain Grove, were caught sauntering down Cold Springs Road on Saturday on their handsome steeds.  It was the perfect day for a trail ride.  Andrew Harden expects that the Champion Spring trail ride, begun years ago by the late Bud Hutchison, will take place in mid-May.  He will share the date in time for local and distant equestrians to saddle up.

Jim and Kenny

Andrew came in third, on foot, in the adult division at the Skyline School Fun Run 5k Doughnut Dash on Saturday.  There was a good turn out for the event with 49 runners and many spectators.  They finished the race with water, bananas, doughnuts, awards, prizes, and praise for their good efforts.  As one of the two little rural schools left in Douglas County, it is a delight to see our Skyline R2 School flourishing and turning out the well prepared community leaders and solid citizens who will be running things before long.  The hard work and good guidance of the administration, teachers and all the staff is paying off.  Thank you.

J.c. Owsley writes that the highlight of his morning was watching two gobblers strut in the hayfield just out of range for a camera photo.  He said several hens were watching the display.  He is up in Jordan around Cross Timbers, but the same sight can be seen in these parts.  We have turkeys, deer, skunks, possums, groundhogs, turtles, ticks, and other critters populating and enjoying our beautiful countryside along with our farm animals and domesticated pets.  We acknowledge and grieve the turmoil in much of the world, while we are awash with gratitude for our good fortune in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


CHAMPION–April 18, 2022


When the creeks are up, Old Champions are just as pleased to stay at home, but any chance trip out this time of the year is a great delight.  From day to day things change in a remarkable way as redbuds and dogwoods replace the Bradford pears and serviceberry.  Wild peach trees, the result of someone casting a stone onto the roadside, bloom with a promise of wild summer fruit.  May apples have us poking around in the woods looking for certain treasures and being careful not to reveal the location of our own patches.  A few warm days will have us into full blown spring.  Can it be too soon?

In a pleasant internet exchange, a Champion up in Wolf Pen Hollow lamented that even though his family has been in these parts for generations, he did not know half as much about the Denlow area as The General.  The General responded, “The older we get, the easier it is to make up stories and there is no one from the previous generation to dispute our word.  Although, I did get a lot of information from Cletus Upshaw.”  Old stories circulate around the old stove at the Re-creation of the Historic Emporium and anyone lucky to get an earful is indeed lucky.  Occasionally, there is an offering of poetry as well.

“Is that you, Myrtle?” is an old song that made Myrtle Harris smile.  She smiled a lot, loved her flowers, and said, “God bless you” to many of us often.  Friends and family remember her on her birthday on April 19th.  Her charming sister’s big day was March 1, 2, 3, 4!  She said, “You’re smart.  Figure it out.”  Skyline fifth grader, Jordan Ellingsworth, has his birthday on the 23rd.  The 24th is for a tree climber, arrowhead hunter, Jacob Moffett, and for Shelby Wilson, eighth grader at Skyline.  Champion Ruby Proctor’s youngest son celebrates on the 26th.  We well remember Ruby’s good humor and sweet smile.  We celebrate you all and the beauty of home and family.  Glen Brandstedder likes to see his name in The Champion News and makes the trip to Vanzant most every Thursday for the bluegrass jam.  He can join in the song that did not get sung for Bob Berry last week.  He and Mary were off on a jaunt, having a good time.

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”  So begins George Orwell’s novel.  In 1983, Walter Cronkite said we have seen Big Brother in Stalin, Hitler, and Khomeini.  There have been several others since then, and now we have Putin.  Totalitarianism is a big word.  Mr. Orwell, in an interview after his book was published and popular, sometime in the early 1950s, said it is up to us to fight it.  The brave Ukrainians are doing just that.  Even as we applaud their heroics and wish them great success, we count our own many blessings.

The hummingbird scouts have arrived.  Gardeners are getting prepared and trying not to be impatient.  The weather has been dreary, but hearts are lite in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!