June 25, 2022

CHAMPION—June 20, 2022


Happy Father's Day!

Father’s Day again has given every man and woman and child a chance to say out loud what we want our fathers to know or wanted them to have known before they passed on. The “Mom and Dad Waltz” is an old tune that sums it up for many of us. “In my heart joy tears start because I’m happy and I pray every day for Mom and Pappy.” Every family is different, as is every father/child relationship. Where would we be without our fathers? We wouldn’t.

Kitty Clover Potato Chips

Glen Brandstedder can find live music most every day or evening of the week. At Vanzant on Thursday, he mentioned that Royce Henson, whose passing was marked last week, had been one of his teachers in Mansfield back in the day. He reckons it was in about 1953 or 1954 when he was in Mr. Henson’s woodworking shop class in the basement of the Mansfield High School, where he put together a cedar chest. It was a three story school building. Glen remembered an instance when an unruly student was ‘kicked in the butt’ up every step to the principal’s office. In such places as that, in those days, the board of education was often applied to the seat of learning. This extreme heat is keeping Glen and others from being out as much as they would like. He said he might not make it to the McClurg jam Monday. He used to deliver Kitty Clover Potato Chips to the store there back in the 1960s. He did that kind of delivery work for twenty five years all over the Ozarks. He has stories to tell.

Banana Pudding

Summer officially arrives on Tuesday, but it has been here for a few days already. It is prime time for family visits. Having young folks in the house is exciting for Old Champions. For days ahead of their arrival, the old folks plan chores, activities, and meals for company. Stories will be told, and memories made. It is the time we dream of during long, dreary winter days. Feed them on banana pudding and take them to the creek. Send them home with as many mementos of their visit as you can get them to take.

Old folks, our gardens are beautiful, but they need to be tended early in the morning and late in the evening. Take care. Drink water. Let those city kids visiting harvest the potatoes. Edie Richardson’s Garden is the kind of garden we would all have if we were as knowledgeable, resourceful, enthusiastic, and as well supported as she is by her handsome husband. The first tomatoes to show up in one Old Campion’s Garden is on a cherry tomato plant shared to Champion by our charming previous mail carrier, Karen Ross. (Our new mail carriers are also charming.) Karen is also a great gardener and has shared plants with her friends here often over the years. She and Edie are friends and Facebook has helped others of us stay in touch with them during these busy days. It turns out that as we accumulate more experiences and age, it takes less and less to keep us busy in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

A cool Champion creek...

June 22, 2022

CHAMPION—June 13, 2022


An Old Champion's Garden

“Summertime and the living is easy” or at least it was last week before the thermometer got all out of whack with the calendar. Summer routinely arrives on June 21st. Summer school is out for the Skyline students, who finished the session with a fabulous fishing trip on June 3rd. Photos of excited young fishermen filled the internet. Skyliner, Ava Hurt, had her birthday on June 8th and Zachary Ambroziac’s big day was the 14th. Jacob and Jenna Brixey had big days at the Tri County Fair with their Jersey cows. They and the other 4H members are on their way to being the farmers who will feed the country in the future. So, summertime is really here. The sweet, wet, cool spring has made our gardens lush.

Banjo David Medlock had a birthday on June 6th. Most likely someone brought it up at the Vanzant Jam on Thursday. Probably they sang that song to him, and chances are he plinked out, “Shave and a haircut six bits!” That is some of what certain bluegrassers call ‘closure.’ Champion Wayne Sutherland enjoyed his birthday on the 7th. Mr. Sutherland was 85 in 2015. You do the math. The Southerland family has a long, interesting history in Champion. Wayne’s father, Ed Sutherland may have been part of the fabled A.S.S. Construction company, made up of an Anderson, a Sutherland, and a Smith. Wayne’s daughter, Laine, who passed away in 2014, said that her grandfather, Ed, had once described her as “the ‘darnedest’ thing that ever peed behind a pair of tennis shoes.” He was just one of many colorful Champions of days gone by. There are still an interesting character or two in these parts, not naming any names.

Champions are polishing their reading glasses in anticipation of Letters to the Editor in The Herald. What reaction will local high strung epistolary fiends have to say about the ongoing January 6th Hearings? We are taught not to discuss politics and religion, but perhaps not doing so has made us inept at it. Knowing full well that we have friends and family members who believe fervently the opposite of our beliefs, how do we keep our relationships intact? We all love our Country. Surely, we all want peace and prosperity and wish harm to no one. While it can be excruciating to attempt to see things from the other point of view, it is worth the try. Or is it? While there may be no point at all in arguing with someone incapable of entertaining alternate perspectives, Aunt Eavvie said, “Can’t we just get along?”

A warm, sunny week with no rain has haymakers rolling in it. Our wet spring may produce yields per acre likely to surpass all records. Farmers know to keep their equipment in good repair, to keep themselves hydrated, to watch out for snakes and bears, and to keep a good song in their heads as they go up and down, round and round the fields in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

An Old Champion's Garden

June 16, 2022




It is with sadness that we mark the passing of Champion Royce Henson on May 28th at the age of 88.   He grew up in Champion, the oldest son of Ezra and Sylvia Henson.  Ezra was a farmer and later on became the sheriff in Ava.  Sylvia wrote the Champion items from the same place it is being written today.  Royce, his two brothers Kenneth (Hovey) of Houston, Texas, and Andy of Columbia, Missouri, who passed away a few years ago, and their sister Eva Loyce Phillips of Bella Vista, Arkansas, walked the mile and a half from the farm to the school. He was rewarded with a silver dollar for perfect attendance when he was about 10 years old.  Royce said that as a kid in school he would never have imagined that the old building would ever have electric lights and gas heat.  Everything was lit with or run on kerosene in those days and the schoolhouse was heated by a big wood stove.  He went on to higher education at Southwest Missouri State University and along the way married Minnie Jo (Jody) Lorette from up at Oak Forest.  Their children are Valli, Victor, Vaughn and Jan, deceased.  Their grandchildren are Alex and Evan Mills, Whitaker Taryn, Carlyn and Zach Henson, Victoria Henson and Katrina Rute Lynn.  For the last twenty-eight years Royce and Jody have operated their business, Lawn Salon.  Royce was able to mow once this season and he really enjoyed it.  Jody enjoys it too and is taking care of three lawns herself these days.   For several years in a row, he and family members made the “Walk of Ages” tracing the path all the way from Cold Springs, down past the old home place, to Champion to attend the Champion School Reunion.  Covid has interfered with the school reunion the last couple of years, but Jody is hoping it will happen again this year just because Royce always loved it.  He and Jody made the trip from their home in Springfield for every Champion School Reunion, for the Champion Spring Flings and The Pioneer Heritage Festivals. He loved being a Champion.  He brought about twenty of his family members to Champion to celebrate his 80th birthday.  It was a blast, finishing up with a trip to Rockbridge.  His brother, Hovey, and his wife, Dawn, along with Jody and Valli, enjoyed another lunch at Rockbridge on Wednesday after having visited the Historic Emporium on the North side of the Square in Downtown Champion–Looking on the Bright Side!


June 10, 2022

CHAMPION—May 30, 2022


Perhaps as many as fifty people showed up for the 36th Annual Denlow/Fairview School Reunion Saturday which turned out to be a beautiful day. Johnnie Cox, Kaye Johnston, Robert Upshaw, Vernon Upshaw, Karen Fae Krider, Jessie Mae Miler, Dean Brixey and Shirley Brixey, were the Denlow alumni. Of the Upshaws, Robert, Kaye, and Fae also attended Fairview along with brothers Pete and Frank Proctor. Pete led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance. After a bountiful lunch, they, along with many friends and kin folks, repaired to the pavilion where a great deal of silliness and good visiting occurred. On display was a 70 year old friendship quilt made by Denlow students. It is in remarkably good condition. It sparked the intention of an alumnus descendant, Tanna Wiseman, to solicit participation in a similar project for next year’s reunion. Resolute, alleged, unrelated, actual, unrepentant, steadfast, probable, unindicted, suspected, staunch, improbable, clueless, significant, presumed, and proud members of the Robert Upshaw Fan Club bid against each other and sometimes against themselves in a lively auction conducted by Mike Bearden, spouse of LaShell, one of eleven Upshaw cousins in attendance.

Denlow Alumni

Fairview Alumni

70-year-old Friendship Quilt

Upshaw Cousins

Ray Hicks, brother of Champion Ruby Proctor, was down from Iowa for the reunion with some good memories of the area. He said that up in his neck of the woods there is an active barn restoration organization as he learned that Orville’s barn up on Cold Springs Road is deteriorating. He asked about recycling in this area and said that Iowa is one of the states that have container deposit laws. At $.05 each, perhaps his Douglas County friends could finance a trip to see him with a truck load of recyclables. Here at home, on Memorial Day some of Denlow’s finest participated in the re-dedication of the century old monument to The Grand Army of the Republic.

Since it is the end of May, it’s about time that we share the poem shared to a Prominent Champion back in his youth by a local poet:

‘Twas in the month of May when the Jack began to bray,
The Jenny came around the barn.
Said the Jenny to the Jack, if you jump on my back
We’ll help lift the mortgage off the farm.
Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!

Jenny and Jack