September 22, 2022

CHAMPION—September 19, 2022


Pioneer Heritage Festival Schedule

These are being glorious days for our area festivals.  The fifth annual Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks is happening this Friday and Saturday out at the Fox Trotters Park, just north of Ava on Highway 5.  In addition to all the great music, there are local artisans demonstrating ‘heritage’ skills like blacksmithing, broom making, spinning and weaving, seed saving, and bee keeping.  They are sharing these skills not just as an homage to the perseverance of our ancestors, but perhaps as instruction against their future need.  We are reminded that the more we can do for ourselves, the less reliant we are on others, as we prepare to be new pioneers in an uncertain future.  Check it out at

Mum’s the word!  Chrysanthemums, that is.  The Skyline R2 School’s PTO fundraiser is likely to become an annual event since the community response has been so wonderful.  The beautiful plants are huge, healthy harbingers of fall.  Lots of good things are going on at Skyline.  The cross country team is getting ready to run.  Eighth grader, Tristian Jeffrey will have his birthday on the 25th.  Title I Aid, Alicia Borders, will celebrate the 27th, and fourth grade student, Melanie Hall, will have her birthday on the 30th.  Preparations are underway for the Fall Carnival on October 14th.  Go Tigers!  Skyline’s Sunshine Committee is creating a cookbook from the recipes submitted by students, their families and community members.  Champions are looking forward to seeing what’s cooking.

Politics are heating up in all our kitchens and we are encouraged to exercise our franchise in this very important mid-term election coming up in about fifty days.  When considering a candidate, ask yourself, “Would he pull me out of a mud hole?”

Fall arrives on the 21st.  That was Louise Hutchison’s birthday.  She was a real Champion, active in every good cause of the school, her church, our VFD.  Her favorite song was, “What a Day That Will Be.”  We miss Louise and her good energy.  Zoey Louise, Champion granddaughter and gifted artist, now out in California, also has her birthday on the 21st, as does her distant cousin and frequent visitor to Champion, Penelope, still in Texas.  Booger County bicyclist, Sandy Ray Chapin, will party on the 24th.  Cathy Alsup Reilly, of Denlow heritage, residing in Kentucky, has the 27th for her big day.  Belizean sailor, Becky Heston, will be celebrated on the 29th with the elegance due to someone who lives on Fortune Drive.

On Sunday, another sailor, Champion daughter Morag Edward of Edinburgh, Scotland, stepped aboard the Dutch tall ship Bark Europa, sailing from Cascais, Portugal to the Canary Islands.  They say it takes 45 minutes to hoist all 24 canvas sails, and only about 5 minutes to take all sails down.  The ship uses three and a half miles of rope to operate.  As part of the crew, Morag will not be hoisting sails or hauling on the bow line, but most likely navigating, photographing, sketching, and providing reels and jigs to her shipmates, and, perhaps, the Sailor’s Hornpipe, the melody we associate with Popeye.  She is a great musician.  Her family here wishes her clear sailing on this great adventure.  She is indeed a Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

The Bark 'Europa'

September 21, 2022

CHAMPION—September 12, 2022


Jody Henson, Eva Lois and Harold Phillips
Jody Henson, Eva Lois and Harold Phillips

September 11, 2001, will be marked in our history books the way we remember December 7, 1941. While neither Bin Laden nor Hirohito flew the planes, they inspired and directed the action—impactful words of powerful people.

David and Gina

There were nine Champion School Alumni attending the 37th Champion Reunion– Robert Brown, Larry Wrinkles, Glenna Henson, Charlene Medlock, Wilma Hamby, Eva Henson Phillips, Darrel Hutchison, Doug Hutchison, and Alvie Dooms. Eighteen others signed the guest list, though more joined the celebration as the day went on. Jody Henson came as an homage to Royce who passed away in May. She is still driving her little yellow Mustang. Eva Lois and Harold Phillips made it all the way up from Bella Vista, Arkansas. It was pleasant to visit with Glenna Henson who was married to the nephew of Ed Henson, our beloved old storekeeper. Newcomers had the chance to hear some of the old stories and to get acquainted with some of their neighbors. David Richardson and Gina Hollingshad provided some lovely tunes out on the wide veranda. They are good neighbors and busy people playing all around the area as Whetstone.

David and Gina

Skyline students Luke Hall and Serenity Merryman enjoyed September 2nd and 3rd for their birthdays. Brayden Ellingsworth had his on the 5th and Ely Young on the 8th. Tanna Wiseman is a Skyline School alumnus. Her birthday is September 13th. The 14th is for Frances Sutherland who was 82 in 2014, and for kindergartner Ellie Strong. The 15th is for Tigger Patty Squirell, retired mail-gal Pat Kim Smith, and for the late Elmer Banks, whose thoughts on the current state of affairs would certainly be interesting. The 17th is for prekindergarten student Jackson Johnson and the Chief’s Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes led his team to victory on Sunday and is a most popular fellow in the Chief’s Kingdom. Prekindergartner Bailey Kilgore and Donald Krider both celebrate on the 18th. Mr. Krider grew up in Champion and recently enjoyed a trip on the Greater Peoria Honor Flight to Washington D.C. Happy birthday to all of you and to the 385,000 people who are born on any given day worldwide.

David and Gina

Delightful changes in the weather have lifted the spirits of Champions. Stacking firewood is a seasonal chore that affords security in the form of wintertime warmth and a good reason for an afternoon nap. Someone will probably be singing “Shine on Harvest Moon” at the Vanzant Jam even though the moon was full last week. Music seems to be good medicine for many of us including Gail Lawson who has been enjoying the jam in recent weeks. She taught school in Norwood for thirty years, perhaps to some of those musicians. Cheyenne McIntosh is teaching music at Skyline. She is on the lookout for good guitars for her class. Alvie Dooms just came through with the loan of a small one, just right for some of the younger students. He thinks he may have another one to share from among his many souvenirs. He will look. Look around for ways to support your local schools and teachers, no matter where you live, you will be Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!

Stacking Firewood

September 15, 2022

CHAMPION—September 3, 2022


September 2, 1945, aboard the Missouri in Tokyo Bay, the instrument of surrender was signed marking victory over Japan and the end of one of the deadliest and most destructive wars in history. We have a few World War Two veterans left along with many who have lasting memories of that time. The whole nation was unified in the ‘war effort.’ A recent arrival to the area posted on the Internet, “Our biggest problem is that we’re still trying to play by the rules. They have no rules!” But, she did not say who ‘they’ are. The ‘us and them’ of these days makes us regret the loss of a unified Nation.

Some things have changed over time, changed for the better. The forty hour work week, child labor laws, workers’ compensation, and other laws statutes that protect workers. We celebrated these things on Labor Day and appreciate the hard fought battles, lives lost and sacrificed that made the changes happen starting in the late nineteenth century. Our picnics and family gatherings over the holiday festivities are a good time to remember the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being.

Twenty-eight celebrants gathered in and around the Historic Emporium on Saturday for the Champion Reunion, which has happened every year, except last year, since 1984. About nine of them were Champion School Alumni. That number may not be accurate, but the potluck lunch was delicious, and the visiting and reminiscing was sublime. The old days were full charm, adventure, drudgery, difficulties, and accomplishments—full of love and loss. Generations of old timers have shared their experiences out on the porch and out on the porch on the old store, and around the old wood stove that has graced both stores, taking listeners back with them to those earlier days. We look forward to more of the same next year. A couple of generous musicians shared their gift, making the whole afternoon a lovely one to remember.




Young James Mastrangelo likes to hang out with his old man. They had lunch in the Champion Store on Wednesday and told friends there about his new little sister. Her name is Reagan Grace and she weighed about seven and a half pounds when she got here on August 25th. James is going to be a good big brother because his old dad has some of his own childhood stories to tell him as he grows up. He will be three years old in May. Betty Thomas, Larry Wrinkles, and Wilma Hutchinson all have September first for their birthdays, but nobody is asking their ages. Phoebe Ward enjoys the third for her celebration. Vernon and Dailey Upshaw will both be partying on the fourth. Happy days. Teasing and harassing the Cowboy is good sport by neighbors and long time friends who failed to rush him out in time for him to catch his favorite soap opera. He can find out tomorrow what happened today, and the story line will probably not have changed much over the last twenty years.

News of the sale of Richard’s Brothers Grocery was all over the Internet and big news in Champion on Wednesday. This family business has been a mainstay in Mountain Grove since 1937. October 11th marks the day of the big change. Change is hard sometimes even for Champions—Looking on the Bright Side.


September 1, 2022

CHAMPION—August 29, 2022


Festivities for The Champion Reunion this Saturday, September 3rd, kick off at noon with a potluck luncheon. Everyone is welcome. It will be a good mix of nostalgia and fellowship. Bring your lawn chairs. Looking back, there will be stories told of the old school days and interesting happenings around the old store. Erstwhile neighbors will have a chance to reminisce and to catch up with each other’s life events. Jody Henson is planning to come as an homage to Royce who passed away in May. She is a girl from Oak Forest and said that they never had a school reunion. At some point, the Oak Forest School house was moved to Mountain Grove and is someone’s residence now. She did not know when that happened. She said Royce loved everything about Champion.

Looking forward, newcomers to the area will get a chance to soak up some of the history of the place as they make themselves at home here. Those newcomers can get on their computers (not their phones) and stroll back through time here. These archives only go back to 2006, but they are sprinkled with reports of school reunions and Skyline VFD happenings and a great video produced by David Richardson called “Champion New Store.” David is planning to make it to Champion on Saturday, perhaps with some of his Whetstone Band colleagues. (Maybe Foster and Kalyssa will be there with their mandolin and fiddle.)

Always looking for a good meal, David is then planning to go to the Crouch Farm Labor Day Picnic in Drury where the chicken dinner will be blessed at 5 PM. Roy and Pam Crouch moved here from Iowa back in 2016 and began having their annual picnic at that time to get acquainted with the community and express gratitude for being able to live in such a lovely place: Box 65, County Road 247, Drury. Everyone is welcome. Bring a side dish, if you like, your lawn chairs and musical instruments.

While they were ‘locals’ here for about fifteen minutes, Edie and Lee Richardson (a different bunch of Richardsons) are now situated nicely over on the other side of Norwood, but still Champions. Talking about the summer, Edie said, “It was a full time job just keeping everything watered and alive. The produce garden wasn’t as nice as usual. It has been 3 years now and not one season has been the same. There is still a lot to learn about Zone 6b, but we have done well so far I feel. We are still on council and doing our Master Gardener volunteering at University of Missouri Extension Wright County. If I’m not out in the gardens or herb beds, you can bet I’m doing my next passion—food.” She is an amazing cook. Lee has become a beekeeper and it is all “Honey this and Honey that” with him.

Bee Kind

An avid gardener way over west of Champion says his squash vines are thriving with many fewer squash bugs than in years past. He attributes this to having planted white icicle radishes in each hill and letting them grow up together. That is a trick he learned on the internet. He also suggests that we might Google “Grazon contamination” for information concerning the poisoning of garden soils by herbicides. He says, “Some of these chemicals are persistent in the soil for years and may be introduced through manures of animals pastured on treated fields or through straw or hay grown on treated land used as mulch or to make compost.” He said that this has been a big problem in England, with thousands of garden allotments being ruined. Champions will quiz their manure suppliers this fall.

The second week of school is well underway now and Skyline has 89 scholars attending plus a number of preschoolers. The year is off to a good start. The General and other old timers will miss the farm kids who have been hanging out with them on the wide veranda on Wednesdays asking for that “Dirty Feet” song. They are now laboring over their books. So far, Felix the Farmer is really enjoying kindergarten. He already knows the alphabet and can count to 30. Kindergarten is a good time to learn the ropes of school. A well educated population is the hope of the Nation. Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!