October 30, 2022

CHAMPION—October 24, 2022


The Europa awash...
An ounce of prevention...

On Wednesday, when Old Champions were having dinner, it was midnight UTC (Universal Time Coordinated, which used to be Greenwich Mean Time) and their sailor daughter was crossing the equator. When she is on land again or somewhere with the internet, perhaps she will tell if there was some ritual connected with that auspicious crossing. She is generous of spirit and will not mind our vicarious adventuring with her while she bravely hauls on the bowline. Her last missive to her other half was, “Hola from almost zero latitude! Four days and nights of intermittent torrential rain squalls.” She said the rain was warm and that she was happy for clouds to block the direct sun. “Neptune expected to greet us in the next couple of days.”

Friends rendezvousing at Skyline for a bridge adventure in Norwood around mid-day, found the Skyline School parking lot jam-packed with cars and trucks. A pleasant young man, who identified himself as Travis Burnette, said the throng had gathered to celebrate the 90th birthday of his aunt, Juanita Scheibel. He was not sure of the spelling, but he said that she had worked at Skyline for many years. By five o’clock when the bridge players returned, the parking lot was empty, save their own cars. It may have been a surprise party, or she may have known. She surely learned how many people love and admire her. Perhaps she received a birthday card like one that came to Champion from Ethel and Bob Leach: “What would you like for your birthday? A sporty, foreign car? A villa by the sea? A rare, expensive work of art? A cruise to Waikiki? To find a million dollars….and buy all you’d want to buy? You’d like these things for your birthday? I don’t blame you, so would I!” They went on to say, “Have a happy birthday, anyway!” Bob and Ethel are a nice couple who have been regular visitors to Champion in the past. Bob has a sweet little mandolin-banjo, which he does not play, and will not rent, lend, or sell, and probably will not give away. We like him anyway, even if he drinks his java from an old tin can while the moon goes riding high.

Second grader, Grant Strong, had his birthday on October 24th. Roger Miller was born on October 25, 1936 and passed away in 1992. We miss him, but his music lives on. Harley Krider shares his birthday on the 26th with Brian Oglesby, his nephew by marriage. Shala Clark has that day too and will likely have a huge party with all her children, nieces and nephews and maybe her grandmother, Kathie. The 28th is for another second grader, Kayleigha Crownover. We remember Champion Royce Henson on his birthday on October 30th. His mother, Sylvia Henson, used to write the “Champion Items” from the very spot where it is being written today. The 30th is also the big day for sixth grader Addison Burns and for Connie Landsdown. Connie is a big KC Chief’s fan, which is evident by the banner in the front yard there at the Farmhouse. She surely was jubilant on Sunday as her team was triumphant. They are five and two now and will have a bye next week. That we know what that means now makes some old people laugh in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

The Chiefs at home.

October 23, 2022

CHAMPION—October 17, 2022


Bud Hutchison’s Memorial Trail Ride

The three-tenths inch of rain on Wednesday stalled the start of Bud Hutchison’s Memorial Trail Ride out of Champion. The delay gave the riders time to enjoy visiting in the store for a while before they took off on their nine mile jaunt. It turned out to be a beautiful ride even from a damp start with no bad dogs or deep water. Ice cream and storytelling finished the afternoon for Andrew and Dana Harden, Bob Wheeler, and Linda Johnson all of Ava, Don Hamby and Calvin Chambers of Dora, Kay Rex of Fordland, and Reggie Smith and Gary Smith of Willow Springs.

Miss Helen selling tickets.

The Skyline Fall Carnival drew a big crowd for the chili, the fun, and the games in a great show of community support for our school. Though no record exists of how many circuits Andrew Harden made in the cake walk, his excited celebration would indicate there were many. He said it was banana pudding and was delicious. Grandpa Buzz Woods made a hilarious attempt at marksmanship with a plastic pistol which he abandoned as soon as he learned Blaine Denlow was in the house. Skyline Volunteer firefighters helped run the games. The school and the fire department are close good neighbors. Lieutenant Terrell Johnson has children in the school and seems to be imbued with significant patience as he assisted many would-be archers shooting floating targets with plastic arrows. The Skyline Archery Team will begin its season at the end of the month under the leadership of Jana Barnes-Brixey and Melissa Willhite.

Andrew Harden Buzz Woods

After the Whetstone Band finished their show, two hundred ducks plunged off the waterfall at the Rockbridge Mill on Saturday for their race down the creek. Diann Smith made a last minute purchase of her duck and wound up the winner of a deluxe two night stay at the Rockbridge Resort for two people, complete with fishing permits. Ms. Smith has a daughter in Skyline too. This event is slated to be an annual affair now with proceeds benefiting the school.

Prekindergarten student, London Coon, will celebrate his birthday on October 22nd, and second grader, Grant Strong will have his on the 24th. Champion Tennessee grandson Carson Cline had the 18th for his birthday and his Uncle Marty will enjoy his on the 20th. Carson’s cousin Ester Grace Oglesby enjoys the 23rd and her Aunt Breauna has the 24th for her day. Award winning artist, Donna Moskaly, will have her party on the 22nd. Your families and friends enjoy your special days too and the chance to say, “You’re special!”

Vegetable and flower gardens will be as sad on Tuesday as the KC Chief’s fans were on Sunday night. We heard someone say, “You wouldn’t have won if we had a beat you.” Things will warm up after the cold snap and hearts will be light again. Leaves will be falling, but spirits will be high. The hard work of getting ready for winter and for the next game is ongoing. Hard work and optimism will never fail us in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


October 21, 2022

CHAMPION—October 10, 2022


Skyline School students, staff, parents and community are getting ready for the Fall Carnival coming up on Friday. There will be games and snacks, interesting artwork to enjoy and the chance to tour the great little school that is preparing our youngsters to be the good citizens who will be running things in just a few short years. Rockbridge is sponsoring Skyline School’s First Annual Duck Race as part of the Rockbridge Fall Festival on Saturday the 15th. The Whetstone Band, made up of David Richardson, Gina Hollingshad and James VanKirk, will be playing there from 2:00 to 5:00 pm when the Duck Race will begin. The race will start on the high side of the dam and will end with some lucky person winning a two night deluxe stay for two at the resort. Most likely you can buy your duck there before the race begins. Proceeds go to the eighth grade class at Skyline.

October is being beautiful. It turns out the month has five Mondays, five Saturdays, and five Sundays, which is something that only happens every 823 years, a fact we might not have known, but for the internet. There is much to be learned there. Many interesting people celebrate birthdays in October. Madelynn Ward became 16 today, October 10th. Teresa Tost, who keeps us informed of local weather and other emergencies, was celebrated on the 8th. The 7th was for Betty Dye of Skyline proper, and Vicki Trippe of Springfield, a much admired political activist. The 11th has little to show for it, but the 12th gives us Janet Chapin, famous OATS bus driver, KC Chief’s fan, mother of artists and sailor daughters. Up in Manes, Cathy Baldwin’s mums are going crazy she says. Her birthday is on the 13th. Champions Eva Clark and Leslee Krider share the 14th for their big day. They will be celebrated in different places by lots of people who love them. October gives us festivals, pumpkins, and many good reasons to celebrate. We celebrate the fluffiest squirrel tails in years, the spoons inside all the persimmon seeds, and the darkness of the rare wooly worm as portents of a severe winter. Forewarned is forearmed and warm in Champion.

The hummingbirds are gone, but the armadillos are willing to be seen in broad daylight. Wilbur, a Champion groundhog, has not been seen in a couple of weeks. Gwen Lawson reported having had a groundhog undermine her driveway and, after numerous attempts to dissuade the critter, finally used a bag of Quikrete to fill its hole. She was curious about the groundhog pictures in The Champion News at www.championnews.us. The Missouri Conservation Department has a great deal of information concerning area groundhog/wood chucks accessible on the internet. Ms. Lawson was also curious about who The General might be. He is the gregarious fellow who has been hosting and entertaining many family members, some from Idaho and other places near and far. As a preamble of the Vanzant Jam, representatives of that throng presented him with a custom made, handcrafted, ornate cigar-box guitar which surprised and delighted the gentleman. It proved excellent accompaniment to his voice as he burst forth in song throughout the course of the evening. This is an entertainment rich part of the world.

In another part, out on the wild Atlantic Ocean, our Champion daughter, on a 130 foot sailing ship, is headed toward the equator, which she will cross in a few days. She will next stand on land in southern Argentina on November 17th. Happily, she was able to obtain rosin for her bow in the Canary Islands before they sailed on to Cape Verde. From there her request to her other half in Edinburgh, Scotland was to be texted lyrics for a couple of folk songs. So there is music on the high seas. Today, on John Prine’s birthday, many of his great songs come to mind. He wrote “Slow Boat to China” and “Paradise” where we think we are here in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


October 10, 2022

CHAMPION—October 3, 2022



Bud Hutchison’s Memorial Fall Trail Ride is scheduled for Wednesday, October 12th. It looks like the weather is going to be wonderful for it. Someone said that a hundred years ago everyone had a horse and only the rich had cars. Today, everyone has a car and only the rich have horses. “How the stables have turned!” We do not know how affluent the equestrians are, but it is a rich experience to see them out on our beautiful country lanes. They will appreciate the work of our charming and handsome gentlemen from the Drury Shed. A friend visiting on Friday said, “I see the stone sharpeners have been around here.” As he came up from the south and went back that way, he did not see the repair to the deep, wallowed out spring branch up the road, now much improved and more easily passable. Moreover, the higgledy-piggledy, long standing, concrete slab/bridge just south of the pavement over Clever Creek has been smoothed and gentled into a pleasant wiggle from a jarring joust. Thank you, kind sirs, and Commissioner Loveless.

Autumn is on us and visitors from the sizzling south relaxed in the relative cool with their relatives. In the span of their short visit the foliage began its change. The four days filled with feasting, fun, and music left no time for television, so guests and hosts enjoyed a reprieve from the turmoil of weather, war, and politics. They had a wonderful time at the Pioneer Heritage Festival and think they will plan a trip next fall to coincide with that excellent event. They loved the music, the food, the beautiful crafts, and demonstrations. They left with souvenirs.

Vanzant is enjoying visitors from Boise, Idaho this week as Darcy Upshaw Cecil, Ron and Loni settle into the Chateau. On Wednesday they will be welcomed to the porch in downtown Champion where wasting time is considered time well wasted. They likely will tour up and down Fox Creek Road to gaze once more on that special little shack with its many family memories. The General will be sure they are entertained all during their stay and particularly at the Vanzant jam on Thursday.

Fourth grade Skyliner, Myson Loveless, shares his birthday on the first of October with kindergarten teacher, Janna Brixey, and with the late Pete Mullens, with former President Jimmy Carter, now 98, and with The Prominent Champion who just acts like he is having a good time until he really is. The second day of the month is for Tucker Clark, who was born in 2015, and for Mahatma Gandhi. Third grade student, Evan Homer, has his big day on the third. The fourth is for the Upshaw sisters, now Krider and Johnston. Their brother, The General, will most likely tease them mercilessly as that is his one of his primary methods of showing affection.

Skyline’s cross country team has done well in their recent meets and will be in Thornfield on Wednesday the 12th to run again. The Fall Carnival will happen at Skyline on the 14th with fun for the whole family. Rockbridge will be the site of the first annual Skyline Duck Race on the 15th. The owner of the winning duck will win a two night deluxe stay at the resort. Any eighth grader can tell you how to get your duck in the race. One Old Champion is buying a duck for distant relatives which she hopes will entice them to visit.

Dry but otherwise wonderful weather here in the Ozarks has us grateful even as we feel for the many suffering the effects of the hurricanes in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the far northeast. The first responders, National Guard, linemen, and all the many others who step up in these catastrophes are putting themselves at risk to help those in dire need. They are indeed Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!


October 2, 2022

CHAMPION—September 25, 2022


A Champion Way

Excitement and enthusiasm for the Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks caused us to report, in error, that it was happening last Friday and Saturday. This Friday and Saturday is when the fifth annual event will take place. Meet your friends and neighbors out at the Fox Trotters Park and have some fun.

Chuckles and his burrow (inset)
Mason and Grandpa Mayfield

A busy week here on the Bright Side started with Chuckles, the groundhog, distant cousin to Wilbur. Something scared him so badly that he broke into the screened in porch and wound up trapped in a wicker chair! It took a neighbor and a coat hanger to free the little fellow who took off lickety-split. Then, for the second day in a row, young Mason who is 3 or 4 years old, was able to convince Grandpa Mayfield to come over from Drury to the Champion Store for a popsicle. While he was there he probably heard about the time The Cowboy drove his 1979 brown three-quarter ton Chevy truck slowly around the field while a couple of yahoos loaded eighty-five (85!) bales on it. He said the hood kept getting higher and higher, but he made it the two and a half miles home to his barn without losing any of it. This allegedly happened during the early 1980s when farmers ordinarily maxed out their trucks with fifty bales. The story was corroborated by both the Cowboy and the yahoo doing the stacking. They said the stack barely cleared the electric lines.

The tall ship with its 25 sails and a Champion daughter aboard left the Spanish isle of Madera on Sunday and is expected to reach the Canary Islands off the western coast of Africa on Wednesday, a little over three hundred miles. To be out of the sight of land on the ocean is an experience many have not had, and one that Grandpa Mayfield does not want to have again. He got caught in a storm while fishing off the Oregon coast and was disoriented and lost for a while. He was glad to get back on dry land again. But the girl loves it. She says there is nothing between you and the sunrise and the sunset and you get to see all the colors of the ocean. Her report on the trip from Portugal to Madera was that she had spotted a fin whale, lots of dolphins, skua, predatory sea birds, and bioluminescence during night watch. To her old folks on the farm who have not been anywhere in a long time, this is a wildly exciting adventure, if only a vicarious one. She was pleased to find that the ship is equipped with a violin, but unfortunately there is no rosin for the bow. Hopes are that she will have luck finding some when they dock in Tenerife on Wednesday and that it is clear sailing all the way. We can’t direct the wind but, we can adjust the sails.


Barbara Cooper said how much she misses the Skyline Picnic. We all do. Barbara and Darrell were shopping at Richard’s Brothers Thursday and paused for a pleasant visit. She said she would like to come back to Champion some Wednesday. Darrell said he might bring his banjo. The General said he would believe it when he saw it. It seems that Darrell plays everything. He planned on seeing Cheyenne McIntosh Saturday in West Plains at HOBA and would decide if he has extra guitars to share for her Skyline R2 School guitar class. Children benefit in multiple ways with music as a part of their education. The school year is off to a good start. Runners made a good showing at the track meet in Ava last Wednesday and they will run there again this week. The Fall Carnival is coming up October 14th which will give the whole community a chance to tour the campus and to show support for the great little rural school turning out the good citizens who will be running things in just a few short years.


By the time The General got back from West Plains to Vanzant Saturday night, a sudden thunderstorm had his yard full of debris, though the downed limbs and trees had already been cleaned off Highway 76 and EE. Monday morning Commissioner Brand Loveless said the county road men were working on cleaning up storm damage and when they could, they would get over to the spot 1.3 miles south of Highway 76 on CR 76-237 to deal with a deep, wallowed out spring branch across the road with big rocks submerged. Those charming gentlemen of the Drury Shed do fine work.

This is an exciting time of the year with sudden serious weather, and now all our glorious weather for our festivals and gatherings. The excitement associated with the KC Chiefs, however, dwindled a little with their unfortunate loss on Sunday. The lessons the team will have learned through the experience will doubtlessly prove valuable as the season goes on. Optimism is a great trait of Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!

After the Storm