November 22, 2022

CHAMPION—November 19, 2022


Over the river...

Sweet family time calls for Thanksgiving. The many reasons we can conjure for being grateful could take all day. The folks at the Railway CafĂ© in Norwood have been taking reservations for Thanksgiving dinner for single folks or any folks who do not have the facilities, time, or enthusiasm for cooking. It is great to have a house guest who loves to cook and who brings exotic ingredients and imagination with him. Being a kitchen assistant/gofer in your own kitchen can be a lot of fun with lots of laughter. Sharry Lovan is at home in a kitchen and has produced a mountain of peanut brittle. She was delivering orders on Saturday afternoon. Probably she will be making music somewhere in the neighborhood on Saturday night. She brought Stringed Union Bluegrass to Skyline School a while back and it is reckoned that the kids will all be looking for banjos, mandolins, fiddles, guitars, and basses for Christmas. A sure fire way to improve the quality of life for the coming generations is to put musical instruments in the hands of children at any age. Josh Turknett is part of a band called The Georgia Jays. He is also a neuroscientist who says music is great for brain building at any age. “Brainjo” is his method. Ilene Woods plans to go to a Christmas Carol Performance on Saturday December 10th @ 7:00 pm at the Mountain Grove High School. Chances are she has a grandson in that production.

Three post cards and a letter from Portugal, post marked September 24th and September 26th, arrived in Champion on November 14th, three days before our Champion ‘Marinera’ (female sailor) reached land in Argentina. Asked in a video chat if she would do it again, she said, “Oh! Yes! Just not right away!” It was a tall ship adventure and her folks are looking forward to the stories, photos, drawings and music of the trip. Welcome to dry land, dear girl, even if it is 5,765 miles away from Champion!

A favorite Bozo of Champion-South has a birthday on November 23rd. (She knows who she is.) Skyline first grader, Charlie Prine enjoys the 24th. The 26th we celebrate Lannie Hinote, who taught math and science at Skyline, now teaches in the Lower Yukon School District in Alaska. She has lots of nieces and nephews whose birthdays she always remembers. The 26th is also the birthday of young Thomas Jernigan, who visits Grandpa John Webber every now and then. The 27th is for Carolyn Nunn Harvey, whose brothers are Wednesday regulars at Champion. Third grader Aubrey Lewis also has that day for his big party. Wm. Albert Masters was born November 27, 1917, in a place called Frog Level, Oklahoma. He played the French harp (harmonica) as does Geoff Bartch, who will party on the 28th. Happy birthday to all you lovely people.


Over the river and through the woods on the way to Grandmother Connie Freeman’s house, new houses seem to have sprung up quickly along CR 303. At just a mile from the Mill Pond, her bed and breakfast cabin was full all summer with people looking to buy land and to settle in this beautiful part of the country. Roy Roworth lives out on that road. That is where he keeps his Studebakers. He bought one from Bob Berry one time, but it may be that Bob does not know about his Hawk. Roy will talk Studebaker to you as long as you like or he will let you take a picture of one from the road.

Archery Quilt
Connie donated a quilt to the Skyline VFD at the beginning of the pandemic in lieu of the annual fundraising picnic. It brought over $1,200.00 in the raffle and was won by Kaitlyn McConnell. (Kaitlyn has just published the second edition of her Passport to the Ozarks which includes the Bright Side!) In addition to participating in the Quilts for Valor organization, Connie quilts for her church family and other good causes. She is also part of the Piece and Friendship Quilt Guild. Their current project is to provide a quilt in every police and sheriff’s car so that when the officers pick up someone who needs the comfort a quilt can give, they will have one. That is sixteen cars in Ava. When one is given away to someone who needs it, the quilt needs replacing. So, it is an ongoing project. The guild meets at Dogwood Quilting in Ava. That is a good place to donate those yard goods and scraps of cotton fabric that no longer have a purpose. Funds would be appreciated as well since the quilters do it all at their own expense. Quilts for a good cause include a beautiful one that will help the Norwood archery students attend archery camp. Debora Barker knows how to get tickets. She was instrumental in getting Skyline’s archery program started. Now she is teaching in the Norwood School and active in the archery program there. Archery is like music in that practice proves progress.

On any of our beautiful country lanes this time of the year, we see home places that were obscured by the lush spring and summer growth now revealed and in unexpected numbers. We have new neighbors. Hopes are that the reasons and daydreams that drew them to this part of the world are realized. As they settle in, hopes are that they will feel welcome to join in community activities. Activities are always interesting on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Old Fox Creek in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

and through the woods...

November 20, 2022

CHAMPION—November 14, 2022


Veterans’ Day observances, parades, and celebrations made for a thoughtful and grateful end to the weeks of political rancor clogging our internet, our email boxes and television screens.  We have Lee Greenwood’s song in our head, “God Bless the USA!”  Our election poll workers, raise their right hands and take the same oath that those serving in our military and our elected representatives take, and, as far as we know, there is no end date or time limit to the commitment to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America from all enemies, foreign and domestic.  Thank you.

With deer season well underway, Jonnie the Friendly Dog, is kept busy barking at the traffic going up and down Cold Springs Road all hours of the day and night.  The internet is full of trophies and hunting adventures.  Freezers will be filling with nutritious protein from the healthy animals who fed heavily on Champion gardens during the long, hot, dry summer.  As of Monday morning, the Conservation Department reported that in Douglas County 670 does, 182 button bucks and 967 antlered bucks had been harvested.  Appreciators of venison have their favorite ways to cook it.  One Old Champion says that any way the Old Man cooks it is fine with her.

The benefit for the Luallen family on Saturday night was an absolute success.  The hall was packed, the chili was good, and the proceeds were substantial enough to be of real help to Howard and Linda in their recovery from the devastating fire that took their home.  Missey Rogers said, “It just goes to show we live in the best place, with the most compassionate and best people.”  A dear friend shared this insight:  “Imagine you are walking in the woods, and you see a small dog sitting by a tree.  As you approach it, it suddenly lunges at you, teeth bared.  You are frightened and angry.  But then you notice that one of its legs is caught in a trap.  Immediately your mood shifts from anger to concern:  You see that the dog’s aggression is coming from a place of vulnerability and pain.  This applies to all of us.  When we behave in hurtful ways, it is because we are caught in some kind of trap.  The more we look through the eyes of wisdom at ourselves and one another, the more we cultivate a compassionate heart.”

Skyline School’s sixth grader, Isabella Jeffrey celebrates her birthday on November 14th, as does Carol Callahan Barnhart and the late Fern Bishop.  Rich Heffern, who just celebrated his younger brother’s birthday, celebrates his own the 14th, and Dean Brixey, an alumnus of Skyline, with grandchildren there now, has his big day on the 18th.  Skyline’s archery program is well under way, under the guidance of Janna Barns Brixey and Melissa Willhite.  They are practicing, ordering t-shirts, and getting ready for some good shooting.  It is a quiet sport, unlike football, which had Champions yelling in their own kitchens Sunday as the Chiefs came through with the win again.

Hopes that Wade and Lorelai Day’s granddad would bring his banjo to the Wednesday porch jam in Champion did not pan out last week, but he did bring his beautiful dulcimers, which added some class to the weekly musical.  His grandchildren are both excited to learn to play the instrument.  So, if your mountain dulcimer is just being used for wall decoration and you would rather it be making music, drop a note to  Or, if you have one to share or sell, contact Richard Day at 609-321-2382.  Music is good for us.  We hope all our dear musician friends are plucking and strumming and bowing and lifting their beautiful voices.  Some of the rest of us are fabulous singers when we are alone in the car.  Whatever your favorite genre, use it to improve your health and your mood.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching.  The year seems to be going by quickly and slowly at the same time.  It will be a joyful time to have to put leaves in the table to accommodate a legion of distant family again.  We have many reasons for gratitude, friends and family chief among them.  In the busyness of life, we think of them often.  Pick up the phone!  Tell them you love them.

Asked if he had interesting anecdotes, humor, insight, wisdom or admonitions to share, The General said, “Winter has arrived in Booger County a month early.”  It is just another one of those beautiful times of the year in Champion–Looking on the Bright Side!


November 13, 2022

CHAMPION—November 7, 2022


Champions usually get The Douglas County Herald on Fridays, but this Friday is Veterans’ Day. We are glad to wait a day as we acknowledge the service and sacrifice of our beloved Veterans with a national holiday. We have roughly eighteen million Veterans living today. We thank them all with patriotic music and parades and we hope they are all receiving the support they need. Young Bo Parker used to attend the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam. Now he is attending West Point and was picked to be in the Corps of Cadets Color Guard. He will likely wind up, or maybe, in the U.S. Army Band’s bluegrass ensemble, Country Roads.

A. Lee and Glenda

‘Twas another lovely week in Champion. Wednesday had the Day family enjoying the fun out on the wide veranda, with news to share about their good neighbor, Bob Leach, whose birthday was on the 4th. His Champion friends wish him well. (Skyline School’s first grader, Elaina Homer, had her birthday on the 5th. Champion granddaughter, Emerson Rose, has that day too. Sixth grader, Axel Webster, celebrates on the 9th.) Richard Day inquired about the Vanzant jam, which he and young Lora Lie attended Thursday. He played “Rosin the Bow” on the mountain dulcimer—a beautiful sounding instrument. The Sometimes Porch Band hopes he will bring it and his banjo to the porch. Richard and Linda Heffern also made a brief, rare appearance. They were in the neighborhood, probably helping Richard’s younger brother celebrate his birthday which is on the 8th—election day. Would our candidates pull us out of a mud hole? Voltaire said, “The comfort of the rich depends on an abundant supply of the poor.”

Europa sails

The Ungers, A. Lee and Glenda, of Blandinsville, Illinois lollygagged in Champion for a while Wednesday before setting out on their journey home. Home is in McDonough County and the county seat there is in Macomb. The county is square and about 16 miles across, but it has about three times the population of Douglas County. The Ungers are not squares. Glenda loves gospel music and A. Lee is learning to play the baritone ukulele so he can accompany the little ones in his local day care center in good songs like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Old McDonald,” “This Old Man,” and many others new to the regular porch pickers. They are genuine music fans and keen on the importance of music for brain development. Four year old Felix the Farmer is in pre-school in Ava and is learning all about the various letters of the alphabet with some great tunes. He is a good singer.

Dave Ellis

Perhaps the Ungers live in Scotland Township there in their square county. The Scottish word of the week is “Dumfungled” and it means to be mentally and physically worn out. Our Scottish daughter’s latest email said, “Day bf (before) yesterday our Nly (Northerly) wind changed to Sly (Southerly). Waves are meeting from both directions. Rollercoaster on board. Moments of anti-gravity then slammed across the room. Seeping is not easy atm (at the moment.) Fun bouncy waves though.” Landlubbers calculate that at 69 miles per degree of latitude, she was 2,198 miles south of the equator at 4:00 Sunday afternoon. Somewhere around the 16th or 17th she will be on dry land again and ready for the adventure of getting back to Edinburgh. Janet Chapin, a favorite OATS bus driver, had a splendid adventure Sunday at the KC Chiefs’ game—a win by three points in overtime. We could almost hear the cheering from here.

The Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department’s Chili Supper enjoyed excellent attendance. The hall was full. Several neighboring fire departments were represented. The homage to our Veterans drew sustained applause. Teresa Wrinkles’ coconut cream pie went for $300.00 in the auction—Esther’s recipe. Dave Ellis obviously enjoys being an auctioneer, humorously cajoling bidders. And, say what you will about those Backyard Bluegrass gentlemen, but they entertain for good causes all around this part of the country.

The first Saturday of deer season will have the woods full of orange-vested hunters. It will also be a chance to get a great bowl of chili at 6 o’clock at the Vanzant Community Building and to see how Marvin Parker does as an auctioneer at 7:00. It is a benefit for Howard and Linda Luallen who lost their home in a house fire in October. Theirs was the old home place occupied by the Luallen family since 1933. Howard carries some shrapnel yet from his time in Vietnam and Linda is recovering from pneumonia. When things get hard for folks, it is a great community that steps up to help. You can call 417-712-3179 to find ways to help or just show upon Saturday for the fun of it and for the joy you feel when you can be of service to your fellow man—like Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!


November 9, 2022

CHAMPION—October 31, 2022


The atmosphere was jolly in the Historic Emporium on Wednesday with the addition of seldom seen friends, a couple of brothers and a couple of cousins.  The music was much improved by Charlie Lambert, who said he has not been playing much lately, and with Danny Stone, who said he had a splinter in his finger, but still wowed the bunch with his fancy guitar picking.  Mandolin and guitar together make wonderful music all over–even in Finland!  Conversations were rife with reminiscing, recent and past tragedies, current events, and politics.  As to politics, Champions remind us all to ask ourselves if our candidate would pull us out of a mud hole.

Hovey Henson sent a note marking the passing of his brother in law, Harold Phillips, down in Bella Vista, Arkansas.  He and his wife, Eva Lois, nee Henson, last visited Champion on the occasion of the Champion Reunion in September.  Eva is a native of the Bright Side, having grown up on Cold Springs Road.  She will now relocate to Nashville where their son lives. Harold enjoyed their trips to Champion over the years.

The community came together Saturday at Skyline for a benefit for the family of Scott Johnson, who lost his life in a tragic accident recently.  It was a pie supper with an auction.  Chris Degase was the designated auctioneer.  He says he is not very good at it but is frequently asked to serve in that role.  It may be that not being good at it gives the public a chance to laugh at him.  He is okay with that, and glad to be of help.

Bluegrassers and gawkers jumped the gun on Halloween Thursday evening at the Vanzant Jam.  Most prominent among the revelers were La Gitana and El Caballero (Spanish for The Gipsy and The Gentleman.)  George Strait stood next to Gina Witch for a photo.  Wanda was elegantly attired and her little doggie was dressed up as a lobster.  Hippies and hillbillies came as themselves, as did the cowboys.  The regalia was generally fantastical, and the music was augmented nicely by several talented players who show up infrequently but are always welcome.  Enjoyable old tunes and songs kept the audience smiling as did a newly composed one having to do with happenings in Dora on Tuesday when the composer was incited to crow. Accompanied by her spouse, Dot exacted musical revenge for the prank, which seemed incongruous as they were both disguised as peaceniks.  A. Lee and Glenda Unger had a good time.  They are from a town up in Illinois that starts with a “B” and ends with a “ville” had has a total of 13 letters in the name.  Perhaps they will write it down in the guest book in Champion when they visit there on Wednesday.  They had come to see Elise Unger, who lives in Red Bank.  A. Lee began subscribing to the Douglas County Herald many years ago when his mother moved to Ava.  He still takes it and remarks that The Champion News is one of his favorites.  If he has the internet in his long-lettered town, he can enjoy articles back to 2008 along with many photos and links to great music at

Phone service and the internet disappeared in the neighborhood on Saturday morning and as of Monday was still out.  While it is good to disconnect sometimes, it is better to be in charge of when that happens.  The much needed rain was welcomed with gratitude in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!