December 29, 2022

CHAMPION—December 26, 2022


Wednesday’s gathering in Champion was all it was hoped to be, except for missing Bob and Ethel. It would have been sweet to have seen Jerry too, but it was his birthday and his brother-in-law said he had gone to the barber shop. He seems to have a standing appointment at the barber shop, always looking good. The potluck feasting in the Historic Emporium was ample and sumptuous, and the attending company was a delight. Old friends and new ones got acquainted and caught up. Bishops, Barnharts, Kriders, Clines, Upshaws, Rays, Stones, Lamberts, Hensons and numerous others, including a McConnell, fed their faces and their friendships, while customers came and went, some pausing to chat and all leaving smiling.

Many lovely things have happened in late December. Gordon and Mona McCann were married in December 70 years ago. We know Gordon from Ozarks Watch Magazine and from his frequent attendance at McClurg. Royce and Jody Henson would have had their 64th anniversary on December 13th. This is Jody’s first anniversary without Royce. This this time of the year we miss Royce and the many who brought us great joy when they were here. Tim and Sarah Tamburino had their 40th anniversary on December 23rd. They are out preserving and supporting local music all around the Ozarks. He wears a red shirt, and she smiles. The amazing Corinne Leigh Zappler has a birthday on the 27th. She is as old as her old uncle’s truck. She has been to Champion, Vanzant and the barber shop! She plans another trip soon, bringing her big fiddle with her. It is really a viola. She and her old auntie are working up “Ashokan Farewell.” Eli Oglesby is a Champion grandson with a birthday on the 30th. He has many musical cousins—Foster on the mandolin, Kalyssa on the fiddle, Dakota on the banjo and guitar. There may be others. Then, of course he has a great uncle who is a proficient accordionist. Young Arvin Schroder has his birthday on New Year’s Eve! He has been attending the Sometimes Porch Band jams since he was just a little baby. He shares his birthday with The General, who commands the Vanzant First Alert Weather Team. On December 22nd, he reported that, “
the Team has determined the extremely excessive predicted cold may cause adverse effects to the sensitive ‘G’ strings,” hence, the Vanzant Thursday Night Music was cancelled. (Excessively cold weather is detrimental to B, D, A, and E strings as well.) It is likely to be 60 degrees for the jam Thursday, December 29th, so there will be a splendid opportunity then to sing that birthday song, long, loud, and rowdy to the man who makes the coffee and keeps the community informed and entertained.

For all you Champions who relished a glorious holiday weekend in the presence of your dear loved ones–family, and friends, count yourselves blessed beyond your deserts. While others enjoyed a quiet little Christmas, they know that closeness has not all that much to do with geography anymore as phone lines chimed and computer screens brought them close, even at great distances. God bless us every one, including all those of us with no one, no power, no warm fire, no food or shelter. There is much suffering and want in the world. War, poverty, famine, disease, and disasters are all taking their toll. In our gratitude for our own good fortune, we extend our hopes for a better day tomorrow for all those not fortunate enough to be Champions. Happy New Year! —Looking on the Bright Side!


December 27, 2022

CHAMPION—December 19, 2022



Once a number of years ago, the mayor of Macomb, Illinois, which is the county seat of McDonough County, called on A. Lee Unger to don his satin Santa suit and show up at his house on Christmas eve with the bag of gifts the mayor had provided. It was a festive and enjoyable time and, while the resident teenager was not much impressed, the three year old was heard to exclaim, “That’s the real Santa Clause!” She meant it, emphasizing ‘real.’ So, we have teased Mr. Unger by saying, “Mr. Melancholy, from the little town of Blandinsville in the squarest county in the state, claims his greatest accomplishment yet is having fooled a three year old.” Glenda will laugh at the joke and perhaps the next time they are here to visit his sister, they will stop in Champion again. He may have his baritone ukulele with him. He says it takes two years to grow a good Santa beard.

The Polar Express blew through Skyline Thursday night to the delight of more than two hundred ticket holders. Mr. Luna was the conductor, distributing tickets and directing passengers to the train where they enjoyed hot chocolate and music, music, music. Ms. McIntosh wrangled the whole student body, teachers, and staff into a great performance. The songs of the evening will likely be the soundtrack of the two week Christmas vacation they will all enjoy. Everyone enjoyed the duet with Mrs. McKay (language arts and social studies teacher) on violin and Ms. McIntosh on guitar for “Silent Night.” Cheyenne (Ms. McIntosh) then rocked the house with “Christmas Time’s A Comin’.” Her guitar students had a chance to show their skills and make her proud with “Silver Bells.” The grand finale turned out to be a gift for every student—cookies and a big box containing a blanket, a book, hot chocolate mix and other lovely things. The boxes were prepared by unnamed volunteer Santa helpers, part of the beautiful Skyline R2 School community. It is a little rural school in a place where many have had the good fortune to attend a little rural school.

Regular shoppers at the Mountain Grove Love Center Thrift Store and Food Pantry have marked the absence of the sweet and friendly Mama Carol. The word is that she had some illness and then a couple of falls that have her temporarily out of commission, pending some surgery and recovery time. Her fellow volunteers and customers have sent her cards, flowers and fudge for encouragement. She has been a volunteer there for six years, supporting the good work of the organization and offering good cheer to everyone entering the doors. Get better soon, Carol, you are being missed. Champion, Irene Dooms, has joined her sister, Esther Wrinkles, up in the Denlow Cemetery–both beautiful, dynamic women–much loved and much missed.

Kansas City and local Chiefs fans are full of jubilation with the overtime win over the Texans on Sunday. The Seattle Seahawks will be in Kansas City on Christmas Eve and Champion neighbors who hail from Seattle will be as excited as their neighbors about the game. Maybe there will be a watch party, if blackout restrictions do not apply. The neighbors will be on opposite sides, but their friendship will not suffer. Would it were so in the world at large. Our thoughts for Peace go out to those besieged in Ukraine and other troubled places in the world. Our Champion friend up in Jordan, out east of Cross-Timbers, joins us in appreciating the heroism of the Ukrainian people and their President.

Our Champion daughter, down in Argentina, says the World Cup victory over France has the whole country celebrating. She messaged that she may have some degree of hearing loss as a result and is now compelled to try her first Argentinian steak, something else for which the country is noted. She has been spending her time there on the coast painting penguins–well, pictures of penguins, not the actual seabirds.

People, pets, plants, and pipes will be the priorities of Champions as the prospect of significant severe weather approaches along with Christmas. Stay warm and safe. Meanwhile mailboxes are fairly choked with annual family newsletters, unexpected gifts, and season’s greetings. In her cute homemade card, Suzie Freeman said that she and Wes had been to Norwood for their Freeman-Long Thanksgiving dinner and that, though they are both dealing with serious health issues, they are still kicking and still Hillbillies in North Texas. The post office is doing a splendid job of helping us stay connected. Maybe leave a cookie in your mailbox for the hard working dedicated folks that make it happen. Family, friends, home, health, and happiness are among the many good reasons to celebrate during this wonderful holiday season. We say, “Happy birthday!” to Joann Anderson on December 25th and we say, “Merry Christmas” to all you local and distant, far-flung Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!


December 20, 2022

CHAMPION—December 12, 2022



Ilene Woods

Some people with birthdays in December do not celebrate at all, some celebrate in July, and some are just happy to have a birthday. Charming Loretta Upshaw had a happy birthday on the 11th, as did Kai Parsons, Roger Wall, and various local lawyers. Kennedy Hinote is a fifth grade student at Skyline, celebrating a birthday on December 13th. Music lover, the lovely Mary Goolsby, will enjoy her day on the 20th. J.R. and Janet’s little boy, Herbie Johnston, will probably, doubtlessly, indubitably, for sure fiddle around then as well. The shortest day of the year is a fine birthday for fifth grader, Paige Jonas, and for another fine fiddler, Jerry Wagner. (What a treat it was to see him at the Vanzant Jam again on Thursday.) The 23rd is a special day for Chase Cauthron, a third grade student, because he shares it with his dear old Dad. Blaine Denlow’s great grandmother, Sharon Sikes, lives just a little way up the road from her and also has her birthday on the 23rd. One of Blaine’s other great grandmothers, Ilene Woods, just completed another 5K run, then she ran 8.1 miles on her 81st birthday, December 12th. Champions, your Champion friends wish you Merry Birthdays!

There are now seven Yorkies at Sherry Bennet’s house. Zizzie Lou had five pups, her first litter. There is a hound somewhere in Sherry’s neighborhood, so she enjoys plenty howling, yipping, and barking. Our pets can bring us a lot of joy and give some of us much needed exercise, opening and closing doors. ‘Doggie doors’ are not advisable for people in the country who see groundhogs, racoons, five pound possums, chipmunks and squirrels and an occasional skunk out their kitchen windows. There are barn cats, neighbors’ cats, as well as feral cats, and maybe even bobcats that might enter an open door. Armadillos are not friendly. Pets like Mr. Yellow and Jonnie can be company, comfort, solace, entertainment, and aggravations just like any family member. Jonnie joined the family in January 2017, having been dumped out on Cold Springs Road when she was just about a year old. She has gained twenty pounds and the affection of some Old Champions. She really likes people, but not trucks.

The weather is brisk, and business is brisk in Downtown Champion. The holiday season is well upon us. A potluck luncheon in the meeting room of the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square on the Winter Solstice (Jerry’s birthday) will welcome the beginning of longer days, soon up to 2 minutes and 7 seconds daily of more daylight, and will welcome Champions, friends, and neighbors. Looking forward to more light–what could be more optimistic than that? The Cheyenne McIntosh production of The Polar Express at our Skyline R-II School on Thursday, December 15th. Boarding time 6:00pm – 7:00pm. Cheyenne is not just bringing music theory and technical skill to our students, but a great appreciation for music in all its many facets, elements, and benefits. The whole community is welcome to the performance. It will be a good opportunity to bring all those Best Choice UPC, bar-codes you have been saving, or those items to donate for the school Christmas Store, where students can shop for their families. Holly jolly fun times are about to overtake us. We harken back to the joy of Christmas we felt as children. A favorite carol of a favorite Champion out on the wide, wild wooly banks of Old Fox Creek is “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem.”

We know there was a full moon last week, the Cold Moon, because Edie Richardson told us so. She plants by the signs and had seeds to get in pots. We would not otherwise have known, as things were gray, damp and dreary for most of the week. Thursday evening had bluegrassers grateful for the white lines along the edges of the highway as they made their way through dense fog to their jam. Then, suddenly, a sunny Friday lifted our spirits enough so that we can endure the winter days ahead. Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


December 8, 2022

CHAMPION—December 4, 2022



Kristi Towe came up from Arkansas to decorate her Dad’s grave for the holidays, and now that she has a small SUV, she can go on back roads again. She said, “We took Fox Creek Road northeast from Denlow, as Mom had never been that way. We stopped at the Racetrack Hollow monument, but I also took her to the spring that never runs dry
really delicious water! Robert Hall told me how wagons would line up to fill barrels and other containers when the summer was hot and many wells were dry. He’d fill milk jugs with this water and take it back to Washington each year.” She asked if anyone could tell her about the memorial at the spring. Perhaps Sharon Sanders knows about that, or, surely, The General knows. When asked, he said that Brad Loveless had told him that the memorial was placed in memory of a man who had been killed working at the gravel pit which was just a little farther up the creek.

Thanksmas is a made-up word that encompasses whatever you have in mind during the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Skyline eighth grader, Emma Webster, had her birthday on the 4th of December, also reported last week to be that of Lorelai Day, but her big day was on the 3rd. She and her brother Wade Day attended the Vanzant Jam on Thursday and seemed to have a good time. Having a good time, Levi Crownover, a prekindergarten student, and sixth grader Michael Hall enjoy the 5th every year for their birthdays. Chris Tharp has been relishing the 8th for quite a number of years, and Richard Johnston has had the 9th for his day since 1955. Skyline’s Mrs. Karen Tamblyn also celebrates on the 9th. The 10th is for second graders Levi Hall and Westin Nava. Wishing all you Champions beautiful days!

The internet has shown us that Pat Smith and her daughter, Jessica Puangnak-Glossip, have been having beautiful days in Israel. They are shown strolling the streets of Jerusalem, at the Garden of Gethsemane, the Mount of Olives, and many other historic and religious sites, including the Gates of Hell. Champion friends will be interested to hear their accounts of their amazing adventure.

Our Champion sailing daughter has completed her ocean crossing and has been enjoying her time in Puerto Madryn in Argentina. While Bark Europa is headed on to Antarctica, she enjoyed the great street party on Saturday as Argentina advanced to the quarter finals in the World Cup of football (soccer), which will be played against the Netherlands on Friday. Locally, hopes are that our KC Chiefs will fare better against the Broncos than they did against the Bengals. Still, they are nine and three—not bad. More locally, it will be a joy to see the thousand daffodils planted in the park next spring. The Community Foundation of the Ozarks provided the bulbs and the Ava Bears Baseball team, the coach, the mayor, and school superintendent did the work.

It was a treat to run into Linda Keys last week. She and Marjorie Carter ran the pawn shop on the square in Mountain Grove for many years. Linda says she misses seeing all their friends and customers.  The sisters were always great supporters of the Skyline VFD. It was nice to visit with another great supporter of the VFD, Beverly Barnhart. She has had a rough patch that included several broken bones and bouts of pneumonia, but she had a cheerful laugh on the phone, and hopes are that she will have a speedy recovery and lots of good wishes sent her way from her Champion friends and neighbors.

Joella Bates made a beautiful archery-themed quilt which was won by Gena DeAn Potter Flores in the drawing. The proceeds of the project will help the Norwood Archery students attend Archery Camp. It is a quiet sport, except for the thump thump. Skyline archers have begun their practices and their first Archery Tournament will be in Norwood on Saturday, December 17th in the Norwood bus barn. Connor, Paige, Elizabeth, Kennedy, Grace, and Juniper will shoot at 10:00. Everyone else is at 11:00. Practice precedes positive performance. Practicing is going on for the Skyline Christmas Program which will happen at 6 PM on December 15th. Whether or not you have children or grandchildren attending our wonderful little rural school, the program is always full of the spirit of the season and the whole community is welcome and encouraged to attend. Thanksmas has much to offer Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!


December 3, 2022

CHAMPION—November 28, 2022


Pat Smith

Thanksgivings’ blessings and leftovers linger on.  Jack and Sharry Lovan had dinner late.  They had been out on a tear down through windy Texas out to The Cadillac Ranch then on to New Mexico.  They wound up in Sonoma/Napa Valley, California.  Sharry said, “I wish palm trees would grow in Missouri!”  They ambled back home through Arizona sharing many fantastic photographs along the way.  Thanks, Sharry, for taking us along with you.  Pat Kim Smith is out rambling with her daughter on airplanes, in the airport in Paris and all the way to Israel where the sign said, “Welcome to Israel.  Your life will never be the same.”  Jessica shared pictures of them on a Mediterranean Sea beach.  She said they took 22,161 steps that day. Friends look forward to Pat’s report when she is back around the wood stove in Champion.

Some form of deer season will be going on until January.  Many local hunters who process their own kills are donating the hides to The Veterans Leather Program, a program of the Elks Lodge that provides deer skin gloves for Veterans in wheelchairs.  Find a place to donate by emailing or calling 773-755-4736 or by calling the Elks Lodge #409 in Springfield 417-881-8596.  It is a joy to find a way to help a splendid cause.  Hunting season is exciting.  Jacob Moffett combined his deer hunt with his arrowhead hunt and had great success.  Kyle Barker got a picture of a bear on his game camera.  It was in the area that they had previously placed their deer hunting blind.  We live in a wonderfully wild part of the world.  Saturday’s early morning fog let the sycamores show up in unusual ways, graceful reaching white arms from the misty valley floor up and bright against the fog.  Then Sunday afternoon’s dazzling sunshine reflected in big puddles in the road tells us there is some beauty to be had every day here about.

Brooks Blevins has a birthday today, November 28.  His “History of the Ozarks Volume 3–the Ozarkers” is an interesting read.  The jacket says it “offers an authoritative appraisal of the modern Ozarks and its people.”  Back in October he presented a program at the Independence County Library called “Mythological Creatures of the Ozarks.”  Hopefully he will be willing to repeat it next October somewhere close to Booger County.  Yesterday was the birthday of W.A. Masters, born in 1917, passed away in 1989.  Among his archives was a set list:  John Henry, Do What You Do Do Well, Out Behind the Barn, Rocks in the  Mountains, Chicken Reel, Jessie James, Cripple Creek, Red Wing.  How we would love to hear him play and sing again.  For that matter, we would love to hear Jerry Wagner play again.  To that end, we might have to matriculate into the barber shop for that some Wednesday morning.  Hopes are that he and the fair Lena Belle have had a beautiful Thanksgiving.

Champion granddaughter Luxe Krider was born December 2, 2014.  Famous crooner, David Richardson, was born on that day but in a year so long ago that he is in his second year of Social Security.  December 4th is the day to remember Lonnie Krider who was so much a Champion that his is the only named street in downtown Champion.  Miss Lorelai Day is new to the area, an aspiring dulcimer player, with a birthday on December 4th.  The 5th has us celebrating Dawn Henson (Mrs. Hovey) and the charming Mrs. Spivey at The Hub.  Two talented, creative young men share the 6th, though they have only heard of each other through mutual friends—Zack Godshall and Ed Bell.  Ethel Leach, who always sends great birthday cards has her day on the 7th.  She likes that tune “Gary Owen.”  Many lovely people have been born in December.  We will check in on those among the Skyline School students next week.  Meanwhile, we are grateful to be acquainted with all you Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!

Lonnie Krider Drive