February 28, 2023

CHAMPION—February 20, 2023



Champions are happy to read the White River Electric Cooperative statement: “We look forward to building a world-class fiber network that will transform our rural communities just as our founders did with electric 83 years ago.” The funds from the federal America Rescue Plan Act of 2021 are trickling down through our state agencies and one of these days we can enjoy all the benefits of White River Connect. It may represent the kind of improvement we experienced when telephone party lines were finally phased out. While we appreciate good changes, we also very much like the steady, solid comfort of our resilient rural community full of its interesting history as told by people who lived through it and heard about it.

Here is that day in February when Lonnie Krider would say the dog looks for shade. Gardens call to us on such a day, though we, here in zone six, know that it is too early to plant much, but time to start getting ready. Perhaps a twelve foot fence will keep the deer out this year. That good material produced by cows and horses is being shared and spread liberally over garden patches to let it grow. Soil chemistry is an intricate field.

There is time for many good things to happen before Spring’s official arrival March 20th. Donna Mullens Gainer had her birthday on the 16th of February. She lives out southeast of Wichita where we hear the ground is so flat you could never lose track of your dog. We do not know if Donna has a dog. She has friends and kinfolks in Denlow and Champion. Anyone looking for a cute doggie might get in touch with Sherry Bennett. She has some little Yorkies that will steal your heart. They are registered and have those special papers. When Sherry is not dancing, she is singing and making all our hearts light.

Musical communication from Tim Tamburino of the Southwest Bluegrass Directory: “We were wondering about a couple of things. How has the guitar acquisition gone for the Skyline School? And (possibly) I might have a source for mandolins IF there is anyone that could teach the same.” And a response from Cheyenne McIntosh: “I think we are good right now on guitars. I have a couple I’m going to try and get fixed before long and it covers almost all my students. A couple bring their own in, so that helps. HOBA (Heart of the Ozarks Bluegrass Association) is trying to start up a program where they will allow local schools to borrow instruments, working to bring bluegrass into all the local schools. It will also allow any individual student to borrow an instrument if they need one. They are looking for any instruments they can.” So, if you have an unplayed mandolin, fiddle, guitar, bass, or banjo under your bed, find any HOBA member (they are all around) and pass it along.


It’s like the old boy says, “Everybody’s got to be somewhere.” Trish Davis had her birthday on the 17th. She surely shares Old Blue Eyes with her granddaughters. Linda Clark celebrated that day too and the next day with Gene on their wedding anniversary. She had very nice things to say about the gentleman. More celebrations that day were for a charming young Fox Creek neighbor and Champion Pete Proctor. He went to Fairview School, and serves now with a number of other local Veterans in the American Legion Honor Guard. His Mother went to school in Champion, the sweet Ruby Proctor. Her birthday was the 19th. Ruby and Esther Wrinkles were great friends. They were baptized in Fox Creek on the same day way back when. Joanna Bell shares her big day on the 21st with Skyline 8th grader John R. Seale. Staci Krider Cline attended Skyline, then taught there and now shares her birthday on the 23rd with Skyline kindergarten student Sadie Hurt. The 24th will be for Arnie A. Green-Thumb. He would tell you that will be a good day to plant above ground crops. That is also a good day for Ruth Fish Collins to use her beautiful velvety voice to sing that song to herself! Her many friends and family members will sing along, even in different places together. Saturday, the 25th is the Chili Supper Benefit for Charlie Byerly to be held at the Vanzant Community Building. There will be a live auction with many great items, including a genuine Champion Monkey Business monkey (#70 in the series.) Prekindergarten student Zachary Harvey will have his birthday on the 28th, but Frankie Procter will not have his on the 29th, because we will not have 29 days in the month this year. He will have to wait for next year. It will be on a Thursday. Last Thursday Vanzantians sang that birthday song to Jim Ivy. He is a flint knapper, a grower of great gourds, and an interesting individual. The almanac indicates that the 28th will be a good day to start seedbeds. At the end of February we will be fifty-nine days into the new year—off to a good start in Champion! —Looking on the Bright Side


February 24, 2023

CHAMPION—February 13, 2023



Things got altogether better with the weather last week.  Kids returned to school.  Champion geezers got to town for grub.  Blaine Denlow’s dear old Dad pulled a guy out of the mud and then got stuck in his little Chevy and then got stuck in his dump truck and then had a two mile hike in the rain to get the USDA inspector back to her rig.  John Homer came to the rescue.  It was just another Wednesday.  A bunch of Champions came to the Historic Emporium that day to celebrate the young and restless Squire of Coonts Holler on the occasion of his birthday the day before.  Sweet treats, music, laughter, lies and true accounts of his many exploits kept the throng entertained until his abrupt departure for his daily 11:30 appointment with his television friends in Genoa City.  Reaching back to The Champion News of April 30, 2012 (www.championnews.us) we find the poem that Pat Smith may still have preserved in her Bible:  “Cowhand Jack would have landed flat of his back if the horse had thrown him off on the ground.  Instead of a ‘thud’ and a ‘grunt,’ it was a ‘slosh’ and a ‘splash’ and a true wonder the Cowboy didn’t drowned.  They had a nice plunge but forgot the sponge and left the barber (Butch Linder) astounded.  There will be stories to tell of how he rose and fell, but this one in truth is well-grounded.”  He was not riding Old Red.

The second Wednesday of each month the Ozark Food Harvest brings two big pallets of food to our Skyline R2 School to be dispersed among the community, regardless of income.  This month the boxes contained apples, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions.  Mr. Luna says the boxes are always gone by the end of the week as everybody can stand to have their food budget stretched or knows someone who could use the help.  Driving by the school, you might notice a big pile of steel laying in the front yard.  It will be going up as the superstructure for a canopy to cover the sidewalk, so students lined up for the bus do not have to stand in the rain or snow.  There is always something exciting going on there—basketball and archery.  There is a Spring Fling Dance coming up for the whole school on St. Patrick’s day if a few more chaperones can be rounded up.  Sixth grade student, Aidan Acree, had his birthday on February 9th, and second grader, Rayleigh Harvey, will have her big day on the 18th.  Middle school history and language arts teacher, Ms. McKay celebrates her birthday sometime in February.  We enjoyed her violin solo at the Christmas program and her collaboration with music teacher Cheyenne McIntosh.  We will hope for more of her fine fiddling as time goes by.

Jerry Wagner

Some Champions have a real soft spot in their hearts for fiddlers.  (Hello, Jerry Wagner!)  “Keep It Old-Time” is the third, and final book in the series from Dr. Howard Marshall documenting Missouri fiddling.  Alvie Dooms will tell you that fiddling in this part of the country is unique.  Meanwhile, Cheyenne’s folks visited at the Vanzant Jam on Thursday and Connie was enticed to share her lovely voice.  She and Duke seemed to have a good time and beamed to hear the compliments of their daughter’s great musical accomplishments at Skyline.  She will have a Tiger Bluegrass Band going before long.  Some of the mental and physical benefits of music education include an improvement in vocabulary and language, more self-confidence, more self-discipline, increased motor skills, improved listening skills, and enhanced social skills.  New Grass Attack has had some well received performances in at the Norwood pizza parlor lately.

In this part of the world, it is not hard to find something to beam about, for example, by three points, The Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl Champions.  Post-game conversations among old ladies centered around the civility of brother against brother.  In the weeks of pre-game hype, there did not seem to be much in the way of ‘trash’ talking.  Each team seemed to appreciate the strengths and accomplishments of their opponents.  Maybe that is just what the old ladies want to think as they bask in the familial emotion.  On a simple level, could we not take this example to heart and to politics, they query.  Must we vilify each other?  They ask if we could recognize the good in each other and the good intentions, even if we disagree on what is good for the country.  They wonder why it is so hard to treat each other like brothers (and sisters) when it comes to governing.  Eileen Williams has three reasons why grandmothers should rule the world:  “1.  Innocent people would not be injured or killed simply because of their religious beliefs and customs.  2.  The gap between the haves and the have-nots would continually shrink.  3.  There would be far less division between countries, ethnicities and people of various creeds.”  While that is not likely to happen anytime soon, we can still be amazed that the dangerous and brutal game of American football can show us an example of graciousness and courtesy.  Champions! — Looking on the Bright Side!


February 10, 2023

CHAMPION—February 6, 2023



Sharon Sanders, there at the Douglas County Museum, has recently shared a piece from 1988, by video journalist, Ed Fillmer, concerning Dr. Marvin Gentry. In just two minutes and forty-five seconds he stirred up lots of memories, giving us a glimpse again of the old gentleman who, in six decades of service to the community, delivered 2,500 babies. Newcomers to the area in the 1970s found it amazing that there was no receptionist in his waiting room. You just saw whoever was there when you arrived and who came in after you to know when it was your turn. He was great with children, had a good sense of humor and gave the feeling that he genuinely cared about you and your health. These have been some difficult days for health care providers. Not everyone is cut out for the work. It is likely they appreciate some kind expressions of gratitude.

Wayne Anderson

Wayne Anderson once lamented that he felt bad about having his son-in-law bringing in the firewood during a time when he was aging and not in good health. We can feel bad for ourselves because we cannot do what we used to do. We can feel bad about inconveniencing a young person who has his own fish to fry and about losing face with him for being old and weak. Then we can harken back to our youth and remember the joy and pride we felt at the opportunity to help some old man or some old woman, to show respect and appreciation for our elders, to repay with kindness their many gifts to us. We might think of it as a gift to ask for help and as a gift to get to be of help. Wayne passed away in 2015. He would laugh at the idea of being part of an object lesson, but he laughed about a lot of things. Fun was his forte–family, fun and the banjo. The banjo seems to attract fun loving, nice people. Norris Woods was another one. We miss those charming men and are grateful to be acquainted with others who are still at it, plucking and plinking away. Do not even get us started talking about old fiddlers. But, back to help—ask for it if you need it and give it if you can.

An opportunity to help comes with a benefit for Charlie Byerley on Saturday, February 25th at the Vanzant Community Building. It is a chili supper with a live auction to follow. Contact Vicky Fox at 417-259-0440 if you have something to contribute.

School is back in session after a week of slipping and sliding fun for the kids. The birthday list for our Skyline students will start showing up next week. For now, we can celebrate Sarah Cloud, Glen Cooley, and Zack Alexander, all on the first, and Zack’s aunt Angie and Charlene Dupre on the second, Groundhog Day. (Champion’s groundhog, Wilbur, was nowhere in sight.) The Cowboy has his big day on the 7th and Sondra Powel and Clare Shannon celebrate on the 13. Shelby Ward has Valentines’ Day for her birthday. Flowers and candy will be all the rage next week along with heartfelt expressions of affection. There is an old song that says, “Love is where you find it. Don’t be blinded. It’s all around you everywhere.”

Our Champion Scots daughter continues her penguin studies as she currently swelters in Trelew, Argentina, home of South America’s most important Museum of Paleontology and the Astronomic and Planetary Observatory. When the sun goes down there, the heat abates a little and the fun begins. She says that evening entertainment includes children’s puppet shows and parks full of couples dancing the tango. We admire her sense of adventure and wonder where she may go next. We know where the Super Bowl is going to be and when. Between now and then we will just go on with our own adventurous lives as usual, like Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!


CHAMPION—January 30, 2023


Frankie and Jonnie
Frankie and Jonnie
Ms. McKay, Mrs. Strong and Mr. Top
Skyline Tigers

Fun came in a visit with seldom seen, much loved family. They hit the road home ahead of the bad weather, arriving there safely, leaving the old folks in Champion smiling from the excitement and the music. J.c., over in Jordan, always helps us remember Robert Burns’ birthday (January 25, 1759) with a salute to the lovely liquids of Scotland, as well as to the insight of the young farmer turned poet lamenting that equality does not exist among men. He also reminds us of the birthday of Stephan Grappelli, the amazing French fiddler, on the 26th. By Thursday, the roads had cleared enough for the adventurous to get out. Over in Wilder, Idaho, Susanna and Wesley Hancock just celebrated sixty years of marriage. She was wishing they could have come to the Music Capitol of Booger County to witness the spectacle expected by Robert Muller. He figured another Robert would be “…. tapping your toes while you strum out a tune on your guitar and your mouth organ all the while you play your accordion with a pump and toes…. such talent.” That mind boggling image challenges one to conjure it. So far, none among the ten in the music circle that evening and fewer in the audience have indicated that anything like that happened.

At our Skyline R2 School, Mr. Luna acknowledged January 27th as National Chocolate Cake Day and National Have Fun at Work Day with treats. Ms. McKay, Mrs. Strong and counselor, Mr. Top, had their photograph taken enjoying big slabs of chocolate cake. Archery coach and classroom teacher, Melissa Willhite, said it was a delicious treat and, “Thanks for spoiling us a little.” Thursday’s snow day had Skyline Tigers at home building snowmen and ‘chilling.’

More treats came on Saturday at Red’s Slice ‘N Scoop in Norwood. The General and The Gypsy ventured out to see “an outstanding performance by the New Grass Attack band.” Cheyenne McIntosh, Skyline’s music teacher, is a member of that band. Her students at Skyline are making real audible progress on those guitars donated by generous musicians around the area. They will be forming their own bands before long and she will be there to show them how to do it. Musical connections are long standing.

The Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department’s “Lost Person Search and Rescue” class held over the weekend in the area of the Shannon Ranch received some great news coverage. Several area fire departments participated in the exercise. Training was provided by Alan Altis of Missouri University. Hopes are that the valuable lessons learned there will not have to be used, but it is a comfort to know that well trained firefighters and first responders stand ready to help us when we need it. They advised caution on the slick roads Monday morning, admonishing us to stay at home if possible.

Football, beer, and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult,” George Orwell said in “1984.” Beer and betting notwithstanding, how pleasant it is to be absorbed completely in some frivolous activity and, for a moment, removed from the stresses, trials, aggravation, concerns, and anxiousness of world situations. As to being controlled, we will just have to do our best to stay alert and informed. There is no glory, they say, in defeating a weak opponent and the Cincinnati team fought valiantly, but to no avail in the AFC championship game Sunday. Kansas City won by three points in the last 13 seconds. The Chiefs are indeed Champions!—Looking on the Bright Side!