Bud Hutchison's Memorial Trail Ride
Conditions were perfect for Bud Hutchison’s Annual Spring Trail Ride from Champion on Wednesday.
Left to right:  Dana, Caleb and Andrew Harden, Kay Rex, Bob Wheeler, Loran Cockrum, Jacquelyn Svobda, Juniper Wiley, Don Hamby, and Kyle Benson.

The long and short of Bud Hutchison’s Memorial Trail Ride on Wednesday: Ten saddled up; Nine left the Champion Square; Seven returned. About ten that morning the riders took their places in front of the Champion Store for their traditional photograph, then Andrew led them north. Gravel in the parking lot proved uncomfortable for the right rear foot of Don Hamby’s mount and it was discovered the horse was missing a shoe. So, Don joined the loiterers in the shade of the wide veranda for a good three hours of yarn spinning and reminiscing. Larry Warrick came over from Wasola to hobnob with the porch full of locals. Some of what went on: Don’s father had told him that a mule will wait his whole life to kick you once. Then, there was a story about a counterfeiter who was trying to change $18.00 bills down in Arkansas and was asked if he wanted two $9.00s or three $6.00s. Sad songs suggested were Marty Robbins’ “Little Joe the Wrangler” and “Lorena,” a song so sad that commanding officers forbade it to be sung during the Civil War, as troops were prone to turn homeward. Then, there was a ballad about a true event concerning a side of bacon called “The Swirl Hole Hill.” Book recommendations were “Hicks from the Sticks” about Bradleyville’s basketball team and their 64-game winning streak that brought them to the state championship in 1960, and “Song of a Woods Colt,” poetry by Billy Edd Wheeler. Champion is a genuine seat of learning.

Kay Rex

About the time Mr. Gray stopped in to discuss his recreational tomato plants with the Prominent Champion, trail boss, Andrew Harden, called for Mr. Hamby at the store to report that a horse had strayed away and to be on the lookout. Don loaded his horse in the trailer and headed east to meet the riders. He located his runaway Appaloosa, which had escaped from Kyle Benson, and loaded it and Calvin Chambers’ Gin, ridden by Jacquelyn Svobda and headed back to Dora. Directly, long after a while, seven of the riders came ambling into the square looking for ice cream. They had lunched at the scenic overlook near the Shannon Ranch and reported unanimously to have had a beautiful ride. The Harden family was planning to do some weed eating at home that afternoon. Loran Cockrum had a ‘go-pro’ camera on his cowboy hat and went back to West Plains to download his video. Kay Rex and Bob Wheeler headed back to Ava and Juniper Wiley rode home just a little way up the hill.

Bob Wheeler and Andrew Harden

A General reminder: “The annual Denlow/Fairview School Reunion will be Saturday, 27 May 2023, at the Denlow Baptist Church and cemetery. Ed Williams will be providing fried fish and chicken for lunch. Everyone else should bring a side dish and/or dessert. Donated items will be auctioned off around 2 pm. Johnny (IOU) Cox will be playing guitar and singing accompanied by the Fox Creek thunder road high flying unstrung band. I hope to see you all there.”

Sharry and Jack Lovan celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary at the Vanzant Jam on Thursday. This is a busy time of the year for Sharry’s band, Stringed Union, and all the local bluegrassers. The Spring Social Season is well underway. A benefit for Sandie Emery Saturday night at the Vanzant Community Building proved the reputation of this part of the world as being generous and supportive of its citizens. As usual, Teresa Wrinkles shared some of her famous pies, two of which sold for a cool $1,000.00 each. Esther would be proud. Her own pies often brought a very pretty penny for good causes. So, the tradition goes on—people helping people—Champions! Looking on the Bright Side!

Headed north . . .