August 20, 2023

CHAMPION—August 7, 2023


Champion Vista

August has started out in a lovely way—cooler than July with some nice rain and sometimes with enough humidity to fog up all the windows in the house. It is a good time to remember some remarkable people who got their start in life in August. Elitta January had a life-long career in nursing. Her big family, her many gardening and bridge playing friends and the many people she helped along the way miss her. She passed away in 2011. August 2nd is for Champion grandson Seamus, now a college student. On the 3rd, Clark Shannon, who some people call ‘Sparky,’ shares his birthday with R.D., that is, Bobby Davis, who was 66 years old in 2018. He will be the first to tell you everybody’s got to be somewhere, just like the old boy said. Skyline R2 School students Genesis Castillo and Caleb Harden share the 5th for their birthday. Back in the spring, Caleb was willing to skip school to go on the Bud Hutchison’s Memorial Trail Ride. That would probably have been ok with Bud. Skyliner Jaxton Harley shares the day with Gina Hollingshad who attended school in Dora and then taught there. These days she is part of the Whetstone Band teaching music to happy neophytes at local jams and performing for every good cause in the area. Roger Wiseman is a good singer, and so are his children, Foster and Kalyssa, mandolin and fiddle. He was born in 1968 on the 8th of August. Lynette Cantrell is the ‘L’ in the TLC Band, Tender Loving Care, and has the 9th for her day to celebrate. Theresa and Carol are with her sharing music in lots of appreciative places. Jaycee Hall and Cryslynn Johnson are in the same grade in Skyline. Their birthdays are the 10th and 12th. They are no doubt really looking forward to the start of school on the 21st. The 13th is for Dean Upshaw. He knows the words of almost any old song you can recall. He has long been a regular Wednesday visitor to Champion, but these days his friends will be visiting him up in Autumn Oaks.

‘Twas an unexpected and most enjoyable meeting with Ethel Leach out in the sunny Town and Country parking lot Thursday. She said Bob is getting along okay on a bland diet and that they have their hay in. She had good things to say about a young guy on a brush cutter working along her county road. Kind words go a long way and kind invitations often prove beneficial to the host as well. A young friend recently shared a “Bee Kind” note with her friend, who then began to think of her beekeeping friends. Lee, of the L and E Organic Farm, has been keeping his bees for three years now and this year has harvested a total of 12.5 gallons of honey. He and Edie were Champions for a short while, having bought Ruth and Orville’s Hicks’ old place. They later found a more developed place some twenty-five or so miles north and have continued developing it for five years now. They are still Champions—in Champion North.

Champion Fawn

Pleasant visiting occurred on Wednesday out on Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive. Lonnie’s granddaughter, Kalyssa Wiseman, brought her fiddle to join in with the porch jam. ‘Wildwood Flower’ and ‘Soldiers Joy’ and other tunes she shared would have made her Granddad glad. Her mother, Tanna, and her Aunt Stacy, who was visiting from Tennessee, were part of the big crowd on the wide veranda. Because it is hard to transport a banjo on a motorcycle, the young fiddler was accompanied by a most accommodating guy on a borrowed guitar. He had played his banjo many times with her granddad. We are blessed that so many of our accomplished musicians spend good time teaching, helping, and encouraging young people learning to play. Lonnie would be glad to know music is being carried on especially by his descendants and particularly down on the wide, wild, woolly banks of Old Fox Creek in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side.

Champion Livestock

August 8, 2023

CHAMPION—July 31, 2023


Richard, Dawn, Lorelai, Sam, and Marie

It is likely these days that people can live in Booger County with no other kinfolks around anywhere.  Those folks might be newcomers or just some old timers who moved here decades ago.  When distant kin and old friends come to visit them the atmosphere warms and brightens and opens.  That must be the way people with cousins, parents, grandparents, and siblings nearby must feel all the time.  Nobody takes these good feelings for granted.


Sometime back in the 1800s a young girl walked from somewhere in Missouri all the way to Oregon.  Her great, great grandson (or maybe three greats) just brought his lovely wife, Marie, down to the Ozarks to visit with her dear friend, Dawn.  The ladies had many good memories of raising their children together and of rolling their eyes when one of their husbands would start a story with, “I never will forget the time…”  It seems these fellows had been born in the same hospital four days apart and had grown up together getting into all kinds of mischief including multiple episodes of trespassing, of perilous mountain climbing escapades, and rattlesnakes.  Grandfathers themselves now, they are still friends and still up for fun.  They brought some of it to Champion on Wednesday where the Oregonians were introduced to The General who is the official arbiter of fun in the area encompassing Denlow, Vanzant, Champion and parts unknown.  This good meeting drew them all the way to the Vanzant Jam on Thursday where they enjoyed more of The General’s levity and possible prevarications, Sherry’s “Five Pounds of Possum” song and the delight of seeing Sherry and Ruby dance their jig to the swift strains of “Ragtime Annie.”  The couple headed back to the northwest on Friday morning, doubtlessly planning their next trip to the Bright Side where they will be warmly welcomed.  They will likely check into on a regular basis to keep up with the fun here.  If they check into Mark Kumming’s blog “Love My OZARKS,” they may find out about the legend of the Blue Man of the Ozarks, a well-documented story of Bigfoot in Booger County.


A memory shared by a good neighbor from five years ago:  “Each year the Up ‘n At It 4 H Cub has had a rural picnic/festival fundraiser which has been held for the past seventy years, once a year on Friday and Saturday night.  There are no towns anywhere close to this picnic, just lots of fields, cows, a few churches, and cemeteries.  For a small square in a field, it has contained much history for us.  My great grandma was crowned picnic queen there.  My mom twirled her baton on stage.  My dad first asked my mom out on the south side edge of the light there.  As kids, we loved to do turtle and sack races.  Our grandpa, Harold, stumped for district commissioner there.  My own children ran around excitedly with cousins there. Almost every year, we have met as a family with our chairs by the ring toss stand.  After losing Dad, we met with tears, but still willing to embrace the past, present, and future there under the Missouri moon in a patch of field shining with lights, filled with the sound of a banjo, a Bingo call, and folks happy to meet with folks.”  The memory came with a few family photos of happy memories of the Up ‘n At It 4-H Club picnic, 2018.  This year, the Friday night festivities were wonderful, as usual, but the Saturday night picnic activities were washed out and shut down by 8:15.  Farmers and gardeners are grateful for the rain, and hopeful that there will be another way to support the 4 H.  Missey Rogers might have some suggestions.  She and a lot of hard working volunteers always make the picnic a great event.  See you next year.

Good suggestions include singing to keep your heart happy.  Many studies show that music and singing especially helps to lower blood pressure and reduce stress.  We love to hear Jerry Wagner sing “Love Letters in the Sand.”  Staying well hydrated during this oppressive heat is another good suggestion along with staying grateful for music, for friends, family, and great community.  Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!


August 7, 2023

CHAMPION—July 24, 2023



Friends gathering at the creek on Saturday swapped squash and cucumbers. The water was cold, but warm, long lasting friendships balanced things out on a beautiful afternoon of good conversation under the leafy shade. Garden talk about the peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, corn and beans reminded them that the mild, lovely day they were experiencing ought to have been spent in the garden instead of lollygagging around on the creek bank with a bunch of other people also neglecting their gardens. The pleasant and relatively cool day may be advanced payment for some brutally hot days ahead. Champions will find a way to deal with whatever comes and will not regret for a moment the time spent with seldom seen dear ones.

Russel and Elgin


Congratulations to Russel and Elgin Upshaw who celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary on the 23rd. Their daughter, Arkansawyer LaSchell Upshaw Bearden, shared that information along with a family picture taken by in 1972 or so. They are a handsome family. One need not look hard to see the sibling resemblance to The General. Years seem to be going by quickly. Birthdays come in rapid succession, particularly for old people. Skyline student Eli Johnstone might be ready for fun when school starts. His birthday was July 18th. The 19th was for Ethan Alexander and Zee Heffern, related, but not blood kin. (Ethan’s Dad is married to Zee’s sister.) Skyliner, Joseph Hastings, has the 24th for his big day. The 25th is for John Webber, who along with The General, often has morning coffee in a place formerly known by some as The Bloated Goat. Jaci Borders is a Skyline Tiger too. She and Wade Day share the 27th for their birthday, though they probably are not acquainted. Wade is a dulcimer player in a family of dulcimer players, playing “Wildwood Flower” and “Old Rosin the Bow.” Reba Bishop has a couple of sisters who will party with her, or for her, on Friday the 28th. Karen Ross was 55 on July 29, 2016, and had a great party at Champion that day. She was our letter carrier then and always a joy to see coming. She always had dog treats and sometimes tomato plants. Now, up on her new route, she is neighbors with Master Gardener Edie Richardson and Lee, her handsome beekeeping husband. Another matriculating Skyline student, Eugene Elliot, will have the 30th to celebrate. Happy days to all of you. You will never be this young again.

The Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department folks are very good about acknowledging the birthdays and important dates of their members. On the 24th the message was, “Happy blessed anniversary to our photographers and donation procurement specialists, Dave and Salena Vaughn.” Local volunteer firefighters and first responders are a real amenity to our rural communities. They leave their dinner tables and jobs to help us when we need it. Thank you one and all.

The VFW post 3770 is having a potluck dinner for a fundraiser at noon on Saturday the 29th. The post is at 306 West 3rd in Mountain Grove. (417) 349-5810. The meal will cost $7.00, and everyone is welcome to come out to support the Veterans and all the good work they do. You will have time for a nap and then you can take your lawn chairs and go out to the 4 H Up’n At’t Picnic. That sterling event will start at 6p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights at the picnic grounds a quarter of a mile North of HWY 76 on EE HWY. Newcomers to the area will be delighted to enjoy another picnic with all the food, games, music, free drawings, and the chance to meet more of their good neighbors while supporting a worthy cause. Champions! Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion Veggies