October 29, 2023

CHAMPION—October 9, 2023


“Cornbread, buttermilk and good old turnip greens” starts a lively song familiar to some country people. Turnips planted as a cover crop in summer’s spent garden beds promise good, nutritious eating and optimism for cooler days ahead. Champions are optimistic that these folks will have had very happy birthdays. Skyline prekindergarten student Preslee Trujillo parties on the 8th along with first alert Theresa Toast that same day. The 10th is for Madelyn Ward, born in 2006, and the 11th for a newcomer who is blessed with an unflinching certainty in his beliefs. Janet Chapin celebrates on the 12th, now known as Indigenous People’s Day. Cathy Baldwin will be partying on the 13th. Chuck will see to that. Eva Clark’s big happy family will let her know on the 14th that she is loved and appreciated. Leslee Krider will enjoy that kind of reception that day too. He has Upshaw kinfolks coming from far and wide for an Owsley family reunion, so he will be celebrated by distant cousins as well as local family, friends, and neighbors. The 14th is also the birthday of Skyline second grade student Tinsleigh Miller. These birthday acknowledgements give children the chance to see their names in print in newspapers. Older folks just know they are appreciated by their communities–Champions all. Have you saved every birthday card that ever came to you in the mail? Can you throw them away? Could you send them back where they came from when those people have their birthdays?

Sharry and Jack Lovan sponsored the excellent youth talent show at the Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks this year. They came to the Vanzant Jam last week with their delightful granddaughter, somewhere around the age of three. Jack proved himself to be a doting, happy grandpa while Sharry’s sweet voice blended, soothed, and sweetened the evening. She reported that Gene Collins, who is recovering well from his cardiac episode, admonishes us to be sure our nitroglycerine is not five years old. The Lovans went on to have a fantastic weekend at the Willow Springs fall festival and big time show at the Star Theatre. Sharry’s band, Stringed Union, is rescheduling a day of fun at the Skyline School. They spend a music day there every year and really inspire the budding musicians. Lee Richardson, of ‘Lee’s Bees Honey,’ is planning a fun day at Skyline too. He is looking forward to meeting Cheyenne McIntosh and offering his luthier services to get a couple of the school’s guitars playable. Cheyenne said they have issues with the tuners. Lee also has two guitars to donate. One is his own very nice Ovation with a case, and the other is a ‘cool little Daisy Rock guitar. There is a third, which he calls a ‘beater,’ but it is easy and ok to play. He will be impressed with Cheyenne’s guitar students. They are making real progress.

Meanwhile friends who remember fondly the last time Darcy Upshaw Cecil and Loni Upshaw were in the neighborhood, have been following their epic road trip online. Their first night stop was in Provo, Utah. Then they wound up on a long, long route through Colorado and finally made it to Vanzant after a thirteen hour, eight hundred mile push. They are looking forward to family visits, games, music, and a family reunion on Saturday. Already they have feasted in the Cattlemen’s Steakhouse in Mountain Grove with The General and The Gypsie. They rejoiced in Monday morning’s sunrise and the week stretches out before them with fun at every turn. Hopefully, on Wednesday they will turn into Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


CHAMPION—October 2, 2023


Pioneer Heritage Festival Talent Group

The second of the ‘ber’ months has arrived—a time for remembering. A big thing to remember is if you happen to have a prescription for nitroglycerine, keep it current. Recently, a much loved musician suffered a heart attack that would have been prevented had his nitro not been expired. Another annual reminder to a prominent Champion is, “Remember, if you act like you are having a good time, soon you will forget that you are acting, and you will really be having a good time.” That occurs on his birthday on the first of October, which he shares with Jana Brixey, dairy farmer and Skyline kindergarten teacher. Fifth grader, Myson Loveless, also parties that day and it was the birthday of Pete Mullens who married Bonnie Brixey many, many years ago. The were a lovely pair. October 2nd was the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, born in 1869. William Tucker Clark was born on that day in 2015. His old grandpa celebrates his birthday the next day, which is the big day for Skyline fourth grader, Evan Homer. Those delightful Denlow dames, Kaye and Faye, were born up at the OK Corral on October 4th, some little while ago and they are perking along nicely yet. Skyline’s great cook, Rhonda Nava, will have her celebration on the 5th. So, all you Skyliners, Denlowites and Champions, enjoy your day and the year ahead.

Saturday was a beautiful warm day for the Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks. Meeting up with old friends and seldom see ones, catching up and reconnecting, added to the enjoyment of the day. Many talented artisans willingly spent the time and energy to show us how things were done before mass production and automation made life easier for us. Should a time ever come when those are the skills required for subsistence, it is good to know they have been perpetuated. It was a real treat to see Brian Thompson on his aluminum (lighter than cast iron) pedal scroll saw. He can produce any wonderful word you want in wood—pine, red oak, or walnut. Spinners, weavers, quilters, planters, soap makers, herbalists, tool makers and others shared their gifts for our edification and enjoyment. The whole festival was a pleasure and hopes that some permutation of it will persevere. Music was no small part of it with jams, bands, dancing, and the great youth talent show. Those kids not only embody optimism but are the very future of the music so much a part of our history and culture.

Under the guise of getting rid of clutter, and Old Champion ran across a stack of notebooks going back a couple of decades. A random sampling says, “Paul Uhlmann had four goats with big horns. Some fellow came to call on his sister and the goats got up under his car and it took them two hours to jack the car up off the goats.” Another entry mentioned Lavern Miller. He lived over near Willow Springs. He was a WWII veteran with a lovely wife name Jessie Mae and a great sense of humor. He grew up around Brixey and Rockbridge and worked for the railroad for 36 years.” For several years, he was the auctioneer at the Denlow/Fairview School Reunion where his spirit of fun drew bids that were themselves funny. Another entry said, “When you’re swerving on life’s highway, you’re running someone off the road.” Back to clutter control, experts in the area suggest throwing something away every day and giving something away every day or designating something to give away. That maxim about being more blessed to give than to receive comes in to play. That also leads to the idea of asking for help. Old folks are reminded to remember how good it felt to be of help to some old person back when they were young, strong people. It may take some effort to figure out how it is a gift to the person you are asking for help but go for it if you need it and give it if you can. Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!


October 22, 2023

CHAMPION—September 26, 2023


“Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you.” This phrase was often used by an old friend to say that things do not always work out they way you expected. Unexpected aggravations cause us to harken back this week to The Champion News from ten years ago. We will catch up with this week’s news next week when the aggravations have passed. Meanwhile, keep on the Bright Side!

CHAMPION—September 30, 2013

It happens sometimes that an old friend introduces one to another of his old friends and the two strangers suddenly become acquainted as if they have known each other for years. There is immediate trust and appreciation for the good taste of their comrade who is willing to share friends with each other. They often find that they have much in common apart from their mutual acquaintance and new vibrant relationships emerge. Bringing kindred spirits and good people together is a Champion practice well implemented.

Good news is that Pete Proctor has had a birthday. No telling how old he is, but everyone who knows him knows him knows him to be young at heart. That is probably on account of having such a sweet mother. Word is that Ruby has taken a fall and hopes are that she was not seriously injured and that she is much recovered. The details have been sketchy but it was reported that there were no broken bones and that she was feeling better. All her Champion friends are most interested in her because she is so well regarded as part of that generation of Champions that made the place what it is today. She will tell you that Champion is where her heart is and her Champion friends all wish her well. Graeme Laird, a fine singer-songwriter in Edinburgh, Scotland, celebrated his 42nd orbit of the sun on the 26th. He wrote, “Now’s the end of the beginning. The days are passing faster than the sun.” Other birthdays being celebrated belong to Jana Brixey who marks hers on the first of October. She shares the day with the shy cousin of her husband, most frequently referred to as “a prominent Champion.” The very next day Wild Turkey Hunting Season opens. It is presumed that the kind of wild turkeys being hunted will be of the avian variety and not the distilled kind, though there likely will be some of that floating around. Conservation officials say the number of adult turkeys should be plentiful thanks to good reproduction over the past couple of years. That is good news for hunters who are looking for turkeys with meatier bodies. Back in the late forties Sylvia Henson was writing the Champion Items and remarked that the Upshaw family had increased by two on October 4th. The twin girls had a number of big brothers to spoil and tease them and Morton and Mable must have had their hands full with such a boisterous household. Linda Kaye comes back home to visit often and Karen Fae keeps the home fires burning and the welcome mat out for all the family. Between them they have ten grandchildren so there is always fun and excitement going on. Skyline Auxiliary President Betty Dye celebrates her special day on October 7th. She may decorate her own cake, a skill at which she excels. She has many talents and keeps the auxiliary humming along in a productive and supportive way. Betty will let an interested party know that the Skyline Auxiliary is not just for ladies, but for anyone who wishes to support the wonderful little fire department that allows home owners to have insurance and the protection provided by the able volunteer fire fighters. Champions all!

The last of the tomatoes are coming in and some of the greens planted last summer are making. Pretty soon there will be hardly anything to do in the garden. Go up to The Plant Place in Norwood to find a few things to put in this fall and to visit with Linda about how to bed your garden down for the winter. Then go enjoy some music. There are reports on the internet of another superb night at the Vanzant Music Jam with lots of tasty food, nice folks and music, music, music. It happens every Thursday Night. Ruth Collins says that she appreciates such a fine group of pickers and listeners. Gospel songs, bluegrass and country music make her happy and her smile is a light for the room. She wrote a note to Sherry thanking her for lugging that big old bass around and said “It adds so much to the music.” It does. Sherry provides a solid beat that makes it all just right.

When a friend, a family member, or a rank stranger knocks on a door in Champion unexpectedly, he is met graciously. The house may not be clean. A person may have plans and be busy. The caller may just pop in for a moment or may arrive with expectations of a lengthy stay just figuring that he is loved and welcome. Whether or not accommodations are easily available or the visit is appropriate or fitting, Champions are most likely to extend the courtesy to invite the guest in, or at least to stand on the porch and visit for a spell in the case of the stranger, particularly if he is rank. Champions do not need lead-time, advanced notice or an R.S.V.P. to be polite. It is just natural. They say that hospitality is making your guests feel at home even when you wish they were. Augustus McCall of “Lonesome Dove” fame said, “There’s no excuse for rude behavior.” It certainly does not fly in Champion and the rest of the world could well take a lesson therefrom. It could just be that a surprise is anathema to some and the rebuffed should endeavor to not take it personally. A traveler to other parts of the big world might well say, “Come on down through the beautiful hills to the end of the pavement, where country roads meet by the wild wooly banks of Old Fox Creek, where generous spirits prevail and where ‘Welcome!’ is the byword– to Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!”


CHAMPION—September 18, 2023


Skyline School Guitar Class
Skyline School Guitar Class
Eighth grade Skyline students Braxton Mayberry, Cryslynn Johnson, Caleb Harden, Joseph Hastings, Jaycee Hall, Juniper Wiley, and Jacob Brixey stand
beside their teacher, Cheyenne McIntosh, celebrating the arrival of a new guitar. It is a good Gibson, donated by Bob Berry, and shown here embraced by
Juniper Wiley. Cheyenne says she is proud of the progress of her students. Contact her if you have guitars or string sets to share. Music training leads to
success in all academic studies and helps the community keep its happy foot patting.

Bingo! Skyline School had a bingo game Saturday night, the 16th. Look for reports of that fun next week. Our neighbors to the south celebrate the 16th of September as “El Grito,” commemorating Mexico’s independence in 1810, from centuries of Spain’s colonial rule. Terri Ryan, retired Skyline School kindergarten teacher, and her beautiful little granddaughter, Selena, enjoyed the Hispanic Carnival in Kansas City. Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes celebrated his 28th birthday down in Florida with a victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on the 17th. The 18th is the birthday of Champion Donald Krider up in Peoria. His younger brother, Harley, just attended his 60th high school reunion in Ava. He and Barbara, also of Peoria, are always welcome visitors. Barbara is making good progress, getting to know her new knee. We remember Louise Hutcheson on her birthday on September 21st. She passed away in 2018. She had worked at Emerson and had been a cook at the Skyline School and was always very active in the Skyline VFD Auxiliary. She liked fishing, cooking, and gospel singing. Her favorite song was “What a Day That Will Be.”

Lee’s Bees’ Honey just won the “Best Tasting” award in Lee Richardson’s bee group, though Lee said there was one he liked even better. Lee and Edie of L and E Organic Farm were back in Champion visiting on Friday. They came with treats—honey, Edie’s pain relieving salve and a Super-Power tonic. Good conversation over a lovely lunch passed a couple of pleasant hours. They are a hardworking couple doing good in many ways. They are active with the Wright County Extension. Edie is a gifted herbalist and enjoys teaching classes in the Master Gardener program. In addition to being a beekeeper, Lee is a luthier. He was pleased to learn about Cheyenne McIntosh’s guitar classes at the Skyline School. He says he has a little Ovation to share and will be pleased to share his repair skills.

Tim Tamburino of the Midwest Bluegrass Directory tells us that the Laura Ingalls Wilder Fiddle Off is now a National Certified contest with The Nation Oldtime Fiddlers Contest and Festival in Weiser, ID. Tim keeps track of all the bluegrass happenings in this part of the country. If you have a jam, a festival, or a show to list, call him at (573)368-8365. We have seen him and Sarah at the Vanzant Jam in the past and last year at the Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks. We will hope to see them there again this year. That splendid event is coming up on the 29th and 30th of this month (next Friday and Saturday!) at the Fox Trotters Showgrounds. Hopefully, Brian Thompson will be there again with his pedal scroll saw writing our names in wooden letters. Those heritage skills demonstrations and exhibits inform us of our past and may well serve us in the future. Costume and baked goods contests, bingo, food, and family fun along with live bands, open jam sessions, Friday night square dancing and youth talent shows—all this happening just a mile north of Ava from 10 am to 6 pm both days. See you there!

Particularly as we age, there are plenty of things about which we can complain. One of them recently has been the excruciatingly slow BrightSpeed internet, which some are just calling B.S. On the bright side, however, those contractors working for White River Connect, powered by White River Valley Electric Cooperative, are out stringing cable on the poles and one of these days Champions can connect easily with family and friends all over the place. Perhaps that will happen as early as in the spring. When something good happens, we rejoice. We are grateful for that big infrastructure bill.

We can say goodbye to summer on the 23rd. On the 29th, we will be singing “Shine on Harvest Moon.” Moderating weather, thank goodness, helps to make more accessible and more enjoyable the many harvest festivals and heritage festivals that occur this time of the year. Pantries fill up as gardens are winding down. Squirrels go up and down walnut trees stowing their own winter’s food supply. We are never short of gratitude in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!