November 20, 2023

CHAMPION—November 19, 2023


Gratitude shines on many faces in Champion.  The Prominent Champion is grateful that his chain saw is in the emergency room and not the morgue.  The Cowboy is grateful for himself.  Beverly Hutchison’s friends from over in Ozark are grateful to have had a glorious sunny day in November to go ‘four wheeling’ on their fancy ‘side by sides’ with friends on a scenic escapade through Champion going on toward Rockbridge for lunch.  First time visitors to the Bright Side seemed to find the place quaint and reminiscent of a former more convivial time.  Out on the wide veranda, The General, was also grateful for Champion, for the wide veranda, and for the Historic Emporium on which it stands, along with the merchant’s genial hospitality.  He expressed gratitude for a root-beer float and for the opportunity to get acquainted with so many of the interesting newcomers to the area.  He can usually tell them history of the piece of land they now own.  Little Stewarts, two year old Elena and six week old Benjamin will be signing up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.  Champions are grateful for children, reading, Dolly Parton, family and friends and the mild weather that has deer hunters cozy in their stands.

Reports are that deer season has been good so far.  Trophies will be mounted; freezers will fill when the processing’s done.  Many people in these parts process their own deer–a good skill to have.  “Road Hunters Beware” signs have shown up in some very rural areas.  Deer hides donated to the Veterans for wheelchair gloves and ‘Sharing the Harvest’ are good programs.  Anyone with a favorite venison jerky recipe to share can send it to or to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Please.  Dustin says that when he is out truck driving, he buys the Teriyaki Jerky in the truck stops.  He also likes the Mongolian Jerky.  Wolf Pen Hollow’s cattle rancher and dump truck driver says the best jerky recipe left his family in a divorce.  A Tennessee Champion by marriage is said to have a good one.

Friends headed to Norwood for a bridge game almost found themselves in the middle of a parade.  Apparently, Santa and the Missus made a sashay through the town with fire trucks, floats, marching bands, and horses.  The main thoroughfare was lined with expectant onlookers.  Candy was flung among the children and a glorious day weather-wise made it one of those days they will remember when they are old folks.

Community support for the Barry family has been inspiring.  It is beautiful to see.  The Peace Valley Poultry folks stepped up immediately with solid support.  Many others are finding ways to help this precious young family.  Jason Barry has organized a GoFundMe page, raising funds to allow Jeff access to a good physical rehabilitation center, purchase a wheelchair van, pursue additional alternative treatments, cover medical bills, and assist with future unforeseen expenses that will arise while the Barry family focuses on healing.  Find all the information on the “Jean’s Heathway” Facebook page if you spend time online.  Otherwise, pop into the store on the southwest corner of the square and do what you can.  Jason says, “We have great faith that Jeff will recover, and yet this journey will be an epic one.  Let us ease the burden for this family who has dedicated so much of their life in service to others.”

“What do you have to be grateful for?”  It is a good question.  Maybe it gets asked this time of the year more than at other times.  All year, daily, we count our many blessings in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


CHAMPION—November 13, 2023


Wednesday the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department posted a photo of the aftermath of an accident that occurred at the intersection of C Highway and 76. There were two cars—one with a damaged fender and one upside down. We later learned that it was the Barry family’s car that had been hit by a drunk driver. Rachel and their two small children were able to walk away from the crash, but Jeff was life-flighted to Springfield with a severe spinal cord injury. The other driver was taken into custody. Rachel is co-owner and operator of Jean’s Healthway which has been serving the area for many years. The Ava community, loyal customers and the staff family are stepping up to help in any way they can. Rachel says, “Things you can do–pray. Pray for my kids as they transition into change. Pray for the intoxicated driver. Pray for strength. Pray for neurogenesis.” With the whole world struggling one way or another, the chance to help anyone in any way is a gift.

Happy chance brought Tim Tamburino and Sarah to the Vanzant Jam on Thursday. They travel all over the country visiting and recording bluegrass jams for their Midwest Bluegrass Directory. They can be found on the internet highlighting groups and jams and keeping a calendar of events current. Tim is the guy in the red shirt and straw cowboy hat with all the photography and recording equipment. Sarah is the smiling support staff nearby. She is looking forward to her retirement and they are thinking about relocating to New Mexico one day. They probably have bluegrass out there, and they will have more when Tim and Sarah get there. Meanwhile, we will enjoy them while they are still in our neighborhood.

Happy (When do you ever see two newspaper paragraphs in a row start with “Happy”?) Happy Birthday to Veteran Dean Brixey on November 18th. His Dad built that rock house up on CR239 in 1941, and Dean was born in 1942. Champion Elva Ragland had her birthday on the 19th as did Seven Springs Julie January Ring in different generations. Thanksgiving Day falls this year on the birthday of the grandmother of Zack, Seamus, and Elizabeth, so she has triple reasons on top of many others to be happy and grateful. Holly Zappler up in Bethlehem, PA may party on November 24th. The 26th is for Lannie Hinote, beloved aunt and former Skyline School Teacher who has shared her teaching gift in Yukon Village, Alaska in recent years. John Webber’s grandson, Thomas Jernigan, over in Washington was two years old on the 26th in 2017. Carolyn Nunn Harvey and Skyline fourth grader Aubrey Lewis celebrate on the 27th. Aubrey is a fierce competitor in the game room at the Champion Store. Just ask the Prominent Champion. The 27th was also the birthday of Veteran W.A. Masters, born in 1914, in Frog Level, Oklahoma. He lived to be 73. He did a lot of hard work, a lot of good, and made a lot of music along the way. Any corny old country song you can think of was probably part of Uncle Al’s repertory from “The Old Knot Hole” all the way up to “The Flying Purple People Eater.” He played “Listen to the Mockingbird” on the French Harp. He and Tim Tamburino could have enjoyed each other’s company. Geoff Bartch plays harmonica and does a lovely rendition of “Amazing Grace.” His birthday is on the 28th. Christopher Boyd is in the second grade at Skyline. His birthday is the 29th. The paragraph will end as it started saying, “May all your birthdays be Happy!”

November 11th is the special day set aside to acknowledge our many Veterans who have willingly done what has been asked of them in service of our safety and security. Freedom and Democracy are ours due to their service and sacrifice. It is absolutely appropriate to recognize our Veterans every day. Thank you. Though Democracy seems kind of shaky these days, political divisiveness does not interfere with the good sense of community that keeps us Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!


November 18, 2023

CHAMPION—November 6, 2023



The time change discombobulates even old folks who do not have to punch a clock on Monday mornings. Change is hard. Change is the only constant. It must be embraced even as we embrace the changes in ourselves from one birthday to the next. Bob Leach had a birthday on November 4th. He is a fan of Gene Autry and is a real cowboy himself. Ask Ethel. Skyline second grade student Elaina Homer had her birthday on November 5th. That was also the big day for Emerson Rose Ogelsby, a Champion granddaughter. Lee Richardson, of Lee’s Bees and hero luthier for the Skyline Guitar Class, was celebrated in a big way by his sweetheart. She made him three dozen breakfast tacos with Salsa Fresca and mango habanero hot sauce. Wayne Wiseman, grandfather of Champion grandchildren, Foster and Kalyssa Wiseman, had a big 90th birthday party on the 7th. Tree hugger, wood worker Bob Heffern in Champion South will be celebrated by friends and family on the 8th. Skyline fifth grader Owley Sudderth has the 12th as a day to party and seventh grader Isabella Jeffrey will enjoy the 14th for her big day. The 13th is for the multitalented Jill Sterling and the 14th for Carol Callahan Barnhart. Richard Heffern, Bob’s not very much older brother, will enjoy the 15th as the anniversary of his birth. He lives in a big town but has a cabin in the Champion woods that gives him happy respite from city noise and traffic.

Anyone looking for a definition of community need look no farther than the Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department chili supper on Saturday night. Thanks to all the volunteers who made it happen, the Vanzant Community Building bustled and bulged with good will, appreciation, great food, music, music, music, frivolous fun, fellowship, generosity, gratitude, veneration, and support for the great organization of volunteers who leave their tables, jobs, and beds to protect community lives and property. Backyard Bluegrass showed up as they routinely do for every good cause in the area. More than entertainment, they have history going all the way back to the beginning of these benefit socials. Esther Wrinkles was a big fan of the band and predicted that D.J., who was a young teenager at the time, would become a great musician. She made him strawberry rhubarb pies. She made those original coconut cream pies that brought high dollars at these benefit auctions. Area merchants and community members donated a wide variety of interesting items for the auction. Dave Ellis has auctioneering skills would be something to write home about if one could put that many syllables on paper. With humor, cunning and guileless intimidation, he drew competitive bids between people paying out of the same pocket in an evening of laughter and excitement. Teresa Wrinkles’ coconut cream pie, made from Esther’s big money recipe, sweetened the deal. It is sweet to be part of a real community that goes way back and promises to go on yet. Bravo to the EDCVFD.

A few unseasonably beautiful days in a row has Old Champion gardeners getting ready for spring, hoping to find a way to minimize the damage the deer will do next year. The deer population is surprising large. Hunting season is here, and road hunters are on the move. Gina Hollingshead reported some in her neighborhood and warns friends and neighbors to be on the lookout. She says to get license numbers if you can and report to the Conservation Department or the sheriff.

The chili supper included a salute to our Veterans. Veteran’s Day is Saturday, November 11th. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed it as Armistice Day to honor the end of World War I. After World War II, the holiday was recognized as a day of tribute to the Veterans of both wars. British Commonwealth countries now call it Remembrance Day. We acknowledge all those who serve and sacrifice and those who have done so for our security and wellbeing. There will be parades and speeches for them that go along with hopes for peace and understanding the world over. Over here is the very seat of optimism—Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!


November 17, 2023

CHAMPION—October 30, 2023


It is sad news to hear of the passing of Harley Krider. He was here from Peoria for his class reunion in September and then more recently for the funeral of his sister Vivian Floyd. He and Barbara have been coming back to Champion for the 58 years of their marriage, bringing fun with them. Recent visits had Harley spinning yarns in the store while Barbara laid waste to any Scrabble challengers there in the game room. Harley grew up here, attending the Champion School, where he and Punk (Eldridge) Hicks and Larry Wrinkles were a teenage trio that could melt a heart with their rich gospel harmonies. Arthur Porter was their teacher back then. Harley complained about having to stem gooseberries when he was a kid when he would rather have been doing something else. His many friends and family here will be reminiscing about a genuinely nice man. His dad, Oscar, had grown up around Brixey and his mother, Goldie, over on Bryant Creek at 76. They settled in Champion where they milked cows and raised a family. Both Harley and his brother Lonnie said their dad never went to town without a hymn book in his pocket. He could always find someone on the corner to sing with him. He passed the gift of music to all his children. Harley had a beautiful voice that will be much missed.

Looking back to last week: Sister Ruby of Our Lady of the Golden Slippers was fanning herself with a paper plate at the Vanzant Jam. Her habit was hot. The Gypsy was hot too, glittering and dazzling in all her finery. Ruthie came as her lovely self, as did many sensible people. At least three big black hats designated cowboys and two handsome gents sported overalls, though that is their regular attire. They were not in costume. Sherry was in costume, but she always sparkles. The gala affair featured eight guitars and at least a dozen guitar players, four mandolins, two bass fiddles, a bass guitar, a ukulele, and a fine fiddle. Bill Tackett from Caufield brought his mandolin and Jerry Tackett came over from Dora with his guitar. Notably absent were the hippies from last year. The fiddler of that pair was off on an oinking expedition. Then, there was the “boy of summer,” referring to a baseball player. All the various fastpitch teams for which he played were represented in the uniform of General Fastpitch, topped off with a stunning pink chapeau. What a way to end summer!

The General has so far not revealed his pic in the World Series. An article from “The Screwball Times” says that the U.S. Army has long recognized that gum chewing reduces stress and chewing gum has been included in combat rations since World War I. “There is little doubt that chewing gum can be a powerful stress buster. One has only to look at a tightly contested baseball game on TV to see how many players, coaches and managers are vigorously chewing bubble gum or something else to relieve their pent up tension.” When Red Barber and his contemporaries were broadcasting baseball on the radio, somehow it seemed to be a more elegant sport. Champions try to look the other way, grateful to not be so ‘up tight.’ Play ball!

Sunday’s welcome to fall that feels like winter gives some old Champions a chance to bring in the last of the garden gifts. The wonderful inch or so of rain soothes nerves about forest fires and affords people purging paper the opportunity to set the heap ablaze. They will be bundled up to do so. The Chiefs had to bundle up in Denver. It was a cold, hard difficult day for them, but their fans have faith they will be back on top when they play the Miami Dolphins over in Germany next week. People who just get their television over the air and do not get a bill for it will have to wait until after Thanksgiving to get to see their Chiefs again. Meanwhile, there will likely be football to watch several times a week.

The striving and struggle for optimism is ongoing. Exciting Halloween hoopla, baseball’s world series, college and big league football, the internet, daily work and chores, friends and family, solitaire, homework, and music practice can combine and/or alternate to keep our focus away from the horrific things going on in other parts of the world, natural and manmade. Even these many distractions cannot wholly insulate Champions who are always trying to Look on the Bright Side!


CHAMPION—October 23, 2023


Champion Trail Ride

Champions are ready for rain even as they glory in the beauty of early autumn. It may be, because of the lack of rain, that things just go from green to brown. Still when the light hits just right there are dazzling yellows, surprising oranges, a rare red, and purple. Who thinks about purple? But the dogwoods do and so does random sumac. A knowledgeable Champion says sumac is kin to the cashew and they may both be in the poison ivy family. We might look it up. “Anyway,” as the Prominent Champion often says, one is pretty, and one is tasty. We will not worry about the ‘family.’ It rarely does any good.

Wednesday’s Champion Trail Ride was an unqualified success. Twenty individuals mounted up, nineteen on horses and one on a mule, which is reported to be for sale, according to Trail Boss Andrew Harden. He says mules are always for sale. Recovering nicely from having been seriously thrown in February of last year, Karen Brown, was happy to finally make this ride. Her accident had been catastrophic and but for the intrepid first responders of the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department, she would likely have not fared so well. She had been looking forward this ride since arriving in these parts five years ago. She said it was a lovely trip including the sighting of a couple of bears out on the small trail on the Shannon Ranch, probably a mother and baby. Several of the riders have been making this trip for many years, going back to the early days when Bud Hutchison was leading them all into fun and excitement and Wilma was lining them up to take their picture. Don Hamby reported on the ride to friends and reminisced: “Bud grew up in the Champion community and always liked and rode horses. He told me of a mare he had when he was young that would kick straight back with both hind feet when he would flank her. This was ideal for a teenage prank during a church meeting. Bud admitted that the story was true of him backing his mare up to the church building and flanking her and she kicked the building with both hind feet during the church service. Bud was a good friend and a good man and in later years went inside of the church houses. This story and others are treasures and Bud shared many of his stories while we rode the roads near Champion in years past.” We can only imagine the stories being retold by the old timers to all the new folks joining this traditional escapade. To folks who have never been on a horse, the sight of teenagers comfortable in their saddles makes them think the future is in the hands of some well-grounded young folks.

A bunch of road warriors turned on to Fox Creek Road at Denlow on Saturday and toured all the way around down past Wolf Pen Hollow on Cold Springs Road a couple of hours later. They may have met the pavement at Cold Springs on 76, or perhaps they arrived up on C Highway somewhere south of Skyline. There were four or five side-by-side four wheeler outfits, some flying flags, and a little jeep bringing up the rear. The leader, a handsome white haired gentleman, beamed, “It’s a lovely day for it!” He had a wide smile and a hand or foot light enough on the throttle to be able to enjoy the sights without throwing up much dust for those behind, riding drag. It seemed like a perfect Saturday.

Thursday had been nice too. At the jam, some regular players were absent from the circle, but some seldom seen ones, including Jim Orchard, Mark Eldringhof, Keith Turner, and various others sat in, along with some very newcomers, well welcomed. It was unusual not to have a bass fiddle or bass guitar in a circle of a dozen bluegrassers, but they persevered with some serious foot patting. It was a farewell evening for Idaho Upshaws who vow to be back in May to Vanzant, to Denlow, and to Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


CHAMPION—October 16, 2023


Tuesday morning finds frost on the Champion pumpkin–not a hard freeze, but just enough to verify that the seasons are changing. Abundant spring rain and a mostly, well partly, mild summer have us well situated for some autumnal splendor. Clouds obscuring Saturday’s solar eclipse failed to drop the rain needed to make for a safe burning of the pounds of paper being purged by Old Champions. The seemingly relentless wind hardly helps. Campions take fire safety seriously and genuinely appreciate those volunteers who help us when we need it, responding to fires, accidents, and serious health concerns.

“Shining a light on the past to illuminate the future” is what they say about Ken Burns who has made amazing documentaries about the Civil War, the Dust Bowl, Baseball, Jazz, Country Music, several other subjects and, currently, the American Buffalo. It may not be so much to illuminate the future that Champions are so interested in their past as it might be to understand how they got here. Chatter around the old wood stove in the Historic Emporium often centers around old family connections and antics of ancestors. The General and his big bunch just enjoyed the Ousley, Alsup, Livingston reunion. His great, great granddad on his mother’s side, James Ousley, is buried at Denlow. James’ brother, Crawford, kept the “Owsley” spelling. James’ dad was Joseph Owsley. Joseph’s brother, Richard, is the third great grandfather of J.c. Owsley up in Cross Timbers. J.c. and The General are fifth cousins. This is only part of the mind boggling information that The General has documented in genealogical binders for his children. Similar histories exist on his dad’s side of the family, which reveal him to be kin, a very distant cousin, to the Prominent Champion with whom he frequently exchanges good natured jibes out on the wide veranda. Some of the family trees in this part of the country look more like the briar patch, but they seem to be peopled by generally nice folks.

Those Skyline Volunteer Firefighters were well represented at the Skyline School Fall Carnival, helping with the games, and helping disappear some great chili. Skyline students celebrating birthdays soon are kindergartener London Coon on the 22nd. The 24th is for third grader Grant Strong and prekindergarten student Bo Lynn. Kayleigh Crownover, a third grader, will celebrate on the 28th along with prekindergarten’s John Sudderth. Seventh grader Addison Burns will party on the 30th.

Up on WW Highway, the lovely Darlene celebrates her birthday on October 18th. That is the same day for Champion grandson Carson Cline who lives over in Tennessee near his uncle Marty, whose big day is the 20th. The next day we remember fondly Anna Henson. She and Ed kept Champion supplied with its necessities for many years. Donna Moskaly has an award winning painting of the Champion store hanging in the store. Check it out. She is talented. Her birthday is on the 22nd and Ester Grace Ogelsby, also a Champion grandchild, will be six years old on the 23rd. Her Aunt Breauna Krider has the 24th for her big day. Esther Grace’s dad, Brad Ogelsby, and her great uncle Harley Krider share the 26th for their party day. That is the big one for Shala Clark too, mother of Champion great-grandchildren. The 30th is for the late Royce Henson, and for the charming Connie Landsdown, another pleasant lady up on WW Highway. Go east on that highway from Connie’s house and you will soon be at the end of the pavement where country roads meet at the banks of Fox Creek.

Look for pictures next week of the annual Champion Trail Ride, which is now considered to be the Bud Hutchison Memorial Trail Ride. Andrew Harden has taken the lead in Bud’s absence and will likely be abetting the hooky-playing of a couple of Skyline students. Among those pounds of paper the Old Champion is trying to dispose of is a yellowing scrap of undated newsprint showing a group of riders at the Champion Loafing Shed on the halfway point of their 43 mile trip from Crystal Lake to Champion and back. They were Bud Hutchison, Howard Price, Bob Herd, Mutt Stone, Gene Dun and Raymond Johnson. This week’s ride will be missing those old timers, but will be continuing a special tradition. While the expedition will be shorter in distance, just over to the Shannon Ranch and back, it will be long in memory making for young riders. The forecast is for a warm, lovely day. The intrepid equestrians will be glad for ice cream upon their return to Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!