June 22, 2024

CHAMPION—June 17, 2024


We celebrated pappas, dads, daddies, grandpas on Fathers’ Day. Children promised to be sure there was always enough duct tape and that the lights would be turned off in unoccupied rooms and the doors would be shut when the air conditioner was on. Going back 12 generations over 400 years, those fellows are part of the 4,094 ancestors that it has taken to get each person here today. They had struggles, battles, sadness, happiness, love stories, and hope for the future and here we are. Thanks.

Down from Jordan and on his way to visit an old friend outside of Ava, J.c. Owsley stopped off for a tour of the Denlow Cemetery where he has some distant kinfolks resting. James Ousley of the Seventh Tennessee Mounted Infantry was buried there in 1919. He was born in 1838, and along with Mary Ousley, also buried there, is one of the common ancestors of himself and The General. The General is a local genealogy expert, and a good cemetery guide, so much information was shared. Later they repaired to the Bright Side for lunch and general visiting with old friends and some new ones. The new friends share cattle raising interests and both seem to be well acquainted with a store in Versailles called Top Stitch. Apparently, a significant amount of money can be spent on sewing machines there and both their wives are regular customers. J.c. would have tarried longer, but he was on his way to see his old friend who had had a sinking spell. On his way out though, he made sure to buy all the cowbells the Historic Emporium had in stock. He hopes to be back more often to add to his cowbell collection and to keep up his good Champion connections. He recently went on a trail ride up Wyoming/Montana way, riding among the buffalo. He is such a cowboy he uses The Original Main ‘n Tail and Body Shampoo, and frequently shares photos of the upper end of his watershed or his back forty up in Cross Timbers.

J.c. will be sorry to miss the upcoming visit of his friend Kaitlyn McConnell. Kaitlyn is compiling a pie recipe archive, gathering recipes from all the little community, church, and fire department cookbooks all over the Ozarks. She plans to be in Champion on Wednesday the 26th to peruse some of the local publications. She will photograph her selections, so no books will leave the premises. Perhaps she will bring a pie!

Deannetta Burress and her husband took a big pile of money to the bank on Monday, the proceeds of the Haro Family Benefit held on Saturday. She said the event was wonderful. The Ava Middle School cafeteria was full of people all offering their support for this much-loved family. She thanked Hucklebucks, Town and Country Grocery, and all those who donated their time, services, merchandise, auction donations, and money. This kind of community compassion makes Ava a jewel in the Ozarks. One day the Haro Brothers Restaurant will open again.

Gary Hutchison is the unofficial mayor of Dunn. He has a pink mailbox and lots of stories to tell. Gary has deep connections to Champion and was witness to some of the interesting happenings in these parts in the old days. His birthday was on Father’s Day this year. He has a wealth of children, grand ones and great ones to wish him well on both accounts. It seems to take very little to keep old folks busy, so often we lose touch with old friends. It was good to visit with Gary. We are admonished to pick up the phone and connect with each other. Or go knock on a door.

Haymakers have been in hog-heaven this last week. How many bales to the acre does a good hay field yield? Weather’s wild variations have kept farmers busy and gardeners grateful for the first cucumbers and green beans. Feasting like Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!


June 13, 2024

CHAMPION—June 10, 2024



The Skyline Saturday Swap Meet went on nicely despite an early morning rain. Good farm eggs, fried pies and cracker jack caramel corn, little bunny rabbits and free puppies were just some of the interesting offerings. Meeting up with old friends and neighbors made it a beautiful morning. Helen had some onions and carrots already and said by the next time she will have cucumbers to share. Summer will be here ‘er long and this swap meet will be a regular highlight.

Another piece of excitement comes with the progress on the new Skyline VFD firehouse. It is a big red building with three big bays. One of these days the fire trucks will be parked in there and there will be a training room and all kinds of amenities that have been a long time in coming.

Thursday’s jam at Vanzant was lovely if sparsely attended. HOBA’s big festival in West Plains and other bluegrass events drew a number of musicians and regular aficionados away, but they will be back, and everyone is welcome to this great Thursday night affair. Potluck is at 6:00 and the music starts at 7:00 on the dot. Bring your acoustic instrument, your voice and your appreciation for the music out to the Vanzant Community Building for the pleasure of communing with old friends and making new ones. Music is good medicine. Wednesday’s Champion porch jam gets an additional musician occasionally—always a treat. A lovely rumor has it that J.c. Owsley will venture down from Cross Timbers to take a tour of the Denlow Cemetery on Wednesday. Thereafter he plans a sojourn out on the wide veranda for refreshments and music. He has been to Champion many times in the distant past, once on a big white borrowed mule named Dot and another time on a handsome horse named Junior. This time he will be in the company of The General, who is well known for horsing around. He recently was able to entice a lady to attend the Vanzant Jam by promising to wear a grass skirt. She came. He did. Of course, he did.

Monday had excitement out on Cold Springs Road. Tony, an illustrious Rt. 72 mail carrier, making his rounds, found himself stuck in a washed-out spot in Wolf Pen Hollow. He walked halfway to the Bright Side and up a steep driveway to find a phone. Good luck had him talking to Blaine Denlow’s dad who was on his way home from Brushy Knob. It probably happened that Wes pulled Tony’s rig backwards out of the gravel until he got to a wide enough place to go around him. Then, he pulled him forward through the gravel so he could continue his appointed rounds. It may have happened another way, but Tony was lucky to meet a good neighbor. He said he had delivered mail up around Cabool where the roads are much better. While the roadside flowers and overhanging boughs here are amazingly beautiful, the paths themselves are rough and rugged.

One of the many things Old Champions like about their White River Valley Electric Cooperative is that they seldom loose power even in the big storms because the right-of-way spaces are kept clear. The cooperative is vigilant about tree trimming. They have also strung fiber-optic cables all along the power lines and one of these sweet days members will be able to access substantial, reliable internet. That means distant young folks with on-line jobs can come to see the old folks and stay a spell. They will bring fancy food stuffs and will be looking for projects for exercise. They will get to enjoy country living and help the old folks. It will be a dream come true. So, come on, White River, Connect!

Television reporting of the June 6, 1944, D Day invasion of Normandy reminded us of the sacrifices of those called ‘the greatest generation’ whose efforts were largely responsible for the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. General Eisenhower visited with the paratroopers before they deployed in advance of the amphibious invasion. Film records of that meeting showed him to be the leader that was needed for the time. We salute those Veterans and all those serving since those tumultuous days. Thank you from your friends in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Skyline VFD's New Firehouse
Skyline VFD’s new firehouse.

June 9, 2024

CHAMPION—June 3, 2024



Haymaking is dicey this time of the year under normal circumstances.  Abnormal conditions are almost normal these days.  Overall, Champions are grateful that things are no worse.  Other parts of the country are dealing with the aftermath of storms that went around us.  Farmers keep a weather eye out and do what must be done to feed the country.  Farming in these parts has never been easy.  Our predecessors here had skills that have long gone by the way.  One of those skills that we hope to see again at the seventh Pioneer Heritage Festival is that pedal scroll saw pedaled by Brian Thompson.  He makes words in wood.  All those exhibitors of skills and crafts have things to teach us.  The festival is set for early October and organizers are already lining up musicians, exhibitors, and volunteers, and doing all the other hard work that goes into making it a great event.  Anyone interested in participating or helping in any way can call 417-746-4006.  Maybe we will hear something like the Razorback Waltz by Cotton Combs (1921-1984).

Felix the Farmer probably sang that birthday song to his Grandpapa on Sunday.  He has a good voice and a wonderful Grandpapa.  Champions will be singing the song to their friend Kaitlyn McConnell on June 6th.  She will probably have pie since she is baking favorite pie recipes of friends and followers her Ozarks Alive blog.  Hopes are she’ll bring another one to Champion one of these days.  She shares her birthday with Dave Medlock who comes to Champion on sunny Wednesdays via motorcycle and without banjo.  Champion Wayne Sutherland was 85 in 2015 on June 7th.  Kaylin Watkins will be a sixth grader at the Skyline School in the fall.  Her birthday is June 12th and hopes are she is having a wonderful summer.  She may get to play in the creek.

The HOBA folks will have their live shows over in West Plains on June 6-8.  They always have a good line up of musical talent.  It is the 41st Annual Spring Bluegrass Festival.  Campers began arriving on June 1st, and likely there will be jamming all over the park every day this week.  Thursday’s Vanzant Jam may contribute a musician or two, but the beat will still go on in the Community Building anyway.  It also goes on out on the wide veranda in Champion most Wednesdays starting around 11:00.  It is a treat when Joann Laurence joins in.  Anybody with any acoustic instrument or a voice to sing is welcome.

Any day of the week, save Sunday, is a good day to meet up with friends down on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Old Fox Creek.  June’s cold old wood stove still offers a point around which yarns may be spun.  On Saturday the whole of the Historic Emporium was designated a liar’s corner.  So, friends and neighbors discussed their gardening efforts, recent local events, politics, epic journeys, and local histories while they picked ticks and told lies.  Some of the lies had a grain of truth in them while others were pure fabrications.  The frequent question is:  to Deet or not to Deet?  It seems that even those who spray up still get ticks.  A pleasant gentleman steeped in local lore recently told of a fellow who was crossing the country on his way west when he noticed a tick on him.  He said that he just let it gnaw on him all the way to California where he pulled it off and let it go, thus augmenting the tick population of California.  Folks there may not have it as a gift.  Some are questioning the value of a number of so-called gifts such as old age and declining stamina.  Nevertheless, gratitude and optimism are watch words in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!