CHAMPION—October 10, 2006


        The good news from Champion these days is the walnut harvest.  Prices are good and the walnuts are plentiful.

        Some industrious individuals are doing well.  Nature’s bounty is evident when marauders come in from other parts to make off with papaws, butternuts and chick pins.  Beth and Dennis Caffey of Conway, MO. spent Sunday in Champion and enjoyed the afternoon at the Krider farm.  Lengthy discussions were held concerning the relative merits of various breeds of laying hens and similar subjects.  The Caffeys supported each other in a story about one of their dogs who eats fresh vegetables.  The dog will go into the garden and pick himself a cucumber or a zucchini without disturbing the vine.  As they left it was noted that the trunk of their car was fairly burgeoning with wild local produce.

        Skyline students celebrated Columbus Day by not going to school.  There were picnics and play groups and probably a number of them shunning the beautiful weather to enjoy some much needed video gaming.  Teachers, however, attended programs designed for their enrichment and encouragement.  It is to be hoped that they gained much from the day as they are the backbone and builders of the community.

        Frost is immanent this week, they say, and gardeners are busy getting the last of the season’s harvest in.  There will be aching backs from lugging in the boxes of sweet potatoes and winter squash.  Louise Hutchison has sung the praises of  Parks Whopper tomato, saying that it produces right up to frost.  There are lots of beautiful green tomatoes on the vine to prove her statements correct.  The variety, Mr. Stripey, also has a resurgence of productivity after the heat of the summer wanes, though the tomatoes are generally smaller.  It’s a gamble to leave them in the garden.  If the frost is not too hard they will just continue to ripen, but if it is too cold they will be ruined.

        Papaws were the subject of much interest at the store this week.  Their heavy sweet fragrance is pleasant, though it is probably not a good idea to have them ripening indoors since the aroma is so pervasive.  The famous naturalist, Euell Gibbons, had a favorite papaw receipt:  “In a saucepan, mix together ½ cup of brown sugar, 1 envelope unflavored gelatin and ½ teaspoon of salt.  Stir into this 2/3 cup of milk and 3 slightly beaten egg yolks.  Cook and stir the mixture until it comes to a boil.  Remove from the fire and stir in 1 full cup of  strained papaw pulp.  Chill until it mounds slightly when spooned.  This will take 20 to 30 minutes in the refrigerator.  Shortly before the mixture is sufficiently set, beat the 3 egg whites until they form soft peaks, then gradually add ¼ cup of sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.  Fold the partly set papaw mixture thoroughly into the egg whites.  Pour into a 9-inch graham cracker crust, or into parfait glasses and chill until firm.  Then lock the doors to keep the neighbors out.”  Ironically, Mr. Gibbons died from a heart attack at age 64, most likely brought on as a result of smoking cigarettes and a lack of exercise in his declining years.  He was not from around here or his old thumper would have had to work some just to get up and down the hills and he might have lived longer.  It was remarked that his premature aging did not speak well of his natural diet.

        If anyone has good news or old stories of Champion or it’s people, write it up and drop it off at the store, or drop it in the mail to “Champion Items” Rt. 2, Box 367 Norwood, 65717, or e-mail it to Champion News.  Otherwise be content to read of the exploits of distant dogs and dead naturalists.