CHAMPION—September 21, 2008


                In Champion Summer is making an elegant and graceful exit.  Spring’s green has lingered long and the dog days have been few.  Violent storms and a bountiful harvest mark a memorable season. 

                The annual Wagon Train of the West Plains Wagon Club came rolling through on Thursday.  They must have made an early start that cool morning.  They had already passed by when Esther Wrinkles got over to the Bluegrass Park on Highway 95, so she didn’t get to see them this time.  Ruby Proctor came out to Champion, though, as did quite a number of other Champions including Elva Ragland and Violet Hinote.  Sharon and Louise brought some excellent deserts and then set them down on the table in front of Jackie!  The other outriders, wagon drivers and passengers did get to enjoy those goodies too, however.  It was a nice rest stop for the train and a good chance for the community to get an eyeful of the past.  They rolled out of Champion headed up Cold Springs Road about one in the afternoon.  Hurricane Ike played havoc with that route on Saturday night but early Thursday morning a fast moving, efficient road grader came through and set things to rights.  There were still trees partially blocking the road in areas, plus low water crossings buried in gravel and big chunks of the road just washed away.  Those guys out working on the road equipment are real masters of their art and the country people are glad!  New Champions who have recently moved to WW Highway from Springfield are Steve and Darlene Conner.  They came to see the Wagon Train and brought Steve’s Aunt and Uncle, Roy and Darlene Conner, with them.  They had come down from St. Joseph especially for the occasion.  They were celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary and enjoying the sites.  Ms. Conner said that the Pony Express was headquartered in St. Joe and that they are most interested in the old days.  From April,1860, to October, 1861, mail routes ran across country from St. Joe to Sacramento, California.  The first westbound trip took 10 days, 7 hours and 45 minutes.  It was 1,966 miles!  That’s another story.  Maybe Uncle Roy and Aunt Darlene will be regular visitors and will share more of that history.  The Wagon Train has been coming through Champion every year for a long time now—regular as clockwork.

                Champions are delighted to learn that Sally Miller has passed the test required of those who want to become Citizens of the United States of America.  Huzza!  It would be interesting to know how many citizens born and raised on These Shores could pass that test.  Sally has already registered to vote.  It is the first time she has ever enjoyed that privilege.  Living in a participatory democracy implies some responsibility and it is a tribute to Champions who take it seriously.  It was not so many years ago that women were imprisoned, beaten and committed to insane asylums for perusing their voting franchise.  Women’s Suffrage is a part of American history that merits remembering.  The electoral college is something that gets forgotten about between presidential elections and it has yet to be explained to the satisfaction of some particular voters and now some of those voters are concerned about the use of paperless voting machines.  Those produced by the company, Diebold, are used extensively throughout the country.  Princeton University studies have proven that there are great security concerns about the Accuvote TS Voting Machine.  Malicious software can easily be installed that can circumvent the logic and accuracy tests and steal votes.  Moreover, a virus can travel from one machine to another teaching them all to steal votes. There are proven examples of such chicanery already, they say.  Whoever ‘they’ are, they sing, “Oh Beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain.  America! America! God shed his grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea!”  That is a Champion song!

                An e-mail came from Pete Proctor who verified the news that Ruby had reported on Thursday:  “..letting you know that Bryan shipped Monday the 15th  (back to Afghanistan).  Also on the 15th in 1968, 40 years ago, I came home from Viet Nam.  I am proud of Bryan and everyone else who wears the Uniform.  I hope all come home soon.”  Champions share that pride and hope with Pete.  One who will not be coming home is a 53 year old soldier from Wentzville, Missouri who died ‘over there’ this week.  Love and Gratitude is what his survivors need.

                Paul said, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”  He may not have been talking about politics.  A liberal helping of apple pie is generally thought to be a good thing.  The word “liberal” is said out loud by some folks as if it were something that needed to be scrapped off the bottom of their shoe, though its definition is “favorable to progress or reform.”  “Conservative” is also a nice word and it means “disposed to preserving existing conditions.”  A conservative piece of that pie might not be as satisfying, but these are just words.  So far Champions of both persuasions are coexisting in harmonious respect for their neighbors and for the freedom to believe what they will.  More words to that song are:  America!  America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law.”  

                Champions congratulate Terri Ryan, Lannie Hinote and Deborah Barker for recently earning their masters degrees.  This is no small feat!  It represents serious effort and the students of Skyline School are the beneficiaries of their diligence!  More congratulations go out to Zoey Louise of Austin, TX.  She has celebrated her fifth birthday in a gala party.  Grandparents expect DVD’s and expansive detailed reports of the fun.  She shares her birthday and party with her cousin, Penelope Zappler, also of Austin, who is now three years old.  They share the date with Louise Hutchison of Champion. (It will be interesting to learn how she observed the occasion this year!) Tanna and Roger Wiseman have a wedding anniversary that day too!  It’s the last day of  Summer and a special day for many–Champions all!

                The 25th through the 30th of the month will be very good days for destroying weeds and doing general work around the farm, according to Linda’s Almanac.  Then the signs change and it will be good planting again starting on the first of October.  Harley and Barbara Krider will be in the neighborhood for a week or so ‘making hay.’  They always lift spirits when they show up.  A pleasant note arrived from Darrell Haden who hopes to attend Ray Cunningham’s Five-School Reunion on the last Saturday in September.  Soon the Pioneer Descendents Gathering will be happening over at Yates, so Champion and its neighbors are in full swing celebration mode….it’s a Champion kind of thing.

                The hurricane winds did more damage to parts of the Ozarks than anyone expected.  Eva Powell had Granddaughter Emily and her family visiting the night of the storm.  With the power out and trees down on power lines, buildings and fences it was more excitement than any wanted.  The good thing is no one was hurt and progress is being made on the clean up.  The Skyline Volunteer Fire Department lost some big trees on the picnic grounds, but sustained no damage to the buildings, fortunately.  Some in Arkansas are still out of electricity.  Champions are quick to compliment the hard work of the White River Valley Electric Co-Op people.  They did a good job of getting things up and running in short order.  Hopefully, those Arkansawyers and Texans will get some relief soon. 

                Katherine Lee Bates wrote “America the Beautiful.”  Look for all the words on the website at  Send explanations of the workings of the electoral college to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to  Stand on the porch at Henson’s Store in downtown Champion and sing that song or any other patriotic, uplifting, heart warming song right out loud.  Nobody will complain if the singing is heartfelt and sincere (and close to on key) because it is well known that singing is beneficial to the health, particularly the health of the singer.  With or without musical accompaniment, Champions are Looking on the Bright Side!