CHAMPION—November 3, 2014

        Even with plenty of warning, abrupt changes are surprising.  Wood smoke perfumes the hollows and all that brilliant, glorious color is muted to mostly brown now with only a little gold hanging on.  Just last week a Champion wrote, “The breeze has picked up and from flash to twinkling the air is filled with yellow leaves looking like a mass migration of something magic.”  The cold descended on Halloween making it somehow more spooky.  Linda Clark reported a while back that she was alone one night reading “The Headless Cobbler of Smallett Cave” on the website, when an unexpected noise erupted somewhere in the house gave her a start and a faster pulse.  She laughed about it and also laughed about slipping on some slick leaves, taking a tumble off a bluff and going on a roll down the hill.  She says she is ok but sore from head to toe.  Best wishes from your Champion friends.

        A great friend of The Champion News, Walter Darrell Haden, will be buried in the Spring Creek Cemetery on Election Day.  He cut a dashing figure around Ava in his younger days and moved on to a PhD from Vanderbilt University and a 37 year career as an English professor at the University of Tennessee.  “The Headless Cobbler” and “All the Late News from the Courthouse” are a couple of his pieces that are familiar to people in this neck of the woods.  He wrote “When Winters Were Long, The Tales Taller” for the White River Valley Historical Quarterly (Volume 4, number 8—Summer 1972) which is available on line and probably in the local library.  He was active in country music and folklore associations and was considered the academic last-word concerning the history of traditional music.  He wrote the definitive biography of Vernon Dalhart, a fascinating individual who was the first country music recording artist to attain a following for himself and commercial country music.  Portions of the biography appear in “Long Steel Rails:  The Railroad in American Folksong,” an anthology by Norm and David Cohen.  He came from a family seeped in old time music.  Charlie Haden, who passed away this year came from the same roots and began his career playing on the radio with the Haden Family Band.  He later migrated into jazz where he found great success and in later years came back again to bluegrass.  In a note that came with a gift of a CD called “Beyond the Missouri Sky” on which Charlie collaborated with guitarist Pat Metheny, Darrell wrote, “Charlie’s grandfather, Homer Fielden Haden and my grandfather, Walter Dewitt Haden (1876-1961), grew up together in Smallett.  Their fathers were father and son while their mothers were sisters.”  They sound like Champions.  Darrell and his wife, Betty, visited Champion in 2007, while the original store still stood.  He was a regular correspondent from the time this version of “Champion Items” first appeared and his encouragement has been priceless.  Condolences go to his family as we miss one of their brightest stars.

        A number of stalwart Champions showed up on the last Tuesday of the month to take advantage of The Douglas County Health Department program to provide free blood pressure readings and other health screenings to local residents.  Angela Souder was back again and this time had her “lung age” machine with her.  A 75 year old Champion who smoked for 30 years and quit smoking 20 years ago, who took a turn fighting fires for the conservation department and who still heats with wood was pleased to learn that his lungs are only five years older than the rest of his body.  Angela had help this time provided by a third year nursing student, Melissa Lang of Seymour who is learning the ropes of being a rural health care provider.  Melissa is familiar with the area and will be welcome back any time.

        Foster Wiseman was out early on Saturday morning with his dad on the opening day of the youth deer hunting season.  They arrived before daylight and found their blind.  (Foster says all the trees look alike in the dark.)  By ten o’clock he had his 8 point buck.  The details are exciting and Foster has agreed to write them himself for publication here.  Look for it soon.

        Birthdays are a big deal and there are many to celebrate in the week ahead.  Elijah and Arjuna Flenner (now in their 40’s) celebrated on the first of November;  Kellie Perryman, Skyline 3rd grader, on the 3rd together with counselor Mrs. Beeler;  another 3rd grader, Hailey Hall, on the 4th; Emerson Rose Ogelsby (Champion granddaughter) on the 5th; Sharon Upshaw (Mrs. General) on the 6th;  Kathy Barns (Linda’s sister) on the 6th; Skyline first grade student, Mason Solomon, on the 7th; Bob Heffern (Grandfather Weltanschauung) of Champion South on the 8th; and Skyline second grade student, J.D. Borders, celebrates on November 9th.  May beauty and happiness surround you on your birthdays and always!

        The Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department will have their annual chili supper and benefit auction at the Vanzant Community Building on Saturday, November 8th, with dinner starting at 5:30 and the auction at 6:30.  See you there!  Jeff Goss writes from Billings, MO with a report of the Christian Agricultural Stewardship Conference that was held there at the Vanzant Community Building on October 3rd.  He says that attendance was small but the program was most informative.  Vernon Kinsinger’s talk on the fascinating science of epigenetics revealed that environment and nutrition can affect the expression of genes for up to four generations.  He says that means a person’s nearsightedness might be partly due to his grandmother having received an overdose of some trace elements from canning jar lids.  It also means that living a healthy lifestyle will benefit yourself, your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Marian Schrippe of the Ozark County Homegrown Food Project says that the Ozark Farmers’ Co-op hopes to get some university grant funding to build a tomato grading plant in Mountain Grove or possibly Vanzant.  Then they will just need to find enough growers willing to raise tomatoes, which Goss contends should not be too much of a problem with Booger County’s tomato history.  Jeff has a precise and legible handwriting—a joy to read.

        A note from Ms. Ann Trope is an emotional scrawl, hard to make out.  Politics has her in a tizzy and she seems aggravated with the whole human race.  In her tirade she asks, “How…how can intelligent people not see that they have the power to affect the quality of their own lives?  Vote! Vote!”  Her passion produces holes in the paper with her exclamation points—her penmanship expresses megahertz of volume.  She is most fearful that the future of democracy in America already is in the hands of Ollie Garkey, “who, believe me!” she says, “is not promoting a progressive agenda!  If a little rain shower keeps you from the polls, you will get just what you deserve!  Wake up!”  No return address makes Ann a mystery and by the time this is in ink the midterms will have passed and a small number of people will have made the decisions that affect everyone.  Come gather round the same wood stove that has been warming Champions for generations.  Spin your yarns and exchange your views.  Try to remember the words to “All the Late News from the Courthouse” and the stories behind the song.  While you are at it, spend a moment to marvel at the beauty and tranquility of a little spot on the banks of a creek, where country roads meet at the bottom of several hills at the end or beginning of the pavement—Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!