CHAMPION—April 20, 2015

        At this time of the year Champions are loath to leave home for any reason.  Why go elsewhere?  Still, a person venturing out of the country and into the town will find the familiar sights along their roads changing dramatically hour by hour with white explosions of dogwood and pink smudges of redbuds and the forests filling in with all the tender new greens and rich dusty golds of pollen laden oaks.  Houses are disappearing in the woods again and soon summer’s green curtain will obscure winter’s view.  The only constant is change.

        Among the stories being told at the Wednesday gab-fest at the Historic Emporium in Downtown Champion was one about the delivery of a new used riding mower.  It arrived on a trailer and the fellow who unloaded it took his seat to back it off.  It started right up and made a rapid trip backwards before arrangements had been made to accommodate the height of the trailer—about two feet.  The upshot of the quick trip was that the gentleman wound up flat of his back with the lawnmower on top of him and his wife and sister-in-law were thrown into a sudden scramble to get the thing off him.  He seemed no worse for the wear and, as of Sunday, still had no serious repercussions from the incident.  The lawnmower smoked a little when it was restarted but also seems to be working just fine.  This was an example of some excitement that had a good outcome.  A soft spoken man in a good looking black cowboy hat happened to mention that a stray bullet will do as much damage as one aimed right at you.  Elmer had complimentary things to say about the reporting of the story of his little black hen taking a vacation in Champion a couple of weeks ago.  He was reminded of another traveling chicken story.  A few years ago his friend, J.T. Shelton, came over to his house early one morning with his dogs to do some hunting.  About sun-up they heard a rooster crow.  Elmer did not have chickens at that time so it was a mystery.  It turned out to be one of J.T.’s little roosters which had been roosting up on the axel of his truck.  J.T. crawled under it and grabbed the little bird. He put it in a dog crate to take him home.  What made the story so interesting was that Fox Creek was running pretty high at the time and the little rooster had managed to hold on to the axel while completely submerged.

        It seems that J.T. has adventures with birds—avian adventures.  The funniest one really started out as a cow stampede when the dairy farmer from up the hill came down to check on the calves penned up by J.T.’s barn and found the fence broken down in several places and the calves scattered up in the cedar breaks.  It was just after a hard frost and the tin roofs, the wires and the ground were all white and slick.  The great flock of buzzards that roosts downstream from Champion had made a predawn flight and were all congregated in J.T.’s yard.  He said the ground was just black with them, hundreds of them.  When he turned the yard light on it startled the “committee” which took flight in every direction.  Their grunts and hisses added to the terrible screech of their talons on the slick tin barn roof as they tried to lite, (“It was the awfulest sound I ever heard,” said J.T.) and the terrified calves broke out and ran wildly to the hills.  When Harley Krider up in Peoria read about it in The Champion News (October, 2006), he called and asked, “Were those my calves?”

        Two new members were added to the Skyline School Board in the April 7th election.  They are Josh Strong and Steve Moody.  Mr. Strong has a child in school and Mr. Moody has a vested interest, as does the entire community, in having a well-educated population.  His banking experience might be helpful as the board works to spread the meager budget around to cover all the necessary bases.  They join Dana Lambert, who has been serving well on the school board for a long time together with Roy Roworth, James Brixey, Tim Scrivner, and Leslee Krider.  Skyline Students enjoying birthdays soon are Haley Wilson, a sixth grader with a birthday on the 23rd.  Shelby Wilson is in the first grade and has her birthday on the 24th.  Prekindergarten students, Eli Johnson and Teagan Krider, celebrate on the 28th and 30th respectively.  It is a great little school.  The nurse from the Douglas County Health department will be there from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. on the first Tuesday of the month to do blood pressure checks and other health screening free to the community.  Angela Souder is the DCH nurse who comes to Henson’s Grocery and Gas on the last Tuesday of the month.  She will be in Champion on the 28th from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.  She is having a positive impact on some prominent locals who are now making it a point to balance some of their unhealthy eating habits with some healthier choices, like milk with their chips and candy bars instead of a soda.  Little by little–change is the only constant.

        Ms. Ethel McCallie from over in Nowata, Oklahoma called for a nice visit Sunday evening.  She had read the reports of the Good Friday tornado over in Vanzant and was just checking in to be sure her friends had made it through the storm.  She was most sympathetic to River Stillwood, whom she much admires.  She said that she knows what it is like to lose everything.  Twice while she was a child her family home burned and they lost everything they had.  She is glad that River lives in a community where people come out to help when there is a need.  Ethel says she is very frightened of tornadoes and a few years ago she heard on the television that one was four miles out, headed straight for Nowata.  She prayed that it would turn its course out over some open land and that no one would be hurt.  She said her friend outside of town stood in the front door and watched the twister turn and move right across the field in front of their house.  Ethel will have her 98th birthday in August.  She has made it through many storms of life and still has positive outlook and a good sense of humor.  She is healing up from another fracture but hopes to make it back to Champion this summer.  Her friends will be waiting.

Judie Pennington

        Some gardeners are enjoying fresh salads from their little patches and will be getting their peas in the ground soon.  Judie Pennington, who lives over in neighboring black bear territory has been pacing the floor since her birthday back in February (or was it March?) waiting for mushroom season.  It is finally here and she has had some good luck in her hunts with her visiting daughter and friends joining in the fun.  It is always a joy to see friends getting just what they want.  A satisfied smile enhances even an already beautiful face.  “Just let a smile be your umbrella on a rainy, rainy day and if your sweetie cries, just tell her that a smile will always pay.  Whenever skies are gray don’t you worry or fret.  A smile will bring the sunshine and you’ll never get wet.”  Judie knows a little sunshine after the rain is the receipt for her favorite dish.

        The fine Ozarks Watch Magazine was delivered to Champion on Wednesday morning by one of its authors.  It comes out twice a year and this time includes some interesting articles about the various country stores in the Ozarks.  “The Champion Store” is featured prominently.  The magazine is available for perusal in the reading room at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium.  The article seems to say that the store is in a back-water, off the beaten path, a little difficult to find.  Au contraire!  It is right where the pavement ends at the junction of several country lanes, at the bottom of several green hills on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Old Fox Creek.  It is due North across the Square from the monolithic stump that towers over the old school where the bees are buzzing in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!