CHAMPION—July 11, 2016

        It was all chaos in Champion on Wednesday morning as a thunderstorm ripped through the Village with a vengeance.  The storm was at its worst at about 10:30 and when it was over, the whole Square was littered with debris.  Neighbors stepped in immediately to begin the cleanup.  By noon things were mostly back to normal.  Some of the big limbs downed are now stacked neatly in short lengths.  Patrons of the Recreation of the Historic Emporium continue to be impressed with the substantial nature of that recreation.  They felt entirely safe inside.  It is unlikely that the previous permutation of the Champion Store would have fared so well, though it doubtlessly saw many a raging tempest in its time.  The electricity was off and on for a while as the White River Valley crew replaced a transformer up on County Road 243.  Otherwise, it was a just another busy day in the hub of the community.  Friends, neighbors and family visited back in the meeting room, on the wide veranda and out on the Square–sharing their observations, memories of the past, and hopes for the future.  It seems to be an annual event that the sky opens up any time Harley comes down from Illinois to make hay.  That might just be a coincidence.  He always brings good humor with him.  Another storm on Friday brought down more trees and brush across county roads.  Chainsaws hummed all over the place to open pathways to get back to the middle of things–Champion.

        That Friday storm ended just in time to make conditions perfect for the Vanzant Picnic.  The temperature was ideal and lingering clouds kept attendees from having to compete for the shade this year.  The puddles were easy to avoid.  Friends who only see each other at these events reunited with much laughter.  The food was superb and the music sublime.  Steve Moody does a wonderful job as master of ceremonies and Pete Proctor and his fellows from the American Legion Post presented the Flag.  Saturday evening also started off beautifully and the crowd was having a wonderful time when, at about 8 o’clock, the electric transformer overheated and power was lost.  There were no sparks or other fireworks, just a sudden loss of juice.  The band, however, played on.  Big Creek was on stage when the power went out and they completed their set acoustically.  Then Backyard Bluegrass took over and performed their portion of the show in the dark.  The General, speaking under the condition that his limited knowledge of the situation be presented as if he knew what he was talking about, said that the bands are to be commended for carrying on, which, indeed they are.  He said the fire department (Eastern Douglas County) and some picnic workers used their vehicles to light the picnic area until the electricity resumed.  It was about 10:20 when the Howell Organ people arrived and quickly restored the power.  By that time the crowd had thinned out to just the workers.  Speculation was that the additional lights that had recently been installed combined with the electrical requirements of the picnic and the possible damage to the transformer from recent storms and the age of the device all led to its failure.  The spokesman said that no squirrels were hurt during this calamity and that a larger transformer will be installed in the near future.  Already plans are in the works for next year’s picnic.  Meanwhile, Thursday’s pot-luck Bluegrass jam will continue in this splendid venue with all the fun that brings.

        Champion Bonnie Mullins had a nice 4th of July.  She said that in the old days they would spend the day working in the fields, “…but Granddad Brixey always had a watermelon in the spring getting cold for the end of the day and we always had one or two small packages of firecrackers and that made us happy.”  She is happy now about the beautiful flowers that surprise her every week in their new home.  She shared pictures of hibiscus and said that the bush is just full of buds.  The Teeter Creek Herb of the week is Mullein.  The folks over on Teeter Creek report that it is a biennial, “having a rosette of the fuzzy leaves on the ground the first year, and sending up its stalk and seeding the second year.”  The tall flower-staff is blooming in fields and along roadsides now with its easily identifiable yellow flowers.  They say it is a transplant from the Old World, a valued herb for treating rheumatic pains, bruises, sprains, swollen glands, ear-ache and respiratory problems.  “A use you may find critical someday—it is one of the best toilet paper substitutes in the wild!”

        Sharon Tate Williamson has a birthday on July 13th.  She shares the day with great niece Sophia Zappler who lives in Austin, Texas but comes every summer to visit her old aunt and uncle in Champion.  Jude Hicks is a kindergarten student at Skyline School.  (Keep in mind the proposed tax levy increase of $0.49 which will appear on the ballot on the August 2nd election.  It will represent a small tax increase to the residents of the Skyline R2 School District and will be the determining factor in the school being able to obtain matching funds from the State—critical to the long term survival of our small rural school, serving the community so well.)  Jude’s birthday is on July 14th.  As he grows up he will learn that he shares a special day with the people of France.  Bastille Day, July 14, 1789, marked the beginning of the French Revolution when the infamous prison was stormed by partisans fed up with the abuses of the monarchy.  A few weeks later the French National Assembly abolished feudalism and adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen as its constitution.  This was inspired by the American Declaration of Independence and contained the iconic statement:  “Men are born free and remain free and equal in rights.”  Quotes from current presidential candidates and past Presidents of the United States include the following:  “The problems we face did not come down from the heavens.  They are made by bad human decisions, and good human decisions can change them.”  “What is needed now, more than ever, is leadership that steers us away from fear and fosters greater confidence in the inherent goodness and ingenuity of humanity.”  “We must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American eagle in order to feather their own nests.”  A recently departed Nobel Laurite and Holocaust survivor said, “We must always take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”  Apply happy birthday wishes and profound common sense philosophies where needed.

        Come down to the broad banks of Auld Fox Creek for a look at a beautiful place in the world.  A prominent citizen pointed out that the Behemoth Bee Tree stood like 35 foot tall pop-sickle stick hardly ruffled in the breeze and the bees are fine.  “The storm in its fury raged today, crushing hopes that we cherished so dear.  Clouds and storms will in time pass away.  The sun will shine again bright and clear” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!