CHAMPION—July 18, 2016

        Tranquility.  (Okay, that is not a sentence.  Rules of grammar can seem restricting, but overall English is a good language even if it seems a little awkward sometimes.  Aunt Nellie’s daughter says it is a strange language, though through tough thorough thought it can be understood.)  Tranquil.  It is just the statement of conditions in Champion.  The storms have passed.  The brush is almost hauled.  The soil is still moist.  Sunshine has returned.  Hay is being made.  Cucumbers are overwhelming.  Tomatoes are ripening.  The creeks are cool.  Family comes and goes and comes back again.  Life is good in Champion.

        Over in Brushy Knob it is pretty much the same, except for the bears.  Snagged from the internet the other day from Tarbutton Heights, “It’s been an exciting afternoon in Brushyknob.  At least on our hill.  We had another visit from a black bear about 3:00.  He was walking around in the yard and then went over to the Apple tree and ate apples off the ground.  He’d stand then sit and then lay down to eat them.  I suppose we’ll have to be on alert now till the apples are gone.  We have a few blackberries out back so I bet the ripe ones are gone now.  That’s the direction he came from.  Never a dull moment around here.  I just happened to walk over to the sink and saw him out there.  We stood on the upstairs deck and watched him for quite a while.  Hope your afternoon was as exciting as ours.”  Chances are pretty good that almost no one around these parts had such an exciting afternoon.  The July issue of the Missouri Conservationist ( has a great article, “Bear With Us” by Kristie Hilgedick.  It provides a lot of good information including guidelines to “Be Bear Aware.”  (Be loud.  Do not turn your back.  Do not run.)  This monthly magazine is free to Missouri households and at a nominal cost to other areas.  There is a great kid’s magazine that comes out six times a year.  It is a Parents Choice Approved Award Winner.  It is also free to Missouri residents and costs only $5.00 per year to send it to grandchildren who live far away.

        On July 18th, Tracee Davis said, “Happy 88th Birthday to my miracle mother, Inez Proctor Davis!”  Tracee had lots of sweet things to say about the dear lady.  Ethan Alexander and Zee Heffern (a Skyline alumnus) both have birthdays on July 19th.  They do not live in Champion, but they have deep good connections here.  The last ten days of July find a number of Skyline School teachers, staff and students with birthdays.  Mr. Prock teaches 5th and 6th grade.  His birthday is on the 20th.  Mrs. Gunter teaches 4th grade and has a birthday on the 23rd.  She shares the day with bus driver Ronny Trammel.  Sixth grader, Grace Crawford, celebrates on the 25th, as does the cook, Ms. Dot.  Jaci Borders is a second grade student who will be having a party on the 27th.  Mrs. Sartor teaches kindergarten.  Her birthday is on the 29th and kindergarten student, Eugene Elliot, has his birthday on the next day, the 30th.  Apparently school will be starting up again soon–school supplies are showing up in the stores in town.  Summer is the swiftest season.  The August 2nd election will give residents of the Skyline R2 School district the opportunity to pass the levy that will raise the total up to the minimum amount required for matching funds from the State.  There is a strong case to justify the need and the increase is a mere $0.48 per $100.00 assessed value.  A Snickers Bar costs $0.99.  An educated population is the hope of the Nation.  This little rural school is a jewel—one of the last of its kind.  SOS!  Save our School!

        Little Champion grandchildren Carson and Drayson Cline are moving off to Tennessee.  They plan to come back often to see their Champion grandmother.  They will probably grow by the foot between visits, even if those visits are as close together as friends and family here hope.  They were out playing in Clever Creek on Sunday.  Next week they may be splashing in Cripple Creek.  Where ever they are there will be fun and excitement, so look out Tennessee, here they come!

        Neighbors over at Vanzant are bracing for a surge of relatives from Idaho.  Seventeen additional Upshaws, though some are called by different names, are slated to attend the July 28th Bluegrass Jam.  They are in for a treat.  There will be family and friends there whom they know and some they have not yet met.  All will be enjoying the benefits of music, which among many other things includes reducing stress, pain and anxiety, boosting the immune system and keeping an aging brain healthy.  “Put another nickel in, in the nickelodeon…”

        These days are tranquil in Champion while the world all around seems to be in turmoil.  Tragedy and strife is everywhere as 7.4 billion people try to exist on the same little planet.  Political upheaval, regime change, old alliances broken, new ones forged, social unrest, civil disobedience and violence on every corner makes us fearful and anxious.  Dionne Warwick’s song from 1967 still rings true, “What the world needs now is love sweet love.  It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.  What the world needs now is love sweet love.  No not just for some but for everyone.”  If ever there was a time for tolerance, empathy and compassion, it is now.  Each person feels as if he is justified in the belief that his prejudices are better than anyone else’s prejudices.  The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and, while Champions applaud the right, they are willing to forego some of their person vitriol for the sake of harmony.  Someone said, “Live without pretending, love without depending, listen without defending, speak without offending.”  That is a tall order.

        On a Wednesday, or any day, come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek for an opportunity for civil discourse with convivial friends and neighbors.  Buy some chicken feed or ice cream or any number of necessities from the broad, eclectic inventory.  Get a look at the Champion Farmer’s Almanac posted on the bulletin board there.  It says the 22nd and 23rd will be good days for transplanting, for setting strawberry plants and for planting root crops.  Find the almanac on line at where there is also a picture of six students who had perfect attendance at the Champion School sometime in the early 20th Century.  Sit out on the broad veranda and enjoy the scenic beauty looking across the Square to the Behemoth Bee Tree and the Little Church in the Wildwood.  Soak in the mellow ambiance Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!