Champions heed the warnings.

These are being some beautiful days out in Eastern Douglas County.  Everything is blooming.  Purple cone flowers have joined the other wild flowers along the sides of the roads and the delicate greens of spring have changed to the deep luscious greens of summer.  We have been blessed with more rain than necessary and the roads and bridges feel it.  The county road crew is working diligently and no one is complaining.  They have, in consideration of Memorial Day, worked to be sure all the roads to the little cemeteries in the area are passable.  We will be able to get out to decorate the graves of our loved ones.  Hopes are that the weather will be amenable.  More rain is in the forecast and the Gents of Drury have already had to repair some of the repairs they have just made after the recent deluge.  On this end of the county there are more than a dozen bridges that have been significantly compromised.  It will take some time to get everything back together again, so residents are patient and appreciative, and willing to go the long way around.  When the weather folks on the TV say, “Turn around, don’t drown” that is important information.  When you go around those signs that say, “Road Closed,” or “Bridge Closed,” you take a chance.  Be safe all you Champions and if you want to make some cookies for the valiant road guys, go ahead.

The parking lot was full at the Vanzant Community Building on Thursday.  It was a splendid evening to be out.  Mr. Kyle Ray came from Ava with his fiddle and sawed off some lovely tunes.  The 90 year old said that he is not playing as much as he used to, that so many of his musician friends have passed on.  It was pointed out to him that the room was full of music lovers and that he is always welcome.  Maybe he will take it to heart and make it a habit.  Upshaw cousin, Margie Carr, was in the audience.  She lives in Washington State.  She and her traveling companions are on an east to west, coast to coast road trip and were able to arrange their itinerary so that they could pass through Denlow for the Denlow School Reunion.  Margie has been here before and likes the looks of the country.  She has come at a glorious time of the year.  If she decides to retire in this part of the world, we will have another good neighbor.

The first day of June is the birthday of Dr. Amanda Zappler, a Champion niece.  She lives in Austin and is the hub around which her family turns.  Sierra and Bailey live in Oregon, but their grandfather lives out west of Ava and has a birthday on the second.  They call him Papa and he has a chicken named Violet with whom Bailey has an attachment.  Bailey and her family will be here for the Fourth of July, so the whole family is excited.  There is a great song by Fats Waller, the name of which is, “Where Were You on the Night of June the Third?” Margie Cohen was celebrating her birthday up in her Pennsylvania home.  She has been a welcome Champion visitor on more than one occasion.  Skyline School’s PAT coordinator, Mrs. Hicks, has a birthday on the 5th.  Destiny Jeffery’s birthday is on the 7th of June.  She was in the eighth grade this year and so she will be off to a new school next year.  Wayne Sutherland also celebrates his birthday on the 7th.  He was 85 back in 2015.  He and Frances and Greta were at the Champion Spring Fling.  Laine gets them to McClurg on a regular basis, so the Sutherlands are on the go.  Happy birthday all you Champions near and far–many happy returns of your day!

Some folks were following the Montana special election closely, hoping that the bluegrass musician would prevail.  A last minute shenanigan by his opponent brought out the vote in a surprisingly dismal fashion.  Meanwhile, abroad, one humiliating performance after another puts ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’ in the darkest light it has been in since McCarthyism.  As Edward R. Murrow said back then, “Have you no shame?”  Apparently McCarthy did not either.  Murrow also said, “When the politicians complain that TV turns their proceedings into a circus, it should be made plain that the circus was already there, and that TV had merely demonstrated that not all the performers are well trained.”  George Orwell said, “A people that elects corrupt politicians are not victims, but accomplices.”  Fifty years from now, those of us who are still alive will still be shaking our heads trying to figure out how it all came to this.  There will be many theories, but the bottom line will be that fewer than half of the eligible voters chose to vote–abysmal.

On the Bright Side, the holiday is causing many travelers to make their way back to their home places to reconnect with family, friends and memories of their youth and vigor.  Old friends who have passed on are being remembered with affection.  Jack and Gladys Ryan were some Champion friends.  They have been gone for some while now.  They lived on N Highway just west of the Monastery where they kept a big, lavish vegetable garden and raised chickens.  Gladys was a great cook and happily shared her method of pickling garlic.  Jack invented all kinds of interesting contraptions in his shop and taught little boys how to take a picture of a little fish to make it look like a big fish.  He loved morel mushrooms and made plum wine which he was glad to share.  His CB handle was Foxfire.  They had their place logged by an outfit that used mules instead of log skidders.  When the West plains Wagon Club would make its trek through Champion, he would always be there, lending his watering trough for the animals and his good humor to the community.  Their friendship has endured past their lifetime.  Memory of them always brings a smile.

Jack Ryan loved being in Champion when the West Plains Wagon Club made its stop there.

Bring your own smile, your vigor, enthusiasm, wisdom and optimism down to the very wide, wild and wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek.  Sit out on the veranda where you can greet your neighbors as they come to the Square for commerce and camaraderie.  You can sing, “To thee, I’ll return, overburdened with care.  The heart’s dearest solace will smile on me there.  No more from that cottage again will I roam.  Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!