VFW District 18 Commander Russell Olewinski congratulates Skyline R-2 School’s Mr. Prock on having been nominated for the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award.

Skyline R-2 School’s Mr. Prock was honored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars as one of three exceptional teachers in District who are being considered for the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award.  Acknowledgment comes with certificates, plaques and financial awards for the teacher and the school as well.  Russell Olewinsky, VFW District 18 Commander, made the announcement at the beginning of the pre-kindergarten to 8th grade Christmas Music and Band Program on Thursday evening.  The program was entitled “Glorious” and it was.  The community came out in great numbers and was well rewarded with another splendid program directed by Mrs. Downs and Mrs. Casper.  The talented children always do a good job at these performances and to have such strong neighborhood support is most encouraging.  Even if your children are grown and gone and you have no grandchildren in school at Skyline, there are volunteer opportunities that will throw you right in the middle of the youthful exuberance that will help you stay young.  Alternately, the Skyline R-2 School Foundation accepts financial donations in any amount.  Contact the school at (417) 683-4874 to find the best way for you to help these 100 or so young country kids get a good start in life.  Champions!

A bunch of trail riders decided to make an excursion from Vera Cruz over to Champion on Saturday.  When it was time to leave, it was about 18 degrees and there were four riders ready.  Andrew Hardin rode one of Bud Hutchison’s horses, Jim Bob.  Hershel Letsinger rode Andrew’s horse, Cloud.  Jeff Alcorn was on Lace and Gary Braden, from over near Bradleyville, was on his horse, Ruby.  They made good time and were glad to get the broad, brushy banks of Auld Fox Creek.  They enjoyed themselves around the wood stove in the Re-creation of the Historic Emporium, where they had a good lunch and a restful interlude of visiting and yarn spinning before they hit the trail again.  Mr. Letsinger had just received a beautiful ornate belt buckle in the mail.  It signified that he had completed ten National Trail Rides.  He said it turned out to be a fairly expensive buckle—but it sure is pretty.

Bridge dedication.

If the East Champion Fox Creek Bridge (ECFCB) is going to be done by year’s end, those fellows are going to have to get seriously busy.  It is not as if there is an imminent torrent for which they have to prepare.  Most likely they have other irons in the fire across the county.  The upstream side is formed up nicely with lots of t-posts, plywood and rebar.  The tinhorn is ready for action and people who drive around the bridge by-pass (the East Champion By-Pass) to get to Champion have plenty to discuss with each other about the details of the construction as well as the speed of the operation.  The little marker by the tree on the west side of the bridge says the previous permutation had been dedicated to Dave Simpson (1934-1993) by his friends and family.  Perhaps some reader will share the story of Dave Simpson.  Send it to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to champion@championnews.us.

Christmas cards with good wishes and happy remembrances (and some with checks and cash), phone calls with distant loved ones and the music of the season, “These are a few of my favorite things!”  Roberta will be singing “Christmas Time’s A-Coming” and there will be sweet renditions of “Silver Bells” and other holiday favorites at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam.  Mary Goolsby will be talking and smiling about the great party the folks at Champion had thrown for Christmas and for her birthday on Wednesday.  (Bob Berry lured her to The Bright Side saying he had a propane bottle that needed filling and would like to have her company for the outing.)  There will be a big to-do over the Friendly Fiddler’s birthday which will happen this very Thursday night.  He will enter into his 9th decade where he will join the Lovely Lena as they proceed toward 61 years of marriage.  There is plenty to celebrate all year and music does celebration better than most things.  Hugs and kisses, pats on the back, hearty hand-shakes, and good groceries all play their part in merriment, but music is one of the best elements of celebration. “Fa la la, la, la-la la la la!”

Everyone is not celebrating.  There is struggle, war, tragedy, suffering, silence, indifference, greed, intolerance and rancor the world over.  Champions do not subscribe.

The dreary day on Sunday was welcomed with glee by rain starved Champions.  True, not much rain fell, but every drop that landed washed up some pragmatic optimism.  When talking about prospective Christmas gifts, a young granddaughter once said, “You get what you get, and you don’t pitch a fit.”  That smacks of a good upbringing and the ability to make the best of what may not always be the most ideal situation.  86-45.  That is kind of the way it is about the weather.  A Wednesday visitor to the Bright Side said that back in the fifties it was dry like this for two or three years.  He said that folks up in Wright County would tie the sassafras trees over so the cows could reach them.  Other people cut the trees down to feed the cows.  Those who had just tied them over saved their trees for the next year.  There are probably several Champions who can shed light on how it was back then.  There is much to be learned from our predecessors, but how to get along in hard times might be some of the most useful information.  It is amazing how well folks used to do with so little–a clear definition of resourcefulness.  In these days of much and plenty, particularly at this time of the year, a reflection on what is truly important is worth the time.  It is delightful to be gifted with the latest gadget or stylish garment, but Champions do not confuse “things” with love.  The best thing we have to give is our time for our family, our friends and our neighbors.  “Good tidings we bring to you and your kin—we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” in Champion—looking on the Bright Side!

Ready to hit the trail, Gary Braden on Ruby, Jeff Alcorn on Lace, Herschel Letsinger on Cloud,
and Andrew Hardin on Jim Bob head back to Vera Cruz.