Saturday’s road snow gave way to Monday mud.

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?”  John Steinbeck’s question in Travels with Charlie: In Search of America is clearly answered with our dramatic temperature change during the course of a few days.  On Saturday there was still snow on country lanes.  We are plenty sweet, thank you.  Champions were optimistic for good rain, the gentle soaking kind, but it came down in buckets with plenty of thunder.  The Official Champion Peach Can set in a flower pot out in the open contained precisely 1.5 inches of rain.  That is the most significant precipitation in quite some while.  A foray out on the 4th Tuesday for blood pressure exams (by Tina of the Douglas County Health Department) at the Re-creation of the Historic Emporium will give locals the opportunity to see if there is water under the New East Champion Fox Creek Bridge.  Can Spring be far behind?

Susan and Wesley Freeman have celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary.  They live down in McKinney, Texas, but Suzie says they are still ‘hillbillies at heart.’  Their Champion friends send them congratulations.  Alvin Barnhart celebrated a birthday on Saturday, the 20th.  On Friday he had been out in the woods cutting firewood to help a neighbor who had suffered an accident and was out of commission.  Champions say, “Happy birthday to a good neighbor.”  Talk about your good neighbor.  That is Brenda Coffman Massey.  Her birthday is the 22nd and she turns out to be behind or right in the middle of practically every good work in her neighborhood.  Not only that, she has a great smile and capacity for fun that is the envy of every old stick-in-the-mud around.  The fiddler’s sister, sweet Sally Prock, shares her birthday on the 23rd with a dynamic young percussionist, Oliver Holden Moses, who was 16 in 2015.  He is dazzling them at Northwestern University now.  Thomas Jarnigan’s is old enough now to sing, “Happy Birthday” to his dear old Dad up there in the Pacific Northwest.  Cowboy Jack can sing that song to his dear Joyce on the 26th and Shannon Alexander can sing it to the lovely Kaye on the 27th.  A note in the Official birthday book says that Jacob Brixey’s Dad was 40 years old in 2012.  Loneda (Neda) Bennett is now a grandmother (Paisley) and also has a birthday on the 30th.  Ms. Helen over at our wonderful little Skyline R-2 School shares student birthdays with The Champion News:  Jacob Brixey, second grade—January 18; Kyle Barker, fifth grade—January 21st; Elizabeth Hinote, third grade—January 22nd; Blake McIntosh, kindergarten student—January 24th; Brooke Johnson, sixth grade—January 26th; Erika Strong, fifth grade—January 30th.  All of you, enjoy all your days.  Make the most of them like Champions.

It is wise to be careful out in public these days with the influenza raging.  Anything that we touch can possibly be contaminated.  Paper folding money is particularly suspect of possible corruption.  It goes through lots of hands.  Hand washing has become a first defense against the virus.  Money laundering is a different thing.  Financial crimes such as tax evasion and money laundering have proven to be the straws that finally break the criminal’s back.  The term ‘money laundering’ actually comes from Alfonzo Capone who began the endeavor in local coin operated laundries that he controlled in New York.  He laundered billions of dollars but was ultimately convicted for tax-evasion.  Other great practitioners of the art were John Gotti, the Teflon Don, and the infamous General Manuel Noriega of Panama, both of whom were brought down by Champion Bobby Three Sticks.  Gotti died in 2002 in the Federal Prison Hospital in Springfield.  Noriega served time in the United States and in France for money laundering before he was returned to Panama where he was incarcerated for crimes committed while he was in office and where he died in 2017.  It may be as dangerous to launder money as it is not to wash your hands.  The flu that is going around now is a particularly virulent strain.  Dr. Taubenberger, Senior Investigator in NIAD’s Laboratory of Infectious Diseases says that all the human–adapted influenza viruses of today are descendants, direct or indirect, of that founding virus that caused the 1918 flu pandemic that infected 500 million people around the world and resulted in the deaths of 50 to 100 million people—three to five percent of the world’s population.  Our population is much larger now that it was in 1918, and it can clearly be said that these are even more dangerous times.


Skyline R2 Tigers hosted their second archery tournament at ‘home’ this school year.  There were five schools participating:  Lebanon, Manes, Mountain Grove, Norwood and Skyline.  It is a terrific program that gives boys and girls the chance to build some personal skills, to learn some science and math, to enjoy competing and getting some interaction with kids from other schools.  Parents and others in the community get to help with the concession stand and to fill the grandstand to watch a fascinating event.  It is a very quiet, orderly sport.  Whistles blow, the audience holds its breath and then there is the thud, thud, thud of arrows hitting the targets.  Skyline students did well.  Cyanna Davis was first place among middle school females, Kyle Barker was first in the elementary boys’ division and Malachi Fulk was second.  Faith Crawford was first in the elementary girls’ competition, Destiny Surface was second and Miranda Cannucci third.  All these young people are winners.

On Friday over in Willow Springs there will be a Tribute to Patsy Cline.  Sharry Lovan, David Richardson, Rod Cash, and Lynette Cantrell will join Wendy and Ed Cline at the Star Theatre for the performance at 7:00 p.m.  Five dollars at the door is a bargain for an evening of such fine entertainment.  Robert Burns was born January 25, 1759.  A poet and a farmer, well known for his blunt political and civil commentary, one wonders what he might say about our current situation.  Long-time Champion friend, Eulalia Jasmin, writes in ( to say that millions of citizens took to the streets all over the world on January 20th with Burns’ message:  “Oh would some power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us!”  We seem to be in disarray.  The Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City has a sign up that says, “Rather than build a wall, America needs to build a giant mirror to reflect on what we’ve become.”  Thursday will find people celebrating with Burns Suppers in Scotland and many other places around the world even in Vanzant where there will be pot-luck feasting and good music.  It happens in Vanzant every Thursday evening (weather permitting) in the Community Building, starting at 6:00 with the potluck and then a music jam from 7:00 to 9:00.  Maybe someone will sing that Stonewall Jackson song, “I washed my hands in muddy water.  I washed my hands but they didn’t come clean.  I tried to do like Daddy told me.  But I must have washed my hands in a dirty stream” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

A muddy stream when it is not frozen.