It was a hot game of ‘burn out’ on the Champion Square Wednesday.

What a joy it is to gather with old friends and new ones to celebrate the life of a mutual friend. Neither a birthday party nor a wake, it was just a party in acknowledgement of what good friendship means. In his presence, friends regaled him and each other with particulars of adventures they had shared and with the many instances when he was exactly the help that was needed. He has always been generous with his time and his many skills, as well as his excellent good humor and kindness. All of that goes along with a wide streak of orneriness and a keen wit. When it comes right down to it, we all have a limited time here and we never know when it is going to be over. A full life full of friends is worth rejoicing anywhere along the path. Mr. Jones—a Champion!

The tragedy on Table Rock Lake breaks our hearts for those who have lost loved ones and makes us more keenly aware of the preciousness of our own family and friends.

School will be starting again soon. Summer is slipping away. Skyline’s teacher, Mr. Prock, celebrated his birthday on July 20th. Eighth grade student, Grace Crawford, celebrates on the 25th. Teegan Cannucci, in the 5th grade, shares her birthday on the 27th with 4th grader, Jaci Borders. Teacher, Mrs. Sartor, celebrates on the 29th and 1st grader, Eugene Elliot, has his day on the 30th. Other birthdays include those of Ethan Alexander and Zee Heffern who had their observances on the 19th. John Webber parties on the 25th and probably other times as well. Roberta, the beautiful maker of pies and great music, will have that song sung to her on Thursday, though her birthday is on the 28th. Karen Ross, our intrepid Rt. 72 mail carrier, will have her birthday off from work on Sunday the 29th. Elitta January was born August 1, 1938 and passed away on September 24, 2011. Her friends remember her well and speak of her often. Talented, attractive, and bright Champion grandson, Seamus Alexander, has his birthday on August 2nd. The third is for an old boy, R.D., who will be 66! Like the old boy says, “Everybody’s got to be somewhere.” He has breakfast with important people on a regular basis and is likely to spin yarns based in local history. For example, he said that Uncle Hutch had recently put new windows in a rent house when he got news that the house had burned. “My windows too?” he said. Sweet Lena’s infant brother had been passed through the window to safety and there was no loss of life. That must have been seventy years ago, more or less. My, how time flies!

To be joyful in the struggle is an admonition well expressed. In a time when anti-intellectualism and anti-science run rampant with truth decay, it is a challenge to stay positive. With ample information available at our fingertips, it is more import than ever to apply the concepts of critical thinking, i.e. reasoning and logic to new or unfamiliar ideas, opinion, and situations. Child psychologists say that critical thinking is integral to children’s mental growth as it makes them differentiate right from wrong. It enables them to remain clear, accurate and relevant while mulling over an issue. Fact is something that has actual existence—a piece of information presented as having objective reality. Mathew Henry was quoted in the first issue of The Champion News on August 28, 2006. “If truth is once deserted, unity and peace will not last long.” Henry was born in 1662. His ‘Complete Commentary on the Bible’ is available on-line. The free press is called The Fourth Estate in reference to its de facto position as an additional check on executive, legislative and judicial powers. It is not a part of the government, but it serves a regulatory purpose on both private and public enterprise. Truth still struggles to survive amid blurred reality. As for unity and peace, they may recover with some rehabilitation. Champions are compulsively optimistic. Your vote matters. If it did not, there would be no effort to suppress it. Billionaires would not try to buy it and other countries would not try to hack it. Use it August 7th and every chance you get.

Wednesday was one of those delightful summer days—not too hot—not too humid. The horseshoe pitch was still too muddy for action after the recent rains. Yet, the wide veranda at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium was full to capacity as spectators enjoyed the spectacle of a couple of “boys of summer” playing “burn-out” on the square. Baseball is said to be the most sophisticated of all the gladiator sports. It might be a stretch to call either of these fellows ‘sophisticated,’ but they have both traveled extensively and seem to have well developed world views, albeit different ones. Baseball is a fine American pastime. Gardening is another. Like fishing, gardening is a perpetual reason for optimism. It is also a gamble that the hard work will pay off before the bugs or weather or rabbits, raccoons, groundhogs or deer get the harvest. As gardeners get older, the paths in the garden get wider and the beds get narrower. Still, every little bit of home-grown food is nourishing in ways that cannot be replicated in grocery store food. Canning kettles and pressure cookers are already getting a work out. It is a blessing to get to live the country life.

The Vanzant Bluegrass Jam was another delightful evening. Having missed the week before due to the picnic, musicians were ready to jam. It was a real treat to see Wilma Hutchison in the company of the fair Lena Wagner. Sitting there with Janet Johnston, they were like a trio of high school girls–their laughter its own music. The duo of Bobbie and Mary Joe almost had to be called down for their raucous enjoyment. Bob Berry warned them that they would wind up in The Champion News. That did not seem to be any kind of deterrent for their jubilant behavior. A new study has discovered that music therapy reduces depression and raises self-esteem in children and adolescents with behavioral and emotional problems. Imagine what it can do for the rest of us! An old song says, “’Oh where are you going?’ said the soldier so free. ‘I’m going to the river. It’s sparkling for me. I’m going to the river down by that great spring just to watch the water glide and hear the nightingale sing.’” Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Janet Johnston, Wilma Hutchison, and Lena Wagner–“Girls just want to have fun.”