And it will surprise you…

Champions say, “Count Your Blessings.”  We have not far to look to find many in much less agreeable circumstances.  This week families and friends will gather for feasting and acknowledging good fortune.  There will be news to share–some wonderful, some sad and we will all gaze at each other, glad again for closeness with good people.  It has been reported that two of the big fires in California were caused by downed power lines.  It is our good fortune to live in an area where electricity is furnished by electrical co-operatives—customer owned utilities, well run and maintained.   We are also blessed not to have extraordinary dry conditions and terrible strong winds.  There in California, many are dead.  Many more are missing.  Many lives have been altered forever.  As we set about to give thanks for our blessings here, a hope for healing and recovery goes out to them from the Champion heart.

Over in Ava, Fern Bishop had a 90th birthday celebration on Wednesday.  Her son and his wife joined Fern’s friends, Linda, Wanda and Sybil for cake and reminiscing.  Some of that cake made its way to Champion were it was summarily finished off—fresh raspberries and all.  Carole Callahan Barnhart also enjoyed her birthday on the 14th.  Hopes are that she had a great day that matches her great smile.  Jacob and Jenna’s old grandpa had his day on the 18th.  He is back in the neighborhood and friends and family are glad to see him.  An alumni of the Champion School, Elva Ragland’s birthday is the 19th of November.  The anniversary of your birth is as good a time as any to let you know that you are loved and appreciated every day.

One of the great things going on at our great K-8th grade Skyline R2 School is that this month they are collecting canned and packaged goods that they will donate to the Senior Center in Ava to be distributed where they are needed.  Meanwhile the pre-K through 2nd grade have a fundraiser going to help them pay their way into the Wonders of Wildlife sometime in the spring, a costly but very valuable learning experience.  Pop in to the school or into Henson’s Store in Historic Downtown Champion to see how you can help.  The Skyline Archery team had their first tournament on Saturday up in Norwood.  Terri Ryan reported that it went well.  She said they had several new archers.  “Some of our experienced archers shot their highest scores yet, so that was pretty exciting.  Our first tournament at Skyline will be December 8th.”  She says they will have four tournaments this year.  This first one will be on a Saturday so the community will have a chance to come out to see some amazingly skillful young people do their stuff.  The procedures for the tournaments are very interesting and well organized with safety and precision as the focus.

The Vanzant Bluegrass Jam was jam packed on Thursday.  Seventeen people with musical instruments circled up for the fun of it.  Lynette Cantrell was there with her brother, Roger, visiting from Seattle.  His was the first ever bouzouki brought to the jam.  It has eight strings like a mandolin but a two foot long fretboard.  This particular instrument is unusual in that it has a flat back as opposed to the round, potato bug back of the traditional bouzouki.  He was able to subvert it to bluegrass, playing a great rendition of “Oh Them Golden Slippers.”  Roger said that the jam he goes to back home is more organized which prompted the question, “What do you mean by that?”  He said they have a regular play list and everyone knows all the songs.  That answer left the inquirer wondering how they ever hear anything new or how they might ever be surprised.  Most likely they enjoy it the way they do it as much as folks here enjoy it our way.  Our way will resume on the Thursday after Thanksgiving.  Everyone is welcome at the Vanzant Community Building.  Potluck is at 6 and music happens from 7 to 9.  The potluck is a feast every time.  Bonnie Bean was kind enough to share her chicken pot pie recipe.  It has fat fluffy biscuits on the top.

The Champion News on-line has been getting mail both of the snail and cyber variety.  The snail mail (TCN, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717) came with the much appreciated annual support for TCN from J.C. Owsley over in Cross Timbers.  Again he dedicates his contribution to the memory of R. C. Dobbs.  “Ralph was one of my post-graduate professors at the University of Missouri Columbia.  He was also a dear friend and mentor.  He grew up in Eastern Douglas County.”  “A student of everything who was known for his friendliness and humility” is the way another friend eulogized him in 2014.  He was born in Bertha in 1922, and after high school joined the CCC.  He started college at SMS in Springfield and ultimately earned degrees at the University of Missouri in Columbia and at Indiana University.  Meanwhile, he served in the South Pacific during World War II and left the US Marine Corps as a Captain.  In 1965 he joined the graduate facility in the College of Education at UMC.—Dr. Ralph Dobbs.  He and his wife raised five daughters.  He volunteered in a number of ways to help Veterans, making an effort to greet them frequently as they returned home.  He loved The Honor Flights and did the hard work that made them happen for many Veterans.  He raised registered polled Hereford cattle and was a very polished, down to earth Champion—even if he was from over there on Fox Creek southeast of Gentryville.  J.C. has some interesting and pleasant friends.  It turns out you have to be one, a friend, to have one.

Cyber mail to The Champion News online comes from our old friend Eulalia Jasmin.  She is wowed that now any mention of a song in the text leads to an internet link that plays the song!  She asked that the staff go back to 2006 through all the archives to link up all the music to real sound.  Alas!  Those are too many songs!  Who would imagine there might be too many?  The new feature commenced October 29th and will go on henceforth.  “Put another nickel in, in the nickelodeon.  All I want is loving you and music, music, music”… in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Some of Vanzant’s Thursday Circle