CHAMPION—June 28, 2010

          Relief from the oppressively hot weather is felt as completely in Champion as anywhere.  Barns are full of hay and citizens go about their business with a renewed sense of optimism.  Gardens are producing and these are exactly the days that were longed for during the long deep winter.  Champion!  Because of its central location in Douglas County, Mid-America, and the Western Hemisphere, Champion sees a good deal of company this time of the year.  Friends and family travel great distances to soak up just a little of the pastoral calm so missing in the hectic pace of the dreary elsewhere with its six lane freeways and flummoxed populace.  The hospitality of Champion is legendary.  Welcome.

          Sunday afternoon found Esther Wrinkles’ house so full she could hardly turn around.  Her 93rd birthday was the occasion that brought her sister, Irene Dooms, and her two sons and their wives and children, and Esther’s two sons and their wives and families and Leon and Peggy Harris and numerous others—15 in all–to celebrate with her.  On the phone one of her good neighbors said Esther’s house was just rocking over there and she agreed that Esther is indeed a party animal.  Champion! 

          More birthday celebrations were going on with the Powell family.  Mrs. Eva Powell enjoyed the company of her granddaughter, Emily, and her husband, Victor, and their children, Serena and Connor on Saturday night.  Her daughter, Sondra, had just returned from a cruise to Alaska and came bearing gifts and stories of having to wear a jacket against the chill up there.  Eva had also had a nice visit with her niece, Jeannie Maddox, who came over with an armload of garden produce for her—squash, cucumbers, peppers—all the good stuff.   Birthday cards and calls are coming in and she has been promised a ‘stinky rose’ (garlic) from her Sunday pew friend. Phew!  Ms. Powell will be attending the Mt. Grove High School Alumni Parade on Saturday the 3rd.  This will mark her 60th high school reunion!  Congratulations.

          It was figured pretty well solid that the General would be leading that parade, but sources close to him say that he will not be out in front of the procession this year with the whistle and cymbals.  More is the pity, because even the Champion Parade Committee (CPC) had its bid in on his services for the auspicious occasion of the Hallowed 4th of July occurring on Sunday this year.  Committee members are scrambling to compensate for what may prove to be his absence.  It is staggering.  So is he, but hopes are that soon he will have regained his composure, posture and wit.  Meanwhile Champions struggle on and will observe and solemnize the Birth of the Nation, Freedom and Patriotism with as much fervor as can be mustered in the void of this fabled bulwark.  Bullwork?

          “I’ll take mustard on mine.”  The swimming holes will be full of picnickers and celebrators on the 4th.  Friends who meet on this annual occasion only will be pleased to catch up on each other’s news and to address the current state of world affairs.  Amid the ranting and profundities will be the standard expressions of Love and Gratitude toward those who serve and have served at the behest of the Nation.  Many are planning a trip over to Cabool to see the Viet Nam Memorial Wall that will be on display there.  The holiday marks an opportunity for fun certainly but also the opportunity for sober and somber observance and homage to those who made it possible. 

          Champions are glad to hear that Skyline Firefighter Bill Griswold is on the mend.  He fell ill while on vacation and after some serious hospitalization has made it home to recuperate in is own comfortable spot.  Greg and Tamara Griswold, Bill’s brother and his wife, are retiring to the area and have been visiting while working on getting their place here ready for occupation.  They will be welcome additions.

Milder weather has gardeners willing to be out there pulling weeds, cultivating and fertilizing.  The signs have changed again and so Friday and Saturday will both be good days to plant root crops.  Saturday marks the beginning of the “Dog Days” of Summer according to Linda’s Almanac from over at the Plant Place in Norwood.  It is also the 45th wedding anniversary of a certain pair of absentee Champion farmers.  With some luck, Barbara’s sweetheart will be home in time to celebrate with her.  He is out of the hay and back in the bower of connubial bliss! 

          Bidding is hot in the June Mascot Monkey silent auction.  Inquires have been made by Champions friend Rebecca Quezacotl of Tejas Endeavorville. She has things to say about the tyranny of the culinary ego of small communities and clearly sees that a Picnic Society matron might well prefer making monkeys to pies.  Her view of the June monkey on-line verified to her that this particular monkey has a very sweet expression on its face.  It is expected to bring a pretty penny for the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department.  The proceeds from these monthly auctions go to help make the payment on the fire department’s new fire truck.  A resurgence in the popularity of the red-heel sock monkey is largely due to its appearance in a car commercial on television.  “How you like me now?” is the refrain that is repeated while the monkey is seen doing all sorts of implausible monkey stunts.  The bidding closes at 5 pm on the last day of the month.  The July monkey will be identifiable by its red, white and blue ornamentation.  Hurrah!

          “There’ll be a change in the weather, a change in the sea.  From now on there’ll be a change in me.  Why, my walk will be different, and my talk and my name.  Nothing about me gonna be the same.  I’m gonna change the way I’m living and that ain’t no shock, I’m thinking of changing the way I set my clock.”   Clocks are still set the same in Champion and while change seems slow sometimes, patience wills out and the much anticipated reincarnation of the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion will ‘er long seem to have leapt up out of the ground in all the kinds of splendor expected and unexpected.  Why, it will be like nothing changed at all in just no time.  In a dozen years hardly anyone will recall when Henson’s Store suddenly disappeared without a trace and the new improved replica appeared as if by magic.  By then young Foster will be driving.  Drive on over to Champion for a good look at magic in the making—best viewed from the Loafing Shed.  Questions, comments, yarns, songs, stories about change and observations on Champion life are welcome at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or at Champion at  Look in on the place at if you can’t get here in person.  If you can get here, do.  You’ll be in Champion…Looking on the Bright Side!