Looking west towards Champion from the east side of the Fox Creek bridge.

Champions have measured five inches of rain in five days and are ready for some serious sunshine. Flooding has been a problem for many and some folks will be stranded till the creeks go down. It is Springtime in the Ozarks. Gardeners will be socially distancing themselves out pulling weeds, planting seeds and setting out seedlings. Current anxiousness about the food supply is inspiring many to garden again or maybe for the first time. In 1919, the National War Garden Commission put out a pamphlet that said, “Small things count.” The Victory Garden movement encouraged all citizens to garden in whatever spaces they could and allowed that there was nothing more valuable than self-sufficiency, than working a little land, no matter how small, and harvesting your own eggplant and tomatoes. The message was serious: “Prevention of widespread starvation is the peacetime obligation of the United States….The War Garden of 1918 must become the Victory Garden of 1919.” Many are familiar with the Victory Gardens of World War II, but they were started back in the first big war or maybe long before that. Descendants of farmers say they were not really aware of The Great Depression because everyone they knew was in the same boat. Self-sufficiency has always been a Champion notion. Young Felix Parsons is getting a good garden education and he is a willing worker. He loves to go to the library too. He is just the kind of fellow to have around to help with the chores and to keep everyone in a good positive mood—a genuine Champion.

With our newly realized awareness of our connectivity with the rest of the world comes the thought that every little community has its share of interesting people, solid citizens and scalawags. Stories about Ferlie Lambert still circulate in Champion and Cletis D. Upshaw gave us plenty to talk about and was quite a good talker himself. We wonder what our old timers and the old timers of little communities all around the world would have to say about these days and how we are behaving. We would particularly be interested in what Ed Sutherland might have to say. His granddaughter, Laine, recently posted a picture of him that she had taken a long time ago. Someone else shared an audio clip of him playing “Indian War Whoop” on the fiddle. Not having heard it before, it was quite reminiscent of the 8th of January and beautifully played. Laine said, “Music was his passion.” She responded to Pete Howard, who said that he did not know she had a fiddler in the family, by telling him about her great grandfather, William Franklin Sutherland, who was a left handed fiddler. Ed’s brother, Ellis, she said, played the fiddle and the violin. It is a relative rarity for one to play both. Ed was a rarity and so is his granddaughter. He might well have said of Laine, “She’s the dammedest thing that ever peed behind a pair of tennis shoes!” He was a colorful character. There is much that we could learn from the old folks if they were still around. We will just have to take some old farmer’s advice and make our fences horse high, pig-tight, and bull strong. We will try to keep skunks, bankers and lawyers at a distance and will plow around stumps.

Marjorie Carter writes, “We left Drury on May 8th and got home Sunday May 10th.” Their home is in Sheridan, Wyoming. She said it was a windy drive and raining some when they got home, threatening snow. Bleak weather there finally reached the 80s. She said they could use some rain. “….just a little to help me get weeds out of my flower garden. We miss everyone.” Doug is working at the community garden mowing and trimming. They have two plots and were glad to have been able to get to Bakersville to get seeds before the shut down.” She closed her note saying she had to go. “No matter where I am, must continue to bake cookies for Doug.”

Skyline Summer Send-off from left to right: Terry Prock, April Mayberry, Carolyn Willhite, Melissa Willhite,
Jocelyn Downs, Samantha Adler, Jana Brixey, Deborah Barker, Crystal Sartor, Terri Ryan, Katie Vivod

Teachers and staff lined up outside the school to wish a happy summer to Skyline students in their drive through parade on Tuesday marking the last day of school. It was the last day for Mr. Prock, who is retiring after 25 years. Mrs. Helen is retiring after 15 years. They will both continue to be active with the school as volunteers. Mr. Prock will likely be fishing more down at Vera Cruz and Mrs. Helen has lots of grandchildren to keep her busy and happy. Congratulations to all students everywhere graduating without much fanfare. Your Champion friends and family care! Good luck to you!

Wilma and Joe Hamby were among the 19 equestrians enjoying the Champion Spring Trail Ride on Wednesday. Somewhere along their path, Wilma said there was a big tree down across the road at a deep creek crossing. She said it was a little dicey, but they were able to make it through. She and Joe and a few others made a short ride of it and were back at The Historic Emporium by noon-thirty for lunch. A couple of them had wet feet. The rest of the party continued on to their routine destination. It was thought that they would have to retrace their steps rather than make the full circuit as they generally do. They arrived back in Champion around three o’clock and reports were that they had come in from the east. Residents up a mile and a half from Fox Creek were alerted to voices on the road and saw perhaps a dozen riders pass by in the neighborhood of noon so it must have taken some while to cross Fox Creek. Those handsome steeds may have had water wings, or perhaps they found a ferry, though that brings us to remember Josey Wales and the Missouri Boat Ride. Inquires will be made and a full report will be forthcoming.

The creeks are already roiling and, with another week of rain ahead, we may all have wet feet before it is over. Those poor folks up in Michigan are really suffering from the catastrophic flooding. The world over things seem calamitous. Yet, we still have much reason for gratitude. Memorial Day finds us grateful to the men and women who have died while serving in the U.S Military, a somber reminder of their brave sacrifice to keep the United States a free and just society. The Denlow/Fairview School Reunion is always held on the Saturday of the Memorial Day week end. Veterans play a big part in the program every year. Saturday is predicted to be a ‘dry’ day, prime for decorating and for gathering carefully. There will be lots of smiles and expressions of thankfulness and much nostalgia for those long ago days when life seemed so much simpler. Looking back to those precious school days, we are reminded that our Skyline R2 School is the last vestige of the way of life we celebrate with our little school reunions. However, whenever school resumes, it will need help. Those of us in the Skyline R2 School district can vote on June 2nd for the small tax levy increase that will raise the level sufficiently to qualify for additional state and federal funding. The rest of us can drop a check in the mail to Skyline R2 School, Rt. 72 Box 486, Norwood, Missouri 65717. Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!

Looking south towards Champion from the north side of the Clever Creek slab.