Every path has a few puddles. We, in Champion, do not have to haul water to fill our puddles these days, though in days to come we may pray for rain. Meanwhile, we pray for the health and safety of our dear ones—our family and our friends, and for the health and safety of our Nation and of the whole world. Odd times, these. Odd, yes, but glorious out here in rural America—when have we had such a magnificent spring? Each spring seems like the first, always amazing. The grass in the broad rolling fields is high and the contours are softened making that “Sea of Grass” illusion very clear. Back in 1936 Conrad Richer wrote a novel by that name. It was set in the late 1800s and dealt with the clash between rich ranchers, whose cattle ran freely on government-owned land, and the homesteaders, a version of that fight still being fought in some areas. It portrays the end of the cowboy era on the Great Plains. Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn appeared in a movie based on the novel in 1947. Romance and conflict make good entertainment. Conflict seems ubiquitous these days. Brian Haggerty (February 26, 1953-July 27, 1976), was wise beyond his years. He said, “Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you.” He passed through Champion in the 1970s making it a livelier, better place for a few days. He was an optimist and, as Susan Bissonnette said, “An optimist is the human personification of spring.”

As of the 11th of May, the community got even better with the arrival that day of young James IV. His parents, D.J. and Talisha Mastrangelo, are delighted with their 7lb 5oz baby boy. He has a full head of beautiful straight blonde hair and a home full of the joy and excitement that comes with such a wonderful package. He is named after both his great-grandfathers, Dominick and James, so he is another D.J. Mastrangelo–the fourth one. He will be called James to avoid confusion.

There may be some confusion about how to drive in the rain as there have been reports of several accidents recently. It was the smile of good fortune that there were no serious injuries on 76 Highway on Thursday. Our local firefighters and first responders were willing to work out in the pouring rain to keep traffic moving around two separate accidents. James’ dad was among those volunteers and we can always pretty much count on him for a smile. Later there was a report of someone having to be towed off the Fox Creek Bridge, but details are sketchy, which leads to speculation that the creek came up fast and hard and his rig drowned out in high water, or that someone pausing to take pictures off the bridge was then unable to get her car started again. Look for a complete report about the incident laden with facts sometime in the vague indefinite future. Meanwhile, here is the promised account of the Fox Creek crossing by Bud’s Intrepid Trail Riders. Andrew Hardin said they had no difficulty with the horses crossing Fox Creek there just east of Champion. He said he might not have been willing to drive across it, but the horses had no trouble. The water was wide and fast moving, but not too deep. Their trouble had been at the crossing up on Fox Creek Road with a tree down over the slab. Andrew and half a dozen other guys wrestled it around so that it was crossable. One horse was good for stepping in water and for stepping over trees, but to step over a tree into the water was more than the animal had in mind without some serious coaxing. Eventually everyone was able to cross and, at the end of the day, the excursion was considered to have been a sterling success–a beautiful day.


Champion BFF, Felix the Farmer, heard his old (grand) Papa say, “If I had it to do over, I would put our garden on a hilltop somewhere.” Papa will be sure there will be plenty edible pod peas for Felix to munch and when things dry up, he will be glad his garden is where it is. He has a birthday coming up on Election Day, Tuesday the 2nd of June. He would elect to have people straighten up and act right during these bizarre and unfamiliar times. He said he loved okra but never planted it because his family did not like it, but now that he is an old man and can do what he wants, he reckons he will plant a couple of hills, a Central Texas heirloom variety. Some are surprised that there are such great perquisites in becoming old. You know you are old when what you used to think was old now seems young. Enjoy!

As far as doing it over, well, that might be a wish for many of us about one thing or another. We are reminded that timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance, that good judgement comes from experience and a lot of that experience comes from bad judgement. We are, as a general rule, doing the best we can, making the best decisions we can with the information available. Reliable sources of information are those which conform to your personal beliefs. A lot of the other person’s point of view just makes you sick. Ridiculous, how can they believe that stuff? Are they mentally deranged or evil? Many of “them” are our friends, our neighbors, our families! We better find a way to get along. Behave the way your Mother taught you.

There was Great Plague back in 1665. Samuel Pepys, a member of the British Parliament and Secretary of the Admiralty, wrote in his diary, “The taverns are full of gadabouts making merry this eve. And though I may press my face against the window like an urchin at a confectioner’s, I am tempted not by the sweetmeats within. A dram in exchange for the pox is an ill bargain indeed.” Just west of Fox Creek, and south of Clever Creek, at the end of the pavement and at the bottom of several beautiful hills, folks are being safe, careful, thoughtful, helpful and kind—Champions—Looking on the Bright Side!