Wednesday visitors

Madeline’s kitten

Chocolate chip cookies are a favorite of The General, indeed of many Champions. They were still warm from the oven when young Madeline passed them around out on the wide veranda and inside the Historic Emporium on Wednesday. Madeline has a kitten with seven toes on each foot. She knows her ABCs and is excited to start first grade. She said, “I’m going to learn to read!” She and her brothers have been regular Wednesday visitors. They comprise The General’s Junior Fan Club and never fail to request his song: “Go and wash your dirty feet before you go to bed!” School will start next week so he will have one more chance to make a lasting impression on these young folks. His homemade two stringed coffee can bass fiddle did not do the trick, so he shared an extra guitar with them in hopes that their love of music will endure. (See this musician contraption here in the section called “Generally Speaking.”) His Senior Fan Club is excited to know he is working up that good Australian composition popularized by Hank Snow and Johnny Cash: “I’ve Been Everywhere.” A Champion is anxious to know if he has been to Ann, to Dogwood, Bryant, Granada, and Depew. Has he really been everywhere? Willie Nelson says, “We are the same. There is no difference anywhere in the world. People are people. They laugh, cry, feel, and love, and music seems to be the common denomination that brings us all together. Music cuts through all boundaries and goes right to the soul.”

Sweet potato flower

Don and Reba made a rare and welcome visit. Don no longer even tries to grow sweet potatoes. Between the groundhogs and the deer, his harvest had been scant in spite of having beautiful plants to start with. He has been struggling with the groundhogs and racoons to save his corn. Just as it was getting ready, he lost a couple of ears to some critter, so he brought most of it in. The next morning, he found all the stalks down and not a nubbin left. It may be that the skill it takes to keep his enormous, precarious stack of firewood from rolling down the hill does not translate over into gardening or perhaps that he is just too kind-hearted to his critters.

Home-canned tomatoes

A Champion writes, “My Mother was born in 1912. She had two older sisters, one younger sister and three younger brothers. They farmed. Mother said they canned tomatoes in a wash tub over an open fire with a quilt in the tub to keep the jars from rattling and breaking.” One of her favorite pastimes as a kid was making nails. The forge she used for her childhood fun is still in the family. It served as a barbecue cooker for a while and now is just a porch ornament. Canning methods have improved, and entertainment has changed, though learning how to use your hands to make the things you need might still be a good way to spend time. Old folks are generally pleased to share. The Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks is coming up again. It will be the first weekend in October out at the Fox Trotters Showgrounds. There will be all kinds of traditional skills to learn about there, some great music and food as well.

The various festivals of art, food, music, and community are more plentiful as the weather cools off. Open air entertainment seems to be the best kind these days. The bicentennial celebration was well attended and well reported for folks who where unable to go. The next hundred years of statehood is likely to be as eventful as the previous two, just in different ways. Hopes are that it will be marked with good health, good will, peace and prosperity for all its citizens. Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

The two-string fiddle