CHAMPION—August 20, 2007


        For forty days and forty nights Champion baked!  Brown leaves curled and crunched in the parched grass underfoot and dust plumes billowed high behind even a slow moving truck.  Overnight it changed and once again Champion is lush and green—full of relaxed and optimistic people.

        It was an all day celebration as the new Champion signs went in on Monday.  Ms. Stephanie Stogsdill of District 8 of the Missouri Department of Transportation did not have to bother calling (and did not) and still the place was all abuzz watching the single MODOT employee install TWO signs.  Previously Champion had one sign with writing on each side.  Now there are TWO signs with writing on only one side each.  They have been placed judiciously on either side of town so that both coming and going visitors to Champion will know where they are and where they have been.  It is marvelous!  Champion Parade Committee members were careful to clean the right of way after the celebration, so there is no sign of the balloons and confetti nor of any of the soggy sheet music that may have blown off the music stands of the brass band as strains of “America the Beautiful” and “We Are The Champions” wafted over Fox Creek between rain showers and thunder rumbles.  At nightfall only a few strands of crape paper were left to remind locals of the riotous antics of the day.  As usual the speeches went on a little long and may have been a bit overblown with hyperbole, but the fireworks and refreshments made up for the long-windedness of local dignitaries and everyone was glad for the rain to ameliorate the fire hazard.  All in all a lovely time was had and once again Champion is Sitting Pretty!

        The Skyline Picnic is still much the topic of conversation.  It was good to see Pat Bryan on that Saturday evening.  He spent some time near the kitchen on the flat place where he could maneuver his walker without much difficulty.  Louise Hutchison said that she and Sharon Sikes had a wonderful visit with him.  She said that he expects that it will still be a year before he can get back in the UPS truck to run the Champion/Skyline route.  It seems miraculous that he has been able to make such excellent progress after the devastating accident that occurred back in May when he was struck head-on by a driver who had crossed the center lane over on Highway P.  The driver who has taken his place with UPS for a while is also a very pleasant fellow, but it will be a joy to have Pat back on the route.

        Esther Wrinkles from over in Vanzant reported a conversation with Pete Procter of the Mtn. Grove VFW.  He was surprised to see his picture in the paper and pleased to have his Post 3770 recognized for its support of the Skyline FVD.  When the Fire Department was first getting started Eual Smith and his wife, Freda, used to come to every picnic and always presented a check to the Fire Department on behalf of the Mtn. Grove FVW.  Since Mr. Smith passed away, Pete Proctor has done those honors.  Mrs. Wrinkles also said that there was a full house over at the North and South on Sunday.  Bertie makes an excellent dressing with her secret receipt and Esther was sorry to have shown up a little latte to get any.  Wally and Bertie, proprietors of the North and South were also at the Skyline Picnic and had one of those souvenir photos taken.  They have a pair of sweet smiles!

        A card has come from Darrell Haden over in Tennessee.  He said that they will be attending the Haden-Kay-Sellers Reunion which is held annually on the last Saturday before Labor Day.  That is the same day as the Champion School Reunion which he said they would ‘crash’ if they were not otherwise obligated.  He also said, “I do remember going to school at Ava High with Champion teacher Arthur Porter.  He, his father, Everett, and sister, Nola Jean, could make the hair stand up on the back of one’s neck with their fine harmony on “Old Daniel Prayed.”  Does Woody Van Eaton live somewhere between McComb and Norwood”  He was my friend from 1952-1954 at Ft. Leonard Wood.”  The Champion sign has gone back up, so Mr. Haden should be able to find the beautiful berg that he has come to know through these ‘items’ with no difficulty.  From the Norwood exit off Highway 60, he can go South on Highway C.  In about 12 miles he will come to the intersection with Highway 76 where the Skyline School sits.  About three miles farther on C Highway he will find WW Highway.  A left turn to the East will bring him to Champion in about two miles.  Just before the pavement ends at the Fox Creek slab he can glance to the right and see Henson’s Store and the little church that was the Champion School in years gone by.  He will be in the Heart of Champion at that moment.  Champions will have the Welcome Mat out!

        It is a small world.  Travel has become relatively easy.  Well, it can still be a pain, but it’s not like the old days when 76 Highway was as muddy, rocky track.  It was a real boost to this area when the roads were paved.  Some Champions think there is probably enough pavement now, but they like it that they can go anywhere they please.  (Mrs. Eva Powell’s grandson Derek, has just been to Timbuktu!) “Neighbors” are just the people who live next door.  There have been 4,005 coalition deaths—3,707 Americans, two Australians, 168 Britons, 13 Bulgarians, one Czech, seven Danes, two Dutch, two Estonians, one Fijian, one Hungarian, 33 Italians, one Kazakh, one Korean, three Latvian, 21 Poles, two Romanians, five Salvadorian, four Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and 18 Ukrainians—in the war in Iraq as of August 20, 2007.  A neighbor from Pineville, MO, Private 1st Class Christopher L. Marion, died there on February 22, 2006.  In Afghanistan there have been 650 coalition deaths—423 Americans, one Australian, 70 Britons, 67 Canadians, one Czech, four Danes, nine Dutch, two Estonians, one Finn, 10 French, 21 Germans, nine Italians, two Norwegians, one Pole, one Portuguese, four Romanians, one South Korean, 21 Spaniards, two Swedes—in the war on terror as of August 19, 2007.  Champion’s neighbors are a diverse and interesting lot and their soldiers join with those of their neighbors to do what the leaders ask of them.  They are all patriots and Champions and Love and Gratitude is their due the world around.  The world also seems small because information is now available to ordinary people in ways that have never been available before.  The population of Ava in the 2000 census was 3,021.  Just in Douglas County Champions have about 13,648 neighbors.  An official census of Champion might be an interesting pursuit.  Would the counting be done by voter registration or by proximity to the epicenter of the town.  Perhaps there is enough information available already.  Champions’ opinions are welcome.

        Gardeners who were able to nurse their tomato plants through the intense heat now find their beautiful tomatoes splitting!  It’s always something.  A recent afternoon had a few gardeners meeting down at the Mill Pond to discuss their relative garden situations and to share produce.  That is to say, Linda shared a lot of wonderful peppers, beets and okra.  Her almanac from the Plant Place declares that the 24h and 25th will be a good time to plant above-ground crops and the 28th and 29th will be good for root crops and vine crops for those thinking about a nice fall garden.  A neighbor from far away remarked at the beauty of place wiht the bluffs and the trees and the pleasant temperature down by the water.  Young ones, loose from school for the afternoon, splashed and squealed and made a memory of a perfect summer afternoon.

        Memories of perfect afternoons, celebrations, opinions about a Champion census, news about Champion’s interesting neighbors or ordinary people (whoever they may be), secret receipts, hearsay of any pleasant sort is welcome at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO. 65717.  Examples of things sitting pretty, things that make the hair stand up on the back of one’s neck or any news about Woody Van Eaton may be e-mailed to Champion News.  Report those things in person if that seems best, though there is no real need to say a word at Henson’s Store.  Meditation benches are available inside and out for anyone who enjoys just soaking up the pleasant ambience or reflecting on days gone by or planning Something Wonderful in Champion—LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE!