Richard, Dawn, Lorelai, Sam, and Marie

It is likely these days that people can live in Booger County with no other kinfolks around anywhere.  Those folks might be newcomers or just some old timers who moved here decades ago.  When distant kin and old friends come to visit them the atmosphere warms and brightens and opens.  That must be the way people with cousins, parents, grandparents, and siblings nearby must feel all the time.  Nobody takes these good feelings for granted.


Sometime back in the 1800s a young girl walked from somewhere in Missouri all the way to Oregon.  Her great, great grandson (or maybe three greats) just brought his lovely wife, Marie, down to the Ozarks to visit with her dear friend, Dawn.  The ladies had many good memories of raising their children together and of rolling their eyes when one of their husbands would start a story with, “I never will forget the time…”  It seems these fellows had been born in the same hospital four days apart and had grown up together getting into all kinds of mischief including multiple episodes of trespassing, of perilous mountain climbing escapades, and rattlesnakes.  Grandfathers themselves now, they are still friends and still up for fun.  They brought some of it to Champion on Wednesday where the Oregonians were introduced to The General who is the official arbiter of fun in the area encompassing Denlow, Vanzant, Champion and parts unknown.  This good meeting drew them all the way to the Vanzant Jam on Thursday where they enjoyed more of The General’s levity and possible prevarications, Sherry’s “Five Pounds of Possum” song and the delight of seeing Sherry and Ruby dance their jig to the swift strains of “Ragtime Annie.”  The couple headed back to the northwest on Friday morning, doubtlessly planning their next trip to the Bright Side where they will be warmly welcomed.  They will likely check into on a regular basis to keep up with the fun here.  If they check into Mark Kumming’s blog “Love My OZARKS,” they may find out about the legend of the Blue Man of the Ozarks, a well-documented story of Bigfoot in Booger County.


A memory shared by a good neighbor from five years ago:  “Each year the Up ‘n At It 4 H Cub has had a rural picnic/festival fundraiser which has been held for the past seventy years, once a year on Friday and Saturday night.  There are no towns anywhere close to this picnic, just lots of fields, cows, a few churches, and cemeteries.  For a small square in a field, it has contained much history for us.  My great grandma was crowned picnic queen there.  My mom twirled her baton on stage.  My dad first asked my mom out on the south side edge of the light there.  As kids, we loved to do turtle and sack races.  Our grandpa, Harold, stumped for district commissioner there.  My own children ran around excitedly with cousins there. Almost every year, we have met as a family with our chairs by the ring toss stand.  After losing Dad, we met with tears, but still willing to embrace the past, present, and future there under the Missouri moon in a patch of field shining with lights, filled with the sound of a banjo, a Bingo call, and folks happy to meet with folks.”  The memory came with a few family photos of happy memories of the Up ‘n At It 4-H Club picnic, 2018.  This year, the Friday night festivities were wonderful, as usual, but the Saturday night picnic activities were washed out and shut down by 8:15.  Farmers and gardeners are grateful for the rain, and hopeful that there will be another way to support the 4 H.  Missey Rogers might have some suggestions.  She and a lot of hard working volunteers always make the picnic a great event.  See you next year.

Good suggestions include singing to keep your heart happy.  Many studies show that music and singing especially helps to lower blood pressure and reduce stress.  We love to hear Jerry Wagner sing “Love Letters in the Sand.”  Staying well hydrated during this oppressive heat is another good suggestion along with staying grateful for music, for friends, family, and great community.  Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!