The Arkansas Barefoot Boys recorded the old fiddle tune “The Eighth of January” back in 1928, and that same year Dr. Humphrey Bate and His Possum Hunters released their version of it. In 1936, Jimmie Driftwood used the melody for a history lesson on the “Battle of New Orleans,” for his high school students in Arkansas to get them interested in the event. It was not recorded until 1957. Driftwood came from a musical family and enjoyed writing songs to teach his students history in an entertaining manner. He had an illustrious musical career and did a lot of good work for the Ozarks up until his passing in 1998 at the age of 91. He wrote over 6,000 songs in his lifetime, including the “Tennessee Stud.” He won three Grammy Awards and sang for Nikita Khrushchev. His real name was James Corbett Morris–an interesting fellow.

Elvis was born on the eighth of January in 1935. He did not live as long as Driftwood, but he also had an illustrious career. Elizabeth Johnston, a Champion granddaughter, was born on January 9th. Tetter Creek herbalist, Bob Liebert enjoys the 11th for his birthday. That was also the birthday of Wilburn Hutchison. He said that one time when he was a kid, he and Fleming Gear saw a dirigible flying over the field where the Skyline School now sits. The 12th is the special day for another talented herbalist, Edie Richardson. She and Lee were Champion neighbors for a little while, and now they are good neighbors up on the other side of Norwood. The 13th is for Diane Wilbanks. She and Jerry used to join the wagon train behind their mules. We miss Norris Woods on his birthday on the 13th. He played “Hot Corn, Cold Corn” and a hundred more banjo tunes. Melanie Blankenship Upshaw also parties that day. She took some great photos of her father-in-law’s big 80th birthday party at the end of last year. Hopes are that her day is so well celebrated. Skyline School’s coach, Mr. Shane Gray, celebrates on the 13th and third grader, Joshua Eaves, will have the 14th for his big day. The 16th is for Champion granddaughter Miley Schober, and her cousin, Rese Kutz, shares the 17th with our old friend Brook Quietwood. Eight grader, Jacob Kyle Brixie will have his party on the 18th, the same day as fifth grader, Railynn Dixon, and the lovely Mary Beth Shannon. The 19th is a big day for lots of people including J. C. Owsley over in Cross Timbers, for Skyline School bus driver, Robert Hall, for Dolly Parton in Nashville, for Edgar Allan Poe, who was born in 1809, as well as for Janis Joplin, Paula Dean and Pete Buttigieg. Some folks really do not like to see their name in the paper, but their many friends and admirers will still gather to express their love and appreciation. Happy birthday you wonderful Champions!

The little winter mix starting on January 8th may be the precursor of something more serious in a second wave. Wet and 35 degrees is about the same as the weather in Scotland today. One must just imagine the bagpipes and hope for the safe travels of those who must be out in it. As we endeavor to stay informed for our own safety, we cannot help but learn of the plight of millions across the world in desperate straits for many reasons, natural and man-made. Here, in warmth and comfort, people of widely divergent philosophies and political viewpoints share a feeling of gratitude for our own security and a hope for a more peaceful and compassionate world in the year ahead. Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!