A joyful beginning to the new year comes with gratitude that Beverly Coffman Emery sustained no serious injury out on Highway 76 when her car hit a slick spot.  A trip into the ditch and a close encounter with a tree totaled her car.  She admitted to being a little sore from the sudden stop but was in fine spirits for the jam in Vanzant on Thursday.  More joy came along with the seldom seen Dennis and Sherry Lynch.  Dennis filled in for some missing musicians with several Johnny Cash songs including “A Boy Named Sue.”  Sherry beamed her sweet smile and shared the pew with Beverly and more visiting Upshaw kinfolks.  Music is good medicine.  Sherry was good medicine for our old friend Esther Wrinkles and was a great help to her in her later years at home.  Enjoy a transcript of conversations with Esther in the July 29, 2007 post on the website at www.championnews.us.  Esther wrote community columns for the Douglas County Herald for over fifty years while it was still owned and operated by the Curry family.  She had a hand in every good work in the area.  Her pies are legendary, the legend living on through her daughter-in-law, Teresa.

While shoveling a path to the woodshed, Champions were thinking about that old song, “I traced her little footprints in the snow.”  Back inside, by the fire, they looked it up and found that Bill Monroe claimed authorship under the pseudonym “Rupert Jones,” but the song was much older.  He had learned it in the early 1930s at the National Barn Dance in Chicago.  It turns out to have more lyrics and to have been written in about 1880 by Harry Wright.  This may be the same English born William Henry “Harry” Wright (1835-1895) who had a long career in early baseball as a player and a manager.  He is said to have assembled, managed, and played center field for baseball’s first fully professional team, the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings.  Considered the “Father of Professional Baseball,” he was the first to make written mention of the seventh inning stretch in a game he watched.  On these cold, wintry days we think of the ‘boys of summer’ giving fans the opportunity to stretch, to get refreshments, and to sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”  Meanwhile, those of us without ‘Peacock’ were happy to see the news highlights of the KC Chiefs’ big win on their frozen field—defeating handily the feisty frosty Floridians.  Though it may be wonderful fun and exciting to be in the stands at those big games, Old Champions think they get a better view on their tv screens, and the snacks are better.

Champion Blaine Denlow’s beautiful mother, Jaime Woods, had her birthday on the 13th and her lovely grandmother, Sharon Woods, will have her big day on January 20th.  That is also reason to celebrate Alvin Barnhart.  Skyline School’s fourth grader Paxton Elgie will share January 22nd with Brenda C. Massey.  Brenda can teach us all how to have fun year round.  Skyline sixth grader, Blake McIntosh, has his birthday on January 24th, along with Todd Jarnigan up in Washington state.  The Cowboy’s sweetheart, Joyce Coonts, will be indulged on her birthday on the 26th and Skyline Alumnus Kay Heffern Alexander will party all over Springfield on the 27th.  The 30th is for James Brixie who was 40 years old in 2012, and for charming Loneda Bennett Hutsell.  Her mother has a song to sing for that occasion and generously shares her beautiful voice with many local lucky listeners.

Some Old Champions are grateful not to have to go out in the dangerous weather and are hopeful for the safety of those who must be out in it.  John, our Rt. 72 mail carrier, and his coworkers are some of those required to be out in it.  We acknowledge their conscientious hard work and appreciate it.  Louis DeJoy does not seem to understand how things work in the country.  Or maybe he does.  ‘Anyway,’ good for John and the USPS to get the day off for the Martin Luther King Holiday.  Good for us to celebrate that important and influential man for his remarkable good works.  And good for the lessons we have learned from our forbearers.

Esther said not to worry about making a mistake in the ‘items.’  She said it gives you the chance to revisit a subject.  Last week, our last sentence ended in the middle.  The whole thing was to have been:  “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.”  Stay safe, stay optimistic, and stay home if you can when the weather is worrisome.  Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!