September 22, 2017

THE WAGON TRAIN IN CHAMPION 2017

 


Seth Keller drove Jim and Judy Cantrell’s wagon at the head of the wagon train.

The West Plains Wagon Club and the Gee and Haw Wagon Club of Viola, Arkansas combined to make a wagon train of four for the one hundred mile trip from West Plains to Mansfield. They pulled into Champion on Thursday the 14th a little ahead of schedule and were met by a nice crowd of people who enjoy seeing the teams and wagons. For some it is a novelty and for others it harkens back to the days when that was the way most folks got around. Absent for the second year, the much missed Clifton Luna was spoken of fondly among waggoneers and spectators alike. He was 91 and, for the first time, not quite up for the trip last year. He passed away in October. He was carried to his grave on a mule drawn wagon—just the way he would have wanted with these folks and many others in attendance.

Jim and Judy Cantrell of Norwood were the first ones in the square. Their wagon was driven by young Seth Keller. Judy said he had driven the whole way since they turned off the pavement there at V Highway. Their mules are Long Ears and Patty. Jerry Sanders has a nice driver too–Toni Amison. They are from Norwood and their mules are Sadie and Buttercup. Ken Felts’ mules are Champ and Lady. In years past he and his friend Randal Barnett would double back through Champion afterwards and spend the night on the square on their way back home to Pocahontas, Arkansas. Mr. Barnett has just had back surgery and so was unable to make the trip this year. His Champion friends will be looking for him next time. Harley Wayne Keller drove the wagon of Jerry and Diane Wilbanks all the way from John Webber’s place. Their mules are Kate, RB and Smokey. Diane had good things to say about Harley’s skill and his pleasant demeanor. John Webber said it had been foggy at his place that morning and when he looked out the kitchen window there were mule ears standing up in it—an interesting vision.

They enjoyed a rest stop for lunch and for visiting with the spectators. Among those who came to enjoy the spectacle were Johny Appleseed (he did not say where he was from), Bob Berry of Drury and Mary Goolsby of Gentryville, Butch and Dawn Stone, Arnold Ahlsteadt, Shirley Brixey of Willow Springs, Kaye and Richard Johnston of Licking, Royce and Jody Henson of Springfield, Mark Keller of Drury, John Webber, Sherry Bennett, Lonnie Curtis, Tom Cooley of Mountain Grove, Skip and Ina Downen of West Plains, Alvin Barnhart, Robert Upshaw, Dean Brixey, Fae Krider, Leo Stofer, Jeff Bartsch, Wes Lambert, Dawn Stine, David Richardson and a number of others. Dawn and David brought their instruments and did some nice picking and singing on the wide veranda there on the Historic Emporium. It was a beautiful day for the outing and, as the wagons topped the hill on their way out of town, Champions were already looking forward to next year. It will pass quickly though that leisurely pace of the wagon train tugs at us to slow down and enjoy every passing day here in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


Ken Felts of Pocahontas, Arkansas represented the Gee and Haw Wagon Club.


Harley Wayne Keller drove Jerry and Diane Wilbanks’ three up.


The wagon folks are pleased to show off their teams and outfits for the locals.

 


The Wagon Train draws an audience from far and wide.

 


There was ample time for some good visiting.

 

Jerry Sanders and Toni Amiston on their way out of the Square.


Up and over the hill leaving Champions waiting for next year.

Farewell!
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September 18, 2017

CHAMPION—September 18, 2017

 

The wagon train’s passing is one of the highlights of the Champion year.  While there were fewer wagons than we have seen in past years, this year was marked by the participation of a couple of young men—Seth Keller and Harley Wayne Keller.  It is encouraging to see this wonderful tradition being carried on.  Clifton Luna’s grandson has the old wagon master’s wagon and mules, but he also has a job.  Ken Felts remarked that this is a sport for retired people.  It is labor intensive, but rewarding.  Champions are zealously affected by this good thing.  Old people want young people to value what they value.  It is the same the world over.  On Sunday 280 horses and 100 pipes and drums completed the Riding of the Marches spectacle in sister-city Edinburgh, Scotland.  Thousands of spectators lined the streets to watch the re-enactment of the return of the Captain of the Trained Band to Edinburgh with the tragic news of defeat at the Battle of Flodden.  That happened in 1513—some tradition.  Morag Edward remarked that this was a good weekend in the city for anyone needing free fertilizer for gardens and allotments.

Donald Krider had his 90th birthday celebrated in a surprise party up in Elmwood, Illinois on Saturday.  They say he had a good time and played his fiddle.  Louise Hutchison, Zoey Rucker and Penelope Zappler all celebrate on the last day of summer—the 21st.  Sandy Chapin will be partying on the 24th.  Dustin Johnson is an 8th grade student at Skyline who has a birthday on the 25th of September.  Sixth grader Whitni Detherage celebrates on the 26th along with Graeme Laird over in Edinburgh.  Over in Tennessee, Cathy Alsup Reilly has a big day on the 27th and Austin’s own Becky Heston celebrates on the 29th as does Vanzant’s Lucile Gayman, who is enjoying her birthday in her own home.  Skyline pre-kindergarten student Melanie Hall has her birthday on the 30th.

Television is not holding much interest for some old Champions these days.  One did happen to pass by the screen the other day when the Governor was descending from a great height in a spotlight via a rope or zip line or something down into a crowded sports stadium with majestic music filling the great space.  And that smile!  We have not had a politician with teeth like that since FDR.  Well, Jimmy Carter had a nice smile, but he was hampered by his genuine nature.  It would seem that this fellow already is imagining himself as POTUS.  He is on the path.  Herman Middleman, who gives his street address as 86 45 Schtupp Ave., but does not say in what city, writes, “The governor was quick to call out the National Guard in a heavily militarized display of force supporting a controversial court decision.  Why such expansive military gear is necessary is a good question.  Even small towns see surplus military equipment augmenting local constabulary.  Any segment of the population could be designated as an adversary.”  Mr. Middleman goes on….and on.  Much is being said these days about the Vietnam War.  The Public Broadcasting Network has begun an 18 hour series on the war on TV.  It will be most interesting to hear how it is received by local Veterans of that conflict and others.  John McCain recently said something to the effect that wars should be a country affair—that the risks of war should be shared equally among all the people.  The sons and daughters of everyone—rich and poor—should be conscripted.  It might be that if the children of the powerful were in jeopardy, there might be more yearning for peace.  He also suggested that we pay for these wars as we go, rather than saddling future generations with the enormous debt.  Right and left wings can agree to keep our mighty bird flying.

This time of the year every week end has some sterling event going on in the area.  The wagon train came to Champion on its way to Wilder Days in Mansfield.  There will be Hootin’ and Hollarin’ in Gainesville next week end and Norwood will have Farmer’s Day on the 30th.  The www.ky3.com folks have a great list of all the fall festivals in the Ozarks.  Another great website is www.heritage417.com  There you will find the full music line up for the Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks which will be held at Chapel Grove on October 7th and 8th from 10am to 5pm.  It looks like it is going to be a lot of fun.  Organizers say that entries for the Corn Bread Cook-Off should be brought to the chapel building by 11am on Saturday, October 7th.  Embroidery contest entries should be there by noon.  There will also be a period costume contest at 2pm.  Winners in the various categories will be determined by audience approval.  The legacy of the Thomas family and their many years of hosting the Pioneer Descendants’ Gathering has inspired this new festival and hopes are that it will enjoy the wonderful community participation and appreciation that Betty and Dale brought to us.  Check out that website for all the information and if you happen not to have a computer and wish to volunteer to help out with the festival or just to get information call (417) 746-4006.

Monday morning rain is a welcome sight in Champion.  The broad banks of Old Fox Creek shoulder the sweetness of pure county living.  There is a little store at the end of the pavement where country roads meet and where needs can be met for gas, feed, groceries and fellowship with neighbors.  City folks say, “I’ve laid around and played around in this old town too long, summer’s almost gone.  Winter’s coming on.  I’ve laid around and played around in this old town too long and I feel like I’ve got to travel on” to Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!

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September 11, 2017

CHAMPION—September 11, 2017

 


A reminder of days gone by–Orville’s barn.

Natural and man-made disasters are much on our minds on September 11, 2017.  It has been 16 years since the attack on the World Trade Center and the United States.  It was a world changing event, though even now there are assessments of that tragic occurrence that do not agree with the official account of the facts.  The natural disasters unfolding now are mind boggling to see with fire on one side and flood on the other.  Television coverage of the storms and fires keep us involved with our neighbors.  Out here in the middle of the country, in the midst of perfect weather–if dry, most everyone is acquainted with someone who is affected by the hurricanes or the fires.  We are reminded that every part of the country is vulnerable to something.  While the power of nature is amazing, it is also amazing to see how well people respond to crises and to each other when the need is great.  There will, of course, be efforts to use these calamities to further political agendas.  It will likely turn out that there will be some entanglement between disaster relief and tax reform with the aim to make it seem as if a person who does not agree with tax cuts for corporations does not support the victims of the storms and fires.  It is sad that so many across the country are suffering and sadder that some think they can manipulate the situation for their own nefarious purposes.  America is full of smart, caring people who will not be hornswoggled.

Champions are full of anticipation for the arrival of the Wagon Train.  The West Plains Wagon Club and the Gee and Haw Club out of Viola, Arkansas gather their wagons together to make their way from West Plains to Mansfield, a journey of one hundred miles.  They generally roll in to Champion about mid-day on the Thursday of their journey.  (That will be this Thursday, September 14th.)  It is always a mystery about how many wagons and outriders there will be and how big the welcoming committee on the broad beautiful banks of Auld Fox Creek will be.  The wagon train folks seem to always welcome people of the community to look over their beautiful animals and their interesting outfits.  It is a great opportunity for young folks to see how things used to be done back before cars and smart phones.  The big difference between now and the old days is that these wagons have rubber tires and not those authentic wheels like Dale Thomas made of wood and steel.  There are also more sophisticated springs than were available on the original wagons.  Some wagons are equipped with solar collectors and radios.  Some of the travelers are more interested in the authenticity of their rigs than others.  For some it is just a matter of getting there and of sharing the experience with like-minded folks.  They always seem to enjoy being in Champion.  David Richardson will be there with his drone for picture taking.  Hopefully he will have a guitar with him for music making.  Several of his friends plan to bring their instruments and everyone is welcome to join in.  Bring your fiddles and banjos and come for the fun.  You can see several of David’s YouTube videos on line at www.championnews.us.  Look over on the right hand side of the page for Champion Videos.  There are lots of pictures there too of previous wagon trains.  There you will find photos of beloved wagon master Clifton Luna, who passed away this last year, and of Ken Felts, Vernon Crow, Jim and Judy Cantrell, Jerry and Diane Wilbanks, Bill Jackson, the Webster family, Jerry Sanders,  Jerry and Bonnie Arnold, Randall Burnet, Coy Stone, Shelby Blades, Ed Janes, Cliff Boyles, Mr. Crawford, Bryn Ulmer, Kenneth McIntosh and others.  Chances are good that not all of these people will be on this wagon train, but there may be someone new among the bunch looking for a Champion adventure.

Eva Henson Phillips writes, “I wish I could have been there.”  She was talking about the recent Champion School Reunion.  “The group all looked so happy to be at the old school.  I’m amazed at the Henson clan and all walking the “Walk of Ages.’  Maybe I can be there in 2018.  Thank you for all the pictures and news for us out-of-towners to enjoy.  Our son, Bill, wants to ‘walk the walk’ with his cousins in 2018.  Our son, Barry, is waiting out the storm Irma in Florida, hoping it doesn’t come inland.  Kenneth and Dawn and family seem to be doing well in Houston.  Keep on the sunny side!”  If the coming year goes by as quickly as the current one has, we will be seeing Eva and her bunch soon.  We will be looking for the good news that all her extended family has weathered the storms well.

Young Ely Young is a prekindergarten student at Skyline School.  His birthday is September 8th.  He shares the day with a great birdwatcher who has the nickname ‘Crayola’ and with the esteemed senator from Vermont.  He is in excellent company.  Native Champion and mother of Kalyssa and Foster, T.J. Wiseman, celebrates on the 13th of September and Frances Sutherland on the 14th.  They both enjoyed the Champion School Reunion and Frances can frequently be seen on the McClurg Jam Facebook page.  She and Wayne are there most every Monday night in the company of J.R. and Janet Johnston and others.  They know how to have a good time.  The 14th is also the birthday of Sophia and Penelope’s dear old dad.  He is an annual visitor to Champion and he also knows how to have a good time.  The same can be said of Elmer Banks wherever he may be.  He and Mountain Grove’s charming Ms. Tigger share the 15th as a birthday.  They probably do not know each other and probably would agree on very little though they both can tell a good story and both have a great sense of humor.  Happy birthday all you Champions—many happy returns.

The dates for the Starvy Creek Fall Bluegrass Festival are advertised as being September 14-16th up in Conway, Missouri, but numbers of local musicians have been up there for days already, camping and jamming the nights away.  They will come home with stories to tell and accumulations of good memories.  Many interesting things happen this time of the year.  Bud Hutchison will soon have another Champion Trail Ride and come October 7 and 8, the first Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks will take place at Chapel Grove.  It will not be the same as Dale and Betty Thomas’s Pioneer Descendants Gathering which gained great steam over more than a decade down at the Edge of the World, but it will start gathering its own steam and promises to be another great happening for the area.  Dale and Betty were at the Champion School Reunion and said that they are looking forward to the new event.  Meanwhile, on Thursday or on any day, come down to the end of the pavement where country roads meet at the bottom of several beautiful hills to make your own memories.  The country roads are strewn with wild flowers and reminders of days gone by.  You might learn a new song or an old one like:  “Oh! A wild cat attackted [sic] Mammy from the rear, and Pap said, ‘Son, you have no fear.  If he ever tries to crowd her, we’ll be having wild cat chowder!’ and the covered wagon rolled along!  Rolled along, rolled along, and the covered wagon rolled along” to Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


Flower strewn country roads.
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September 4, 2017

2017 Champion School Reunion

 


It was a beautiful day for the 33rd annual Champion School Reunion. Those enjoying a pot luck lunch and the pleasure of each other’s company were: Elsie Curtis, Debra Massey, Kaye and Elizabeth Johnston, Ruth Daharsh, Ethel Anderson, Robert Brown, Connie Brown, Lee Brown, Paul Brown, Louise Rinebold, Fae Krider, Tanna and Kalyssa Wiseman, Robert Graham, Tommy and Barbara Sutherland, Wayne and FrancesSutherland, Irene Dooms and Beverly, Larry Floyd, Vivian Floyd, Harley and Barbara Krider, J.R. and Janet Johnston, Alvie Dooms and Garret, Wes and Pat Smith, Doug and Sami Hutchison, Delmar Dooms, Modeen McGowan, Benton Hutchison, Darrell Hutchison, Royce and Jo Henson, Tom and Valli Mills, Alex Mils and Alexis Berks, Vaugh and Cara Henson, Whitaker and Larissa Henson, Linda Watts, David, Mindy and Chase Cauthron, Roger and Foster Wiseman, Amy Hicks Collins, Pete Proctor Wilda Moses and Betty Henson.
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Some of the Henson bunch on the road to Champion.

Sisters Ruth Daharsh and Louise Rinebolt walked down to Clever Creek just for the fun of it.

Ruth and Louise came with their mother Ethel Anderson from Kansas for the Champion School Reunion.

Taegan Krider, Kalyssa Wiseman and Luxe Krider enjoyed visiting with a horsewoman from Drury and her horse.

There were ten of them in the Henson Bunch: Royce and Jody Henson, Valli and Tom Mills, Alex Mills and Alexis Berks, Vaughn and Cara Henson, and Whitaker and Larissa Henson.

Darrell Hutchison, Wes Smith, Benton Hutchison and Harley Krider had things to talk about.

Frances Sutherland, Amy Hicks Collins and Barbara Sutherland enjoy a visit.

Champion School Alumni…(standing L to R) Vivian Krider Floyd, Irene Keller Dooms, Darrell Hutchison, Doug Hutchison, Janet Johnston (not a student but very photogenic), Harley Krider, J.R. Johnston, Benton Hutchison, Frances Sutherland, Alvie Dooms (seated L to R) Royce Henson, Tommy Sutherland, Wayne Sutherland. Also attending, but not pictured are students, Amy Hicks Collins, Elsie Curtis, and Ethel Anderson.
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September 1, 2017

CHAMPION—September 1, 2017

 


Pete Proctor did not care that it rained all day during his Honor Flight–a great experience.

As good news drifts up from the South that family and friends have survived the terrible storm, it is hard to imagine how difficult things must be there for millions of people.  Often it is said that it is a shame that it takes a disaster of some kind to bring people together.  It is a shame.  Stories of heroism and sacrifice are being told.  There are incidents too of gouging, careless indifference and bad behavior, but for the most part the news is presented in a way to give hope.  Hope is certainly a precious commodity.  Assistance is pouring into the gulf coast from all over the Nation though they say recovery will be a long, slow process.  Champions are hopeful for the safety and health of our family, friends and neighbors there.

The Champion School Reunion will have happened before this gets to ink.  Preliminarily it can be said that the weather will be fine.  Laine Sutherland says it will be a great change from the usual suffocating heat and humidity.  Laine has just had a birthday.  Word comes up from Bella Vista, Arkansas that Harold and Eva Henson Phillips will not be attending this year due to health issues from which Eva is making a good recovery.  Harold reports that they had contact with Hovie and Dawn Henson down in Houston and they were dry and still had electricity.  Friends will be looking for Royce and Jody Henson and hope they can make it this time.

Ladies from the VFW Post #3770 District 18 were there to greet Pete Proctor with a banner saying, “Welcome Home” when he returned from his trip to Washington DC on the Honor Flight.  He posted a number of pictures of himself at the various memorials in the Capital and said that it was a moving experience that he hopes all Veterans will get a chance to have.  He is active in the VFW and the American Legion and is part of the Honor Guard officiating at Veteran’s funerals in the area.  He will be attending a service on Saturday that may keep him from being at the Champion School reunion.  His friends will miss him, but they understand and are proud of him and of his service.

More than three hundred ten thousand (310,000) voters in Missouri have signed the petition that will bring the Right to Work Act to a referendum.  It was to have taken effect on August 28th, but now will be on hold until it is on the ballot in the November, 2018 election.  It is a contentious issue that can be seen favorably by both sides.  We will have time to educate ourselves on the matter before the vote.  It is timely as Labor Day is upon us.  An eight hour work day, a forty hour week, overtime and such as that are all attributable to organized labor.  Now we are looking toward equal pay legislation and a roll back on the roll back of the minimum wage.  There are volumes written and college courses on Labor Relations.  Everyone has his own ideas.  There is a movement afoot to change our elections to have open primaries.  How much greater would our choices be?  There are efforts afoot in various places to suppress voting.  For goodness sake, forty percent of eligible voters chose not to do so in the last big election.  That is about 90,000,000 people—ninety million people.  It would seem like we should be making it easier for eligible voters to vote.  Everyone has his own ideas.  So it was with the wandering cousin—just full of it/them.  Back in Houston now and after 56 inches of rain, he is high and dry.  He communicated that he ought to have stayed around a while.  He could have seen the eclipse and missed the hurricane.  “Thanks, I should have stayed in MO another week or two, but you’d be looking for a place to hide the body by now!”  The General indicated that there is a spot at the Denlow Cemetery on the south side of the road that is designated for Texans.

Lannie Hinote is back in Alaska.  She said that since she was too far north to see the eclipse she is making reservations for April 8, 2024 to sit outside her RV and watch the next one.  A charming Vanzatian enjoyed the eclipse in the Pacific Northwest and took a forty mile hike around Mount Hood.  She had a wonderful time and will be home soon to share her adventures.  Mail comes from another adventurer, Eulalia Jasmin, now in Oaxaca, Mexico.  “Hola estmados Americanos” (Hello esteemed Americans)  “Todos ustedes son gran Campeones ayudando sus paisanos aya en Houston.”  (You are all great Champions helping your countrymen there in Houston.)  “Ojala que se mejore aya pronto.”  (I hope it gets better there soon.)  “De su amiga y besina en Mexico, E. Jasmin”  (From your friend and neighbor in Mexico, E. Jasmin)  “Y que paso con este gran pendejo chicheron?”  Eulalia has not written is several years so it is nice that she is acknowledging our crisis the way good neighbors do.  Una Campeona—a Champion.  She went on in a style more reminiscent of her earlier letters to say that that a photograph of any person taken with an open Bible and pious countenance does prove his Godly values.  Meanwhile, over in College Station, Texas, Bill Thomas Guitars writes to working Texas musicians and says, “If your guitar or bass, electric or acoustic was damaged by the hurricane, let me know.  I’ll do what I can to get it back in working order.  If I have the parts on hand, it’ll be completely free.  If I have to order parts, you’ll get them at my cost.  All labor will be free.  Stay safe.”  It is great to get mail.  Write to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or champion@championnews.us.  Look for ten years’ worth of this kind of stuff at www.championnews.us.

Betty Thomas, Larry Wrinkles, and Wilma Hutchison all have birthdays on September 1st.  Phoebe Ward celebrates on the third and Vernon Upshaw and his nephew Dailey both celebrate on the fourth.  They sang “Happy Birthday” to Dailey at the Vanzant Jam on Thursday.  His second cousin Kalyssa had her birthday on Thursday.  She was on the wide veranda at the Historic Emporium on Wednesday with her brother, her great uncle, and a couple of cousins and friends.  She has a nice clear voice and sang “Amazing Grace” while Foster played his mandolin.  Thursday’s jam has split in two with the outside bunch in the new pavilion there at the Vanzant Community Center.  The inside circle numbered about eight and almost every song was played in the key of G because that is the favorite key of a favorite fiddler.  He’s “got a million friends, don’t feel any older.  Got nothing to lose, not even the blues, just bumming around.”  Come down to the broad banks of Auld Fox Creek during this glorious weather and sit a spell out on the wide veranda.  “Whenever worries start to bothering me, I grab my coat, my old slouch hat and hit the trail again you see” to Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


 
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