December 17, 2018

CHAMPION—December 17, 2018


The house was packed for the 2018 Skyline School Christmas program.  It is great to see the community come out on a rainy, muddy and foggy evening to support these great young people.  The National Anthem played on xylophones and drums was a treat and once again, Mrs. Casper and Mrs. Downs have done a terrific job orchestrating the evening.  One of the lovely things about these concerts, apart from the adorable children being adorable, is the look on the faces of parents and grandparents as their little ones perform.  Those looks of pure adoration make every face, young and old, beautiful to see.  Andrea Strong won the Christmas Keep You Busy Basket raffle the preschool through 2nd grade students held.  They now have enough money for their fieldtrip to Wonders of Wildlife.  Teachers and staff will not have as much time off during the winter break as the students will have.  They will be getting things ready to start another great year in our important little school.  Thank you.

Folks at Vanzant will be singing “Happy Birthday” to Mary Goolsby on the 20th.  Destiny Surface, sixth grader, and Rachel Prock, first grader, also celebrate birthdays that day.  The 21st is the winter solstice and the birthday of first grader Paige Jonas, as well as a favorite fiddler, Jerry Wagner, who will also be serenaded at Vanzant Thursday.  Pre-kindergarten’s Chase Cauthron will enjoy the 23rd for his birthday along with his dad, David Cauthron, Sharon Sikes and Butch Stone.  Happy Birthday all you Champions!

Determined equestrians made a roundtrip excursion from Veracruz to Champion on Saturday.  They were not on a Coddiwomple, because, while they traveled in a purposeful manner, their destination was not at all vague.  Somewhere along the trail they were joined by a gritty pooch, call him Champ, who protected them and their horses from harassing farm dogs all along the way.  Andrew Hardin and Jeff and Casey Alcorn had a fine day for their jaunt and a pleasant lunch at Champion.  A variety of circumstances kept away a number of others who had wanted to be on the ride, so Andrew, Jeff and Casey, along with Champ, the fierce road dog, had extra fun and enjoyment to compensate for their missing friends.  It is a kindness, a gift, if you will, to have extra fun for our special friends who, for whatever reason, cannot get their fun together at this time.  They will appreciate it.  Meanwhile, a good dog is a treasure.  Friends from over west of Ava have just lost their old friend Tawney.  She was the family dog for 15 years and, with her dog friend Jazz, ran freely over the family acres, “harassing wildlife and decimating the armadillo population”—a happy dog life.  But like Red Foley’s “Old Shep,” she grew old.  Her owner said of her passing, “That morning she had seemed to be dreaming, giving little yips and her legs moving slightly, maybe chasing the memories of rabbits and armadillos with her old companion Jazz, who preceded her to the Pet Cemetery by some years.”  Sad news comes from Champion too about a family dog run over by his master.  It was just a tragic accident, but hearts are broken.  A good neighbor has a sweet little kitten to share, hoping to ease the little boy’s sadness over the loss of his special dog.  These experiences represent the down side of having a beloved pet.  The up side we all know.

Pete and Bonnie Mullens are having a good time over there in Douglass, Kansas.  She says they are still able to do most things for themselves, but they get some good help from their children.  Hopes are that 2019 will see them around home in these parts for a long overdue visit.  Another local personality, Gary Hutchison, has inadvertently provoked a new interest in “All the Late News from the Courthouse” which now can be heard online at  Look at the posting for December 15, 2018.  Professor Haden reminded us that politics can be goofy at every level from the courthouse to the White House.  It is funny and sad at the same time.  You can read the lyrics written in Darrell’s own hand and wonder just what he would have to say about all the current ‘late news.’

This time of the year, especially, we hear sweet stories of generosity and kindness that make us feel good.  There seems to be no shortage of these kinds of stories, because there is no shortage of people who can use kindness and generosity.  We do not hear many stories of people who just sit on their hands at the suffering of others or very much about those who never get help…other than statistics.  The world over there are people in dire circumstances.  It is said that “the poor will always be with us.”  Even here, in one of the world’s richest countries, income differentials are widening.  Worldwide, the poorest 40 percent accounts for 5 percent of global income and the richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of the world income.  As we watch the wild fluctuations of the stock market and as we are reminded of the salacious scandals of the Warren G. Harding presidency and the outrageous and unrepentant corruption of the government at that time with the Teapot Dome Scandal and the abuse of Veterans, a replay of the Great Depression seems to be in the thoughts of some Old Champions and pundits.  Some of the causes of that calamity listed in histories of the time include:  (1) European trade policies—the Smoot-Hawley Tariff in 1930, similar to some of our current tariffs.  (2) The Dust Bowl.  Today we have hurricane and flood ravaged states and catastrophic wild fires in others.  (3) The stock market crash of 1929.  Today, December 17, 2018, news reports that the market is experience the worst decline since 1931, and there is a serious potential for a rise in the interest rate.  (4) Consumer spending.  The flat spending figures we see now are attributed largely to market insecurity and weak income growth.  Volumes are written about the causes of the Great Depression, and there are many among us who experienced it or are the children of those who did.  One is reminded of that Woody Guthrie song about Pretty Boy Floyd, the outlaw.  There are certain kinds of criminals who can electrify public opinion.  To some they are just common thugs.  To others, they are heroes.  Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd was exactly that kind of criminal.  Good holiday fun will include some history studies of Pretty Boy and President Harding.   There will also be an abundance of holiday cheer in Champion–Looking on the Bright Side!


December 15, 2018




All the Late News from the Courthouse

This song was written by Darrell Haden about the Douglas County Courthouse during a certain period of time that many may remember. The song was banned on local radio stations for a while and raised more than a few eyebrows. Professor Haden generously shared this song with The Champion News. He passed away in 2014. It would be most interesting to hear how he would characterize our current National situation.

Walter Darrell Haden was born and reared within “hollerin’ ” distance of Smallett Cave. A graduate of Ava High School, he studied at Missouri University and at Southwest Missouri State College for his B.S. degree and at Northern Illinois University for his M.S. degree. He taught grade school one year in his home community, high school English nine years in Sterling-Rock Falls, Illinois, and college English for one year at Belmont College in Nashville, Tennessee. He has done graduate work beyond the M.S. degree at Illinois State Normal University, Purdue University, and at Vanderbilt University. He was a professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Martin until his retirement in 2006. His prose has appeared in the Tennessee Philological Journal, the White River Valley Historical Journal, the Secret Place, and the Douglas County Herald; his poetry in the Denver Post, the Chicago Tribune, Springfield (MO) Daily News, Colorado Springs Free Press, and Towers Magazine; his songs recorded and published by major companies in Nashville, Tennessee.



December 10, 2018

CHAMPION—December 10, 2018


Champion Winter Finches

The internet is the latest thing to be called the ‘window to the world.’  We can go out on Google-earth and see pictures of any street address in America or China, Australia or Russia.  We can look at houses on the beach in Kennebunkport, Maine or at an address in Cabool, Missouri or our neighbors up on C Highway.  We have access to the whole world from our laptops, but the view out our own windows in the beautiful world of Champion is a real and present enchantment.  On a sunny Sunday after a dreary few days of cloud and cold, the everyday things, the ordinary things can look new or different.  A good housekeeper says to wash your dirtiest window twice a week.  To clarify, that means two windows a week—every week.  Depending on how many windows in your house…well, it does not matter.  Eventually all your windows will be clean-er.  Even through a dirty window, the purple finch is a glorious little bird.  It is a treat to have an uncloudy day, but a partly cloudy one with a brisk wind can bring unexpected visual pleasures as shadows race across the hills and fields.  Champion is a beautiful part of the world in all seasons.

A snowbird from Wyoming, enjoying the relative mildness of Champion winters, remarked at the number of birthday notices in The Champion News.  Some folks do not want any kind of mention of their birthdays, but probably none of them are children.  Eva Coyote, Kai, up in Portland celebrates on the 11th.  Skyline first grade student, Kennedy Hinote will celebrate on December 13th.  The 14th belongs to Spike Jones who was born in 1911.  His band was the ‘City Slickers’ and their music was zany and wonderful — very popular in the 1940s and 1950s.  He chewed gum and wore crazy plaid suits and played a cowbell xylophone on tunes like “That’s Amore.”  (He may rival The General as far as cowbell playing goes.)  Others sharing Spike’s birthday include 17 year old Xue Lynn of Champion, dear Judy T. Ing, who broke our hearts when she left us a few years ago, and 417 Photography’s Shannon Alexander up in Springfield.  Pre-kindergarten student, Lane Keller will have a birthday on the 16th.  Lane and his classmates at Skyline are excited about the Christmas program they will be performing on Thursday evening under the direction of Mrs. Casper.  One little Champion is going to be a reindeer.  These programs are always delightful and our precious children get a chance to be part of something big and brilliant that they will remember far into adulthood and maybe all the way to dotage.  Champion!

Our mailboxes are seeing a lot of action during this season.  Unexpected packages, annual Christmas letters from old friends full of their family news, and Christmas cards addressed to “TCN,” some with much appreciated financial support, mix in with the newspapers, bills and solicitations in the big mailbox down by the road.  Anytime of the year is appropriate to share some cookies with our intrepid USPS mail carriers.  They help us stay connected to the real world.  The mailbox found a note from our old friend Eulalia Jasmin who is off on an adventure in Latin America.  She loves the new music links in the posts at and suggests “Cuando Calienta el Sol” as a song with universal appeal.  She says that her favorite rendition is by a group called ‘Los Panchos,’ but she thinks Champions might appreciate the Johnny Rodrigues version more because he sings part of it in English—“Love Me With All Your Heart.”  Sandy Halteman writes in from Osceola, saying “I just discovered The Champion News and so enjoyed reading it.”  Sandy thinks Champion looks like a wonderful community and plans a visit to our area soon.  It is a real gift to make new friends.  Gary Hutchison is an old friend living up in Mountain Grove.  He went to school at Champion for the first three years.  He was lucky enough to have Lorene Hick as his first grade teacher.  She always said he was her favorite student.  He sat on the front row and if he got sleepy he would just take a nap.  She never said a word about it.  Gary was not a big fan of Arthur Porter who replaced Ms. Hicks.  He did not like having to do the “do re mi” every morning.  Gary said, “…every blamed morning!”  He was also still holding a grudge over having to taste Limburger cheese at Porter’s insistence.  The principal reason for Gary’s call was to verify that Darrell Haden’s “All The Late News From the Courthouse” was still available on CD.  His aim was to get a copy for Wilma Hutchison, with whom he had just had a two hour conversation.  It is not at all difficult to have a two hour conversation with that gentleman.  Wilma will get her CD when she shows up at the next Vanzant Jam.  It sounds as if Gary will have a great family Christmas and he wished the same to all his Champion friends, and a happy New Year!  Meanwhile, Katelyn McConnell has included a nice piece about The Champion News in her wonderful blog, Ozarks Alive.  Thanks, Katelyn, and welcome to the new readers you bring with you.

Game cameras are capturing night time pictures of black bears in the woods around Champion.  A particularly big one up near Wolf Pen Hollow has neighborhood residents wary about roaming around after dark.  They have read the ‘Be Bear-Aware’ material and proceed with caution, clapping hands and singing loud.  Winter will officially arrive on the 21st and daylight will begin to last longer, but the bears may be out any time.  Christmas excitement is building.  Travel plans are being finalized, menus are being planned, decorations are going up and special thoughtful gifts are being conjured up.  All of the holiday hoopla and the bountiful wildlife out our windows may, for a few moments at a time, take our attention away from our great National absurdities.  One Champion thinks these tumultuous days are reminiscent of 1928.  That is when Jimmy Rogers wrote “Blue Yodel,” so while times were rough then and got rougher during the next few years, music proved, as it does today, to make hearts lighter.  Come down to the wild, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek and sit around the ancient wood stove in the Re-creation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square.  Join friends to discuss wildlife, holidays, music, the Great Depression, current events and the genuine beauty of Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Shadows race across Champion hills and fields.

December 3, 2018

CHAMPION—December 3, 2018


Robins wander in the winter.  They need more food when it is cold, so they move here and there in response to diminishing food supplies and harsh weather.  Champions were happy to host them in flocks for a couple of days.  Some may linger, but others will move on.  Every season has something spectacular to recommend it in Champion!

Luxe Krider’s birthday is December 2nd.  She had her party early when lots of her cousins were visiting from Tennessee and Marshfield.  It was a Peppa Pig party for the 4 year old, and the photos in the internet will attest to everyone having had a good time.  The 4th is the birthday of Skyline School 4th grader, Emma Webster.  Bobbette Spivey and Dawn Henson share their birthday on the 5th with Skyline second grader, Michael Hall, who lives near here.  Bobbette lives in West Plains and Dawn lives in Houston, Texas.  Zack Godshall lives down in in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  He shares the 6th of December with Ed Bell who lives up north of Mountain Grove.  Ethel Leach enjoys her birthday on December 7th.  She is married to Bob who was born in Douglas County and lives here yet.  Noam Chomsky shares Ethel’s birthday, but the philosopher was born in 1928.  “Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?“ is an animated documentary written about him by a Frenchman in 2013.  Any Frenchman writing about Ethel would include her lovely smile and good humor.  Bob is a lucky man.  Chris Tharp, from down in Vera Cruse, has the 8th for his special day.  Richard Johnston will be celebrated by a big bunch of family on his birthday, the 9th.  Your Champion friends and family wish you all happy days all year around.

The Archery Tournament at Skyline School will start at 9 in the morning on Saturday, the 8th, and will go on until the early afternoon.  The whole community is welcome to observe.  It is a great chance to support our terrific little rural school and the talented children who go there.  More talent will be on display at the Skyline Christmas Program which will be held, Thursday, December 13th.  Ms. Casper is the Music and Art Director at Skyline and is always able to inspire our young people to showcase their creative gifts in imaginative holiday programs.  Even if you do not have children or grandchildren attending Skyline, the Christmas program will lighten your heart and get you in the mood for a “Holly Jolly Christmas.”  Meanwhile, the pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first and second graders are working toward their springtime trip to The Wonders of Wildlife.  They have put together an interesting basket of activities to keep the family busy for a little while during the Christmas break.  Get a look at it at The Champion Store, Henson’s Downtown G & G, and/or the Recreation of the Historic Emporium, all on the North Side of the Square in Champion.  If you are only middle aged, these children will be running the world when you are old.  Education is a big deal.

As if by clockwork, Suzie Freeman’s Christmas card was the first to arrive in the Champion mailbox.  She says that she and Wesley are still ‘a kickin’’ down there in McKinney, Texas.  They have been married 53 years and it sounds like they are doing well.  Suzie is now the oldest of six sisters and sets a splendid example of cheerful good behavior.  Wesley is still making his wooden truck replicas.  They are remarkably accurate representations.  He is working on number 119.  The US Postal Service is the marvelous institution that helps keep us connected to that rare grandchild who writes a letter, and to our creditors and solicitors.  The USPS also delivers the packages we have ordered on the internet and the surprise Christmas presents.  Our intrepid mail carriers, Karen Ross and her substitutes, are much appreciated by those living on Rt. 72, particularly by The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  One is reminded of an old Bob Wills song, “Got a Letter from My Kid Today.”  Pat Smith has been an intrepid mail carrier for 30 years.  She lives just up the hill from Champion and has driven to Mountain Grove every work day for all those years.  She is officially retired now and was seen recently on the internet playing spoons and singing a parody of “This Old House.”  The verses were all about the things she will and will not miss.  Hopes are that some Wednesday she will bring her awesome spoon playing talent down to the Historic Emporium for a little mid-day jamming.  Pat is a big fan of The Champion News and, according to one source, has specific articles cut out, folded up and stored in her Bible.  Champions are her fans as well.  Congratulations, Pat!  A distant reader who writes in to is very excited about the links showing up on the website when a song is mentioned.  He recommends a Weird Al Yankovic tune, “One More Minute,” as a possibility for a future link.  While this one may not work (look it up for yourself), nevertheless, suggestions are always welcome in Champion.

A sentence from an article in the Douglas County Herald of 100 years ago was striking for its eloquent language:  “A joyous Thanksgiving this of 1918, yet deeply tinctured with a pathos and glory of the white crosses which our nation claims upon the fields in hillsides in France.”  The language is beautiful and brings to mind the valor of all our Veterans who have extended themselves for the sake of the Nation.  It is amazing that so many of them are currently homeless or have unaddressed medical conditions relating to their multiple deployments in dangerous parts of the world.  Others are victims of computer glitches that have delayed or denied the G.I. Benefits that were guaranteed them when they joined up.  The wonderful G.I. Bill has been responsible for many of our best success stories.  One old Champion, who has never served, has suggested that prior to enlisting, a candidate for any branch of the service should spend a semester working in a VA Hospital, helping and talking to our wounded, aging and infirm heroes.  Champions appreciate our many local Veterans and hope that courageous young people will still be willing to commit to service in spite of what they see currently.  It is reassuring to know that “The Times They Are A Changing” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


November 26, 2018

CHAMPION—November 26, 2018


“Thank God for dirty dishes.  They have a tale to tell.  While others may go hungry, we’re eating very well.  With home, health, and happiness, I shouldn’t want to fuss.  By the stack of evidence, God’s been very good to us.”  The wooden plaque hanging on one Old Champion’s kitchen wall, came off her Mother’s kitchen wall, and had been a gift to her from her own Mother.  Gratitude flows down the generations just as spring water flows down the hill into the Champion’s dishpan.  As “We Gather Together” full of gratitude, we cannot help but be mindful of those less fortunate the whole world round.  There is nothing like a little empathy and compassion to slather us all with humility, like turkey giblet gravy on cornbread dressing.

Champion has been overrun by Tennessee boys again–Drayson, Carson, Dakota, and Dillion joined locals, Foster, Kalyssa, Chase, Teagan and Lux to make the holiday week end with riotous good fun.  They, together with their parents, grandparents, a great-grandmother, many aunts and uncles and cousins, close and distant, congregated in great numbers for the purpose of keeping tight those family ties that bind–the great Upshaw-Krider consortium—an inspiring thing to witness.  Similar scenarios played out all over the country.  The Old Tree Huggers’ Thanksgiving Jamboree took place down on Teeter Creek this year, complete with multi-generational descendants, destined to be Old Tree Huggers themselves as time goes by.  Zack, Seamus, and Elizabeth (Lizzy) were with their grandmother on Thanksgiving.  The next day was her birthday.  She planned to do nothing to celebrate.  In a few years she will have a milestone birthday and maybe will be up for a big party.  Hanukkah 2018 will begin in the evening of Sunday, December 2nd, and end in the evening of Monday, December 10th.  It is a nice long holiday to celebrate the liberation of Jerusalem from the occupation of Antiochus IV, king of the Seleucid Empire in 165 BCE.  Traditions have evolved over these 2183 years.  Research this story to your heart’s delight.  Light some candles and be grateful.  We might also commemorate the Sand Creek Massacre of November 29, 1864, another interesting and relevant research project.

Skyline School will be hosting an Archery Tournament on Saturday, December 8th.  The arrows start flying about 9 in the morning and the tournament will go on until 2 or 3 in the afternoon.  Ms. Curtis says that the Skyline students will shoot about 1 o’clock.  Spectators are welcome to spend the whole day or just an hour or so.  There will be a concession stand and the great opportunity to see some skillful young people doing their best.  We are truly fortunate to have this great little rural school in our area.  This will be a fine opportunity to bring those Box Tops for Education and the Best Choice and Always Save labels.  They are redeemable for cash that the school can use for its unmet needs.  Faith Crawford, a 6th grade student at Skyline, shares her birthday with Lannie Hinote, a former teacher at Skyline who now teaches up in Yukon Village, Alaska, and with young Thomas Jarnagin, who will be 3 years old.  He lives up in the Pacific Northwest with his parents, but makes it down to Drury every summer to visit his grandad, John Webber.  Their birthday is on the 26th.  Carolyn Nunn Harvey, sister of three charming Upshaw brothers, enjoys her birthday on the 27th.  It happens that Thanksgiving falls on her birthday some years.  That was the case with Uncle Al Masters.  He always loved having pumpkin pie on his birthday, sometimes decorated with a turkey.  Billy Strong is a 4th grade student.  His birthday is on the 29th.  Jhonn Rhodes, in the 8th grade, and Lane Watkins, a 5th grade student, both celebrate their birthday on November 30th.  Children usually love to have their birthdays remembered.  Sometimes adults struggle to find the fun again when life has been disappointing.  Birthdays give us an opportunity to express the affection and appreciation we feel for friends and family any time of the year.

Champions are remembering Louise Hutchison who passed away on Sunday.  Louise had suffered a stroke a few years ago, but had been able to stay at home until recently.  Before that time she had always been very active in the community.  She was a terrific cook and enjoyed entertaining.  She and Wilburn kept a big garden and shared and put up a lot of food.  She put in a number of productive years working with the Skyline Volunteer Fire Department and made pies to rival those of her friend Esther Wrinkles.  She liked to tell the story about Ed Henson calling her up at 6:30 every Christmas morning to ask if her refrigerator was running.  She would say, “Yes,” and he would laugh his easy joyful laugh and say, “”Well, you better go catch it!”  It was their joke.  Louise was a big part of the community for a long time.  She won the First Ripe Tomato in Champion Contest in 2008, with her beautiful Parks Whoppers.  She was a fun loving person with a great laugh.  She will be much missed and long remembered.  She once said that her favorite song was “What a Day That Will Be.”

On a lovely sunny Saturday Champions took advantage of marvelous weather to utilize their outdoor clothes drying apparatus strung from tree to tree.  On Sunday afternoon they watched the neglected clothes pin bag dance sideways and flip around the line so as to spray clothespins far out into the backyard.  “They call the wind Mariah.”  The corrugated PVC roofing over the garden shed and that ‘other shed’ out back of the house, came loose in chunks to sail abruptly to the southwest.  The last of the autumn leaves have taken to the air and ere long the hillsides will bristle with bare brush of varying heights.  The grasses are changing color and may all have wearied with the waving.  Every day, the changing scene in this glorious part of the world is captivating.  KY3 said there were gusts up to 51 miles an hour.  Mariah has had her way.  Travelers homeward are cautioned to be defensive in their driving.  High winds and all kinds of precipitation make the roadways perilous.  Champions are attentive to their phones for news of safe arrivals.

What a delight to have the angry, besmirching political commercials on our televisions and internet replaced by crass Christmas consumerism!  The music is decidedly more jolly and the idea that we can actually purchase happiness for ourselves and our loved ones is compelling and all with hard cash or with just the click of a mouse or maybe easy credit.  Seriously, this season can be stressful even in the best of times, let alone these times when we are awash in obvious flimflammery, moral decay, indifference and blatant cruelty.  Yet for us today, we “Keep on the Sunny Side” in Champion!—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champion’s changing scene.