November 6, 2017

CHAMPION—November 6, 2017


A Champion Pie [recipe here]

“As easy as pie” is a popular colloquial idiom which is used to describe a task or experience as pleasurable and simple.  The idiom does not necessarily refer to the actual making of a pie.  One Old Champion remembers moving back home twenty years ago after a lengthy absence and, in the process of becoming reintegrated into the community, found herself required to make pies for functions where pies were also being made by the likes of Louise Hutchison and Esther Wrinkles.  The new Old Champion suffered with weeping meringue and tough crusts until she found other ways to participate in local activities.  It was a relief to leave the pie making to the experts, though doubtlessly, Louise and Esther benefited from the comparison.  Sometimes you don’t know how good something is until you experience the less good version.  The good news now is that a friend has shared her mother’s No-Roll Cherry Pie recipe and it turns out beautifully for any fruit pie and for the most inept of bakers.  The lady’s name was Gladys Joyce and it is indeed a Joy to have some success in the kitchen.  Get the recipe on line at or send a request to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  You will be Glad you did.

Skip and Ina routinely enjoy the Bluegrass jam at Vanzant.  This last Thursday was his birthday.

Skies were dramatic over Vanzant on Thursday.  As the bluegrass jam came to a close that evening, a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” broke out in the peanut gallery.  It was for the benefit of Skip (last name starts with D) who, together with Ina, is a stalwart regular at the jam.  He was having another of his many 39th birthdays and was clearly having a good time.  So it was with Connie Brown and her Dad Robert.  Congratulations to Skip and to Jill Sterling, an absolutely sterling gal, who celebrates on November 13th.  The 13th is also the special day for Skyline second grader Madelyn Vivod.  “Where is Waldo?” you ask.  Well, it is up there in the middle of Kansas City where Richard Heffern is having his party on the 15th.  He makes it down to his home place here from time to time, but Champions rarely get to see him.  Raven Hull is a sixth grade student at Skyline with a birthday on November 16th.  Caleb Barker is in the second grade.  He has The General for a granddad (insert smiley face) and a birthday on the 17th.  Abigale Whitier also celebrates that day.  She is a sixth grade student.  Dean Brixie moved up to the Salem area where he might be partying on the 18th.  Champion Elva Raglan’s birthday is on the 19th.  Your friends and families are wishing you many happy returns of the day as you commemorate yet another trip around the sun.

Connie and Robert Brown are regulars at the Thursday night Vanzant bluegrass jam.

The Skyline R-2 School Foundation is looking for some added community participation.  The president of the organization stepped down recently and the Foundation is looking for someone to step up and take over heading it up.  It is partnered with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library which is a terrific program that promotes the love of reading and gets our youngsters ready for kindergarten.  The Foundation can also raise money to help with anything that the school could possibly need such as new school busses, technology upgrades, safety issues, new chairs and desks, etc.  If you or someone you know might be interested in heading up the Skyline Foundation, please contact Ms. Curtis for more information at 417-683-4874.  Our precious little rural school is one of just two left in all of Douglas County.  As state and federal funding continues to shrink, community involvement is all the more important.  Retired people, new to the area, may think they do not have a horse in this race, but these young folks are the ones who will be running things when those retirees get to the old folks home.  It will be nice to have some educated, thoughtful people in charge of things then.  Those people are in elementary school now.

Leonard Peltier, an Anishinabe-Lakota Native American, remarked on the recent passing of Dennis Banks.  “We, as Native people, owe a huge debt to Dennis and other AIM leaders, for taking a strong stand to protect and preserve our spiritual and cultural way of life.”  Banks was 80 years old and was laid to rest at Battle Point Cemetery near the Leech Lake town where he was born.  Native people continue to endure even as Peltier remains in prison (40 years now) having been convicted of murder with false testimony, false affidavits, witness coercion and the withholding of crucial ballistics reports.  That was 40 years ago.  Today non-immigrant, indigenous people have filed a class action law suit against the sheriff’s deputies and police officers who used excessive force when they deployed impact munitions, like rubber bullets, as well as explosive teargas grenades and water cannons against pipeline protesters.  The suit argues that the tactics were retaliatory, punishing those involved for exercising free speech rights.  It was below freezing last November 20th when the water protectors were soaked at Standing Rock.  The same outfit for which the constabulary was working in North Dakota, Energy Transfer Partners, now owes Ohio some $2.3million dollars in civil fines and damages.  Its Rover pipeline has discharged several million gallons of drilling fluid into local wetlands among other violations, according to the state’s environmental office.  That is 228 words to say that our First American citizens could use a break.  It is appropriate to consider our resilient Native countrymen, particularly at this time of the year, i.e., between Columbus Day and Thanksgiving.

Saturday’s full moon was a fine time for the Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department to have its chili supper and auction.  The community turned out in full force to support its volunteers.  Esther made many pies for this event and events like this.  Her coconut cream pies have sold auctions like this for as much as $150.00.  Her daughter-in-law has her recipe and also produces some exceptional pies.  This event turned out to be a spectacular success and proceeds will go toward new turn out gear for the firefighters.

Spring bulbs need to be in the ground by December 1st according to a local garden expert.  Time is slipping away.  The time change gave late sleepers the opportunity to feel virtuous.  That kind of opportunity does not come around every day unless you are just naturally virtuous.  Champion’s Horseshoe Pitch is available for anyone who wishes to test his skill.  Virtue can be tested any time.  Julia Child said that you should never do anything in the kitchen when you are alone that you would not do if someone were watching, because surely you will forget and do it when someone is watching.  That is generally a good rule about almost anything.  Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek and hone your virtue or flaunt it.  Bob Dylan sang, “Saddle me up a big white goose.  Tie me on her and turn her loose.  Oh me!  Oh my!  Love that country pie” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Skies were dramatic on Thursday evening.

October 30, 2017

CHAMPION—October 30, 2017


Amazing horseshoe situation in Champion.

The mulberry tree down by the road is blunted by the trimming for the electric right-of-way. The birds like it for its fruit and the wide leaves provide shelter. Those leaves darkened with the frost until the morning sunlight moved across the valley floor and lit them up. They all let go at once and floated down in a hasty pile leaving the trunk a stark, abrupt alteration to the landscape. It is an annual happening. Expected changes can still seem sudden in Champion.

“Gallivantin Galveston Gal” is a Gene Autry song much appreciated by a regular Champion visitor who has a birthday on November 4th. That is also the special day for Skyline sixth grader, Hailey Hall. Champion granddaughter, Emerson Rose enjoys her birthday on the 5th. A sweet smiling, ever pleasant Vanzatiana has the 6th, and Wayne Wiseman and Skyline 4th grader, Mason Solomon, both celebrate on the 7th. Lizzie’s granddad over in Champion South will be getting better acquainted with his eighth decade on the 8th. The 9th is for Skyline 5th grader, Justin Borders. Each of these birthday celebrants probably has a favorite song apart from the routine one, but that one is still good.

Frosty conditions over the week end did not chill the numerous Halloween parties in the area. It must have been pretty exciting over in Vanzant. The internet was full of pictures of warmly costumed children and a report of car damage to shrubbery. The bush is reported to be “now teetering at about a 75 degree angle.” There was relief that the hurricane resistant gate post was spared and there was reference to a “grasshopper episode at the Amos place.” Mystery goes with the holiday. Extortion is another aspect of the observation—trick or treat.

Tim Tamburrino of the Midwest Bluegrass Directory was at Clark’s Eatery on Tuesday with Sara and his camera. He gets around to jams all around the area and generously posts videos on the internet. On Sunday he posted that he was at Mercy Hospital in Springfield getting ready for a bypass procedure. His many friends and fans send their best wishes for a speedy recovery. He does a lot for bluegrass. Clark sisters, Paisley and Brooklyn, met him and had their picture taken. They sang “Jesus Loves Me” and “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.” It is beautiful to see children loving music. They will enjoy lifelong benefits. Zoey and Alex, down in Texas, had their piano, guitar, and violin recitals on Sunday; a great experience for their granddad to witness, and the internet blossomed with the videos. There is now a piano in young Chase’s house and it is likely there will be lessons on-going there. Music is a critical part of childhood development and a great stress reliever for young and old. Cervantes said, “He who sings scares away his woes.”

The Great American Pastime is another timely diversion from the perpetual kerfuffle of political absurdity. (86-45) Old folks remember baseball on the radio with names like Sandy Koufax, Whitey Ford, Hank Aaron and Ted Williams. Red Barber was one of those great announcers that could paint a picture that you could see in your mind’s eye. “It’s a high fly out to center field. It’s going….going….gone!” It was exciting in a different way from today. Now there are cameras that show every conceivable angle of every play. The tension is palpable. The visible jubilance of players and fans as a run is scored is something that does not happen in the lives of every day folks. Certainly we have fun and experience joy, but rarely do we leap up in the air and gallop about yelling with complete abandon. The camaraderie and affection of the players for each other is unlike what most of us are accustomed to in our daily lives. The back slapping alone would tax our endurance. Meanwhile there is the entertainment of critiquing facial hair, haircuts, chewing and bubble blowing techniques, and spitting distances. Ten innings in six hours on Sunday exhausted people sitting at home watching—the fifth game of the series.

Week end temperatures were down to as low as 18 degrees by some thermometers. Summer gardens are definitely over for the year. There are green tomatoes ripening on counters and that dish that Ethel of Omo talks about, The Last of the Garden, is bubbling on area stoves. A great bowl of chili is to be had on Saturday, November 4th, at the Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department chili supper and auction over at the Vanzant Community Building. It kicks off at 5p.m. and is always one of the excellent events of the year. Steve Moody will be providing his famous pulled pork. Proceeds will go toward purchasing new turn-out gear for the volunteer fire fighters. Our little rural fire departments are part of what makes this a great place to live.

The Champion Horseshoe Pitch has seen some exciting action recently. On Wednesday players came into the Historic Emporium looking for someone to witness the phenomena when each of the competitors had his horseshoe leaning on the post. It was a first time event. Look for pictures on line at There are ten years of archives there to give you the flavor of the place. Weather will have a lot to do with the outside action there from now on. A checker set is available inside near the stove for anyone who thinks he can beat The General. He could use some practice if he is going to go up against the reigning Douglas County Checker Champion. His school chum, Sharon Sanders, has issued the challenge and will be ready for a match any Saturday (between 10:00 a.m. and 2 p.m.) at the Douglas County Museum in Ava. Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek to play checkers or to enjoy a friendly conversation with your neighbors. Talk about history, or sports. Spin yarns. Learn something. Teach something. Get together and decide if you think the tax cut proposal is really going to be good for folks here in Booger County, almost all of whom are not millionaires. You can sing that song, “Once I lived the life of a millionaire, spending my money. I didn’t care. I carried my friends out for a real good time…” to Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Paisley and Brooklyn at the Clark’s Eaterie Bluegrass Jam.

October 23, 2017

CHAMPION—October 23, 2017


Deer are on the move in Champion and all around the country.

By way of connection with a great friend of The Champion News, J. C. Owsley, the pleasant acquaintance with poet, Frank Martin, has been made. One of his latest gems is called, “By and By.” “In clouds far off to the west/Nature is beating her breast/She is eyeing our sky/ Which means by and by/ She plans to disturb our rest.” Saturday night to Sunday morning found thunder rolling and lightning flashing, but not too much in the way of rain. Though it came down hard and fast, there was not much in the bucket when the storm passed. It was drizzly all day Sunday and hopes are that every drop soaked in for the benefit of the water table and a little insurance against brush fires. Fall arrived overnight. Deer are on the move and drivers are urged to be alert. Fog rising from valley floors on Monday morning softens the landscape in an ethereal way and adds to the danger for early travelers. Every season is beautiful in Champion.

Birthday celebrations are some of the best fun that some people have. Some people do not like anything about birthdays, but children of all ages do. Here are some upcoming birthdays of friends and family in the area: Haylee Surface, Skyline 3rd grader, October 22; Roger Miller, gifted song writer, October 25, 1936-1992; Brad Oglesby, Harley Krider, Shala Clark all on October 26; Nicholas Georges, Skyline 1st grader, October 28; Champions Royce Henson and Connie Lansdown, October 30; Cheyne Hall–Skyline 8th grader, Ms. Curtis–Skyline Superintendent, and Felipe Heston–Austenite, all celebrate on October 31. Happy Birthday everyone and “Boo!” to you Halloweenies.

Riders getting ready to take off out of Champion on Bud Hutchison’s Fall Trail Ride. [enlarge]

Bud Hutchison’s Fall Trail Ride was another galloping success. Bud was not in the lead this year. He had been a little under the weather and, though he was on the mend, he sat this one out and passed leadership to Andrew Harden. The thirteen riders started out around ten on Wednesday morning and made their loop around Fox Creek Road and the hinterlands of Denlow, up around the Shannon Ranch and back through Drury to Champion. They came ambling in in a bunch about three in the afternoon ready for ice cream. The riders were Jeff Alcorn on Lace, Cody Alcorn on Lilly, Nancy Perriman on Ginger, Melissa Harrington on Katy, Hershel Letsinger on Duke, Calvin Chambers on Summer, Andrew Harden on Cloud, Shirley Emerson on Buddy, Bill Winkelman on Cookie, Don Hamby on Domino, Cindy Hufham on Dolly, Carmen Watchinsky on Blue and Terry Redman on Danny Boy. The general assessment of the ride was that it was without any troublesome incident and pleasant in the extreme.

Friends and neighbors whiled away the hours out on the wide veranda waiting for the riders to return. Fellow correspondent, Ella Mae Daugherty, came over from Gentryville with Paul Uhlman to enjoy the non-participating part of Bud’s Trail Ride. She has written articles for The Herald over the years and has many friends in the area. She said that maybe Paul would bring her back to Champion sometime and Champions hope he will. Paul does not ride much anymore, neither does Cowboy Jack, still they enjoy meeting up with their friends and being around the livestock. Neighborhood children filled in the waiting time with singing. Young Chase Cauthron and Krider sisters, Taegan and Luxe, encouraged The General to sing funny songs. His version of the ABC song particularly pleases them when he sings, “J, I, b, r, d, u, p, f.” and the like. It is a joy to see young children with a love for music. A pair of charming young ladies, Brooklyn and Paisley, sat in with the jammers at Clark’s Eatery on Tuesday evening. They sang “You Are My Sunshine” and they really lit up the place. Lynette Cantrell remarked that the omelet they serve there was also very tasty. It is a great kindness that the folks at Clark’s are willing to open their banquet room to keep Lynette’s acoustic jammers off the street and out of the cold. They can be found there from 6:00 to 8:00 every Tuesday. The Vanzant jam drew a big crowd on Thursday. They start out with pot luck at 6:00 and music from 7:00 to 9:00. It has been going on for some while now and is the high point of the week for many people.

Don Hamby’s Domino smiling for the camera. [enlarge]

Last week it took too many words (670) to say: 1. The new tax proposal will benefit 4.59% of the population of Missouri. The rest of us will pay for it in diminished services and benefits. 2. What some see as disrespect for the Nation others see as the Nation’s disrespect for its people? 3. American Citizens in Puerto Rico are suffering. That only took 52 words.

Halloween is one of the world’s oldest holidays. It is celebrated in Mexico and other Latin American countries as the Day of the Dead as a way to honor deceased loved ones and ancestors. In Scotland the origins of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (summer’s end). The Celtic year was determined by the growing seasons and Samhain marked the end of summer and the harvest, and the beginning of the dark cold winter. The festival symbolized the boundary between the world of the living and the world of the dead. There are torch light processionals and rituals connected with this celebration. Trick-or-treating is a custom in this part of the world, though people deep in the country rarely have a goblin threatening at the door. Terri Ryan says that Thursday will be a half day of school at Skyline and the day for wearing Halloween costumes. (There will be no school Friday to allow for parent/teacher conferences.) The halls of our wonderful little rural school will be full of super heroes and princesses, nurses, hunters and farmers and space men and women. There may be some animals represented among the costumes—cats and squirrels. James Whitcomb Riley wrote the best poem for Halloween. It is called “Little Orphant Annie” and the last verse is: “When the night is dark and scary, and the moon is full and creatures are a flying and the wind goes Whooooooo, you better mind your parents and your teachers fond and dear and cherish them that loves ya, and dry the orphans’ tears and help the poor and needy ones that cluster all about, or the goblins will get ya if ya don watch out!!” Unafraid of goblins, the neighborhood is in good spirits with the rain, the coming of fall and bountiful harvests. Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!

The trail riders came back into the Square in a bunch on Wednesday afternoon.

October 16, 2017

CHAMPION—October 16, 2017


After the rain Champion has that bright clean look of fall about it.

On the way to Champion Sunday morning, just before getting to the pavement, there was a puddle! An unmeasured amount of rain had fallen during the night and soaked instantly into the thirsty ground. There was enough rainfall at Champion’s open door to make a pretty puddle about a foot wide and two feet long and so shallow that it was gone before nightfall. The dust is settled for the nonce and the countryside has a bright clean autumn look about it. A stroll about the grounds on such a day is a real pleasure. One Old Champion suggests that if you are out and about, best pay good eye service to the ground. If a bird song grabs you ear or the blue sky draws your gaze, best stop in your tracks and stand still to do your observing. When the ground is as dry as it has been, it can be as slick as ice in spots and, if you live around walnut trees, the many chances to roll an ankle and take a tumble are scattered all over the yard. Old folks particularly need to pay attention to where their feet are. Life can change dramatically in less than a second. Of course that has always been true, but young folks bounce better.

Carson Cline has his birthday on October 18th. He was in Champion together with Drayson and their Mom for some wonderful family functions and fun over the week end—a gaggle of cousins to please a smiling Champion grandmother. The lovely blonde motorcyclist on the top of the hill over there on WW Highway celebrates on Carson’s birthday too. Skyline pre-kindergarten student Wyatt Shannon has his birthday on the 19th and Cyanna Davis, seventh grader, has hers on the 20th, as does Carson’s grandpa Marty. The 21st is a big day for Zoey’s grannie, for a Texan named Cidney, and a sweet guy named Randy. It was also the birthday of Champion Anna Henson who has long been gone from the neighborhood but is still fondly remembered by many. Donna Moskaly has the 22nd for her celebration and the 24th will be the day Taegan and Luxe sing, “Happy Birthday, dear Mommy!” Happy birthday to you all!

Who has a television that they do not watch too much? There are a lot of options available these days and it is easy to let it take up too much time. By the time the news is over in the evening with reports of natural disasters, political turmoil, worldwide chaos, bad behavior by individuals and so much suffering across the planet, some are thinking like Luke, “…and being in agony, he prayed more earnestly.” This may be the age of earnestness. People are outraged by the perceived disrespect for the government and its symbols while others are outraged that government has such harsh disrespect for some of its people. The score is 86 to 45. Every kerfuffle has two sides and everyone has an opinion. There is a beautiful young woman who shows up several times a day in the programming of all the local television stations. We do not know her name but she looks like a Nancy. Nancy has shoulder length red hair and a pretty symmetrical face and a nice voice–just the kind of girl you would like your daughter to be or for your son to marry. She looks right at us and says, “People are sick of politics. I am too, but fixing our tax system isn’t about politics. It means that the wealthy, the powerful, the well-connected will stop benefiting from a rigged system. It means everyday Americans will have more to spend on what’s important to them.” She has a calm, pleasant demeanor and speaks with an air of conviction that tells you she is earnest. That particular earnestness was purchased with a flat rate for making the ‘spot’ and then a residual every time it is broadcast. In another video, our girl, the talented, beautiful actress, with long blonde hair this time, extols the virtue of some litigators who pursue financial vengeance against the malfeasance of pharmaceutical companies on behalf of sufferers. Nancy has residuals coming in from a number of places and you know she must be making a good living. Chances are pretty good that she is not making a good enough living to really benefit from this particular Tax Plan Proposal. In contrast to the script she recites so convincingly, even a superficial study of the proposal reveals that the cuts will benefit the wealthiest of the wealthy like Charles and David Koch who fund the outfit called Americans for Prosperity. It is one of the most influential American conservative organizations and the very outfit that paid our Nancy. If she is a self-employed actress, she would be advised to be putting something aside in addition to paying her FICA taxes, because this proposal could clearly have some long range ramifications for Social Security. The enormous tax relief for the billionaire brothers, Chuck and Dave, and folks like them will remove $3,000,000,000,000.00 to $7,000,000,000,000.00 (3 to 7 trillion dollars) from the tax revenue over the coming decade. What that means for everyday Americans is even less support for education, infrastructure, health and safety and all the benefits of being a proud citizen of the Great Nation—clean air, safe food, aid in the time of distress, etc. All the machinations of the new tax plan proposal are complicated and couched in legal language that is difficult to decipher, so busy everyday folks are not digging into it too deeply which is fine with Chuck and Dave. It would be nice if Nancy could explain the flip side in that easy pleasant way she has. Her kinfolks probably smile every time they see her on TV. They know, as we all do, that she is an actress, not an economist, and is just saying what she is hopefully being paid well to say. When we get rich, perhaps we will employ Nancy to say, “Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!” Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico there is suffering by American citizens that does not seem to titillate the media or the government. It is an embarrassment—a disgrace—reference Ephesians 6:12.

Should a person wander unconnected into this part of the world, he or she might acknowledge having fallen into a sweet spot—with jam every day of the week. When Lynette Cantrell’s acoustic jam on the square in Mountain Grove needed a home out of the elements, the folks at Clark’s Eatery on the South Side of the Square opened their banquet room for the musicians—every Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. Lynette had a cold and could not attend the first evening, but here were a dozen or more musicians there and a lively couple of hours of music ensued. Acoustic musicians are welcome as are folks who just like to hear a good eclectic jam. Come down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek for good conversations about music or any other subject. Elmer is fond of Earnest Tub. He may have sung, “Farther along, we’ll know all about it. Farther along we’ll understand why. Cheer up, my brother. Live in the sunshine. We’ll understand it all by and by” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

A dozen musicians showed up for Lynette Cantrell’s first acoustic jam at Clark’s Eatery on the South Side of the Square in Mountain Grove on Tuesday Night.  Everyone welcome from 6 to 8 p.m.  Bring your acoustic instruments or just your enjoyment.

October 12, 2017

The Pioneer Heritage Festival 2017


A couple of well heeled cowboys were the smiling greeters at The Pioneer Heritage Festival.

Festival tents seen from the highway.

Louise the Potter in her period costume strolled the grounds.

Bow making captured the interest of young people at the festival.

Mary Lou Price was resplendant in her hoop skirt at the festival.

There was plenty of good food to be had at The Pioneer Heritage Festival.  The Prominent Champion said he was on the creek bank all night catching that fish.