July 10, 2017

CHAMPION–July 10, 2017


So much of gardening is just observation.  One day the tomato plants look great.  The next morning the tops of some are just sticks up there flapping in the breeze and, after a long while in the sun, the culprit is discovered.  Green tomato hornworms not only suck, they devour.  Vigilance is the gardener’s watch word.  The other words are, “You sorry outfit…” and the like and worse.  The Prominent Champion Girlfriend posts on the internet:  “Your mind is a garden.  Your thoughts are the seeds.  You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.”  Yeah, yeah, it is always good to be around positive Champions.

Mistakes get made sometimes and sometimes it is not a real bad thing.  For example, Jacob Shannon, Isabel Creed, Wyatt Hicks and Zachary Coon are all Skyline School Students who have birthdays in June.  They were celebrated back in June and again, by mistake, in July and their names are now in the paper for the third time.  Meanwhile, second grade student, Jasmine Hutson, shares her birthday on the 2nd with bus driver Paul Kennedy.  Eight grader Patrick Vincent celebrates on the 3rd.  July 6th was the birthday of the late Walter Darrell Hayden who wrote “All the Late News from the Court House” and “The Headless Cobbler of Smallette Cave.”  He was an Ava native, an English professor at the University of Tennessee and a great supporter and encourager of The Champion News.  The 6th is also the special day For Connie Brown’s father, Robert Brown, who was seen whooping it up over at the Vanzant Picnic on both Friday and Saturday.  The 6th was also the 82nd birthday of the Dalai Lama who is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibetan people.  He has been in exile from Tibet since 1959 after a failed uprising against the oppressive Chinese occupation of more than 50 years now.  He is the highest-profile global advocate for Tibet and a highly respected religious and moral leader.  Tibet is still struggling for its freedom from its enormous aggressive occupying neighbor.  The 10th is the birthday of KZ88.1’s Myron Jackson.  He invites everyone to the community radio station’s summer concert & barbecue on Saturday, July15.  It will be at the Yellow House Community Arts Center in West Plains from 3 to 7 pm.  In addition to barbeque and all the fixings, there will be music by Van Colbert on the banjo and Gordon and Mark Johnson of the Ozark Hellbenders.  The Renee Woods Jazz Trio will also perform, so it sounds like it will be a good time.

Good times are the order of the day all around the area.  The Vanzant Picnic was a sterling success even though Steve Moody had a toothache on Saturday.  (Hopefully, by Monday he will have found a dentist to intercede with his pain.)  Meanwhile he cooked a lot of wonderful pulled pork and kept his composure as he emceed the music and festivities with good humor.  Hanna Kelly, Republican representative of Missouri’s 141 District, had a good time at the picnic Saturday.  She visited with the guys at the American Legion booth and with many of her constituents through the course of the evening.  She is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture Education and has a number of other interests and responsibilities as she is working for the folks in her district.  She reported that her granddad, Garnet Kelly, who is now 92 years old, is in a rehabilitation hospital in Springfield.  She says that when her grandmother is not able to see him in person, they Facetime on the computer every day.  The weather cooperated for the picnic, missing Friday’s thunderstorms, which loomed perilously close.  The brilliant sun shine stoked significant heat both days until the clouds rolled in on Friday and the sun finally set on Saturday.  The big moon added to the beauty of the evening.  This was the first big event of the summer social season in this area.  The Up and At ‘Em, 4-H Holt Picnic will be on July 28th and 29th.  That is always a great time for a great cause.  “SAVE THE DATE,” in all capital letters for emphasis, refers to The Skyline picnic which will be August 11th & 12th this year and locals are getting excited about it.  There is a lot of work associated with these annual events and community minded people go out of their way to make it good for everyone.  “I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places” ready to have fun and to support our great community and the fine little volunteer fire department that protects our lives and property.

Residents in Skyline Community and surrounding areas are being asked to mark your calendars and help spread the word about the electronics recycling pick up on August 1 (Tuesday) about 10 a.m.  Items can be brought to the school on Monday, July 31st if necessary.  Anything that plugs in is free, except televisions and you have to pay a $10 for fee those.  This is a great recycling opportunity.  It is also one of those civic activities that is good for the environment and good for that concept of clutter control.

Snail mail from Eva Lois Henson Phillips:  “I enjoyed the News of Champion.  I hardly know any names there [now].  I remember ‘Old Dads’, as the Henson kids called I.P. Henson, and his rock garden.  It is just outside the kitchen door.  That was his favorite place to sit and tell tales.  [A] black snake was always in our hen house where the eggs were to be harvested at night–my job…We plan to come to Champion School in September.”  That will be the Saturday before Labor Day, September 2nd for the Champion School Reunion.  Eva goes on to say, “July 2nd will be our 57th wedding anniversary.  We have two sons, Barry and Bill….So glad the old school building is getting new windows.”  Eva and Harold and the family will be glad to see that the old school has had a good pressure washing and has every appearance of being well maintained.  All you old folks who are missing familiar names in the paper can do what Eva did and send a note to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or an email to champion@championnews.us.  Come down to the wide, wild wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek in person and spin your yarns or make your inquiries.

Appreciating something being well maintained, 39th President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn celebrated 71 years of marriage on July 7th.  He is not viewed particularly well in these parts in spite of having served a term in the presidency without a hint of personal scandal and he continues into his 90s working on the behalf of the least fortunate people in the country.  In recent days dishonest, arrogant, cruel, delusional, greedy, vulgar, obnoxious and bullying behavior is being exemplified for our children.  Walter Shaub has just resigned as head of the government ethics office.  He said he did not think there was anything further that he could do.  He was charged with “protecting the principle that public service is a public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain.”  On Friday night Sherry Lovin sang the National Anthem in such a clear, melodious voice and in just the right key.  “Oh! Say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave?”  Yes it does—in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champions enjoy the annual Vanzant Picnic.

July 3, 2017

CHAMPION—July 3, 2017


A Cowpoke’s Birthday

“May your horse never stumble; may your cinch never break; may your belly never grumble; may your heart never ache.” Such is the cowboy’s birthday wish to his compadres and to all his folks. Such like is also the wish of the great grateful citizenry and lovers of The United States of America on the occasion of our 241st birthday. Huzzah! Giggle-box Susan Dempsey celebrated her day on July 2nd. She puts good energy into reawakening the life-giving power of joy through laughter and play. She and her volunteer group of gigglers spend time with the children at Mercy Children’s Hospital and with seniors and people at risk. They improve lives. Second grade Skyline student, Jacob Shannon, has his big day on the 10th. Seventh graders, Isabel Creed and Wyatt Hicks, have their great days on the 12th and the 13th. The 13th is also the birthday of Champion great niece and Austinite, Sophia Zappler, who will be 15 on the 13th. Zachary Coon will be a 6th grader at Skyline and has his birthday on the 15th. July is an exciting time of the year and everybody gets to join in with the National Birthday Celebration with birthday cakes, picnics, fireworks, watermelons and swimming holes. Happy Birthday, dear America! Happy birthday to us!

The 30th annual Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festival was augmented by a few of the regulars from the Vanzant Jam last Thursday. Doubtlessly they had a wonderful time over the weekend. Meanwhile, the Thursday jam was augmented by some infrequent, but much welcome musicians, so, as usual, a good time was had by all. The General, officiating before the pot luck had begun, informed the crowd that there will be no jam on the 6th of July because the facility will be being prepared for the annual Vanzant Picnic, which will happen on the 7th and the 8th. This will be one of the first local community picnics of the summer social season. There will be music, great food, games (bingo in the spiffy new bingo parlor). Proceeds will benefit the Vanzant Community Building and grounds which is the venue for benefits and all kinds of good works in the area. The regular jam will resume on the 13th. Meanwhile the all Acoustic Jam at the Cabool Senior Center will be on schedule 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the 10th. It is getting great reviews. Fiddler, Candi Bartch, says it is a nice place to have a jam…very relaxed and friendly. Everyone is welcome every Monday night.

A Sunday drive to visit old friends brought Champions up on the ridges and dazzled them with great distant vistas. To get to those high ridge roads they started out on country lanes in some places roofed over, tunnel like, with dense foliage. Black-eyed Susans, Queen Anne’s lace, blue chicory, orange butterfly weed, mullein, banks of elderberry flowers, walnut sprouts, golden sumac, the glorious musk thistle and many other blooming things grace the sides of all the roads, gravel and paved. There is not too much red to be seen along the roadsides this time of the year other than green blackberries and the occasional Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket. From here to there, passing the old home place of friends, now gone, brings a rush of memories. On a splendid summer Sunday, it is a gift to reunite with dear old friends and to make new ones. Young Bailey has made her trip back to the country from Portland, Oregon to visit with her chicken friend, Violet, as well as with her grandparents.

The idea of a TigerSwan brings to mind a mythical beast, some chimera, with an odd combination of body parts. It is actually a private security company that provides Department of Defense compliant, military-grade data and human intelligence to manage risks. The company is part of a fusion of private security, public law enforcement and corporate money in the fight over eminent domain issues across the country particularly related to the extraction industries. It is troubling to think that some company with a profile like that of the infamous Blackwater, employed in the Middle East, is working against individual property owners here in the United States. Corporate profit has usurped individual freedom. It is all very mob like. Alfonso Capone (1899-1947) was a mobster who was active in Chicago politics. He had a seven year reign as crime boss and pulled all kinds of dirty stunts like murder, extortion, kidnapping, robbery and more. His collusion with local politics came to an end about the time of the St. Valentine’s Massacre when there was finally public outcry. After that he became Public Enemy Number 1. He had a number of nicknames, including Scarface, Big Al and Big Boy. He was ultimately brought down by the Internal Revenue Service. The Supreme Court ruled that illegally earned income was subject to income tax. Big time crooks and flim-flam men ought to be paying attention to history, as should we all. It is as if a current Big Boy has caused our horse to stumble, our cinch to break, our belly to grumble with revulsion and our hearts to ache for the safety and sanctity of our Nation. We have survived many perilous fights and we will surely get through these days with our stripes and bright stars intact.

Local history is getting the spotlight through a new on-line group started by Champion friend, Kaitlyn McConnell. It is Ozarks alive: Folklore and History. It is a public group that offers an opportunity to share information, histories and photos and to make inquires about things you have always wanted to know about the area. The group is new but there are already 247 people in it. Some of the first photos posted have teams and wagons on ferries and several serious looking people around a moonshine still. Spend a little time out of the heat on the wide veranda at the Historic Emporium with neighbors for an opportunity to learn about the daring exploits of earlier generations in these parts. Songs have been written about some of them, though it is said that surviving descendants would prefer those songs not to be made public. An old friend from Rock and Roll Creek some distance west of Champion recently mentioned a tune called, among other things, “The Missouri Dog Song.” It is probably familiar to many in these parts. “Every time I go to town, the boys keep kicking my dog around. Makes no difference iffin he’s a hound, you gotta quit kicking my dog around.” It is considered unacceptable behavior by the dog lovers in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Champions slow down to enjoy the flowers along the roadways.  It is a good thing.

June 26, 2017

CHAMPION—June 26, 2017


The Millpond is a favorite haunt for Champions and their summer visitors.

“Summer time and the living is easy” in Champion.  Well, it may not be easy, but it is certainly pleasant.  Though these are being spectacular days, there is always plenty of work to do for people who live in the country.  Yard work and gardening keep old timers and retirees busy while they watch real farmers, young ones and old ones, doing all that their profession requires of them–milking, haying, planting, brush hogging, and myriad other things including keeping the equipment in order and the animals healthy.  Those fine gentlemen from the Drury Road Shed are out in the elements all day getting our roads and bridges back together after the flood.  That is certainly hard work.  Then, there are the other heroes, our teachers and school staff.  They get some well-deserved time off during the summer, though there is summer school and a great deal of preparation for starting the next term.  Certified Reading Specialist and Librarian, Terri Ryan, might be getting to do some fishing.  Lannie Hinote may well be vacationing in the area from her teaching job in Alaska.  Visitors from all parts of the country have been coming to Champion to visit family and to revel in, if for only a little while, the life we fortunates are privileged to enjoy year round.

Skyline second grade student, Jasmine Hutson will have her birthday on the July 2nd, as will bus driver, Paul Kennedy.  Patrick Vincent will be in the eighth grade had his birthday is on the 3rd.  We all celebrate the birthday of the Nation on July 4th.  The 5th is the birthday of the Dalai Lama and Virginia Canada.  Walter Darrell Haden’s birthday was July 6th, 1931.  He was a very interesting person and a great encourager of The Champion News.  He passed away in 2014, and what the author of “All the Late News from the Court House” might make of today’s scandals would surely be entertaining and informative.  Champion great grandson Kruz Kuzt has his birthday on the 7th.  Happy Birthday to all those we can celebrate today and all those who we remember for the way they have touched us.  Huzzah!  Meanwhile, Terri Ryan says, “Skyline Community, please mark your calendars and help spread the word!  We are having an electronics recycling pick up on August 1 (Tuesday) about 10 a.m.  Items can be brought on Monday, July 31st if necessary.  Anything that plugs in is free, except televisions and you have to pay $10 fee for those.  This is a great recycling opportunity.”

The 25th and 26th of June are days celebrated by the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho for their overwhelming victory in the battle of Greasy Grass which occurred along the Little Bighorn River in eastern Montana Territory in 1876.  By the time Yellow Hair was losing his campaign, many of the ancestors of current Champions were in the process of homesteading in these parts.  Families like the Stones, the Hensons, the Hicks, Upshaws, Hutchisons, Kriders, Sutherlands, and Kellers, Cooleys, Johnstons, Dooms and you know who all you are.  While your folks were claiming their land and developing it, The Great Sioux War was going on out west.  Just imagine if Yellow Hair had had a great para-military private security force like Tigerswan at his disposal!  All those pesky indigenous people would have been exterminated or dispersed and today’s aggravating protests about eminent domain for private gain would not be a problem in North Dakota, or in Pennsylvania, Iowa, New York, Nebraska, and any number of other places.  In Orwell’s Newspeak it would be ‘doubleplusgood’ for corporate interests.  Most Orwellian is the notion that many states are now considering bills to make protesting a felony, all of which smacks of irony on the eve of our celebration of The Declaration of Independence, which is a most profound protest document.  Happy Birthday, America!

Correspondence to champion@championnews.us:  “I heard from a friend a long time ago (she is gone now) that the Missouri Conservation Department would not allow for the killing of copperheads because they viewed them as beneficial.  Having said that, she then reported on the numerous suicides (presumably of snakes) at her home.”  The correspondent indicated that she watched a copperhead commit suicide via lawn mower just the other day.  Reports of that nature are not unusual any day of the week this time of the year at the Historic Emporium over on the North side of the Square in Downtown Champion.  Hovey e-mails that he is thinking about coming in October when the foliage changes.  “I would like to walk the Bryant Creek nature trail, if it has not been washed out.”  Regular summertime visitors from Texas like to go to the Millpond.  They have been doing it for many years and consider it one of the highlights of their holiday.  They arrived on Friday in the late morning in time for a wade in the wonderfully cold water and a pleasant picnic before the thundering and sprinkling started.  They said it was as beautiful as they remembered.  Locals who had not been out there since before the flood were pleased that the route they took was passable, if a rough one, and were impressed with the obvious work that the road crews had done to make it that way.  The creek is still flowing right along over the rock formations under the tall cliffs.  The ‘beach’ is wider now and it is not so far across to the other side.  The new configuration will likely be a surprise to the many who will attend The Old Tree Hugger’s Jamboree.  They will come from near and far to enjoy their annual visit with each other in the splendor of this setting.

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” said Audrey Hepburn.  An Old Champion recently thought to augment her straw bale garden with a fish emulsion treatment.  She put half a cup of the stinky stuff in the bottom of her bucket and almost had the four gallons of water to dilute it added in when she saw that bucket was split along the side about two inches from the bottom and leaking fast.  It was a race to distribute the solution without wasting much of it.  She started over with another bucket only to find a hole in it near the bottom.  She had to scramble again but was able to complete her task, if not in the calm and orderly fashion she had planned.  All done, she sang Hank Williams version of, “My bucket’s got a hole in it!” on her way to the dump to get rid of the offending vessels.  It is exciting to see the first color starting out in the tomato patch.  Vanzant’s lovely chanteuse, Ruth Collins, has already had a couple of ripe ones on her table.  Perhaps she will learn that wonderful song that says, “There’s just two things that money can’t buy and that’s true love and home grown tomatoes.”  Sing whatever song you like out on the wide veranda overlooking Auld Fox Creek.  You can be melodious in one of the world’s truly beautiful places—Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!

Chillin’ in Millpond

June 19, 2017

CHAMPION—June 19, 2017


A Champion tree frog pauses in the kitchen on his way outside after spending the winter inside.

Our “paterfamilias”—who is that?  Why, that is our dear old dad.  He is the Champion being celebrated from coast to coat and stem to stern the whole wide world around.  While it may be that every one of them is not the poster dad for perfection, the outpouring of love, affection, appreciation and awe still filled up the phone lines and mailboxes.  Some offspring stood on the front porch with grins on their faces and presents in their hands.  A Hawaiian shirt, new bar-b-que tools, a certificate for a weekly visit from a grounds-keeping crew, keys to a 1957 Thunderbird—any of those things would make a nice gift.  The examples set by the old guys are the ones being taken up by young fathers, and as a consequence, there are some splendid children being raised.  For those who just have the memory of the man now, he has taken on a reputation of having been wise and infallible and funny, loving, generous and steadfast—a Champion for sure.  Thanks for everything, Dad.

I.P. Henson had a pet black snake that curled up in the rock garden near where he liked to sit.  The story was passed down to his great granddaughter who still maintains the rock garden but has no genuine affection for any of the local reptiles including especially those that like baby chickens.  Snake stories were part of the conversation at the Wednesday gathering at the Historic Emporium on the South side of the Square.  Some folks are of the “kill every snake you see” philosophy.  Others ascribe to the “live and let live” credo, citing examples of black snakes and rat snakes that eat rats and rabbits.  Copperheads also eat rodents and cicadas, and king snakes kill copperheads.  There is a kind of ammunition called ‘snake shot’ and there are any number of methods of doing away with the critters, though it is suggested that the Missouri Department of Conservation frowns on the practice.

Visitors to Champion on Wednesday will be celebrating the Summer Solstice.  Thereafter the days will be getting shorter and the nights will be getting longer.  This celestial occurrence is observed and celebrated by many different cultures around the globe.  Most of those festivities probably include music, food, and fellowship, just like we do here in the Ozarks.  June is also the big month for wedding anniversaries.  Reba and Don Bishop just celebrated their fiftieth and Ethel and Bob Leach had an even bigger one.  “They’re playing our song” is likely being said many times as spring morphs into summer.  Congratulations to all you who have stuck it out through thick and thin—for better or worse—like true Champions.

A female hummingbird in for a morning drink.

Hovey Henson writes that his hummingbird feeder down in Texas is not seeing any action.  Folks up in this part of the country are also reporting fewer humming birds than usual.  It may be that most of them are nesting at this time and that the new clutch will be out buzzing around soon.  Nature holds plenty of excitement.  One Old Champion couple had a tree frog that wintered over in their plant room.  It would sometimes respond to the phone ringing or to the tuning of the mandolin.  The old lady was out on Thursday evening and the old man thought he heard the frog in the kitchen, though it could just as easily have been his tinnitus.  On Friday morning, however, he put up the oatmeal and was about ready to break the eggs into the skillet when he discovered the beautiful little tree frog sitting in his copper clad egg pan (as seen on TV).  It took some doing but the couple finally escorted the little fellow out into the lovely outside which he had not seen since last fall.  Most likely he found friends out there.  Friends are looking forward to seeing Hovey and Dawn and their whole bunch at the Champion School Reunion this fall—the Saturday before Labor Day.

Walter Leland Cronkite Jr. was born in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1916.  His first job was as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Times.  He was a war correspondent during World War II and reported on the Nuremburg Trials, the Viet Nam War, the assignation of President Kennedy, the resignation of President Nixon and every other important thing that happened before he retired in 1981.  In 1982, he wrote a preface for a new edition of Orwell’s famous book, “1984,” first published in 1949.  He referenced the term ‘Newspeak’ saying we hear it in every use of language to manipulate, deceive or to cover harsh realities with the soft snow of euphemism.  Every time a political leader expects or demands that we believe the absurd, we experience the mental process Orwell called ‘doublethink.’  Cronkite said, “We recognize, however dimly, that greater efficiency, ease, and security may come at a substantial price in freedom, that law and order can be a doublethink version of oppression, that individual liberties surrendered for whatever good reason are freedom lost.”  Cronkite passed away in 2009.  It would be interesting to know just what ‘the most trusted man in America’ would have to say about what is happening these days when government has hired military mercenaries to attack American citizens on their own land at the behest of private industry, when the federal government, as well as our own state government, is awash in scandal and the standing of the Nation in the world community is at an all-time low.  He might well have shaken his head in disbelief today when he said, “And that’s the way it is.”

The way it is in Champion is just fine.  Gardens are in and beautiful.  Come on down to the wide, wild, wooly banks of Auld Fox Creek where old friends and new ones amble up on to the spacious veranda and sit a spell to visit.  They say when it’s all said and done there is more said than done, but praises are still being sung for the efforts of the Eastern Douglas County Road Maintenance Men as they work to repair roads and bridges damaged in the recent flood.  Bingo parlor envy is being aroused in connection with the new Vanzatian edifice.  Haymakers are “gettin’ ‘er done, sis.”  Music is in the air and the new acoustic jam at the Senior Center in Cabool on Monday nights is getting some great reviews.  Everyone is welcome.  Contact Lynette Cantrell at 417-260-1050 for additional information.  Contact The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 for any reason or look us up at www.championnews.us to see a solid decade of this kind of stuff, some old and new photographs and to hear some wonderful local music.  Frances Banks frequents the bluegrass jam at Vanzant and shared the May, 1982, edition of “Country Song Round Up” with a friend there.  It contains one of her favorite songs which she hopes to hear one of these Thursdays.  It is Don Williams’s song, “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good.  I’m feeling empty and misunderstood.  I should be thankful, Lord, I know I should, but, Lord, I hope this day is good.”  It will be for sure if you are in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


June 12, 2017



Summertime flowers are making Champion even more beautiful.

Hey! Haymakers are making hay like Champions!  All over the area, from here to yonder, there are beautiful fields just mowed and baled producing record amounts of hay.  Of course, some fields are not producing because of damage caused by the flood, but those that are producing really are.  These days it is big round bales bucked with tractor forks, but many know about bucking those square bales from the old days.  Ruth Fish Collins said that her son could buck a thousand bales a day.  It was just the kind of hard work that robust young country fellows were accustomed to doing back then.  Technological advancements in haymaking have made it so that today, even at an advanced age, The General is able to participate in the agrarian activities that result in the hay getting put up in addition to the validation of having the appearance of having worked hard.  It is a win-win situation—while the sun shines on the Bright Side and elsewhere in the area.  Meanwhile, summer wild flowers in their vigor and profusion have replaced the delicate posies of spring.  Daises, sunflowers, Queen Anne’s Lace, chicory, primroses, butterfly weed, Echinacea, the little pink shy plant and the orange day lilies and so many that we do not know the names of grace our country lanes and fill us with appreciation for the beauty of the place we live.  Time marches on in Champion.

All the birthday Buzz started on the 11th with the special day of Grandpa Woods who is best known for the beauty of his granddaughters and his devotion to them.  Artist and philosopher who spent some formative years in Champion, Joshua Cohen, has a birthday on June 19th.  Daniel Parkes was in the 4th grade at Skyline last year.  He is moving on to the 5th grade and his big day is also the 19th.  Tyler Cark was born June, 20, 1988.  Linda K. Watts has her birthday on the 21st—the first day of summer.  Her Tennessee sons are now both high school graduates with exciting lives ahead of them.  Sierra Parsons out in Portland also celebrates on the solstice.  Her grandparents keep an amazing garden and interesting chickens over west of Ava.  Elisabeth Warren was warned, nevertheless she persisted.  Her birthday is on the 22nd as is that of Ms. Cinita Brown.  Alyssa Strong was in the 8th grade at Skyline last year and now will be a high school freshman somewhere.  Congratulations.  Her birthday is on the 23rd.  The 24th belongs to Easton Shannon who will be a first grader in the fall.  The 25th belongs to Jonny Rainbow of Tar Button Road and velvet voiced Sherry Bennett of bass fiddle fame.  Devin Scot will be in the 6th grade.  His birthday is on the 26th.  The 29th is for David Fulk who will be in the fifth grade in the fall.  It is also the special day of Mrs. Eva Powell.  Her Champion friends miss seeing her in the neighborhood.  Esther Wrinkles was born June 28, 1917.  She passed away in 2013, but the centenary of her birth has her in Champion thoughts as she often is.  She liked to play ‘skip-bo’ with her family.  She loved music, cooking, quilting, her church, her fire department, politics, her many friends, and her big loving family.  All you celebrants past and present know that you have friends and family who think you are top notch Champions.  Happy birthday.

Our kids know they are cared about.  Terry Ryan shares the post, “No matter how much pedagogy we know, no matter how many degrees we have, unless our students know that we care, they will not learn from us.”  That is a sentiment that is reflected in Ms. Ryan’s attitude and commitment to our precious country children and our wonderful little rural school.  Sonja Hodges was at Skyline on the first Tuesday of June doing blood pressure screenings.  (Nannette Hirsch is off on an adventure, but will be back for Champions at the Historic Emporium on the last Tuesday of the month.)  Sonja filled in for Nannette and also happened to be there for the first day of summer school and the ribbon cutting and dedication of the new playground equipment that is called Monkey Junction.  Superintendent Jeannie Curtis did the ribbon cutting and officiated at the ceremony.  She shares Ms. Ryan’s philosophy and has for some time now put her good efforts into making Skyline the excellent little school it is.  The new equipment consists of a couple of slides and some climbing components.  The apparatus came through a Healthy Schools—Healthy Community grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health and the Douglas County Health Department.  The Ava Middle School and the Plainview School have also been recipients of this grant.  Sonja has been with the DCH for eleven years now and has had a hand in many good works.  One of those is the paved walking trail that winds along the edge of the woods and over to the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire Department picnic grounds.  It is a delightful stroll.  Four times around makes a mile. People like Terri Ryan, Jeannie Curtis and Sonja Hodges make us grateful for their good energy and dedication.

Legend has it that Garryowen was an Irish drinking song that came to the attention of General George Armstrong Custer via a trooper who was under the influence of spirits.  The tune is lively and accentuates the cadence of marching horses and was adopted as the regimental song of the 7th Calvary soon after Custer arrived at Fort Riley, Kansas to take over command of the regiment.  It was the song that followed the column into history.  These days another Yellow Hair seems to be headed for a historic cataclysm.  Like Custer, he is both loved and reviled.  The fact that Custer came in last in his class at West point did not hinder his rise up the ranks of the U.S. Army.  There seem to be many similarities and the song is still lilting and lively, reminding us that things can change dramatically in a short period of time.  Over at the Vanzant Community Building, for example a new structure has sprung up in the past week.  It looks like it will be the new bingo parlor that will be the big attraction at the Vanzant Picnic.  New bingo parlors seem to be all the rage in the east end of Douglas County.

Haymaking duties reduced the Wednesday turn out at the Historic Emporium, though several regular visitors made solid appearances.  Next week there will likely be stories shared about the snakes that are disturbed by haymaking and those that are just out and about this time of the year because it is their nature.  This week the excitement on the wide veranda was a controversy between brothers with differing opinions about who wrote the song, “Satisfied Mind.”  It looks like the dispute is not the first one the brothers have had between them and while the authorship is important, the gist of the song is one of those life lessons.  It seems that “money cannot buy back your youth when you are old, or a friend when you are lonely or a love that has grown cold.”  The beautiful full Strawberry Moon on Friday was enough to put sweet satisfied smiles on the faces of local romantics whose love is still warm in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

Black snakes are just out and about this time of the year in Champion.