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Champions stand at the portal of their new year shoulder to shoulder with optimism, purpose, tolerance, curiosity, compassion, love and gratitude. Quite a snazzy bunch. It has been five years since the big ice storm that devastated Springfield and made news the world around. It seems that exciting things go on at this time of the year. Champions will be most interested to hear the results of the investigations into the enormous kill of red wing blackbirds down in Arkansas. One report also included a large fish kill in a nearby waterway. There is a lot of speculation, so it will be good to get the facts. “Oh the moon shines tonight on pretty Red Wing.”
Esther Howard’s birthday is January 3. Her Champion friends wish her well and celebrate their good fortune to know her. Her maiden name is North, and it is told (by people who maybe should not be telling things they heard second hand) that when she and Raymond first married—some little while ago—when she would begin to speak, Raymond would say, “It’s that old North wind blowing again.” The point was made that this was more than a little aggravating to Esther. Champions do not wish to rekindle a fifty-odd-year-old tiff, but rather wish to remind Esther of the affection and esteem held for her by her Champion friends. Should this get back to her she can blame Little Taegan’s Uncle Dusty for blabbing.
In Champion, as in other places out in the world, one thing leads to another. It is just as far to Barbara Krider’s house from Champion as it is to Champion from her house. The road has two ends and Champions could as well go to see her, except for the inconvenience it would create for her. “Closeness is not all about geography,” says one Champion. Harley was in town for a few days, but knee issues have kept Barbara at home lately. As was the case with Esther Howard, Champions have been talking about Barbara, with much affection. The story has filtered down to the “Items” that after leaving the funeral home, Barbara stopped by her house to change her shoes before going on to the cemetery for the graveside service of a friend. After the service, her friends and family observed that she was wearing different shoes on each foot. “Well, everybody does that,” you say. Yes, but those different shoes are from the same pair. Barbara was wearing one shoe each of two different pairs, as in a sandal and a pump. Much fun was made of it and the trendsetter fashionista may well have set a tone of freedom and whimsy for fashion in Champion this year. Barbara’s story leads to Mandinka warrior, Laurence Tureaud. He is famous for many things including a great song, “Treat Your Mother Right (Treat Her Right)” and for teaching vulnerable children how to control their anger and to deal with peer pressure. He most often wears mismatched sox as a way to have children with limited resources see that it is not what you wear but who you are that counts. He stars in a video “Be Somebody… Or Be Somebody’s Fool!” His birthday is May 21, 1952, so he is still a relatively young guy. Lots of people will be celebrating his birthday this year, from California to Carolina. Harold Camping, a retired civil engineer says that his studies have proven that the end of the world will begin on that date and that the end of days will occur in October. “If you still want to say we’re crazy, go ahead,” said Mary Exley of Raleigh, North Carolina, “But it doesn’t hurt to look into it.” Most likely Mr. T would look into it with interest while continuing to live his Champion kind of life, which requires living each day as if it were the last. William Miller predicted those events to have occurred on October 22, 1844. Some called the uneventful passage of that date The Great Disappointment. Champions recall a recent revelation that says without expectation, there can be no disappointment. One thing leads to another.
Thurland Chattaway wrote the lyrics to Pretty Red Wing in 1907, and his friend Kerry Mills adapted the tune from an 1848, composition for piano written by Robert Schumann. “The Happy Farmer, Returning From Work” was the name of Shuman’s piece. Pretty Red Wing is the story of a young Indian maid’s loss of her sweetheart who has died in battle. “Now the moon shines tonight on pretty Red Wing. The breeze is sighing, the night bird’s crying, for afar ‘neath his star her brave is sleeping, while Red Wing’s weeping her heart away.” Many sweethearts are weeping the loss of their loved ones in battle far away. Champions will be glad when all those serving their Nation in the dangerous places come home. Meanwhile Love and Gratitude are the words of the day.
Black-eyed peas make a good dinner for New Year’s Day as a way to say “If we eat this good all year, we’ll be lucky.” Bill Long likes Crowder peas. He says they are just about like black-eyed peas, but a little bigger. Like many Champions and Champion friends, his mailbox is being choked full of seed catalogues already. He already has his okra and corn seed for the year. He plants a hybrid kind of okra that produces earlier than the standard Clemson variety and has a very high yield. He says they have a lot of it in their freezer yet. Krenna takes it from the freezer and rinses it before she breads it to fry. He says it is wonderful. He is from Alabama and is most partial to things being fried; he is pretty partial to Krenna too. Now, some folks like their okra stewed with tomatoes, and some folks like it in gumbo. Charlene Dupree makes a fine Louisiana style gumbo and some of her Champion friends hope for a dinner invitation soon. She and Linda will be busy getting things ready for Spring. Gardening is a year round activity and The Plant Place is a Champion kind of place for advice and supplies. Before long Linda’s 2011 monthly almanac will be available again and then, “Let the plowing begin!” At least the planning can begin. The weather man said that the area can expect to be vulnerable to six more weeks of bitter cold, but that the days will be getting a little longer, and that by Valentine’s Day the worst of it should be over. It will still be cold and wet (hopefully) in March so the chili will taste good at the Skyline VFD Chili supper on March 5th. That happens to be Linda’s birthday! One thing leads to another all year. Arne and Jacob Coon both have birthdays early in January. Then Jan and Bob Liebert both celebrate on the 10th and 11th. Elvis Presley and Miss. Rachel Evans of Edinburgh, Scotland also have birth anniversaries soon and Champions say, “Huzza!”
Sing “Pretty Red Wing” on your way into Henson’s Store currently located in the Temporary Annex on the West Side of the Square in Downtown Champion. The Annex has become a sweet little fixture on the Square and will be remembered fondly for the interim service it will have provided once it is no longer required. Meanwhile it is to be appreciated and, in the spirit of not letting the perfect be the enemy of good, enjoyed for its duration. Express enjoyment of any kind at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or at Champion@getgoin.net. Go on over to the website at www.championnews.us for an eyeful of the remarkable and most ambitious Re-Creation of the City Center’s Heart. Go on over to the North Side of the Square and look at it first hand, but do it from a distance so as not to impede progress. You’ll be in Champion and looking on the Bright Side.