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Excitement is building as Champion readies itself for the annual school reunion, the twenty-ninth one according to official sources. There will be many there who have attended most of the reunions and some who will be attending their first one. Sadly, some will not make it this year. Royce Henson writes that his younger brother, Randall Lynn Henson, passed away peacefully in his sleep on August 25th. Last year was the first time that these two brothers, and their brother Kenneth and sister Eva Lois were all at the reunion together. Randall’s siblings all treasure the memory. Look at the Champion School Reunions pictures on www.championnews.us to see a picture of the four of them together. It is easy to see they were enjoying themselves. Royce writes that Randall was born June 16, 1942 just north of Champion up on Clever Creek. The next day the sky opened up-creek around Cold Springs and a flood of all floods raged through the Riley farm where the family lived. A cousin living in a neighboring home place now said that an equipment shed out in the field across the road from the house and some big farm equipment washed away suddenly. There has never been another flood like it here in all these years–quite a memorable event in the life of a family. Randall attended all eight years of school at Champion. He went to high school in Mountain Grove and Norwood, and then graduated from Ava in the class of 1960. He lived in the Columbia, MO area where he made his career in insurance. There will be much conversation about Randy and all those absent from the reunion so it is advised that any alumni or others with an interest in the community should be in attendance—September 3rd in Downtown Champion
E-mail from Jeanie Maddox reports that her sister-in-law, Nancy Littrell, is recovering slowly but well in the hospital from the terrible auto accident that took her husband, David’s, life last week. Jeanie said they know so many people from all over. They have lived in this area most of their lives and graduated from Norwood High School. Nancy worked in the Norwood and Mountain Grove schools for about fifteen years. “They are like second parents to some kids who are now adults.” Jeanie says that the family wants everyone to know how much they appreciate all the calls and prayers. So many have dear ones suffering ill health and loss. Champion hearts go out.
Royce wrote that the Battle of Midway had just been raging at the time his little brother was born. It was considered to be one of the most decisive battles of World War Two. It seems that the enemy was thinking that the American forces were demoralized and disheartened after the devastation of Pearl Harbor and that it would be easy to deliver a final blow to finish the job. They did not count on the skill and the zeal of the code breakers in the U.S Military. Commander Joseph J. Rochefort and his team of cryptanalysts broke the JN-25 code that provided Admiral Nimitz with a complete enemy order of battle. There is a great deal of information available about this battle including many photographs and some actual film footage. Books have been written on every aspect of the battle from the strategic context through the aftermath and the impact. It is a fascinating story speaking to the courage of those serving in their Nation’s Uniform. Randy Henson drove tanks in Panama when he was in the service. Every Veteran has his time and his comrades to remember and every Veteran deserves to be remembered with the Love and Gratitude of his Nation. They are all Champions!
Oklahoma friend, Ethel McCallie, will be in the neighborhood for her Haden, Kay, Sellers Family Reunion also on September 3rd over in Ava. She thinks her cousin, Darrell Haden, and his wife will probably not make it this year and they will be missed. Hopefully they will make it next year and maybe over to Champion then too. They live over in Fulton, Tennessee not too far from a place called Champion Lake! (Look for more information about this lovely sounding place in the future.) Ms. McCallie really likes to get over to Champion when she can and Champions hope it happens again this year. She is a good storyteller with 94 years worth of material to share. She just had her birthday on August 11th. She talked about her Granddad Warden from over at Smallette who taught fifty-two terms of school in Douglas and Ozark Counties. He was well educated and well regarded in the community. He was quite a character, bald on top but with a long white beard and a special switch set aside for little Ethel. Ms. McCallie and Esther Wrinkles are the same age and both of them are an encouragement to younger people who seem to be struggling with their memory. What a wonderful resource are these bright exciting people with links to the past and bright eyes for the present. There is much to be learned from the likes of them and the Champion Reunion will surely have many such like. Champion!
A little moderation in the heat, some Champions are finding that their ornamental green bean plants with all their blooms are actually beginning to produce green beans! How happy they are not to have yanked them from the ground in disgust on those several occasions when they thought, had they only the energy to do so, they would. Linda’s Almanac informs that the first through the third of September and the seventh and eighth will all be good days to plant leafy vegetables and other fall crops bearing their yield above the ground. A copy of the Almanac can be found up at the Plant Place in Norwood or on the Refrigerator in Henson’s Store in downtown Champion either on the West Side of the Square or over on the North Side.
Champions join family and friends all up and down the East Coast singing “Good Night Irene.” The hurricane turned out to be not nearly so bad in some areas as was expected, and then much worse in other areas. Champion has been affected to the extent that Champions most uniformly express their gratitude for their good fortune to live in such a lovely place, as old Herman said, “the dreamiest, shadiest, quietest, most enchanting bit of romantic landscape in all the valley.” Not only at the foot of several hills and the convergence of two county roads, plus Lonnie Krider Memorial Way, but also the at the beginning of the pavement and situated on the broad and shady banks of Fox Creek just down stream from the confluence of that great stream with the mighty Clever. There on the broad sturdy porch on Henson’s Store it will be easy to imagine oneself standing on the bow of a gallant ship contemplating a tranquil sea—the Champion Ship—Looking on the Bright Side!