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Monday, Labor Day, found Champions delighted with the cooler temperatures and much immersed in reliving the Champion School Reunion of 2011. It was the twenty-ninth such gathering. The first one had three hundred in attendance. There were fewer this time with numbers ranging from 68 to 80. An astrick (*) beside a name in this list indicates the person attended school at Champion. Those attending this year were: Robert Brown*, Connie Brown, Charles Lambert*, Catherine Mallernee, Stanley Stillings, Elsie Curtis*, Debbie Massey, Fae Krider, Richard and Kaye Johnston, Levon* and Karen Lambert, Barbara (Proctor) Cooper*, Ruby Proctor*, Linda Watts, Robert Graham, Mary Graham, Shawna and Jerry* Smith, Vivian (Krider) Floyd*, Larry* and Theresa Wrinkles, Esther Wrinkles*, Tanna and Kalyssa Wiseman, Elva Ragland*, Vaughn Henson, Jo Henson, Kenneth Henson*, Dawn Henson, Benton Hutchison*, Irene Dooms*, Delmar Dooms*, Royce Henson*, Kenneth and Barbara Anderson, Betty Henson, Bert and Mary Hutchinson, Enola McCoy, Hutchinson Benson*, Bud* and Wilma Hutchison, Darren, Jordan, and Joshua Hutchison, Sharon and Robert Upshaw, Ronnie and Charlene* Medlock, Russell, Sue, Daily and Dean Upshaw, Leslee Krider, Marty, Dakota and Dylan Watts, Alvin and Beverly Barnhart, Wes Smith*, Lonnie Curtis*, Wilma Hamby*, Robert Dean Brixey, Connie Hicks*, Kathy Hines, Harold and Eva Henson* Phillips, Staci and Dustin Cline, Foster and Roger Wiseman, Bob Phillips, Wayne* and Francis* Sutherland, May Pearl Sutherland*, and Greeta Cope. Ms. Cope was the only Champion teacher attending this year. Every year a few names get left off the list and that will probably be the case this time. Certainly, you know if you were there!
Good conversations with Ruby Proctor and Esther Wrinkles on Monday verifies that they had a good time. Ruby said that she had thought she might miss it this year because she was having trouble with her hearing, but as the day approached she just could not resist going and she is very proud to have done so. Some of the things Ruby might have missed hearing included several people talking about an ‘old’ man, Ben Irvin who lived up the hill in a house where Fae Krider’s house now sits. He was about sixty someone said and he really liked to come down to the school at lunch time to aggravate the kids. A lot of the children were afraid of him and Esther Wrinkles said that she would have as soon ‘fanned’ out when it was her time to bat rather than to run by him. He was over on the second base line. She got a hit and stayed on first base, which was the big walnut tree, until she was forced to run when the next batter hit the ball. As she was trying to dodge Ben Irvin who made a face and stuck his arms out to grab her, she stubbed her toe on a tree root sticking up and took a tumble. Well, there was Ben Irvin right over her and he about scared her to death. Another person said that in the winter he used to like to roll the little kids in the snow until they cried. The teacher, Willie Freeman, would not let the kids snowball him until one day when he had gone too far. Then Willie Freeman said, “Let him have it!” and the kids gave Ben Irvin a pounding with their snowballs. Another story was one told several times by the guy who claimed not to have thrown Little Elvie’s shoes in the creek, but that he carefully placed them there and then joined in with the rest of the student body searching for them. He searched diligently, but was found out to be the culprit himself and had to pay the piper. A pair of shoes back in those days represented an investment. It was Valentines Day and after the valentines were all distributed, the question came up about what to do with the beautifully decorated valentine box. It was decided that they would bury Bud Hutchison’s dog in it since the dog had been hit and killed by a car earlier in the day. Bert Hutchinson stood up and introduced himself to the crowd, many of who turned out to be his cousins and distant cousins. He remarked that he had always been curious about the ‘n’ in Huthinson and the lack of it in Hutchison. It is reported that the ‘n’ came into being via Uncle Billy Hutchinson who was the first to use it. Uncle Billy was Clifford and Everet’s Dad and Clifford was Bert’s Dad. Bert says, in effect, that with or without the ‘n,’ it is all the same bunch–the same family.
Bert Hutchinson and his wife Mary had a cute little black dog with them at the reunion and Kalyssa Wiseman took such a shine to the little dog that she wound up carrying him around with her. To the credit of the little dog, he was very patient, and allowed the four year old to wag him around like a doll. The next day Kalyssa was delighted to report that she had received a little Jack Russell puppy for her birthday. His name is Boogety. It is hard to tell which of them has the most energy, but they obviously enjoy each other tremendously. (It was reported last week that Kalyssa and her distant cousin, Jenna Brixey, shared a birthday on the 28th of the month. Well, their birthday is on the 31st of August. The error does not seem to matter much to them. They celebrate all the time.) Lyman (Pete) Proctor has been celebrating this week. His son, Bryan, and his family have been visiting for a few days. Bryan had just arrived on the morning of the reunion and so they did not make it out to Champion that day. Before he leaves town, however, it is expected that Pete and Bryan will be down to look the place over.
The Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square was the subject of much interest and speculation. Tours were taken and it was agreed uniformly that the building is spectacular. While it does not look like the old store, it is agreed that the architect captured the ‘flavor’ of the old one. The only negative thing heard was a remark by one guy who had to say that it was ‘way over-built. He had a couple of grouchy kinds of things to say about how hard it is to make a living out in this part of the country and how it is likely to be way off in future years when no one will remember the old days. He was roundly dismissed as a Pessimist and obviously not a real “Champion” even though he is related to some and well regarded by everyone who knows him. It was nice that the reunion people were able to see the store before all the merchandise and fixtures are moved in. They had the opportunity to admire the workmanship and sturdiness and general beauty of a well-built wooden building. By next year it will seem as if this one has always been the Champion Store. Speculation is that commerce will be flowing through the new building one of these days soon. E-mail your Champion Reunion Pictures and stories to Champion@getgoin.net and look for them or others next week after Champion computers are back up and running. Local glitch has slowed things down a little, but Champions are very good at waiting. Come down to Champion singing the old Haden Family theme song, “Keep on the Sunny Side of Life.” You’ll be in Champion–Looking on the Bright Side.