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The first week in October is routinely marked by speculation concerning the quality of the fall foliage. If there was enough rain at the right time and if the severe heat of mid-summer was not too much and if a number of other unspecified conditions were met favorably, then the foliage will be glorious. In Champion autumn is always glorious. Champions have a special talent for recognizing the beauty in any situation and autumn’s return is a delightful excuse to be satisfied with the way things are. The leaves are getting pretty too.
Oh! Pioneers! The weather was perfect for the tenth annual Pioneer Descendant’s Gathering down at Yates on the edge of the world. A pleasant buggy ride down along the creek through the lush stand of cane transported passengers back in time. The molasses, apple butter, lye soap, music and camaraderie of seldom seen friends made for pleasant days. It takes a lot of work to get this event together every year and Betty and Dale Thomas do an excellent job of it. First time attendees were wowed by the spectacle and determined to be regulars in the future. This part of the world is rife with fall festivals and the descendants of Tom Brown (of the Brown’s Cave Browns) and John Burden can be proud of the fine tradition established by their kin. Betty said that there were easily as many in attendance this year as last year and that was in the neighborhood of 4,000. She felt like attendance was up quite a bit on Sunday due to the delightful weather.
With the weather forecast of a week’s worth of low 80′s and high 70′s, Champions are busy getting in the last of the harvest. Sweet potatoes are coming up out of the ground and green tomatoes are being turned into relish and some are still being fried. Linda’s gardener over at their place in Norwood prepared his sweet potato bed with sand and various nutrients that made for a rich loose medium where the tubers had room to grow to their maximum and Linda reports that they are extraordinary. Extraordinary for Linda is beyond spectacular for ordinary gardeners.
A chance meeting with the General proved interesting on Saturday. He was down at the Pioneer Gathering hobnobbing with some real musicians and going on about his checkered past. That past has to do with a distant relation by the name of Lafayette Upshaw who, while lying in wait to ambush an Alsup, got himself or his horse tangled up in the brush and wound up shooting himself in the foot, an injury from which he died three days later. He had just been nine days in the military service and it would seem that the choice to join up may not have been the best one to make. This incident occurred over near the place now occupied by the New Hope Cemetery. Whitey Upshaw, the well-remembered and much missed musician, was a direct descendant of the unfortunate Lafayette. A chat with Esther Wrinkles on Monday had her saying that she did not know they were all the same bunch of Upshaws. Of course, her mother was an Upshaw married to a Hutchison and so chances are she is kin to about everybody around these parts. She enjoyed herself at the Pioneer Gathering and said that on Friday she and Larry and Teresa had gone, together with Leon Harris and his wife, down near West Plains to a surprise birthday party for young Clayton Sarter, who turned ten on Saturday. He is one of the sons of Doyle and Sarah Sarter. His mom teaches school in Mountain Grove. The party was at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Strunk. A good time was had by all. Young Clayton is not the only person around with an October 1st birthday, but compared to others, he is a Champion celebrator. Fifty more birthdays may find him to be less enthusiastic about them, but he will probably always be a happy kind of guy. One either is or is not.
Royce Henson e-mailed to say that he finds the whole notion of those fast moving neutrinos to be portentous of time travel. It seems that he would like to wake up in his upstairs bedroom on the old Riley farm, go out to milk the cows and then walk down to Champion School. That is a seventy year (ago) trip to be made in the blink of an eye. If he is making that a regular journey, perhaps he will come down on the 15th of the month to be there when Bud Hutchison has his Fall Trail Ride. He can explain the whole process and there will be plenty there interested to learn just how he does it. An early morning breakfast in Ava a few weeks ago found fiddler Jerry Wagner at a neighboring table. He told a story about how Bud Hutchison had been run over by a car right out in front of the Champion School house. Jerry took him to the hospital himself and then lit out for Oklahoma for a while. They were teenagers in about 1954, and had been out on a rowdy prowl all night when it happened. Jerry may have said that it was a McCoy doing the driving that morning and his breaks had failed. Anyhow, Bud spent a long spell in a body cast and about the time he got out of the cast, a horse kicked him in the chest and broke him all up again. Some of this may not be altogether accurate, but investigations will be made with the hope of presenting the straight skinny of the matter. Bud’s Fall Trail ride is one of the annual events that makes Champion such a special place. In recent years there have been as many as 41 riders and 5 wagons and as few as 6 riders and no wagons one year when there was a scheduling conflict with another trail ride. It will be interesting to see what happens this year as the destination of previous years is no longer an option. It is sure that they will start out in Champion on Saturday morning and will get back sometime later that day. Anyone who likes the sound of horse hooves, squeaking leather and spinning yarns ought to show up on the Square that morning, just for the fun of it. The talk will be of pawpaws, persimmons and wooly worms and it will be part of the continual Occupy Champion demonstration that only goes to demonstrate that this is about the best place in the world to be.
Look in on www.championnews.us to see pictures of previous trail rides and archives of all the recent Champion News. Send your own news or yarns to Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to Champion@getgoin.net. Sing, back in the saddle again, out where a friend is a friend. That is Champion–Looking on the Bright Side!