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When Champions get in the mood to celebrate, they do it right. The weather was perfect for the occasion and the crowds came pouring in. The Western entry to the square was cordoned off to vehicular traffic and auxiliary parking was made available in a nice flat Fox Creek Farm field with golf cart shuttles that ran all day. Between passengers, Henson son-in-law Chris Cogdill, entertained multiple children with rides around the square. There was a continual swarm of kids around him. Mervin Jameson operated another shuttle. He is quite an interesting fellow and has Champion connections not only as a neighbor to the Cogdills over in Branson, but he was married to the daughter of Champion Ray Harris. Jameson retired in May 1975, from the military service. He was a Combat Medic in Korea in 1951-52. He has been everywhere and has done every interesting thing including having carried the Freedom Torch in Antwerp. Now he has his important participation in this amazing Champion Celebration to add to his resume.
People came from far and wide to join resident Champions in honoring the passing of the Old Store and the inauguration of the New Store–Henson’s Grocery and Gas. It is to be noted that during the entire process of dismantling the old and constructing the new, not one regular day of commerce was lost. The community was served throughout without interruption. The General’s Address to the Champion Masses was delivered with great emotion and broad gestures, his voice rising to fevered pitch and falling to barely a whisper (noted in parenthesis) surprisingly evangelical in style, certainly impassioned and fervent, if ill-timed as there was something interesting going on elsewhere so few heard the oration. He was overheard as he rehearsed, pacing back and forth along the creek bank to the amusement of the three horses tied up under the trees, “That famous stone monument in South Dakota only took fourteen years to carve. Old Gutzon Borglum overworked himself and did not live to see it completed. His son, Lincoln, worked on it one more season, but he left it just about like it was when his dad passed away. And so, dear Champions, it is our great good fortune,” he pontificated, “that the Chief Architect and Hammer Swinger (though the building is largely put together with screws–we just didn’t want to say it) [voice rising] of the Recreation of the Historic Emporium did not so overwork himself and that he did, indeed, live to see his work finished. As a matter of fact, some would say he didn’t give the impression that he overworked himself much at all, which is why it seemed like fourteen years in the completing.” With this, the General who had been gesticulating wildly slammed is fist down into his open palm with such a smack the horses were startled and strained at their tethers. This seemed to bring the magniloquent General back to his senses and he finished with his declaration that the edifice was “surely a candidate for recognition by the National Registry of Historic Places.” Champion!
The horses were ridden in from Crystal Lake, a three and a half hour ride, by Howard and Penny Price and Raymond Johnson of Ava. Billy and Beth Williams came all the way from West Monroe, Louisiana to be present for the affair. Beth is the sister of Elmer Banks, but just a lot better looking. The register of attendees is an exciting read. The Rankin family from over in the Anne community was well represented. Far flung descendant, Ed Gehrman, came from Quincy, California up high in the mountains and the McGinty’s and Helen Rankin Byrd came from Marianna and Walnut Hill, Florida. They were on their annual family rendezvous incidentally and asked folks in Anne about Champion. “Why, there is nothing there!” they were told. As readers of the Champion News in their dispirit places, however, they had to convince themselves that the Champion Community was not purely fictional. They expressed their surprise and delight and wandered about agog identifying the landmarks, “Oh! There’s the Loafing Shed!” Royce and Jo Henson made their third trip to Champion in the space of six weeks. Royce is still intrigued by the particle accelerator that can cause a neutrino to hit the wall in Italy before the gun that fired it was shot. He was about as surprised to be able to buy a cheese burger in Downtown Champion. The Champion Bistro was operated by familiar Champions, friends, and neighbors and provided some excellent nourishment to the hungry bunch.
The music kicked off early with Bill Connelly on the fiddle, Darrell Cooley on guitar, and David Richardson on his beautiful washtub bass. They started out on the porch, but soon moved out under the big oak trees on the southwest corner of the Square as more joined in and the crowd grew. Many musician came and went throughout the day and the spectators enjoyed continuous entertainment. The perfect weather and the chance to get together with seldom seen friends added to the festive spirit. Customer appreciation is always the order of the day at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium and a day to appreciate the Champion Community and the Emporium itself well designated. The official word from behind the counter in Henson’s Gro. & Gas is that all the efforts by all those who helped to make it such a Grand Celebration are very much appreciated.
Rest assured, Dear Champion readers, you have not heard the last of this. Darrell Haden called from Tennessee on the eve of the Celebration to extend his good wishes. Look at www.championnews.us for a link to excerpts from The Headless Cobbler of Smallett Cave. Halloween is fast approaching and a little spookiness is in order. ( The Skyline Halloween Carnival starts at 5:30 Friday!) Several people asked about Haden, hoping that he would be in the crowd. There is a big resurgent interest in his song, “All The Late News from the Court House.” Anyone with a recording of the song or a copy of the lyrics is asked and encouraged to share them at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717. Champion’s good Whetstone neighbor has made a movie of the Champion Celebration. It will be a ten minute u-tube flick and it will be linked up to the Champion website. There will be lots of pictures there for the enjoyment of those who were fortunate enough to attend and for those who, sadly could not. Many signed a get-well card for Louise Hutchison and maybe someone will take a laptop up to her so she can see what all the fuss is about. She was certainly missed, but Wilburn made an appearance and was in good spirits. Send any pictures that you would like to share to firstname.lastname@example.org and just know that you are a Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!