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As in all years past, Champions digest their Thanksgiving dinner in a tryptophanic haze awash in Love and Gratitude. To sit at the table with dear family and friends year after year, watching the children grow and the adults grow richer in understanding as they see themselves change as rapidly in their latter years as do the children in the full bloom of youth—to see it all happening and appreciate it—what a gift! Old bones of contention, little hurts and slights, misunderstandings, unintentional missteps and insensitivities blur and dissipate (swerving aside into vain jangling) and the charity of pure hearts and of good conscience reigns in Champion.
The sign designating Lonnie L. Krider Memorial Drive was installed over the Thanksgiving holiday on the South West corner of the Square in downtown Champion. In lieu of a crass signpost sunk in concrete, city parents (fathers and mothers) chose the landmark oak tree just at the foot of Mount Champion. It is the very tree under which all those musicians gathered to entertain on the day of the Champion Grand Opening Celebration back in October. Many of those players, probably most of them, had the pleasure of making music with Lonnie at one time or another over the years, so it is wonderfully fitting for the sign to be placed there. Go to www.championnews.us and hear some of the music played that day under that tree on David Richardson’s youtube movie. For a treat look up the 2008 Champion School Reunion on the website and find a little mp3 recording of Lonnie Krider and Wayne Anderson singing “We Live In Two Different Worlds.” Many long years ago this road, now named for one of Champion’s favorite sons, was the main road through town. Now the upper part of that road remains mysterious as it is mostly unused winding west up the mountain and disappearing into the woods.
Charlie Haden’s lyrics to Old Joe Clark go, “Old Joe Clark, the preacher’s son Preached all over the plain The only text he ever knew Was high low jack and the game.” A bright and warm spot at a table near the stove in the back room of Champion’s Mercantile turns out to be an ideal spot for a quick game of pitch. “Eleven point” is the game of choice by many and to a novice it seems to be a loose enough game to allow for plenty chatter. Hot coffee and a pleasant atmosphere in out of the wind could promote loitering, but respectful Champions do not abuse their refuge. Small Business Saturday found Henson’s Grocery and Gas overrun with customers many of whom had come from out of state to inspect the Recreation and to take advantage of the eclectic stock of merchandize. There has been a run on the Champion Picture Post Card that depicts the Old and the New. Printers are struggling to keep up with demand.
So much of life is perspective. One percent of the population serves in the Nation’s military for the benefit and protection of the ninety-nine percent. Champions support those serving and the Veterans who have served in past and current conflicts with Love and Gratitude. The all-volunteer army of today, AVA, can be said to be one of the results of the social demonstrations of the 1960’s and 70’s. That tumultuous time changed the country dramatically. Equal opportunity and equal rights became the law of the land for American citizens regardless of their race, ethnicity, or gender. The veil of secrecy that surrounded much of American foreign policy was, at least partially, removed. The health of the nation’s environment became a national priority. Citizen oversight of government officials became accepted. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is on the Senate Budget Committee. He says “This country does in fact have a serious deficit problem. But the reality is that the deficit was caused by two wars—unpaid for. It was caused by huge tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country. It was caused by a recession as result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street. And if those are the causes of the deficit, I will be damned if we’re going to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children, and the poor. That’s wrong.” He said that on November 18, 2011. Opinions vary about the causes of the current economic situation and what ought to be done but things are definitely happening. Champions pay attention.
Black Friday and Small Business Saturday were good for good neighbors over in Norwood at the Plant Place and the Gift Corner. While Charlene was minding the store, Linda paused in Lebanon on her way home from a Thanksgiving visit with her granddaughter in Kansas City to do a craft fair for Charlene. They work well together and are busy people. For years they have been providing a local alternative to the big corporate businesses that seem to be taking over every little town. Audrey of “Audrey in the Morning” on KZ88 Community Radio is a big fan of the Plant Place. She likes to garden and likes to share gardening with her friends and family. Some Champions are finally getting their gardens cleaned up with the idea of getting an early start next year. Whether or not they do their chores and are ready at the right time, Linda will be there to help.
That tiger-orange letter is going out by the handfuls every week to tax payers in the Skyline R-2 School District. The Skyline R-2 School Foundation has been established as a way to provide support for the little country school that is so important to this part of Douglas County. Like all schools everywhere the economy is taking a toll on operating funds. As available resources are stretched thin the Foundation hopes to keep literacy programs and technology instruction supported in lasting and substantial ways. Some Champions in distant places nostalgic about their own dear old golden rule days are not waiting for the letter in the mail but are already sending their checks, small and large, to Skyline R-2 School Foundation, Rt. 2, Box 486, Norwood, MO 65717.
Elgin put on her old gray bonnet with the blue ribbons on it while Vernon hitched old Dobbin to the shay. It was not exactly like that, but they did celebrate their Golden Wedding Day and Upshaws and others far and wide congratulated the couple and partied down. Describe your celebrations at Champion Items, Rt. 2, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or at Champon@getgoin.net. Sashay on over to the Square in Downtown Champion to see how the place is recovering from the Thanksgiving Day Parade of 2011. You will be amazed! You will be in Champion, looking on the Bright Side!