Esther Wrinkles has always enjoyed watching the wagon train go by, and her many friends will stop in to visit with her at the Autumn Oaks Care Center to report on it to her.  Linda Cark and her folks, Joanne and Wayne Anderson, along with her Aunt Fern Bishop were some of the first spectators to arrive in advance of the wagon train.   Joyce Coonts was there waiting for her Cowboy Jack who came cantering into the Square with his usual panache.  Lee Ray, from over Almartha way, parked his shiny black and chrome motorcycle well out of the way.  Louin and Valery Clayton came to see the spectacle from Squires and they had a friend with them whose name was not recorded, but who very much enjoyed the sights.  Steve and Darlene Connor came down the hill to look things over as did Betty Elliot and any number of other locals who just happened to be in the neighborhood.  Royce and Joe Henson came all the way from Springfield.  They love Champion and make it back home as often as they can.  That new load of gravel on the hill going up county road 243 was well placed and made the exit from Champion easier than it could have been.  Champions have the East End County Shed boys to thank for that.   All this excitement is just an example of what can happen in Champion on any Saturday of the month.  The forecast is for a nice day next Saturday.  Just direct your feet to the sunny side of the street in Historic Downtown Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!

When the forecast proved to be more than right on Saturday, Champions just stepped back and said that had they only known that advertising the Champion Fall All City Yard Sale would cause it to rain steadily, gently, all day long, why, they would have been doing it all summer certainly all through June and July! The softly falling droplets–larger than mist– fell one after another until it finally added up to something. The philosophy of Zoey Louise, You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit,” is the standard in Champion. Nobody could possibly complain about the rain. The rescheduled yard sale will doubtlessly be more successful than the scheduled one would have been and the general notion that things most often work out for the best will be proved out once again. Hopefully the Stillings over west of Ava, had a roof under which to work for their annual Molasses Making on Saturday, or perhaps they too will reschedule. Molasses makers will be the first to say, “You’ve got to go with the flow.”

The weather did not dampen Patty Squirell’s surprise birthday party Saturday. Friends are pleased that the images of all those smiles were shared on “the” face book!

Zoey has her birthday on Friday, September 21st. She shares that day with Louise Hutchison and with Betty Elliot and with her second cousin, Penelope. That day is also the tenth wedding anniversary of Tanna and Roger Wiseman as well as being Ember Day and the very eve of Autumn.

Louise and Betty are Skyline VFD Auxiliary members and good friends. They will enjoy some time together on their birthday Friday. On Saturday afternoon Zoey will go over to Penelope’s house for a party with a chocolate fountain. Foster and Kalyssa’s folks might get a babysitter and go out for a romantic dinner. They cannot rely on either of their grandmothers for babysitting or on their grandfather or Aunt Kaye, Uncle Robert or Cousin Elizabeth. Those folks are all off on a lark together, visiting old family stomping grounds in North Carolina, Tennessee, and other places and accumulating a new bunch of adventures to relate. Look for some of those adventures to show up in print one of these days.

The West Plains Wagon Club made its pilgrimage through Champion on Thursday as it has at this time annually for more than twenty years. Thirteen wagons and twenty five outriders came jangling, creaking and squeaking into the Champion Square where they were met by a large group of spectators.

The weather could not have been more lovely. The travelers had camped out on Don Carter’s place over in Vanzant the night before. Carter bought his place a number of years ago and learned at that time that the wagon train has long used it for the Wednesday night campsite of this ride. He has been pleased to keep the tradition going. He made his way to Champion in advance of the train so that he could meet his boy, Eli Epps, who had hitched a ride from home to Champion just for the adventure. Wagon master Clifton Luna had company in his wagon when he pulled into Champion.

Richard Miller had joined him sometime Thursday morning after he got up off the ground. A dog had spooked his horse and it threw him off in the ditch.

Miller has been making this trip with Mr. Luna for twelve years and is an experienced rider. A couple of years ago this same horse threw him twice on the same trip. Apart from having the wind knocked out of him, Miller was no worse for the wear and was pleased to ride in the lead wagon with his old friend. Mr. Luna’s granddaughter, Cassie, did not fare so well over her spill. She had some significant abrasions and was walking with quite a little hitch in her get along, but she walked her little appaloosa into the square after it had been startled into bucking by a dog. She left the Square in a wagon with her little horse tied to the back of another one. The accident could have been much worse, so she was grateful, if sore, and will have a story to tell her grandchildren. Mr. Luna also had a grandson and a cousin on this train. His grandson joined the train as an out-rider. Cousin, Bonnie Luna, is from Gainesville and has been “wagoning” for three years, but this was her first time on this particular ride. She accompanied Jerry Arnold who has been through Champion before.

Champions were glad to see Jerry and Diane Wilbanks making the trip. The Wilbanks, together with Ralph and Shirley Martin and Coy Stone, also on this ride with the West Plains Wagon Club, had just returned from a week long trip in Kentucky. Diane said that it was an amazing ride with just spectacular scenery. She has brought home some blue and green stones that will grace the arch in her fireplace, as they do some repair work there, and serve as mementoes of a great experience. Their young neighbors, Sarah and Jeff Lemanski, with their little daughter, Haddie, came out to see the wagons and the animals too. They are new to the area and Miss Haddie will soon be receiving books from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, because she is in the Skyline School District. Another newcomer about Haddie’s age, Nicholas George, will also be enjoying the DPIL. He was out appreciating the sites with his Mom, Salina, and the young ones became acquainted as did their folks with each other and a number of their near and like-minded neighbors. Champion!

Jim and Judy Cantrell have been making this train for about sixteen years. Mansfield is home for them so the end of the trail on Friday found them at their house. Others like Ken Felts and Randall Barnet had a long way to go. They are from over near Viola, Arkansas, probably members of the Gee and Haw Club. Ken had traveled 28 miles in his wagon just to get to the starting place for this ride. Randall is from Pocahontas and this is his fifth year on this train. It was a disappointment all around that Nancy and Marvin Webster, of Bloomfield, MO, were not able to make this ride this time. Marvin has had some serious health issues that are improving, to the delight of his many friends, so Champions will look forward to seeing them next year.

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