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For any who have not had the opportunity to visit Champion since Christmas, you will see that there have been some changes there.  Now in the window of Henson’s Downtown G & G is a neon sign that spells out the word “open” one letter at a time.  It is exceedingly fancy and it replaces the hand lettered sign that served the purpose for as long as anyone can remember.  It is bright and colorful and can be seen from a distance so that on any day except Sunday or Monday afternoon it is a cheerful welcome.  Champion is a place that is open to change in all of the good ways.  It is also a most hopeful place and right now Champions are hoping for a good change in the weather that will bring some much needed moisture to the area.  Optimism is Champion!

Cleaning up from the holidays is a good way to get to do a little reliving of the best part of the time spent with friends and family.  It is always a treat to go back through the cards and notes.   Betty and Darrell Haden over in Tennessee wrote to say that they have had a good Christmas and had been enjoying their first snow storm and artic winds.  One of the very first letters that came to ‘Champion Items’ sometime back in 2006, came from Professor Haden of the University of Tennessee.  He was in the English department there and it was both flattering and very encouraging to learn that The Champion News had appreciative readers in places where education was actually going on.  Walter Darrell Haden is one of Smallett’s Favorite Sons and has significant and credible credentials in the writing department, so a person can see how much his approval might mean.  It has been a real gift to get acquainted with him.  Look for excerpts of Professor Haden’s book, The Headless Cobbler of Smallett Cave, on the website at   It was published by The Kinfolk Press of Nashville, Tennessee in 1967.  Find it in the Champions Friends Category over on the right hand side of the page.

January birthdays are exciting.  The weather is cold, the days are short.  What could be better than a birthday party?  Of course Jacob Coon and his dad probably celebrate together since Dad’s is on the first and Jacob’s is on the third.  Mrs. Teeter Creek Herbs also has the first day of the year as her own.  Milo Gaudi Reay, of Edinburgh, celebrates his very first birthday on the 7th, and another lovely new friend there, Miss Rachael Evans, revels the next day on the 8th of January, also the birthday of Elvis.  Champion Elizabeth Johnston rejoices on the 9th.    Champion’s favorite Shop Girl enjoys the 10th as her special day, and then Wilburn Hutchison shares his day with Bob of Teeter Creek, who may be partied out already.  Willis Masters, of Abilene, Texas, will be seventy on the 14th of January.  His Champion sister hopes he finds some pleasant way to spend it and that he will soften his attitude toward her.  Jacob Kyle Brixie has his special day on the 18th and Kyle Barker will be five years old on the 21st.  Billy Curtis celebrates his 13th on the 24th.  They are both students at Skyline School.  Doni Coonts is a teacher there with a birthday on the 25th.  The 26th is Brooke Johnson’s birthday.  She will be six and is a first grader this year.  Former Skyline student, Kaye Heffern Alexander is still in the full bloom of her youth and will be partying on her day, the 27th.   She has already been doing some serious partying, but more about that later.  Erika Strong is in kindergarten now and shares a birthday with school board member James Brixey, who was reported to have been forty years old in 2012!  It just goes to show that there is reason to be happy every day of the year in Champion!  Seventy or eighty old rockers and rollers and old tree huggers and their children and grandchildren gathered for a Jan(uary) birthday party that will have them all smiling and reminiscing until their next gathering.  The place was full of Love and Gratitude, good music, food, and precious friendships.  What a joy it is to look across a room into the smiling face of a dear friend one has not seen in decades.  Champion!

Concerning the old picture taken in Denlow in 1912, the one dated 12-12-12, there are conflicting reports about just who some of the people are.  Pete (Lyman) Proctor has a copy of the photo with his Grandmother Lola Upshaw Proctor’s handwriting on the back identifying the people as:  Top row, left to right—Lester Lemmons, Lola Upshaw, Howard Spurrier.  Bottom row, left to right—Frankie Sternberg, Lillie O’Neal, Fred Putnam.  In an earlier conversation with Anita Sutherlan Krewson, she said that she thought the young man identified as Howard Spurrier was indeed Lester Sutherlan.  That was also the opinion of Geneva Heinemann.  It seems that Lola Upshaw and Lester Sutherlan were sweethearts.  This is according to Pete’s aunt Alice and others.  He (Lester Sutherlan) was called up into the army and died in the war over in France.  It must have been in World War One.  It is a sweet, sad story and a joy that people are interested in the lives of the old folks.  If people off in the future will be interested in the lives of those living today, it might depend on how well they live them now and how well connected they are to their families and friends.   Connections are not all just about computers.    Not everyone has computer access or even an interest in them, but for those who do, the Douglas County Museum and Historical Society has a page up on Facebook with many wonderful and very old pictures of the area.  For those without computer access, a trip to Ava on a Saturday will find the Museum open from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.  Champions would not have known about the on-line access to the Museum if it had not been for The General sharing the information.  Say what you like about The General, he is always most generous about sharing what he knows.  He is a veritable fount of information and a real Champion.  Another Champion points out that digital photography is great, but it may be that not many photos are actually being printed out these days.  If the computer crashes or the technology is superseded, or the laptop is lost, or the internet goes down, or the electricity goes off, it could be that the pictures go with it.  Current times may end up not being as well documented as the distant past.  Share old or new pictures with The Champion News in the mail box at or in the mailbox by the side of the road, Rt. 2 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717,  that is attended to so nicely by the wonderful US Postal Service.

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