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Champions embrace change.  It is the nature of the place which is at once very much separate from the rest of the world and very much a part of it.  This change is a hard one to take however, as one of its most notable residents has left her old home place for her Other Home.    One time in a conversation with Esther Wrinkles, she said that Champion had really gone down, that it was nothing like it used to be when she was a girl.  For those living in Champion today, it is just fine because the people who live here now love it the same way she did when she was growing up.  It is just different.  It seems that there were more young people then.  Farmers had big families because the farm required many hands and because that was the how things were back then.  What might be called privation now was the very set of circumstances that made people of Esther’s generation strong and resilient.  They did a lot of walking and working and they played hard and ate wholesome food grown on the farm.  They traded with their neighbors and visited with them regularly.  There were few phones and no television to keep people sequestered from each other.  It was a vigorous, thriving place, full of fun and excitement, even as it is today, but different.  Esther stayed up with the times.  Her enthusiasm for her family, her friends, and her community made everyone want to be a better person and a better citizen.  She had a wide circle of friends who are calling on each other now with a sense of hollowness.  As the emptiness of her absence fills in with all the good memories that the mention of her name evokes, it will be a little less plaintive and a little more joyful, just as she was.  Who ever loved bluegrass more than Esther?  She had been missing the Thursday jam sessions at the Vanzant Community Center in recent months, but very much enjoyed hearing about them from her many welcome visitors.

Esther wrote a community article for the local paper for every bit of fifty years.   When she moved to Vanzant from Champion she changed the title of her article, but not her style.  She enjoyed sharing the happenings of her neighborhood and kept a good positive view, pleased to point out the good things and to keep the negative things in proper perspective.  She knew pretty much everything going on, but was not a gossip.            She enjoyed talking about the old days and how she stayed an extra year in the eighth grade so that she could go to the same teacher who had taught her father.  She rode a horse to school at Denlow and had some interesting stories to tell about those days and about traveling to the various cyphering matches and spelling bees around the country.   She loved to play basketball and her overall athleticism is probably responsible for her vitality up until very recent times.   And for friendship, she set the standard.  More than one sick Champion has had the comfort of her regular call during a protracted illness.  It can be said that she lived the life she believed in.   Look to in the Archive July 29, 2007 to read some conversations with Esther.

The Skyline Volunteer Fire Department has Esther largely to thank for its very existence.  She was a tireless and inspiring worker and only in the past year resigned herself to the idea that she was slowing down.  So the chili supper is coming up in a few weeks and there will be an empty seat when the music starts.  “Time is filled with swift transitions.”

Miley Schoeber just had her second birthday on Thursday.  She was excited particularly to see her Grandmother arrive before it was time for her to go to bed—her wonderful Grandmother with her birthday cupcakes.  The joy that can be generated between grandparents and grandchildren is rightly some of the very finest of sentiment to be experienced in life.  Who is being comforted when grandmother rocks the baby?  It is the very definition of tenderness.

Cold days in January are the time to plant broccoli and other crops of that ilk.  Linda over in Norwood is taking care of those chores for gardeners who have neither the aptitude nor the facilities to do that particular kind of delicate work.  One day before long a person can pop into the Plant Place and pick up the early crops ready to transplant into the garden.  The seasons roll around and the year passes quickly.  “While going down life’s weary road, I’ll try to lift some traveler’s load.  I’ll try to turn the night to day and make flowers bloom along the way. Life’s evening sun is sinking low.  A few more days and I must go.”

The Nation is celebrating patriotism this week with speeches, ceremonies, parades and frequent homages to the brilliant Constitution.  Love and Gratitude are order of the day in Champion—looking through a tear to the Bright Side!

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