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It may well be that the buzzards have regretted coming back so early.  No sooner had they shown up than the weather decided to be winter after all.   Now warm days are wafting over Champions again and the snow and ice of the previous week are all but forgotten.  The cold wind lingered past its welcome but the days have been full of warm community activity and all the good feelings appropriate to burgeoning, latent, impending spring are the mode of the day.  Smiles are Champion.

Smiles were evident everywhere at the Skyline VFD Chili Supper.  A hearty meal was followed up by a bright evening’s musical entertainment with cloggers and more music makers and jokesters.  The fun of the auction had friends bidding against each other in lighthearted ways and people, who only see each other at this annual function, were ready to get together with hearty handshakes and good catching up conversations.  Folks came from far and wide.  Early in the evening Steve Moody, everybody’s favorite Master of Ceremonies, gave a tribute to Esther Wrinkles whose presence was still very much felt.  Later, that spark of a live wire, Sharon Woods, got hold of one of Esther’s aluminum pie plates and conducted an auction for it.  It was just an old aluminum pie plate with scores of scores in the bottom from its many slices and EW on the back of it in Magic Marker.  It was sold empty for a pretty penny.  A coconut cream pie made by Esther’s receipt and baked by her dear daughter-in-law was the item in the silent auction that commanded the highest bid.  It would bring a smile to that dear Champion to know how much she is revered and missed by her fire department friends.

A copy of the tribute to Esther can be had by writing to Champion Items, Rt. 2 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to  The KZ88 radio folks recorded it as well as much of the music that evening.  Many of the Community Radio Volunteers live in the fire district and are longtime supporters of the fire department and those volunteer firefighters who put themselves at risk to protect people and their property.  The radio volunteers not only brought some great things for the auction, but provided some good air time promoting the event in advance.  Volunteers in a community show that the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts and these parts are full of some great individuals.  Champions!

Dale Thomas was smiling when he reported having bought a three-quarter Napoleon cannon barrel.  He did not say from whom he purchased the big gun, but he has already made a carriage for it with his characteristic home wrought wooden wheels.  It is considered to be about a 4 pounder, which is the size of the cannon ball it can shoot.  Dale said those cannons that were involved in the battle at Vera Cruz were five pounders.  The old weapon will be on display and probably in action at the Pioneer Gathering this fall, but an invitation was heard to have been tendered by his cousin to bring his new big boom to the Skyline Picnic this summer.  This strapping fire-fighter has indicated a preference for loud cannon fire, having been disappointed by exhibition on the picnic grounds by another cannoneer some years back.  Ammunition was a hot item on the silent auction table at the chili supper.  It may well have sold for more than market value.  It might be that the reason for the high bids lay somewhere between generosity toward the fire department and the perceived scarcity of the commodity on the open market.  A number of people mentioned having taken the ‘conceal and carry’ course recently.  The General indicated that gun safety is a big part of the course.  That can only be a good thing.

Larry Casey held the winning ticket for the wonderful queen sized quilt that Auxiliary President Betty Dye donated to the event this year.  It is a real prize and Larry will be enjoying it for years to come.  Larry was the winner of the First Ripe Tomato in Champion Contest in 2009.  He generally grows Rutgers.  At that time he said that he had been gardening for seventy years, though he was only seventy-three at the time.  He is a retired welder and pipe fitter who moved to Champion about fifteen years ago.  In addition to being a tomato aficionado, he is a proponent of the purple hull pea.   These days he is busy gathering eggs and keeping the lovely Debbie Newlin busy.  Louise Hutchison is a fan of the Parks Whopper.  She won the First Ripe Tomato contest the year before Larry.   It was still too cold on Saturday night for her and Wilburn to make it to the chili supper and it is the first one they missed.  Friends will be stopping in to visit and tell them all about everything so they will stay well within the community loop.  Wilburn has turned into a real food critic and seems to be earning his living by assessing the hardness of the biscuits and the thickness of the oatmeal.  The delightful Ms. McCleary just flashes her winning smile and continues on with good humor and the bright outlook that makes her a real Champion.

Skyline fourth grader Shaelyn Sarginson shares her birthday with teacher Mrs. Deborah Barker.  They were probably celebrating all week end and perhaps well into the week.  Mrs. Barker’s venerable old Dad came late to the chili supper.  His calendar is full, as he is actively pursuing higher education, so his time is at a premium and his many friends are glad he could take the time out to come socialize and mingle a little.   Linda from over at The Plant Place in Norwood always supports the Skyline Fire Department and her contributions were much in evidence at the silent auction.  She shares her birthday with her good neighbor Crenna Long from the northern reaches of Norwood.  There will be a surprise bridge game for Linda to celebrate and no doubt Big Bad Bill will once again become Sweet William for his Louie Crenna.  Linda’s Almanac is available at the Plant Place, on line at and at Henson’s Grocery and Gas, a.k.a. the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion.  It will let gardeners know that any root crops that can be planted on the 6th and 7th will do well and that the 11th and 12th will be good days for planting above ground crops and setting strawberry plants.  A gardener just needs to make his own determination about his elevation as far as frost is concerned and also about what he figures the weather might really do.  Some say that for every time it thundered in February it will frost that many times in May.   It is a gamble, they say.

Years ago the kids used to sing on the bus coming and going to school.  Maybe they still do.  Back in the late 1970’s they sang, “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.”  Walk or run down to the Chat-Room in the Recreation of the Historic Emporium to chat more about the chili supper.  It is over for another year and volunteers are smiling in Champion — Looking on the Bright Side!

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