Fox Creek left its banks and cut a wide, wet swath through Champion last Thursday leaving mud coats on trees and brush higher than Cowboy Jack could reach if he were sitting on his high horse! Big round hay bales floated by from Denlow headed on down to 14 Highway and who knows where from there? One lodged itself in the tidy little garden next to the Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square where bright sunflowers persisted above the deluge to wave happily in the sun that finally presented itself. The water touched the steps of the store, but they remained dry. The little church had six inches of water stacked up inside. It may have been that deep in there when it flooded on Mother’s Day 2002, though the comparisons serve little purpose when it comes to wet carpets. Gratitude still is the word of the day where comparisons are concerned. Not too far away are a great number of people who have lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods. Champions will not complain.
Norris Woods was up at the Skyline Picnic and said that he had had 22½ inches of rain in fifteen days. Several of those brave, good looking, friendly, helpful men who work for Leon Potter and this end of Douglas County made brief appearances at the picnic. They say that there have been some people stranded because of the road conditions, but that everyone is being patient and understanding as they see the enormous amount of damage that has been done to the county roads. Places are washed out that never have been before. River Stillwood has a sign up looking for plans to build an ‘ark.’ Ronny Thompson and his co-worker were talking about how in the winter time years ago the roadways would just dissolve under a car as the road thawed and it was not a matter of being stuck in the mud, but stuck in a hole. “There’s a hole in the bucket, Dear Liza.” There will always be plenty to do.
“The bear went over the mountain” from one neighbor’s house to the next one. The story was told that neighbor ladies ducked in their garage when they saw it and shut the door. Fortunately, one of them had a cell phone and was able to call someone who came with a camera and a gun. He took some good pictures they say and then fired the gun which caused the bear to leave. The report was that the bear had pulled the garbage can off the deck and that on a previous occasion had attempted to take a bite out of the top of a barbeque grill. It seems like the big fellow has found a home in the neighborhood. Hopefully those good pictures will become available soon and Jerry Bennett, who lives up in Bluegrass, Iowa, will be able to put a face on the bear about which he reads and warns his Champion friends and family. He knows how much his sweet Aunt Ruby Proctor loves Champion and so he is looking out for her at a distance. McClures from Cincinnati, Iowa were sitting with Ruby at the picnic Saturday and were wishing Jerry could be there.
Jeffry Goss called from down in Stone County looking for information about Linda’s Almanac. He would like to have some copies of it available for the September 27th meeting of the Christian Agricultural Stewardship Institute (CASI) which will be held at the Vanzant Community Building. He says the meeting is free and that there will be speakers talking about farming in general and about the various ‘free energy’ scams that are going on these days. Activities will start at 10:00 a.m. and farmers are encouraged to bring dry ears of their various corn varieties for comparison. There will also be tomato tasting and that is sure to bring some out who might ordinarily not go. Goss was interested in finding out about the ‘Millionaire’ tomato, saying that he had heard that a family named Henson in Champion had once had a tomato cannery and that the family had preserved this particular variety of tomato. Anyone with information about that can share it at Champion Items, Rt.2 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or at Champion@getgoin.net. He mentioned the Harris Farmer’s Almanac. He says it comes in a tan cover and is written by people in the area and oriented toward the Ozarks. Linda’s Almanac is an amalgam of Ramon’s Brownie Calendar and Blum’s Almanac plus a few items of useful lore. It comes out monthly and is available for perusal at Henson’s Grocery and Gas in Downtown Champion. Mr. Goss had the presence of mind to ask upon which side of the Square the store might be located. He does not use the internet so he cannot access the almanac at www.championnews.us as many, such as the Ava Garden Club, do. Arrangements have been made to mail him a copy. He will be pleased to know that the 17th and 18th will be good days for planting above-ground crops and that the 22nd and 23rd will be ideal for root crops. Linda contributed some lovely hanging baskets to the silent auction at the picnic. Karen Griswold won one and Sherry Bennett won the other. Karen works hard for the Skyline VFD year round and Sherry lent a welcome helping hand in getting the auction set up. She is also quite a music lover and includes in her repertory “Five Pounds of Possum in My Headlights.”
Picnic music is always wonderful in these parts. In the excitement of getting ready for the picnic a special birthday slipped by. Kalyssa and Foster sang “Happy Birthday!” to their dear old dad who was born August 8, 1968! The 12th of August is the birthday of Katharine Lee Bates who was born in 1859, and whose best known work, America the Beautiful, says, “O beautiful for spacious skies for amber waves of grain.” Again, all the picnic music was great, but Master of Ceremonies, Ray Bradley, did such an outstanding job with the National Anthem on both evenings that everyone is sure he has sung it many, many times. He has those high notes down, with no strain and plenty of sustain. What a guy! He conducts the ceremonies, introduces the bands, gives away door prizes and makes announcements with such a nice dead-pan sense of humor, that a person forgets he used to be an undertaker! When he calls the name of an absent person who must be present to win, he says, “Don’t say the guy is ‘no longer with us’ to an undertaker!” His Champion friends are glad that he has relocated back to the area. He just couldn’t stay away.
Darcy Cecil of Boise, Idaho had the winning ticket for the exquisite cross stitched quilt. She’ll have to get another suitcase to get it home on the plane. She has but to notify the concierge at Chez Upshaw and one will appear. She is part of the contingent of visitors from Idaho and Alaska who have come to soak up enough of their Ozark heritage to get them through for a while. There are family reunions of the clan going on in various locations in the area and it would seem that rooms at The Upshaw Arms are quite commodious and the staff is ‘adequate.’ The White River Valley Electric award of $100.00 of free power went to Judie Pennington who lives in bear territory up Tar Button Road. The super weather radio that the Howell Oregon people donated was sold in auction to Kent Stamper, the Grinning Garbage Man, who in addition to his generous bid, generously helps with the cleanup after the picnic. Other auction items included the diamond ring donated by Marjorie Carter at the Downtown Pawn Shop that wound up on the pretty finger of the lovely Darlene, placed there by the man who loves her. They are a Champion couple and dedicated workers for the Skyline VFD. Several people, new to the area, expressed an interest in participating in the auxiliary. So things are changing, growing and getting better and a big “Welcome Neighbor’ sign is vigorously implied.
The next big order of business will be the Champion School Reunion. That happens on the Saturday before Labor Day every year. Hopes are that the weather will be accommodating by then and the old school house will be dry. Feel welcome to sing, “Oh! It ain’t a gonna rain no more no more, it ain’t a gonna rain no more!” out on the spacious veranda of the Historic Emporium looking out over the beautiful flood plain that is Champion!—Looking on the Bright Side!