Champions understand gratitude.  Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday in these parts.  Feasting with family and friends is ideal any time but the idea that people across the whole Nation are doing it at the same time seems to make it special.  “It’s hard to say grace and sit in the place of someone missing at the table.”  That is a line from a song that sums up the difficulties that arise when the first holiday rolls around after losing a loved one.  Larry and Teresa Wrinkles and Lonnie and Vera Mears are experiencing the first Thanksgiving without Larry and Lonnie’s Mother, Esther Wrinkles.  Irene Dooms is missing her sister and that is the way it is for people everywhere.  On the special feast days a moment apart to remember dear ones past is a moment well spent.  Esther shared a pink Christmas cactus with a Champion friend, but it always starts blooming just before Thanksgiving.   She was a Champion.

Patricia Metroplos has nice things to say about Myron Jackson and kz88 radio out of Cabool.  The station produced a memorial tribute to her son, Geoff.   Her daughter, Joanne Metroplos, who lives in California, contacted Jackson and made arrangements for the memorial to be presented on the first anniversary of the day her brother passed away, November 16, 2012.   Family members and friends submitted their memories and thoughts about him which Jackson read, interspersed with Geoff’s favorite music.   Pat was pleased with way it turned out and will be getting a CD of the program for a remembrance.   Geoff had an eclectic appreciation of music.  He played guitar for his own enjoyment.  Champions remember him as a fun loving, hardworking, energetic man with a gravelly voice and a large skill set.  He could do about anything.  Had illness not already overtaken him, Geoff would have been the one to climb the tower when the radio station suffered storm damage last year and needed some maintenance.  He was a fearless kind of guy, a fan of Community Radio and expanded thinking.

Skyline School promotes expanded thinking.  In addition to being the wonderful rural school that is shaping the future Champions of democracy, it provides some excellent community services.  Secretary Helen Batten writes that the Douglas County Health Department comes to the school the first Tuesday of each month and has free screenings available to the public.  She says they always do BMI, blood pressure and carbon monoxide.  If they have the kits, they do sugar and cholesterol screenings but not every time.  They are at the school from 8:30 until 11:00 in the cafeteria.  Area residents appreciate access to these amenities. The little school is a treasure even for people who do not have children at home any more.  Some of them will be looking forward to the school holiday programs just for the chance to see what the future holds in store and to remember their own long past youth.   Some Skyline students did not get to see their birthdays acknowledged in the paper last week.  They are Leland Trujillo, kindergarten, 11- 23; Waylin Moon, seventh grade, 11-24; Levi Hicks, fourth grade, 11-25; Lannie Hinote, 11-26; Faith Crawford, first grade, 11-26; Ally Smith, second grade, 11-29; Billy Strong, prekindergarten; 11-29, Lane Watkins, kindergarten, 11-30; John Rhodes, third grade, 11-30.  Birthdays are important to kids of all ages.

Mark Twain was born November 30, 1835.  The many acres of National Forest that bear his name in this part of the country  keep him in mind as people drive almost anywhere through a spectacular countryside.  He was born in Missouri and Champions are proud to call him one of our own.  Champion is the kind of place where one can easily imagine Samuel Clemens standing around the stove spinning yarns, spreading news and philosophy all over the place the way Lee Ray, Elmer Banks and other prominent citizens do.  What would he have to say about timber thieves winding their big old semi double clutching e-flat trailer trucks and monster tiger-cat dual arch grapple log skidders through his pristine, Federally protected woods to make off with 40 and 50 foot oak trees that clearly belong to someone else?  There will doubtlessly be some lively discussion about the practice down at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium.  They say the identity of the thieves will be disclosed when they are indicted.   Champions will be watching the papers.  Twain said those who do not read the newspaper are uninformed and those who do are misinformed.  Who knows what he would have had to say about the World Wide Web and the mingling of real and unreal information in both venues?  Words are important.

Cold, wet weather might be making hunting season more memorable for some Champions.  They will have stories to tell when their teeth stop chattering.  Hopes are that all the wounded critters will be found out in the woods and that all the holiday travelers will safely reach their destinations.  The Underhills of Champion South will host a grand banquet of unrelated people.  Vivian Floyd will have the Krider bunch at her place again and young Drayson will be the center of attention for family who have not yet had the pleasure of meeting him.  Some households will be singing together and dusty instruments will be coming out from under beds to get tuned up again after a long silence.  They say that Dillon Watts is being conscientious about his banjo practice and playing and that he has potential to be very good.  It looks like he is in line for the musical talent of both his grandfathers.  Perhaps his next trip over from Tennessee will find him playing with his late Granddad’s friend, Wayne Anderson.  His great uncle, the General, met up with him at the store last spring and the lad was already showing great promise.  It is reassuring to old folks when young folks like the old fashioned stuff that was new when they were the young ones.   Tune into  “Roots and Branches” on Thursday mornings, 10:00 a.m. to noon  to enjoy some of the oldest and most obscure old time country, folk and bluegrass music that you will ever hear.  Find a link to Listen Live on the website at   Toes will be tapping.

Send examples of expanded thinking, favorite tunes and reminiscences of old time Thanksgivings to Champion Items, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to  When the roads dry up and the sun comes out drive down to one of the world’s truly beautiful places.  It is over the river and through the woods at the bottom of several hills, where the pavement ends and country roads converge on the wild, wide, wooly banks of Old Fox Creek—Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!