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On a sunny St. Patrick’s Day a friend says, “May your troubles be less and your blessings be more and nothing but happiness come through your door.”  Another says, “May you always have walls for the wind, a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire, laughter to cheer you, those you love near you, an all your heart might desire.”  One of the ancient names for Ireland is “Island of Woods.”  When the Irish and Scots made it over this way from Kentucky and Tennessee way back when, it must have seemed like going home.  Many a glad heart has found its way to Champion since then—some born here and some migrated in from the great elsewhere.  It is a beautiful place to be.

The Champion News made a facebook posting of a picture which hangs in the Champion Store of George T. Proctor, Willie Freeman, Manford Smith and Deward Henson made in March of 1978.  Thirty-six years later it brings good memories to friends and family.  Benny Thomas said, “This is a good picture of Champion’s spit and whittle gang of days gone by.”  Vicky Czapla said, “George T. Proctor was my uncle and we sure miss him.”  Jewell Hall Elliotts: “I knew all these fellows and enjoyed drinking pop on the porch of the store when we went there to play softball a few years ago–fun times.”  Kim Linder Kelley loves the picture of her Granddad and all his buddies and has it hanging on her wall.  Jessica Puangnak-Glossip said, “Seems like forever since I have seen my Uncle Manford.  Great picture!”  From time to time a new old picture will appear on the wall in the Historic Emporium so that the trip for a loaf of bread, some bacon or calf starter or fencing staples and plumbing supplies turns into a nice nostalgic sojourn.  That is particularly true on a Wednesday in the late morning when the story tellers settle in and start to jaw.  It is well worth the trip.

Elva Upshaw will have her birthday on March 23rd.  The big news in her life is not her birthday, but her engagement.  David Brott is the lucky man.  They are often seen together and those smiles of young love are infectious.  Old people married forty or fifty years remember that smile and put it on again when they see this happy couple.  They smile for the joy of having a loving partner through life’s uneven journeys.   As to unevenness, David has his work cut out for him.  Of course, he will have the most adorable mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law that a man could ask for, but then there is The General.  To his credit, he has not only not alienated his first son-in-law, but has stepped up to be a rousing good Grandpa, unlike his foray into meteorology.   Say what you will about him, he is a curious fellow.  As the subject of the shivaree has been being bandied about, a close eye will be kept upon the father of the bride.

Troy Powell was a Champion.  He was born March 26, 1926, and passed away on his birthday in 2001.  He moved up to this part of the country from down around Bertha when he was about sixteen.  He farmed and raised a family and drove a school bus for many years.  He knew everyone and had a friendly welcoming personality.  Gospel music was his favorite.  He liked “Paradise Valley.”  “As I travel through life with its trouble and strive I’ve a glorious hope to give cheer on the way.  Soon my toil will be o’er and I’ll rest on that shore where the night has been turned into day.”

That lovely Jigsaw Puzzle quilt from the Skyline VFD Chili Supper was won by Betty Geidd of Mansfield.  She bought her ticket at the Old Biddies Third Thursday Bridge Club meeting at the Community Center in Mansfield.  She will take possession of it at that meeting on the 27th of March and is most excited to do so.  Betty grew up in Vermont and this time of the year reminds her of home.  It is “the season of mud,” she calls it.  She and her husband are retired and live down a long dirt driveway to the pavement.  He likes to do the driving and hopes are that she will have no trouble getting to her game, though she admits we really need the rain.  So congratulations Ms. Geidd!  Thanks for supporting the great Skyline VFD.

On the way into Ava from Champion on Highway 14 is a curious construction.  It is just west of County Road 313 on the North side of the road.  It looks for all the world like a staircase going pretty much straight up the steep bank.  Over the years, driving by, there was always the temptation to stop and climb it to see just where it goes and to discover what mystery it hides.  There is a good size cave right beside it with mysteries of its own, but the staircase seemed to have a secret exposed to the sun but still unknown.  There is no shoulder on the road there which makes stopping to investigate difficult and chores in town or at home always took precedent over the exploration.  Glimpsed from the road, the risers on the stairs seemed unusually high.  There must have been a giant who lived up there looking down on a peaceful valley with a pretty stream running through it.  A visit with Alvie Dooms last week solved the mystery.  He said that when the road was paved in the 1950’s the road’s crew built that staircase as a water handling devise.  Now days they would pour concrete in a trough configuration to move the rain water down the hill into a ditch or through a tin horn under the road, but the technology of the time together with the availability of so much stone produced this interesting structure.  Now one is thinking to head that way in a rain to see if it is still handling water and if that water comes down in a cascade.

The reports of the square dance at Marriott Music in Ava came with a video of dance lessons where Bill Conley was featured together with a couple of other dancing dudes and a number of young people who were learning the steps and where to go when.  It was most entertaining.  The music was provided by David Scrivner, Alvie Dooms and Nathan McAlister.  There is a hint that another dance will be coming up there in the near future.  There is an idea that an Arts Festival might be in the works for the end of May.  Champions will be looking forward to some Spring excitement.   Meanwhile, the Thursday night pot-luck jam session at Vanzant will carry music lovers along and keep toes tapping.  The pot luck is at 6 and the music goes round and round.

A full moon on a clean fresh snow was a sight not to have missed.  It may have been the last time for such a glorious vision in this beautiful valley until winter is new again.  Share visions, explain mysteries, share music, tell tall tales and remember old times and old friends at or down the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square.  Look in on if you are too busy planting potatoes to get down to Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

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