This time last year the Polar Vortex was battering the community and it wore out its welcome quickly.  Frozen pipes and polar plunges meant aggravation, hard work, and a little fun.  Joking about adversity is a proven coping mechanism.   On Sunday some cold people over east of Champion began dragging out old similes and making up new ones to the effect that the roads were as slick as various substances smeared across various surfaces, one being a glass door knob.  It would have been enough to say, “The roads are slick.”   Those nice gents from MODOT had been down to Champion early, sprinkling their special stuff on the road.  Conditions can change so fast this time of the year, Champions are alert to the possibility of black ice and proceed with caution.

Norris Woods’ birthday is on the 13th of January and the family had a musical evening over the week end.  Buzz said, “Pickin’ and grinnin’ with my brother, sister, and dad.  Can’t get any better than this!” The video that was posted on line had a nice version of “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey?” and Grannie Sharron dancing with her little grandchildren.  Happy Birthday, Norris!  The same goes to Skyline prekindergarten student, Jacob Brixey.  His birthday is on the 18th.  Nathan Nava works at the school and celebrates his birthday on the 19th together with Robert E. Lee (1807), Edgar Allen Poe(1809),  Janis Joplin (1943), Dolly Parton (1946) and another charming lady, a younger Champion. Kyle Barker is a second grader now at Skyline and his birthday is on the 21st.    He has a General for a grandpa and an interesting life ahead of him.

Jody and Royce Henson sent a Happy New Year card out to Champion from their home in Springfield. They had been on a shopping spree for antiques. Actually, the card said “Just two antiques out shopping!”   They looked like they were having a good time in the pictures, but that is their standard look.  They were standing by a green and white 1955, Chevy two door hard top, maybe a Bellaire. Maybe some pleasant set of circumstances yet unknown will bring them back to Champion before the school reunion in September.   They are always welcome.   Another always welcome visitor is Bernice Wiseman. She and Wayne are grandparents to Champion grandchildren Foster and Kalyssa. Bernice is having some delicate health issues and her Champion friends send her their best wishes.

Mary Brown-Davis reported that she was very proud of Cheyenne Baker who had taken second place in the Parkview High School Archery Tournament on Saturday. Cheyenne has shot in three tournaments and has taken third place in two of them and now a second place.  Lannie Hinote is coaching the Skyline Archery Team and doing a wonderful job with them.  Champions!

Laine Southerland wrote the other day that Tom Cooley and Leo Stouffer had been over to the Southerland place and split up a huge stack of logs.  Laine said, “These guys are my heroes today.”  She said that Tom hurt his hand and she hoped that he was ok.  Champions hope so too and will be looking for an update from Laine.  She keeps the neighborhood in good music, good information and good thoughts.  Thanks, Laine.

The meeting room was full to overflowing on Wednesday and everyone seemed in good spirits.  Ethel Leach was wearing her Elvis Week hat and looking glamorous as ever.  She has a winning smile.  Ethel reported that Anne Smith, the pleasant, friendly blonde who has been working at the window in Mountain Grove’s MFA for years, had taken a bad fall and suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung.  She is in Cox hospital and will be for a little while.  Her Champion friends wish her a speedy good recovery.  This news sparked several stories of bad falls and near misses.  A subject has not been adequately addressed and cannot be retired or changed until the aging poetaster of Almartha has given it a thorough working over.  Between collecting signatures on his birthday card, one that showed a broken down, bowlegged cowboy on the outside with his hat crumpled and his elbows sticking out in every direction and something about becoming a “geezer” on the inside, he told of having recently taken a walk in the woods.  He was all by himself, not a dog at his heels, not a cell phone in his pocket, his wife, bless her heart, in town working for a living, just him out for a ramble in the woods.  He did not say how far away from home he was or just what he was really doing out there, but he made it out to sound like it was a far piece, when he stepped in a hole/slipped on some wet leaves or down a slick bank/got his toe under a root/ had to dodge some brambles, or something like that and just not being as surefooted and quick as he used to be on account of getting old, he wound up taking a hard fall.  Just before the end of the story, he revealed that when he fell, he fell on his knees.  It was at this point in the story that at least one and probably a couple of the women in the room thought that would have been the perfect time for the chronic disparager of the fair sex to have repented of his incessant misogyny and anti-suffrage haranguing.  It was, alas, not an opportunity that he recognized or was willing to seize.  He finally finished his story, the gist of which seemed to be that things can happen in the blink of an eye.   He continued with his theatrical, bombastic, and maligning pronouncements until she wearied of it and left.  On her way home the woman thought about what she should have said, as is so often the case when the moment is long past.  She thought she should have said just what the Erstwhile  Barber said to her one time right out loud in a public place—the Skyline Chili Supper about 2010—he walked up to her with a grin and said, “I’m surprised ain’t nobody’s shot you yet.”    No use starting a brawl when everyone was having such a nice time.

“Hot corn, cold corn, bring a long a demijohn!  Yes, Sir!”  Bring that demijohn on down to the wide and wooly banks of Old Fox Creek, walk across the muddy Square, climb that graceful set of steps up to the veranda of the Recreation of the Historic Emporium.  Wipe your feet before you go in and enjoy the warmth of a big wood stove that has been taking the chill off for generations.  Seed catalogues are starting to show up everywhere, so there will be gardening to discuss.  Share your good news there or at The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or at Spin your yarn and enjoy the company of farmers and firemen and Champions of all sorts—Looking on the Bright Side!