Grover Cleveland established Labor Day in 1887, to honor the American labor movement for its contributions to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the country. The eight-hour day, forty hour work-week, over-time, and other benefits that are easy to take for granted were hard won by organized labor. The family gatherings, friendly get-togethers, feasts and fun of the holiday come with some acknowledgement of the struggles of the past and recognition that there are still struggles going on. Champions find gratitude easy to come by.
It may not have been the official hottest day of the year, but Saturday just before Labor Day was an absolute scorcher. The Champion School Reunion might have benefited from a little more shade, but the chance to get together far outweighed the discomfort. The Henson clan made their walk of ages in stages and a couple of them accepted short rides from friends and passersby just up over the steep hills and dips that make up some of the chosen path. Pete Proctor made the whole Cold Springs to Champion trek along with Valley Mills, Vaughn Henson, and others of the clan. Hovie and Royce strolled into the Square together, arriving in time for dinner on the grounds. They were met there by fellow alumni, friends and family—all told, somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty warm, friendly people. Eighteen of them actually attended the Champion School. They posed for pictures and smiled on que, talking about the swift passage of time and sweet mutual memories.
The Vera Cruz’s bridge doyenne, Carol Tharp celebrates her birthday on September 8th along with Bernie Sanders, who has been married to Jane O’Meara Sanders for 35 years. Skyler Perryman is a pre-kindergarten student at Skyline School with a birthday on September 9. Lexus Ledbetter is in the second grade there and has a birthday on September 10th. Tanna Krider Wiseman went to Skyline School a while back. She is Foster and Kalyssa’s mother and they will be celebrating her on the 13th. Breann Davis is an 8th grader and enjoys her birthday on September 14th. The 14th is also the birthday of Konrad Zappler (Sophia and Penelope’s dad) and Frances Sutherland (Laine’s mother) who will have her 83rd birthday that day. Elmer Banks will be partying on the 15th. That will be a Tuesday. If the bunch at the Historic Emporium find out about it on Wednesday, they will still wish Elmer a Happy Birthday—late or early. He is a guy who knows how to have fun.
Betty and Dale Thomas always attend the Champion School Reunion. They are busy getting ready for the Pioneer Descendants Gathering. It is the 14th year for this great event. It will be on October 3rd and 4th. Betty had a picture of the hand quilted quilt for this year’s raffle. It is called “The Elk Gathering” and is another example of her fine work. Newcomers to this beautiful part of the world are in for a treat. They will get to go back in local time to get a real feel for the place they now call home. The West Plains Wagon Club and the Gee Haw bunch from Arkansas will be meandering through town on Thursday the 17th of September. They are an intrepid bunch of travelers. It is a hundred mile trip from West Plains to Mansfield. They start out on Monday and generally arrive in Champion a little before noon on Thursday. They hang around for a couple of hours to enjoy lunch, the sites and to give the community a chance to see their outfits and their beautiful mules and horses. They will spend the night up north of Champion and will reach their destination on Friday. Royce and Jody Henson will come down from Springfield and Foxtrotters from Ava and the area will come out for a good look. Go to www.championnews.us for some pictures of the wagon train in previous years. Champion School reunions are also well represented there. Like the school reunion this year, the wagon train folks might be hard pressed for shade, but a week from now the weather could be mild and lovely. Rain or shine the wagons will once again roll through Champion—living history.
An accident happens to everyone from time to time. Eddie Irby had a bad one and his neighbors are getting together to hold a benefit auction for him. It looks like it is going to be another episode of good community—people stepping up to help their neighbors.
Last week a note came from Kenneth Henson (Hovie) with a story to share about when the Vice President of the United States came to Mountain Grove to dedicate the band stand on the square. It was August 12, 1915, and Vice President and Mrs. Marshall were in Springfield on a sight-seeing tour. While the Vice President was off buying rail tickets to come to Mountain Grove, his wife boarded the wrong train—one headed for St. Louis. The train had not gone far when she realized her error and it was stopped to let her off. She walked back three blocks to rejoin her husband on their mission. Hovie found it notable that a hundred years ago the Vice President was buying his own train tickets and that his wife was walking unescorted by Secret Service in a strange city. Much has changed in the hundred years. Others find it most notable that a hundred years ago a person could go to Norwood and get on a train to go anywhere in the country. Today public transportation in this huge nation is much less readily available than it was way back then. If change is the only constant, maybe some things will eventually change back and be more accommodating.
Aldous Huxley said, “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” Thomas Jefferson warned about corporate rule: “I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of their country.” With luck Citizens United will be overturned soon. It is another one of those things that sound good, like “The Right to Work,” the tenants of which are completely contrary to those that have provided us with Labor Day today. “Citizens United” says that corporations are people and therefore are able to purchase any politician who puts himself up for sale. Maximilien Robespierre said, “The secret of freedom lies in educating the people, whereas the secret of tyranny is keeping them ignorant.” As far as west is from east, that is how far apart people’s notions are about how the country ought to be governed. Somewhere in the middle is tolerance. Register to vote at your County Court House and express your views on the wide veranda of the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in downtown Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!