Back in May, Champions were pleased to report that difficulties caused by the heavy rains were not insurmountable and not as severe as many neighboring communities had experienced. Evidence of the spring floods is seen in clumps of old hay still in the high up forks of creek side trees and great logjams of tree trunks, brush and debris in a bend or cut in the bank. That evidence also appeared in cracks in the bridge over Fox Creek just east of Champion. It is the bridge raised in memory of Dave Simpson by his family and friends. The dedication stone says “1934-1993.” After the water receded and things started looking normal again, the cracks began to appear in the concrete. A big hollow area under the bridge was the result of water undermining the structure, the tin horn not able to handle the volume. “Bridge Closed” signs went up on either side, but people continued to use the bridge, just doing so with care and monitoring the difference in the surface from one passing to the next. Our current drought made it possible to make a bypass loop into the dry creek bed, so there has been little interruption of traffic. One day last week a little contraption started work from the downstream side of the bridge turning the compromised span into rubble. It is exciting to see something important to the community getting done. Farmers and gardeners are hoping for some much needed drought relief and, at the same time, favorable conditions for bridge building. There may yet be time for some environmentalist to stroll up the upstream side of Auld Fox Creek to pluck some of the white flapping plastic out of trees that was left there by the spring floods. The opening of deer season may account for the extra beer cans and other litter along our country lanes. We can stop to pick it up, but be careful. There are armed people in the woods. Good luck to the hunters and we appreciate the bridge builders.
Our spring floods hardly compare to Harvey down in Houston. Kenneth (Hovie) and Dawn Henson live down there and were spared damage themselves, but Dawn said ten of their church families had water in their homes. One 99 year old lady who lived alone flagged down a canoe and left with just the clothes on her back. She is still in a shelter. Hovie and Dawn spent a few days in and around Ava and Champion recently, making a trip to Rockbridge and to the Bryant Creek State Park. He had been unwilling to join Royce and his bunch for the “Walk of Ages” back in September on the occasion of the Champion School Reunion because he said it was 110 degrees that day. Just to prove he could, Hovie started off at Cold Springs and walked all the way to his old home place, about two miles, where Dawn was waiting for him. She said that she walked about 100 yards up the road to meet him. From there they made their way to the Historic Emporium in time to join up with the Wednesday bunch. It was hard to tell if Hovie was growing a beard or had just stopped shaving. He was his gregarious self, if grizzled, spinning yarns and greeting cousins. He secured the tour guide services of The General who took him down the Fox Creek Road toward Denlow pointing out the precise spot of some mayhem (an ambush shooting) long ago. Then they toured the Denlow Cemetery where there were probably many more tales told. The next day Hovie and Dawn were to go to Springfield to visit with Royce and Jody. From there the four of them were going to caravan down to Bella Vista, Arkansas to see Eva Loyce and Harold Phillips for a family get-together. Hovie said Eva had been brushing leaves off the top of a shrub in her yard when she encountered a copperhead there and suffered a bite on her finger. It has been a difficult ordeal, but he said he thinks she is doing better after some aggressive medical treatment. Her Champion friends wish her a speedy recovery.
A person might have thought that one of the Soggy Bottom Boys had fallen off the turnip truck on Thursday. David Richardson debuted his rendition of “A Man of Constant Sorrow” at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam and had good help with the refrain. Along with the music there comes a lot of laughter and good natured fun. Dave Medlock is a regular now with his wonderful banjo. He says he is a regular but not all that dependable. He played “Grandfather’s Clock” complete with the harmonics-nice. There is a nice pot luck dinner there at the Vanzant Community Building every Thursday (except Thanksgiving) starting at 6 o’clock. The music begins at 7 going on until 9. It is a pleasant opportunity to visit with friends and neighbors. Mary Goolsby will show you pictures of her beautiful red headed granddaughter who is going to college in Virginia. You might get to hear Jerry Wagner sing a sweet ballad about a soldier boy writing to his mother from the trenches or Sherry Bennett singing “Five Pounds of Possum.” That ditty requires more cow bell, which The General is pleased to provide.
Conditions were right for one Old Champion to get her garlic planted on Saturday even though the almanac indicated that Monday or Tuesday would have been a better day. Sometimes a person just has to get it done when the getting is good. Saturday was Veteran’s Day and there were observances and ceremonies all around the country to acknowledge and express gratitude to all those who have served their Nation in uniform. These good men and women are the ones who get it done for the rest of us. Even as our Veterans have, those currently serving are putting themselves in harm’s way and do what is asked of them with courage and without complaint. The percentage of the population who are active in our military is small, but the job is a big one that has far reaching implications. The whole world seems to be in an uproar these days and we are reminded by literary giants that during times of universal deceit, telling the truth become a revolutionary act. 86 45. They say that all the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, come invariably from people who are not fighting. Orwell said that a people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices. Come down to the wide wild wool banks of Auld Fox Creek and sit on the sunny veranda to think about it all. Mull it over during a game of horse shoes or sitting around the stove in earnest conversation. A perpetual optimist declares that it will all be alright eventually, but it is going to take thoughtful people doing the right thing. Our Thanksgiving holiday will soon be here and we have plenty for which to be grateful. “My Country ‘tis of Thee, sweet and of liberty, of Thee I sing” in Champion-Looking on the bright Side!