There is no shortage of gratitude in Champion. Gatherings of old friends over the holiday give everyone the chance to catch up with each other, with the joys and sorrows of the past year and the plans for the year ahead. They revel in the successes and attractiveness of each other’s grandchildren. They commiserate over health issues and the swift passage of time. They shake their heads in disbelief at the sorry state of affairs they find themselves in as a society. They discuss remedies and find reasons to laugh and reasons to be optimistic. Champions are indeed thankful and are acutely aware of their good fortune in contrast to many of their neighbors and much of the rest of the world.
December slipped up on us. The year has gone by quickly. Three years have gone by quickly and already Luxe Krider celebrates her third birthday on December 2nd. Her grandfather, for whom Lonnie Krider Memorial Drive in historic downtown Champion was named, is remembered on his birthday on December 4th. The 5th belongs to Angela B. who is now at level 36 in the Farmville game on-line. That is also the birthday of Micheal Hall, a first grade student at Skyline R2 School. His birthday is on the 5th of December. Champion friends say, “Happy birthday Luxe, Angela and Micheal! Many happy returns of the day!”
The holiday or the arduousness of the task, or unexpected complications, or any number of things may have interfered with the completion of the bridge over Fox Creek just to the east of the square. It may just be that expectations were unrealistic, but significant progress has been made and those nice Douglas County men will, most likely, have it done in the week ahead or sometime soon. Champions are a calm, patient people who know good things often take time.
Wednesday found a trio of Upshaw brothers enjoying the pleasant gathering at the Historic Emporium. Several interesting things were discussed including the virtues of the Sound Choice Karaoke equipment, particularly the hard drive version. They talked about the good old days when their folks owned the movie theatre in Mountain Grove and what it was like being teenagers back then. They remembered a lot of the movies from the time like “Planet of the Apes” and “Cabaret.” Cowboy movies are a favorite for a number of the Wednesday regulars and one that was brought up in conversation was the 1942 film called “Arizona Trail.” It featured Tex Ritter as the hero, Johnny Trent. Trent’s friend, Kansas, was played by Fuzzy Knight. There were some minor musical numbers and moments of humor that carried throughout the film in the easy going tone of the westerns of the 1930s. The story had Trent and Kansas returning to Trent’s father’s ranch in Arizona. His father was having trouble over water rights and someone trying to take his ranch away from him. There was some animosity between father and son as they dealt with the mystery of who was pulling the strings of the gang trying to force old man Trent off his land. One of the songs from the movie was “Stay Away From My Heart” by Tex Ritter and Johnny Bond’s Red River Valley Boys.
A few drops of rain are in the forecast for the middle of the week. Otherwise they say we are looking at warm temperatures and beautiful weather. Champions will not complain, but will be hyper-vigilant about fire and will take advantage of the continued dry spell to call upon the kindness of dairy farmer neighbors to share the bounty of old composted manure to spread liberally on their gardens. A couple of enthusiastic young folks visiting from the city for the holiday shared their good energy in some local gardens, cleaning up last year’s bean and squash patches, as well as tidying up flower beds. They split, hauled and stacked firewood. They asked for chores, did scullery and as a special gift played music. They had to head back to the city on Sunday morning. The old folks were sorry to see them go. They had a big Catahoula swamp dog traveling with them named Frankie. She is a sleek, black 60 pound beast with big feet and a bigger appetite. She joined up with Jonnie, the resident 50 pound hound with boxer ancestry, for a great deal of hilarious dog romping and chasing–Frankie and Jonnie–what a pair.
The holiday season is officially here. Already behavior is being modified in hopes of getting on Santa’s good list for the year. Chances are good that friends at the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam on Thursday evening will be able to get Roberta to sing “Christmas Time’s a Coming.” The official Champion Christmas Post Card is already available at Hensons Downtown G & G (Grocery and Gas) on the North Side of the Square. It is a peaceful scene of Champion in the snow taken years ago. Snow may be a thing of the past. Who knows? Come down to the end of the pavement where country roads meet and make your own prognostication about the severity and duration of winter. Sit around the ancient wood stove and talk about your favorite cowboy movies. Learn some local history or teach some. “Now some folks like the summertime when they can walk about. Strolling through the meadow green it’s pleasant there’s no doubt. But give me the wintertime when the snow is on the ground, for I found her when the snow was on the ground.” Bill Monroe did a beautiful job with that song. Come share your rendition out on the wide, wild, wooly banks of Aulde Fox Creek. You can belt it out, “I bless that happy day when Nellie lost her way, for I found her when the snow was on the ground” in Champion-Looking on the Bright Side!