The Champion News – Wilda Moses

It was a warm, sunny day for the 34th Champion School Reunion.  As the afternoon wore on chairs were shifted to catch the shade, and the stories and reminiscences flowed forth in a steady stream.  There was a great deal of laughter mixed in with the usual ‘organ recital’ that occurs when old folks get together. 

Arthur Porter’s name came up in connection with the straightening out of Punk Hicks and old riddles were revived, to wit: Two people, walking down the road meeting another person. One says to the other, “Brothers and sisters I have none. That man’s father is my father’s son. “The question is “Who is he?” Send your best answers to or call Larry Wrinkles to see if you are right. 

The potluck was a feast but the best part was seeing old friends reconnect with the deep affection born of shared experience of long ago. Champions then, now and always!  Look for pictures soon at

The Vanzant Community Building was full to overflowing on Sunday afternoon as friends and family gathered to celebrate Vernon Upshaw’s 80th birthday.  His children and grandchildren put the party together.  They included many great photographs, articles from The Norwood Index, and a poster showing some things as they were back in 1938—gasoline at .10 a gallon, FDR as President and the like.  One of Vernon’s brothers had put together an album for him with pictures of his youth and his family, his military service, and ancestors going back to his great, great grandparents.  The family tree of this part of Douglas County is filled with Upshaws.  They make it a nice place for the rest of us.  Happy Birthday, Vernon!  

The venue is so pleasant for these kinds of festivities that one is planned for Lucile Gayman on September 29th as she will be having her 90th birthday.  Par-ty!  

Par-ty!  That sentiment goes out to Betty Thomas, Larry Wrinkles, and Wilma Hutchison who all had birthdays on September 1st.  Phoebe Ward’s day is the 3rd of September and Vernon’s actual birthday is on the 4th.  He shares it with his nephew Dailey Upshaw.  Happy days all!

Good news comes from Illinois.  Harley Krider has been cleared by his heart doctor and surgeon.  Barbara says that he can now vacuum and empty garbage.  Also, he can drive the bus again.  He recently had visitors from Missouri who made a swing by his place on their way to Tennessee.  He was reported to have been overjoyed to see so many of his loved ones.  Champions are far-flung, but close knit yet. One writes from Scotland saying, “Lovely bumpy sunset tonight. Headed straight into the waves over an hour and the rowers didn’t even break a sweat; real Newhaven muscle. And what a view! The evening sun was down low behind the yachts as they raced home, making their spinnakers glow like giant sea lanterns.”  Charming Morag paints a wonderful picture with her words and with her paints.  She has recently begun painting boat portraits.  

Sarah Emaline Putnam Hector was born in a 1885, in Haleyville, Alabama.  She was the daughter of millwright, John Forney Putnam.  As a young woman, she traveled with him into Texas and Arkansas working on mills.  Family history says that she and her father felled trees and, with hammers and chisels, carved them into screw augers to move the grain.  They were on the real cutting edge of that day’s technology. She lived to be age 84, passing along stories of her upbringing and farm life after the turn of the century. Ms. Hector was always interested in history and politics.  She was adept at all the needle arts and other arts as well. She could play “Redwing” on anything that made music. All of her sons served in World War II. On an occasion when she met a fellow from somewhere up north, she suggested to her granddaughter that they might make a nice green persimmon pie for the pleasant young Yankee. During a brief interlude of internet connectivity recently, there were photographs of several young girls accepting the ‘Green Persimmon Challenge.’  Buzz pictured his granddaughters, each holding a green persimmon, ready to take a bite.  No photos showed the aftermath.  What a missed opportunity for gruesome visions of hilarious suffering!  It is a cinch Buzz had fun.

The Dude says, “Don’t worry about getting older.  You’ll still be able to do dumb ‘stuff,’ only slower.”   The speed with which dumb stuff is happening these days is phenomenal.   The Labor Day weekend comes to us through the efforts of organized labor. Child labor laws, the 40 hour work week and minimum wage provisions are some of the advancements that have been made over the years.  Reports of a booming stock market seem to overshadow the reality of the economy. Recent changes to the tax code encourage companies to outsource jobs. There is no infrastructure program in place that would employ great numbers of workers and health and safety protections are being overturned routinely. 

The Missouri Press Association was established in 1867. Last week it sponsored a nice piece in The Douglas County Herald remembering John McCain. The quote from the senator was apropos:  “We need a free press.  We must have it.  It is vital….If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid that we will lose so much of our individual liberties over time.”

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885) said, “The goldenrod is yellow; The corn is turn brown: The trees in apple orchards With fruit are bending down.”  “By all these lovely tokens September days are here.  With summer’s best of weather and autumn’s best of cheer.” Those last hot, windy days have given our lovely country greens a golden hue and the browns of the summer cut fields are greening with new growth from recent rains.  Hummingbirds are feeding heavily in preparation for their long trip south.  The larder is filling up with the garden’s bounty to be parsed out during the cold months to come.  It’s like the Old Boy sang, “The farmer’s trees are full of fruit And the barns are full of hay Oh, I’m bound to go Where there ain’t no snow Where the rain don’t fall The winds don’t blow In the Big Rock Candy Mountains” or better yet in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!