CHAMPION—June 3, 2019 Last Wednesday, the 22nd, was a fine day in Champion for the visit of Charlie Lambert. It is great to know he is back in the neighborhood. Hopes are that he will find his way to the Vanzant Bluegrass Jam some Thursday soon. Friday was also lovely. First, Nurse Shirley Emerson came to help us stay well with her blood pressure checking and exercise challenge through the Douglas County Health Department. This challenge represents a great chance to be rewarded for doing what you know you are supposed to be doing anyway. That does not always happen. Later in the morning Levon and Karen Lambert together with Levon’s sister, Donna Fay Gifford, paid a visit to Champion as they had been out decorating graves. It was good to see them. Levon used to grind corn with his gas-powered mill down at the Pioneer Descendant’s Gathering at Betty and Dale Thomas’s place at Yates. Karen said that she is not playing music much these days and is thinking about selling her bass. She is a fine musician with a smile that just keeps going.
The Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks picked up the mantle from Dale and Betty and the planning committee for this great event, which will occur the first week end in October, is already deep into substantive meetings, getting things organized. Maybe someone will be grinding corn. There will definitely be music. Just ask Sherry Bennett.
Wednesday, the 29th, was overcast, humid and threatening of bad weather, but it did not materialize significantly, for which Champions are grateful. It was a treat to have Reba and Don Bishop back at the Historic Emporium for a change. Reba is working hard and making good progress with her physical therapy and Don is showing off his smooth palms, proclaiming that dishwashing does not cause calluses. Bob and Ethel Leach were happy to catch up with their friends and are looking forward to getting in the hay. Music on the porch was pleasant enough except that one player was tuckered out from over-gardening, another had missed naps for days in a row, and the third had come out without his guitar. More than one person has remarked that musicians can be kind of flakey. In her defense, the gardener is not really a musician. She is, however, thinking about taking up the theremin. She recently heard Clara Rockmore playing Sain-Saens’ “The Swan,” and could not help but believe the theremin will be the next wave in bluegrass. Imagine what “Steel Guitar Rag” would sound like on that amazing instrument. We are reminded that music is therapeutic.
Saturday of the Memorial Day week end was a beautiful day for the 33rd Denlow/Fairview School Reunion. Those little schools closed long ago, but the memories of the ‘good old golden-rule days’ are still fresh.
Students, along with their families and friends, gathered for a great lunch, a little music with the One-Day Fox Creek Band and some wonderful reminiscing and visiting. It took three men to do what Lavern Miller used to do, but Kenneth Anderson, Pete Proctor and The General did the best they could as auctioneers. Right in the middle of the auction there were simultaneous screams from the south side of the pavilion as a big black snake slithered across Dean Upshaws foot and right out onto the concrete floor. For the record, it was not Dean who screamed. To the rescue came Paul Upshaw, Whitey’s son, who summarily snagged the serpent and carried it to safety, releasing it in the wild woods at the edge of the cemetery. Paul came back to a hero’s ovation. He is from down around Gainesville, but will always be welcome in Denlow! He has a very powerful voice, but claims that he did not get the music gene from his dad. The snake was four to five feet long, but may become larger as the tale is told and retold. The stories shared about the old days and the new connections made are part of what keeps this community going. Sometimes a person might overhear a conversation that would have you believe that those Denlow girls were a special bunch. They are yet!
Summer school is in session at Skyline School. Teacher, Bridget Hicks will enjoy her birthday there on the 4th. You know she will be having fun. “Many a fine tune can be plucked on the banjo. Take for example ‘My Grandfather’s Clock.’ For that one and more than two hundred others, enjoy the fine plucking of David Medlock.” His birthday is on June 6th. Wayne Sutherland was 85 on June 7, 2015. We will see him at the Champion School Reunion in September and ask him how old he will be then. Kaitlyn McConnell of “Ozarks Alive!” also celebrates on the7th. She does a great deal to promote the history, culture and appreciation of the Ozarks and she frequently shows up in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!