The excitement of the wagon train left Champion feeling good. It is a real gift to be part of a vital community that can support and encourage such an interesting and important event. It is more than nostalgia that keeps these people rolling along in mule and horse drawn wagons. They make up a great and close community among themselves while preserving the technology and knowhow that might prove invaluable one day. Without prognosticating any calamity, it is still good to know that these skills have not been discarded. The train has been coming through at this time of the year since the early 1980’s. Some of these folks have made every trip. It is one of the many bright spots in the Champion year—one of the brightest.
It was a good time on the side of the hill with all the spectators and musicians on Thursday. The General showed up and wisely loaned his guitar to Butch Stone who sang one great old song after another with Wayne Anderson, Jerry Wagner, Sherry Bennett and a number of other players who came and went during the course of the afternoon. Butch left saying he was supposed to have been home two hours earlier. His audience was glad he had dallied. The General got tangled up in a fairly short loop of string but finally got loose for the last few tunes of the day. He was so loose, in fact, that he started the Dueling Banjo’s on the guitar. He was hard put to keep up the speed with Wayne on the real banjo. His family always finds him entertaining. It is a sweet experience to hear the stories of the old days back in the fifties when a lot of these fellows were teenagers. Joann Anderson says that her children are always wishing their dad would record these memories. They might have to come armed with their own tape recorders. Though hearers may not remember the details of the various escapades of the storytellers, it is sure that the flavor is captured and affection shared and built with an understanding of the history of the place and the people. It is also a lovely thing to see the look on a musician’s face as he struggles to remember a tune. Their faces relax and their eyes look up as if the notes were written on the clouds. When they find them, it always brings a smile.
It was a great surprise to see five wagons going south on Cold Springs Road Saturday. These folks were on a self-contained trip back to Viola, Arkansas. Visiting brothers from Iowa, who had missed the wagon train earlier in the week, had the chance to see this bunch up close as they camped in Champion overnight. It is a genuinely hospitable place.
Champions can find something special about any day that comes along. It is part of the overall philosophy of the place to be alert to the good things as they are happening. Sunday started off with Elmer Banks birthday, and then Monday, the 16th of September is the day Mexico celebrates as the start of their eleven year war of independence from Spain (1810-1821). Linda’s Almanac says that Tuesday will be a good day to kill plant pests like poison ivy and weeds of all sorts. Wednesday will be good for planting crops that bear their yield above the ground and Thursday will be good for root crops and for transplanting. The Harvest Moon is full on the 19th at 6:13 a.m. Friday may still be ‘date night’ for some households, but certainly not all. Then comes Saturday and Skyline VFD Auxiliary members Louise Hutchison and Betty Elliot share their birthday. The 21st is also the birthday of Champion granddaughter, Zoey Louise, and her second cousin Penelope, both of Austin, Texas. In years past the Autumnal Equinox was celebrated on the 21st thinks one old Champion. A little research reveals that due to the necessity of recent astronomical measurements, the date of the holiday is not officially declared until February of the previous year. It became a public holiday in 1948—Equinox Day, September 22nd. Skyline’s preschool teacher, Ms. Angie, has her birthday on the 23rd. Landon King is in Kindergarten at Skyline. His birthday is on the 24th. Every day of the week has something interesting going on.
The weather seems to be moderating nicely and Champions have no kind of complaint. A little rain settles the dust and saves some irrigating, and cooler temperatures foretell the autumn chill ahead. There is much to do this time of the year and Champions are busy. When the Work is Done This Fall might be a song to add to a cowboy repertory. One of the jolly cowboys discussing plans at ease said that when the roundup days are over and the shipping all is done,” I’m going right straight home, boys, before my money’s gone. I have changed my ways, boys. No more will I fall. Yes, I’m going home, boys, when the work’s all done this fall.” Getting the last of the harvest in and a few fall things planted will keep some busy while others are ambitious and getting the big plots in the garden tilled, fertilized and mulched over for winter. Others are planting winter rye. Houseplants are coming in from outside. Walnuts are falling. It’s that time of the year. Bud Hutchison’s trail ride will be coming up soon and the Pioneer Descendants Gathering will happen the 5th and 6th of October. Time passes quickly.
Look in on www.championnews.us to find pictures of the wagon train, the music and frivolity, which may include some shots of the general in a tangle. Send your news and birthdays to the new email address [email protected].
Come stand out on the broad veranda of the Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square to sing your favorite end of summer song. Ray from over at Almartha rides his Harley over a couple of times a week just to enjoy what he thinks is one of the last such places in the country –a community at the end of the pavement where country roads begin, at the bottom of several hills on the wild and wooly banks of a wet weather creek under the shade of ancient trees. Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!