Champion is a truly enlightened place in a part of the world that paradoxically prides itself on being the least progressive area in the Nation. Actually, the quote was, ‘the most willfully unprogressive.’ A person can get into trouble misquoting. Phyllis Winn wrote to ask that John Buchan get the credit for his wonderful quote: “The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable and a perpetual series of occasions for hope.” The charm of Champion is that there are very few outhouses to be turned over on Halloween. Indoor plumbing is progressive. It has been some while since any occupied outhouses were turned over or unoccupied ones moved backwards 3 feet, or blown up with dynamite. Those kinds of Halloween pranks might have been more common back during the day when people had outhouses. Pranks are probably pulled on line now. Boo!
As to pranks, a Champion named Mr. Smith had an uncle who once put a cat in a mailbox. When the mailman opened the box sometime later, the excited cat made a nasty tear through the car. This uncle was frequently in trouble for being a trickster. The mailman was Homer Akers. He had a reputation himself of being a reckless driver. If the chickens happened to be out in the road when Homer came by often as not they could just be dressed out and fried for supper. There are many interesting stories about this mailman. His son, Bill, married Myrtle Brixey. She grew up in North Champion and her Dad was Alfred Brixey. Champion’s current favorite mailperson (Hello, Karen!) brought a nice letter from Myrtle Brixey Akers the other day. She included an interesting article from The Ozark Headliner written by Paul Johns in his column Ozark Moments. The article was about the history of that “Every time I go to town, the boys keep kickin’ my dawg around” song. It is the one that says, “Makes no difference ifin he’s a hound, you gotta quit kicking my dawg around.” She said that she could remember her Dad singing that song and playing it on the harmonica. She said that she is 91 years old so “that was long ago.” indeed. Her Dad had moved to this part of the country from over by the Kansas line back in the early thirties. One of his great grandsons says that he was what would be called a ‘truck farmer’ today. He cut sprouts and planted his tomatoes in new ground every year. He had a flatbed truck full of bee hives one time and the guy at the filling station said, “Take the gas and go!” He kept the bees near the spring and had the first running water inside his house in this whole area. He built a stone house near the spring and had a ram that brought the water up beyond the house and then down through the faucet! Imagine! He was a fiddle player up until the arthritis got bad. He passed away in 1957.
Karen brought a letter from Ethel McCallie from over in Nowata, Oklahoma. It has the story of how her Dad, Blake Haden, wound up in jail in Reedley, California in 1930. It was a misunderstanding and he was in there for ten days. Out of it came a poem which concludes, “Pray that I will walk the pathway, in the strait and narrow way./Shunning all the snares, and pitfalls scattered all along the way./Oh! My soul now feels so happy, All my sins are washed away./Pray that I will do His bidding, till my body turns to clay.” Read Ethel’s latest letter and get the full story and the poem in full at www.championnews.us. Find Ethel McCalie in the Oklahoma Friends section of Champion Friends. Look at the post of October 21st to see pictures of Bud Hutchison’s Fall Trail Ride. Featured there are pictures of J.C. Owsley’s big horse, Baby, and Domino the appaloosa as well as a certain Champion cowboy.
Birthday cards and notes came pouring into Champion this last week. It turns out that there are a lot of people who are now 67 years old! Champions called Harley Krider up in Elmwood, IL on Sunday to wish him a happy birthday. He is older. He and Barbara will be home for Thanksgiving and their neighbors will be glad to see them. Connie Landsdown celebrates her birthday on October 30th. Wilburn and Louise will enjoy seeing their charming daughter having a good time. She has a gorgeous smile and a wonderful laugh. Some of her friends are planning to ….‘oops!’ The thirtieth is also the birthday of Royce Henson. He and his family have a big celebration planned for Saturday the 2nd of November. The entourage will tour the old Champion School and then head down to Rockbridge for lunch. It sounds like it is going to be a nice day. They will certainly enjoy the glorious fall foliage as a backdrop for a stunning day. Family celebrating is a Champion concept! Cheyenne Hall has her birthday on Halloween. She is in the fourth grade at Skyline School. Sixth grader Keith Lamborn also celebrates that day as does superintendent Jeanne Curtis. Maybe on Thursday 85 students and a dozen or so preschoolers will say, “Happy birthday, Ms. Curtis!” It will be jack-o-lantern pie for birthday delight. Somebody will surely take a jack-o-lantern pie to the Thursday Bluegrass Jam at the Vanzant community building. If not Thursday, then perhaps on Saturday when the Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department will have its fifth annual chili supper and auction benefit dinner. Dinner starts at 5:30 and at 6:30 the auction gets under way. It all happens there at the community building in Vanzant. There are likely to be some interesting items on the block again this year. Some creative friends of the Skyline VFD are looking forward to the chance to support their neighboring fire department. It is called ‘mutual aid’ and it is a good thing. Friends will be looking for Russell Upshaw at these events hoping to hear he is feeling better.
Some old Champions are putting their garden to bed for the winter and are thinking about what a sorry squash crop they had this year with the squash bugs killing the plants before they had made very much at all. One answer to their question about how to prepare for next year’s squash patch is to clean the future patch down to the bare ground and keep it that way through the winter with no mulch on it, nothing under which a squash bug could hide. Then there are some ideas about killing all the first ones you see early in the spring as a way to control all the summer’s generations of them. Any ideas about preparing a good squash patch for next year would be welcome at Champion Items, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or at [email protected]. A consultation with Linda over at The Plant Place in Norwood will likely yield some good information. A person would like to talk with Alfred Brixey about it, but there is only so much ‘new ground’ to be had.
Join Lee Ray from Almartha on almost any morning (Wednesdays mostly) down at the Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square. He’ll be sitting around the stove with Elmer Banks and Butch Linder talking about resurrecting dead flies and any number of other things. It is a storyteller’s paradise. Sometimes the fun spills out on to the veranda where if a person knew just where to look he could see the spot where Geoff Metroplos built an outhouse for the convenience of visitors to the community. It washed away in the flood of 2002. Alas! Progress in Champion! Looking on the Bright Side.