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Some would say that the autumn colors have ‘peaked’ in Champion and in the area overall.  There is more uniform brown as the various oaks russet together.  Then right between an old cedar and a fresh pine dazzles out something brilliant apricot gold and there are the dogwoods, glorious in every season. It all changes second to second with fluctuations of the light.  It is difficult to keep an eye on the road for looking at the forest.  Bud Hutchison and a bunch of his friends were horsing around on old Ivy Lane on Saturday.  They have the right idea about how to enjoy this extraordinary part of the world.  They are right out in it quiet, slow and easy.  The horses seem willing to accommodate motorized traffic but they probably like the road all to themselves.  Any way a person gets to Champion is a good one.

Royce Henson’s birthday caravan came rolling into town mid-morning on Saturday and toured the Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square.  There were twenty some odd of them who gathered in the old Champion School house for stories of the bygone days, for a look at some great family photos that Jo had sent in advance, and for some new family photos.  Royce said that as a kid in school he would never have imagined that the old building would ever have electric lights and gas heat.  Everything was lit with or run on kerosene in those days and the school house was heated by a big wood stove.  In the days before insulation, the children probably dressed warmly and they almost certainly burned a lot of wood in that stove to keep the two rooms comfortable.  Eva Henson Phillips and her husband Harold Phillips came up from Bella Vista, Arkansas to help her brother celebrate his 80th trip around the sun.  Eva has her own set of memories of the school.  The caravan rolled out in time to make its luncheon reservation at Rockbridge and reports are that the day was a great success.  Champion!

Skyline School Counselor Joy Beeler had a birthday November 3rd.  She shares the day with Kellie Perryman, second grader.  That is also the birthday of young William Litchfield.  He was eight on Sunday.  Another second grader, Hailey Hall had her day on Monday the 4th.  Miss Emerson Rose Oglesby has her special day on the 5th.  Then her truly great aunt Sharon Upshaw will celebrate on the 6th.  The General will not miss this one.  Linda and Charlene over at The Plant Place in Norwood will help their sister, Kathy, celebrate on the 6th.  They will probably play cards.  Mason Solomon who is a kindergarten student at Skyline has his birthday on the 7th.  Woodworker extraordinaire, Bob Underhill from Champion South was born in 1946 and so finally is as old as some of his friends.  Not everyone likes to have his picture taken or to have his birthday celebrated.  Those folks get celebrated on the sly by people who love them.  It shows up in a smile or a hug.  For those who do very much like birthdays, Rock On!

The Eastern Douglas County Volunteer Fire Department had a great chili supper Saturday night.  The food was very good.  Backyard Bluegrass was up to their usual standard of great.  A critic would say, “Wonderful fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar and bass and wonderful harmonies!”  Sherry Lynch’s husband got up and did his version of the “Hillbilly Auctioneer” which was quite a crowd pleaser.  The next thing you know he was up there doing the job.  He makes it a lot of fun and is very clever about eliciting that next bid.  The business community together with the fire department membership and friends donated some great items that went up on the block.  These little rural fire departments are what keep country people safe!  It is good to see the community come out to support them.

The General is in a quandary. At the chili supper the other night he was invited to attend a poetry reading –a night of poetry and quiet jazz with some chilled white wine and brie-casual attire and an incitement to participate.  At this his heart fairly leapt!  At last! The General has spent many a mile solitarily in his truck reciting Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s, “The Arrow and the Song.”  Many are familiar with the opening line, “I shot an arrow in the air…”  Crude parodies aside, the sweet sentiment is not likely to be elocuted by himself as the salon is to be held on Super Bowl Sunday.  It must be a chore to be a Renaissance man.  Go to the website at www.championnews.us to read a copy of the poem.  It expresses well the Champion ideal.

Many Champions have their archery farm tags.  At the price of bullets these days bagging the turkey or the deer with an arrow seems somehow more economical.  That may not be the case.  The Skyline School has a good archery program and a great place to practice.  Mountain Grove students have had a successful archery program, but budget cuts are causing the school to consider doing away with it.  It is good to see every child get a chance to participate in sports.  Softball was the big school sport in Champion as many an old timer will tell you.  Some of them will be shooting their arrow of good wishes that way.

At any given moment Champions know people who are ailing.  Ruby Proctor is reported to not be doing well these days.  Russell Upshaw is improving.  Toby Mastin is hanging in there.  Richard and Kaye have had a bug and many others may be suffering in ways that may not be apparent.  When people we love are unwell or hurting, it is in our hearts that our thoughts and prayers would wrap around them, comfort and support them and make them and all those who love them feel better.  It is a Champion effort.

As the swallows return to Capistrano, so do the turkey vultures to Champion.  They have been around, but this time of the year it seems they are legion in their coming and going.  A prominent Champion was entering the Emporium the other day just as another such was trying to leave.  Each had a hand on the door knob with the door in between.  They got to pulling and pushing until the door was about to bend, “Betty!” says he, “There’s a big wind about to bend your door!”  It turns out the wind was on both sides.  Send your own such charming antidotes or buzzard stories to champion@championnew.us or to Champion Items, Rt. 72, Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717.  Come down to the bottom of several hills where country roads meet on the wild and wooly banks of Old Fox Creek to one of the world’s truly beautiful places and enjoy the sites.  Champion! Looking on the Bright Side!

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