Creal Champion will be turning 97 years old next month. From his home in Las Vegas, he talked about his memories as a young boy in Ardmore.
“I was born in Daisy, Ark.,” he recalled. “I wasn’t there for very long before we moved to Oklahoma. We lived in several of the little towns around Ardmore before moving into Ardmore itself.” He remembers the city as having a population of about 20,000. He and his family lived across the street from a Phillips 66 station.
“It was a big city in my mind, but of course I was just a young boy,” Champion said. He does not recall the school he went to while living here but he remembers both the principal and his teacher as being “very nice.” His older brother attended Ardmore High School downtown.
In Ardmore, his father worked as a taxi driver, and one of his earliest memories is riding around in his father’s taxi. Creal himself also had a job. In fact, he once worked for The Ardmoreite.
“I sold The Daily Ardmoreite in the street, and I don’t know what you’d think of that now, but remember this was the 30’s,” Champion laughed.
He remembers that he used to stand and sell papers outside the Hotel Ardmore. The cost at the time was “around two or three cents.”
Other memories of town include a downtown law firm called Champion, Champion and Official (no relation) and Colverts Dairy.
Like many families at the time, the depression hit the Champions hard, and in 1935 they decided to move out to California.
“We bought a new Ford truck from a Mr. Siskel and hit the road for California,” Champion said. While his father and mother sat in the front the Champion children, three boys and two girls, all sat in the back of the truck. The entire family moved with the exception of his oldest brother, Floyd, who enlisted in the Navy.
Once in California, the family settled in Hawthorne where Creal continued to sell newspapers until his graduation from high school in 1940. During World War II, Champion joined the Coast Guard and the rest of his brothers entered the Navy.
He married his first wife, Virginia, in 1950 and they had three children, twin sons and a daughter. Their marriage lasted 37 years until Lucinda’s passing. He later married a second wife, Joan, and they were together until she passed away.
Today, Mr. Champion lives in an independent wing of a senior assisted living facility in Las Vegas. He has his own apartment there but enjoys meals and activities provided by the facility. All three of his children are still living and one of his sons also lives in Las Vegas.
“I haven’t had any serious sickness,” Champion said. He attributes his longevity to the following.
“I don’t drink, smoke or run around with wild women.”
That’s probably some good advice for us all.