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Comics, butterflies and more in 2009
Out of the Morgue
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Ellinwood Grade School students hold their butterfly nets in front of the Kansas Wetlands Education Center. They are members of Lisa McMullen’s fourth-grade class (Sept. 27, 2009).

Each week we’ll take a step back into the history of Great Bend through the eyes of reporters past. We’ll reacquaint you with what went into creating the Great Bend of today, and do our best to update you on what “the rest of the story” turned out to be.

According to, it was Oct. 2, 2009, when the County of Los Angeles and the City of Long Beach declared “Stan Lee Day,” in honor of the comic book artist and creator of several Marvel Comics heroes. 

And on Sept. 28, 2016, the Los Angeles made it official: “this day would hence forward celebrate the man himself.” This, according Robert Coleman, a writer for the website Heroic Hollywood. 

Stan Lee died last year at the age of 95, but was active on the convention circuit up to the age of 93. Considered by some the “George Washington of comics,” he is the creator behind numerous Marvel characters, including Spiderman. As Hollywood brought many comic book characters out of the pages and onto the screen, Lee appeared in cameos in several movies, television shows, direct-to-video productions and voice-overs ( 

As we researched this day, we found a bogus website promoting Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con, happening this Saturday. But other searches brought up the L.A. Comic Con, happening Oct. 11-13 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. We called the convention center, and they confirmed the October event. So, beware, if you decide last minute that you must attend the much touted event. 

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Stan Lee, creator of comic book character Spiderman, appears in a cameo in the Columbia Pictures production of Spiderman 3 (2007) with actor Toby Maguire, who played the superhero in three consecutive films.
Commentary on comics

Speaking of comics, Great Bend Tribune editor Chuck Smith wrote an editorial this week, “Fair is still fair; Cartoon history shows that this isn’t new, or racist.” He was referring to the way editorial cartoons depicted President Barrack Obama in newspapers throughout the country, and how Obama supporters complained they considered some of the depictions racist. 

“They would much rather all depictions be ‘positive.’ And if we are honest, we can all understand that, too. In fact, when it was a Republican getting the slams, there were plenty of you who didn’t like those depictions, either. 

“Remember the huge collection of images of President Bush that showed him as a chimp – long before the ‘racists’ depicted Obama that way? 

“Well they were out there. Do an Internet search and you’ll find plenty of examples and they are not flattering.”

Smith went on to list a number of other past presidents, all depicted in unflattering, sometimes downright offensive ways all the way back to President Abraham Lincoln.

“The point of these cartoons and other depictions, however, has more to do about politics, just as it did when Johnson, Reagan, Carter, Clinton and Bush were in office. 

“Harry Truman summed it all up nicely. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

“If you can’t stand the cartoons, keep out of office.”

That being said, we look forward to the continued thought-provoking images the next election season will bring our way. 

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KWEC educator Pam Martin shows Ellinwood students, from left, Blake Robinson and Jacob Herrman, the process involved in tagging a Monarch butterfly for research (Sept. 27, 2009). - photo by Tribune file photo
Ten years of butterfly encounters

Ten years ago this week, the Kansas Wetlands Education Center was visited by fourth graders who came to learn about the role butterflies play in the local ecosystem, and about monitoring the migration of Monarch butterflies. KWEC educator Pam Martin shared demonstrated how to tag the butterflies for research, after students equipped with nets scoured the nature area for butterflies. 

It was years before the KWEC began having its annual Butterfly Festival; the latest was held last weekend. Since then, there’s no telling how many butterflies have been tagged by students and others at the center each fall as the Monarchs take flight, but Martin is always a welcoming presence, eager to share her passion for butterflies, and help promote the conservation of ecosystems these beneficial insects rely on to survive. See our related story in today’s paper to learn more about how the KWEC works to introduce the wonders of the wetlands to area students today. 

Rick Casagrande stands in front of one of the pieces of furniture for sale in his antique store, The Ellinwood Emporium (Sept. 27, 2009). - photo by Tribune file photo
A “grande” idea

It was 10 years ago this week that Rick Casagrande, Ellinwood, was spotlighted in the Tribune as the owner of The Ellinwood Emporium, located in the historic Dick Building across the street from The Wolf Hotel. The Emporium is an antique store that still operates today at the corner of Santa Fe and Main Street in Ellinwood. Casagrande was a recent transplant to Ellinwood at the time the story was written. This, after spending 20 years visiting the town on antique shopping trips. 

He first lived in San Francisco, before moving to San Antonio where he lived for 30 years. According to the report, Casagrande was interested in learning what it would be like to live in a small town. 

“I want to explore Kansas. There is a lot to do in Kansas. We want to see everything,” he said. 

A decade later, Casagrande is generous with his time, volunteering at the Museum of Ellinwood, as well as with numerous efforts around Ellinwood.