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Apollo, Rebels and restoration in 1969
Out of the Morgue
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An illustration of a scene witnessed by 500 million via television of Neil Armstrong’s outing on the moon, July 20, 1969.

 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.

On July 20, 1969, The Great Bend Daily Tribune front page included an illustration of a scene a reported 500 million witnessed “through the magic of television” of Neil Armstrong planting a U.S. flag into the surface of the moon. The headline: ‘came in peace for all mankind’ : Man’s Greatest Adventure Nearing the Final Stages. 

“Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. blasted off safely from the moon and into lunar orbit today, beginning the complex maneuvers to link up with their mother ship. They left behind their footprints in the lunar dust and in the history of man,” the Associated Press report stated. 

All week, the Apollo 11 mission dominated the pages of the Tribune, beginning with the lead up to the July 16 Apollo 11 launch, orbiting the moon on July 18, the July 20 lunar module landing, and continuing with the reentry and finally the recovery of the lunar module on July 24. 

The space race was on between the United States and the U.S.S.R., with Russia attempting to keep pace with the launch of Luna 15, an unmanned Soviet spacecraft, which fell into orbit around the moon at about the same time. Both the U.S. and the Russians wanted to be the first to bring a soil sample back from the moon. Hours before U.S. astronauts were scheduled to lift off from the moon surface, Luna 15 crashed into the moon surface after 52 orbits. 

Meanwhile, “Among scientists, there was elation that the (U.S.) crew had landed in an area with a variety of rocks, a treasure that held at least the hope of a rich payoff in the search to learn more about moon and earth.” 


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Editorial cartoon drawn by Pat Oliphant, a commentary on the space race this week in 1969. - photo by Tribune file image

Editorial cartoonist Pat Oliphant captured the mood with “Upstager,” which appeared on the Great Bend Daily Tribune’s editorial page.

Shortly after the landing, Aldrin addressed the world, asking all to pause and contemplate the events of the past few hours and give thanks in their own way. According to the AP, in Mayetta, Kans., “about 100 Indians at the Potawatomi pow-wow on their reservation sat in the bleachers around their dance arena... A great cheer went up. Then a tribal spokesman prayed aloud: “Great Spirit, who this day has linked together two of the planets of your universe, teach us to live in humility.” The tribal dance contest, interrupted by the moon landing, was climaxed by a joyous victory dance to celebrate the lunar feat.”

 The Golden Belt area’s contribution to the moon landing was made through two former residents, one from Great Bend and one from Stafford, who played an important role in launching the space craft according to the July 15, 1969 edition of the Tribune. 

“Both Gordon K. Platt, son of Mr. andMrs. C.G. Platt, 810 Hubbard, Great Bend, and Arnold G. Hildebrand, son of Mr. and Mrs. Herman Hildebrand, Stafford, are aerospace engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., where the huge Saturn 5 rocket that will launch the spacecraft was developed.

“Platt is a graduate of Great Bend high school and Hildebrand of Stafford high school.”

Rebels and restoration

The space race wasn’t the only news made this week.  Clarice Rutter, editor and publisher of the Drum Corps Digest magazine was in Great Bend to attend the March of Champions drum and bugle corps competition on July 20 at Memorial Stadium. 

“Miss Rutter is covering the Argonne Rebels annual competition for her magazine which is nationally circulated in drum corps circles.,” the Tribune reported. 

The Rebels defeated the Huchinson Sky Ryders with a final score of 60.7 to the Ryders’ 60.6. Eight corps from Kansas and Nebraska participated, along with two exhibition corps. It was but one of the many notable wins for the Rebels during the decades they were active in Great Bend. 


“Eight corps participated in the annual March of Champions Drum and Bugle contest,” the caption for this July, 1969 photo reads. “The contest was won by the Great Bend Argonne Rebels by the narrowest of margins, one-tenth point. Second place was taken by the Hutchinson Sky Ryders. Above a small player is almost dwarfed by two larger players, showing how young some start in corp competition.”

This week, the Tribune featured Milt Raymer, Great Bend, in a feature about his hobby, restoring cars. A photo of Raymer behind the wheel of his “brand new” 1929 Model A Ford appeared with the story. He had taken the car to a show in Wichita, prior to delivering it to its owner, Otto Schwartzfeger of Preston, for whom he has done the restoration work. 

“Restoring old cars is a good pastime according to Raymer, but one which takes a great deal of time and a lot of searching sometimes to find parts. The Schwartzfeger car has been in the process of restoration for about two years with the Great Bend man working on it off and on in his spare time.” 

Raymer essentially tore down, cleaned, and reassembled the vehicle inside and out. 

“The Model A sold for $600 brand new back in 1928 or 1929, but it takes three or four times that amount these days to own a restored vehicle.” 


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Milt Raymer, 1819 Jefferson, sits at the wheel of a 1929 Model A Ford tudor which he restored to top condition for Otto Schwartzfeger of Preston. The snappy-looking car has 20 coats of paint, hand rubbed, with a green body and black fenders and running boards.

Raymer’s love of his hobby continues to today. In fact, a Google search uncovered a report from the online newspaper The Press Enterprise of Riverside, Calif. (, dated June 22, 2019. The story is about The Hemmings Motor News Great Race, which starts in Riverside and continues north to Tacoma, Wash., has been happening for 36 years. Teams in classic cars compete for a $50,000 grand prize. Within the photo gallery of the race, we found a photo of Raymer, holding up a photo of what appears to be one of the cars he restored over the years.  

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A classic cars enthusiast Milt Raymer, 87, from Kansas, is honored before the start of the 2019 Hemmings Motor News Great Race in Downtown Riverside on Saturday June 22, 2019. (Photo by Milka Soko, Contributing Photographer) - photo by Courtesy
Just for fun

Radio and vinyl record albums were the go-to source for music in the 1969. The Tribune included a weekly youth section of the paper, which also included a Top Ten listing of the best selling records of the week, based on Cash Box Magazine’s nationwide survey. 

For July 19, 1969:

"In the year 2525” by Zager and Evans

“One” by Three Dog Night

“Spinning Wheel” by Blood, Sweat, and Tears

“Good Morning Starshine” by Oliver

“Romeo and Juliet Theme” by Mancini

“Crystal Blue Persuasion” by Tommy James and the Shondells

“What Does It Take?” by Junior Walker and All Stars

“Love Me Tonight” by Jones

“Color Him Father” by the Winstons

“Black Pearl” by Checkmates Ltd. with Sonny Charles

While vinyl is now only a small niche for music sales, Cashbox magazine is still going strong online. Check them out at We did, and found that Cash Box actually produced a Top 100 list, which associated members edited to fit the space available. 

Also this week, the Great Bend youth theater prepared to present the play “L’il Abner” at the City Auditorium following five weeks of rehearsals. A collage of photos taken during dress rehearsal was included in the youth section. While the actors and actresses were not identified, we suspect the accompanying photo will bring back fond memories for some of our readers who came of age during the excitement of the space age. 

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“A picture preview of characters in “Li’l Abner” is presented above as they were rehearsing for their role in the production. The play opens tonight (July 18, 1969)in the City Auditorium with local youth composing most of the cast.” - photo by Tribune file image