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.
Last week, as we visited April 1923, we heard the first rumblings of the Nazi party. Now, ten years later, we look back and find the Nazi’s beginning to ostracize German Jews, and conflict that will erupt into World War II. This week, the Nazi party declared the first two anti-Jewish laws, barring Jews from legal and public service. The party also began boycotting Jewish businesses en masse. World War I pilot and air stuntman Hermann Goering became the premier of Prussia, one of many positions he would be assigned by Adolf Hitler. Eventually, he would be tried and found guilty of crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg trials and commit suicide hours before he was scheduled to be executed.
The United States and British response, as reported on the April 13, 1933 edition of the Tribune, was to urge a boycott of the purchase of goods and raw materials from Germany.
“Samuel Untermyer, well-known New York lawyer; suggest that it would be neither unreasonable nor unjust for Jewish businessmen and others who object to race or religious discrimination, to refrain for the present from buying goods manufactured in Mr. Hitler’s country.” The story went on to describe the Russian response, shifting an order for 18,000 tons of steel from Germany to France.
“In this country, important “buyers” in commercial institutions are Americans of the Jewish race, as are those that send them to Europe to buy. It is probable that they will not go to Germany, being advised that Jews are not wanted there.”
Back in the states, the people of Great Bend were facing their own struggles of the Great Depression.
While oil drilling and production was a profitable industry, the average reader would be hard-pressed to see how it was helping the average person from Great Bend in April of 1933. At that time, the classified ad section of the Tribune consisted of one column of one page, accounting for not only the one job opening for a door-to-door direct salesperson of shoes, but for housing sales and rentals, products for sale, positions wanted, but also miscellaneous. One miscellaneous ad stood out on April 15, 1933.
“MATERNITY AND ADOPTIONS. Seclusion for unfortunate girls. Expense reduced by working. Adress: Fairmount Hospital, 4909 East 27th, Kansas City, Mo.”
The oil industry did bring jobs to the area eventually, however.
According to http://www.kshs.org/p/kansas-historical-quarterly-kansas-in-the-1930s/13202
“Of the 62 counties on or west of Highway 81, 12 gained and 50 lost. Ten of the 12, Barton, Ellis, Ellsworth, Harvey, Kingman, McPherson, Reno, Rice, Russell and Stafford, were the scenes of oil activity which undoubtedly accounted for most of the gains. As far as I know Saline county had no significant oil activity at that time and its increase must be credited to other causes. Scott is a strictly rural county and the only one in that category to gain.”
Other issues facing Great Bend were drought and dust storms. The April 13, 1933 edition did not carry news of a local storm, but did carry news of a large dust storm that raged from Dodge City to Garden City, and as nearby as Larned earlier that week.
“Garden City, Kan. (AP)-- A severe dust storm which raged all night and was described by pioneers of western Kansas as the “worst ever in this section,” today had destroyed virtually all hopes for “any kind of wheat crop in southwestern Kansas.”
The next day, a local story, “Load of wheat stolen”, reported, “E.C. Davis advised the sheriff’s office today that a load of wheat was stolen from the granary on his farm eight miles southwest of here last night. The farm is operated by Paul Weathers and the granary, constructed of steel, is located about one mile from the Weather’s home.
“Officers investigated the theft today and said they had secured some good prints of tires on the truck that was used.”
Following the dust storm, the temperature dropped and snow fell. Advice offered in the paper that day might still be useful today, though this writer will not personally endorse it.
“Flower growers in this community will be interested in the following taken from today’s Kansas City Times: “Florists were besieged with calls yesterday from persons who wished to save flowers about to bloom from freezing. The advice given by one florist to those with daffodils, tulips, hyacinths about to bloom and rose bushes putting out shoots: ‘As soon as the temperature goes above 32 degrees, turn a light shower from a hose on the flowers and other tender shoots. The cool water will remove the frost and strengthen the plants so that in most cases they still will bloom.’”
In the meantime, public works officials were looking to the future, and taking advantage of drought conditions to build a dike on the Arkansas river south and west of town.
“Present finances will permit of the building of this one dike and the clearing of the island in the river between it and the bridge. It will require considerable more money to finance the rest of the work and the most important will be a dike further west where the river comes to the furthest point north. A serious break there could almost change the river channel and would in any event cause a great deal of damage to the Great Bend property.”
Luckily, as time went on, more work was done, leading up to the building of the levee between the Arkansas and Great Bend that should keep the town safe from all but the most Biblical of floods.