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.
Twenty years ago, the hunt was on for a domestic terrorist. After David Gelernter lost the sight from one eye, the hearing from one ear, and part of his right hand after receiving a mailbomb from the self-named Unabomber, the hunt was on in earnest. Luckily, it didn’t take long for the disturbed man’s brother, David Kaczynski, to make the connection to his brother’s odd rantings and turn him in to the authorities. Let no good deed go unpunished though. Talk Show host David Letterman joked, “In the same family, you have the Unabomber and the Unasnitch.”
This was also the week the Late Night host made his last appearance on NBC-TV. He would take two months off and then return to television in August of 1993 on CBS-TV.
While it was hardly local news, Letterman’s move was commented on in the Great Bend Tribune more than the apprehension of an Arab terror group which planned to bomb the Holland/Lincoln Tunnels in New York, or the U.S. launching a missile attack on Baghdad intelligence headquarters in retaliation for a thwarted assassination attempt against former President George H.W. Bush. It also rated higher locally than the announcement that actress Julia Roberts and country singer Lyle Lovett wed, or that Don Henley’s humor wasn’t appreciated by his Milwaukee audience when he dedicated the song “It’s Not Easy Being Green” to then President Bill Clinton.
Susan Thacker, then a newly hired reporter for the Tribune wrote, “Doesn’t anyone at CBS worry that “Late Show” could be an expensive flop? That giant doorknobs and velcro suits are less funny at 10:30 p.m., when viewers are still awake and there’s other stuff to watch?
“Not Dave. As he’s quoted saying in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, “You ain’t dealin’ with no monkey here.” If you’re reading this at 11:30 p.m., I bet it’s hilarious.”
While she has many memories of watching Letterman in college, Thacker doesn’t watch him today. Not a cable subscriber, it’s hard to tune in CBS in the Great Bend area, it turns out.
The paper spotlighted Walter Disque of Claflin, owner of a classic truck which outperformed two competitors with much more expensive vehicles to take home two first-place trophies from Truckin’ Magazine’s National Showtime ‘93. Disque, a farmer in northern Barton County, took his yellow 1947 Crosley pickup with red wheels to the competition in Springfield, MO, with the goal of getting exposure for the truck, he said he was surprised to to win the trophies and drive away the number four vehicle in the show.
The Crosley was a truck before it’s time. Manufactured in an era when big trucks were the thing, the Crosley was more a mini-truck.
“Disque--and his family--spent over three years restoring his little yellow pick-up, consulting service manuals obtained from the Crosley Car Club in order to keep everything authentic,” wrote Rebecca Peak, Tribune staff writer. The truck was purchased new in 1947 for $925.41. He bought it in Stillwater, Okla. for $400, and put $1,600 into the restoration. His wife, Joyce, did the upholstery, while he and the kids did the labor. The truck got 35-50 miles per gallon and could travel up to 50 mph.
The Disque’s still live in Claflin, but could not be reached for comment. We hope they’ll call back and let us know what happened to the truck, and if it won any other awards.
Chuck Smith, editor of the Tribune, wrote about the second generation of Burnett’s making waves in the area--air waves that is. In the story “Patrick Burnett follows in his father’s airwaves,” Smith wrote about how the 12 year-old was already helping dad with his morning radio show.
Abram Burnett started taking his son to work so the two could spend time together, but during a period when his dad had health concerns, Patrick took over the show for a while.
“While the early days on rdio caused Patrick some nervousness, he’s an old pro now, he notes. “I even had to do live commercials. I’m not nervous now, because I’m used to it.”
“I really enjoy it,” he added. “It’s something I look forward to all week.”
Patrick Burnett is still listed on the program line up at KVGB AM, the station he got his start at more than 20 years ago. He can be heard from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m. on The Early Morning Show with Patrick Burnett, where he covers news, weather, sports, farm markets and “too tough trivia”.