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.
In 1925 this week, Great Bend women were busy preparing for a district convention of the Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. Members of 15 chapters in the district would begin arriving in less than a week, and rooms and transportation still needed to be worked out.
“It is estimated that there will be approximately two hundred regular delegates in attendance, and in addition there will be delegations here from Wichita, Salina, Hays City and a number of towns in the immediate vicinity of Great Bend where the ladies are interested in the movement but where chapters have not already been instituted.”
Organizers asked that those who could give a room to one or more of the delegates get in touch, and those with cars and spare time assist in meeting the trains Sunday night and Monday morning to bring delegates up town.
According to the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation website, the organization was born from a World War I effort by the U.S. government to form a cohesive group to coordinate the identification of women’s available skills and experience. The Women’s War Council was created, and it evolved into The National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, founded on July 15, 1919.
The organization continued to build membership in the United States throughout the 1920s and became an international organization during that decade. In the 1930s, the organization successfully led a campaign to end the practice of preferential hiring of single people or married men, and the firing of married women in the workplace. It has continued to advocate for women ever since.
The BPW/Kansas chapter is still quite active, and will be holding their spring conference this coming weekend, March 21-22, at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Topeka.
In 1925, Kansas seemed a whole lot bigger than it does now, in part because the interstate highway system didn’t exist yet. Roads wound through main streets of small towns, and top speeds were in the 30 mph range, rather than the 70 mph or more we often travel today. Add to that the inevitable breakdowns that occur on even a short road trip, and nerves can become frayed.
“Victor Barnes returned last night from Leavenworth, accompanied by his wife and little daughter, Jean. They reached Salina about seven o’clock and then his troubles commenced. A tire went down and he patched it up temporarily, made another town or so with the tire going down several times, and got a cold patch put on. A little further along, it blew out entirely, taking a section out of the side of the tire, and then he put on the spare and made the balance of the journey without incident. But it was three o’clock this morning when he arrived here.”
Certainly, Mrs. Barnes and Jean had to be happy to be home after such an ordeal.
According to CarHistory4U.com, tires with mountable rims were introduced in 1904, and would have been softer than modern tires. Since drivers still shared the roads with horses, it wasn’t uncommon for horseshoe nails to puncture tires on a regular basis, so drivers needed to be able to make those repairs themselves on the road. Spare tires were an add-on item with a car purchase, in fact.
Today, you better have a spare, and it better be full. Tubeless tires replaced balloon a few decades later.