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Traditions and history of Great Bend celebrated in 1988
Mr. Perfect Panther Eric Couch laughs while being crowned Mr. Perfect Panther by last years winner, Jason Weil, Thursday night at the Great Bend High School Auditorium. The event, a take-off on girls beauty pageants, was sponsored by the GBHS Kayettes to raise money for the Leukemia Foundation. - photo by Tribune file photo

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.

A lot was going on this week in 1988 throughout the world. In addition to reports by NASA that the ozone layer was quickly breaking down due to the use of CFK, coverage of conflicts in the Middle East and in Ireland punctuated the news. The largest ever chemical weapons attack on record occurred, killing 5,000 civilians. Victims were from the Kurdish town of Halabja. And, on March 16, North Ireland Protestants fired on a Catholic funeral, killing three. Perhaps as retaliation, two British soldiers were lynched in Belfast, North Ireland three days later.
Also, on March 16, a federal grand jury indicted Oliver North and John Poindexter in what would become known as the Iran-Contra Affair. According to an Associated Press report, in the Great Bend Tribune, the charges were “deceitfully exploiting” U.S. weapons sales to Iran.
According to Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh, the 23-count indictment charging that North, former national security adviser John Poindexter and two weapons dealers engaged in a criminal conspiracy was “simply an interim report” of the grand jury’s 14-month investigation.
The indictment charged that the defendants circumvented a statutory ban on U.S. military aid to the Nicaraguan Contra rebels “by deceitfully and without legal authorization” setting up a clandestine private arms supply network. In addition, the four allegedly conspired to defraud the government “by deceitfully exploiting for their own purposes and corrupting” the U.S. arms sales to Iran that were approved by President Reagan in an attempt to win release of American hostages in Lebanon. The government only received $12.2 million of the $30 million worth of weapons sold to Iran. Essentially, their actions went behind the back of Congress, which outlawed further support of the Contras.
According Wikipedia, gleaned from reports in the New York Times, “North, indicted on 16 counts, was found guilty by a jury of three felony counts. The convictions were vacated on appeal on the grounds that North’s Fifth Amendment rights may have been violated by the indirect use of his testimony to Congress, which had been given under a grant of immunity. In 1990, Poindexter was convicted on several felony counts of conspiracy, lying to Congress, obstruction of justice, and altering and destroying documents pertinent to the investigation. His convictions were also overturned on appeal on similar grounds.”

Neighbors still help neighbors
A Tribune editorial this week in 1988 sang the praises of rural communities.
“The Golden Belt is not the only place where neighbors still help each other, but there seems to be less and less of that across the country, in light of the desire by so many to not get involved.
As is often the case in rural communities, however, residents around Galatia got involved Sunday and helped some friends in the process.
Neighbors of Kenneth and Cindy Stoskopf rallied when they heard their friends’ house was on fire and entered the burning building to save the couple’s belongings.
Their effort went beyond the duty normally prescribed for neighbors. But that happens around here.
Friends will help each other get their crops in or harvest a deceased neighbor’s wheat. They put together funds when a neighbor is hospitalized for a long period and bring over a meal when someone dies.
Neighborhoods, even in this area, may not be as close as they once were, but the spirit of friendship still exists.
During a time when there is so much negative being discussed about our area, it’s important to realize we do have a lot for which we should be thankful.”

Mr. Perfect Panther
Great Bend High School’s annual parody on beauty pageants, the Mr. Perfect Panther contest, featured eight boys competing for the title in 1988. They were Craig Curtis, Josh Davis, Joel Krosschell, Jason Frank, Mike Perry, Travis Milsap, Mike Cole and Eric Couch.
“Formal wear for the event is being provided by Brentwood Ltd., while boys will come up with their own performances and farcical swimsuits, Kayettes sponsor Tina Hiss said. The competitors were also expected to present a chorus line song and dance.
Eric Couch was a reluctant participant, but in the end was crowned the fourth Mr. Perfect Panther.
“During the competition, the audience saw a pair of hunters (Couch and Cole) who sang about the latter’s “little buttercup” girlfriend, a magic show by Frank and Krosschell, the latter who was dressed as a woman; and a striptease by Milsap that was marred by sound problems,” wrote Tribune Staff Writer Mike Wilson. “Despite the sound difficulties, Milsap was awarded by the crowd with $1.22 in change that was thrown onto the stage.”
The event raised $350 for the Leukemia Foundation.
We took a peek at the USD 428 calendar, and couldn’t find information about the Mr. Perfect Panther contest listed. Say it isn’t so! Hopefully, this is just an oversight, and someone will call the Tribune and set us straight.

Kilby visits Great Bend
Also this week was the announcement of the upcoming Kansas Inventors Workshop and Exposition, the second of what organizers hoped would become an annual event happening here in Great Bend.
“We’re so pleased that one of our native sons is coming home to assist us and to encourage Kansas inventors,” the announcement stated. It went on to give a brief overview of Kilby’s accomplishments, noting he had recently become the 43rd American to be inducted into the U.S. Patents Office’s National Inventors Hall of Fame, along with inventors Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Henry Ford.
“All Kilby did was to work out the idea of the monolithic integrated circuit, better known as the semiconductor chip, in which components of an electric circuit can be put together on a sliver of silicon no bigger than an infant’s thumbnail. I accomplished this in 1958 while working for Texas Instruments.”
Later, at the event, according to a Tribune report, Kilby said there’s one big difference between inventors at the show, and himself.
“There wasn’t any question about who owned it,” he said about his integrated circuit patent. Kilby was an employee of Texas instruments when he came up with the idea.
Today, Kilby is forever memorialized in the square that bears his name outside the Barton County Courthouse.