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BAK, rodeo queens, and band concerts in 1988
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The summer reading program at the Great Bend Public Library in 1988 was Dinosaur Daze. Pictured here are Jason Riegel, then 6 (left) and John Drake, then 7, were spotted checking facts in the Encyclopedia of Presidents one afternoon this week in 1988 at the library. - 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.

This week in 1988, three giant turtles were discovered in a Bronx sewage plant in New York. We swear, it had nothing to do with any teenage mutants, or ninjas. It really happened, and its only a coincidence that in 1987, there was an episode in the second season of the newly popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoon, “It came from beneath the sewers.”
Bronx sewage workers discovered the three approximately 50 lbs snapping turtles, which they believed were pets possibly flushed down the toilet years earlier.
We found that Britain, today, actually has quite and issue with “flushed terrapins,” baby turtles brought home as souvenirs to Britain, and subsequently disposed of. Laws were passed making it illegal to release them into the wild, so apparently flushing them down the “pan” was a quick and convenient solution.
Also this week, presidential candidate George H. W. Bush made a campaign promise to support reparations for WWII Japanese-American internees. The announcement came as Bush was working on wrapping up a win for the California primary. According to the 2013 National Public Radio article, “ From Wrong To Right: A U.S. Apology For Japanese Internment”
In (August) 1988, President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act to compensate more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent who were incarcerated in internment camps during World War II. The legislation offered a formal apology and paid out $20,000 in compensation to each surviving victim. The law won congressional approval only after a decade-long campaign by the Japanese-American community.”
Bush went on to win the presidency over Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts.

BAK comes to Barton County
Meanwhile, in back home in Kansas, the 14th Bike Across Kansas ride was on. In 1988, the ride came through Barton county, and Hoisington was where the over 300 riders spent the night, marking the halfway point in their 500-mile trek across Kansas, according to the report by the Tribune Area Reporter Dale Hogg, who, we might add, has ridden BAK since then himself ( the first was in 2014, when BAK came through Barton county, and Dale was there to experience the pouring rain. The second time was in 2016).
“I had no clue then that I would be doing it myself nearly 30 years later,” he said Wednesday afternoon at the offices of the Tribune.
That year, the route began near Tribune, the city, and finished in Louisburg. The original group started with 647 bikers, mostly from Kansas, and split that morning at Ransom, with half spending the evening in Russell, and the other in Hoisington.
This year, the 44th BAK started Saturday, June 9, taking the southern route, from Johnson, and ending at Ft. Scott.

Local girl wins crown
A Barton County teen, Kathy Feldman, was crowned the Kansas High School Rodeo Queen that June following the state finals held June 1-4 in Topeka. She went on to compete for the national title at the national High School Rodeo Finals July 22 in Pueblo, Colo., the report, “Local girl crowned state rodeo queen,” stated. She was the first KHS Rodeo Queen from western Kansas.
To qualify, Feldman had competed at 23 rodeos during the year in events that included team roping, barrels, poles and breakaway roping. She was one of three candidates. She received a crown and banner,a saddle, saddle blanket, belt buckle and many other gifts.
She was a member of the Great Bend and Odin saddle clubs and the Appaloosa Horse Club, and reigned as the 1987 Frontier Festival PRCA Rodeo Junior Queen at Great Bend and 1987 KSRA Rodeo Junior Queen at Odin, and was a first runner-up at the KHSRQ finals in 1987.
She is listed with the National High School Rodeo Association as a past queen for 1989.

Band opens summer season
The first City Band concert of the season was held this week. In 1988, the Tribune said the concert would be held at Lafayette Park. Times change, and so do the names we commonly refer to locations as. Today, as then, the concerts were held in the Clayton L. Morrison Bandshell on the south end of the Courthouse Square, which is located in Lafayette Park. We also today refer to the stage where the band plays as the Thelma Faye Harms Stage at the Clayton L. Morrison Bandshell, following its rededication on June 1, 2017. The Thelma Faye Harms Foundation provided the means for the city to make major improvements to the stage, providing more space, improved access and better lighting for groups like the City Band that perform there.
Koch has since retired. Today, Steven Leuth directs the band, which opened its 2018 season on Thursday, May 31.