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Out of the Morgue
Getting in touch with Santa, cinching up a century, and advances in politics and medicine of 1985
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The Hoisington Centennial logo, designed by Don Boese, featured small drawings of stalks of wheat, birds an oil rig and an industrial plant with a smoke stack, representing agriculture, Cheyenne Bottoms, the oil industry and other industry. The logo would be incorporated into a limited series of belt buckles in pewter, brass and silver. - photo by Tribune file image

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.

By December, 1985, farmers in America were experiencing tough times. In fact, a Dec. 16 Associated Press report from Hutchinson stated, “Violence may be brewing as Kansas farmers grow more and more frustrated with the deteriorating economic condition of agriculture, farm leaders,gathered an economic conference sponsored by the Kansas American Agriculture Movement said.” Weeks earlier an Iowa farmer had made headlines when he went on a shooting rampage, killing his banker, his wife, and himself.
The lifting of sanctions against the Soviet Union couldn’t come at a better time.  While sanctions against grain sales had been dropped back in 1981, now the U.S. would be able to lend money to the Soviets in order for them to increase purchases of American grain.    
Medical advances were also in the news, with Mary Lund, Minneapolis, Minn., announced as the first woman to receive an artificial heart 30 years ago this week.  Her own heart failed during a viral infection.  She utilized the man-made heart until Jan. 31, 1986, when a human heart became available for transplant.  Unfortunately, her new lease on life was to be short-lived.  She died in October, 1986, nine months later at the age of 40.  
Closer to home, Christmas was on the horizon, and the pages of The Great Bend Tribune featured several holiday related stories.   

Buckling down
This week, the City of Hoisington unveiled its concept for a logo designed to commemorate its centennial in 1986.  The logo, created by Don Boese, would be available on commemorative belt buckles in the spring, just in time for a slate of reunion activities and celebrations to begin in March and carry forward through the rest of the year.  Numbered buckles in pewter or brass would be sold for $20 each.  Twenty-five silver buckles were also ordered at a cost of $200 each.  The first would be sold at an auction, and chances sold for buckle number ten, according to the story by Tribune reporter Susan Thacker.  
If anyone has one of the belt buckles,  send us a photo to, and if you bought it for yourself or if it was a gift, and we’ll feature it in an upcoming Out of the Morgue as we near the anniversary of some of the centennial year activities.  

Reach out and touch Santa
In 1986, a nursing home in Larned called the Hammond Holiday Home, offered a unique holiday service to the kids of the Golden Belt.  Residents volunteered to take calls from youngsters up until Dec. 23 for an hour and a half each afternoon.  They would answer the “Ho Ho Hotline” as Santa or Mrs. Claus.  Not only did the kids get a treat, the residents received the gift of once again being involved with children at Christmas.  The program was very popular, with 35 to 40 calls coming in each day, according to Chuck Smith’s report.
In 1990, the Hammond Holiday Home building was sold to New Covenant Church which still meets there today.

A foot in the door
Susan Thacker offered a glimpse of Christmas in her column, Through a Child’s Eye.  This week, she asked preschoolers, “How does Santa get in your house?”  While some, like Amanda Strecker, 5, were certain Santa came down the chimney.  Others, like Grant Coleman, 4, Kristi Reif, 4, Pandora Jacobs, 3, Jacob Reeves, 4 and Katie Ransom, 4, figured he came through the door since they did not have chimneys.  One thing was sure, they all knew they could count on Santa, and they would all have milk and cookies waiting for him when he got there.  

More letters to Santa
Each era has their memorable must-have Christmas toy, and 1985 was no exception.  Ask anyone in their 40s or 50s, and they’ll remember Cabbage Patch Kids.  Other biggies of 1985 were anything Rainbow Brite, Care Bears, and Gobots.

Dear Santa,
I want a cabbage patch premie boy and the Heart family barbies.  And please bring something nice for my brother Adam.
Love, Ashly Emerson

Dear Santa,
How are you?  I have been a good girl.  I want a cookie crafter, Gobots and Gobot Command Center, Operation, and She-ra and Glimmer, and Bed Bugs.  I hope you have a Merry Christmas and Happy Christmas to the reindeer too.
Love, Chalan King

Dear Santa,
My name is Jamie Bunting, and I will be 3 years old next month.  Momma says you can’t read my writing, so she’s doing it for me.
Please bring me a Cabbage Patch Boy and a toy box for Christmas.  Momma asked what else I want, but I just said a Cabbage Patch and toy box.  

This year, letters to Santa written by students at area schools were printed in last Sunday’s edition of the Tribune.  Lo and behold, the Cabbage Patch kid has reappeared, but as pictured with a subtly different look.

Dear Santa,
How is Rudolph and Mrs. Claus doing?  I have been a good girl this year so could you please bring me a turtle with its own tank and a suit case for when I travel. I also would like a cabbage patch doll.  I will leave you chocolate chip cookies and milk.  Have a good Christmas!
Love, Emma Bahr.  

Just for fun
1985 was the year — The First Baby Boomers to turn 40 years old.  That was the headline, announcing “The Baby Boom generation, that huge group of Americans who burst forth after World War II to flood the schools and reorient American society toward youth, is about to start turning 40.”  ( As a Gen Xer, the author assumes the writer was a Baby Boomer.)   The story went on to list the impact through sheer numbers the generation had on schools, housing, the market and the work force.  This year, those of that generation began turning 70, and similar stories about the impact they will have on Social Security have been abundant, as they continue to make history.