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.
The Great Bend Daily Tribune, Jan. 12 1966, carried a small, history-making post on the front page, “Robert Weaver to be First Negro Cabinet Member.” President Lyndon B. Johnson made the announcement at a press conference held the day before. He would be the first ever Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, created to “bring order to urban chaos.” Prior to that, he was head of the Housing and Home Finance Agency since 1961. Not only was there no opposition to the post, he was quickly confirmed, and by Jan. 18 took his position, as reported in “Bob WEaver, First Negro in U.S. Cabinet.”
“The ceremonies completed the historic appointment which Monday received unanimous Senate approval, including that of one of the body’s most vocal segregationists, Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C.”
Fifty-years later, one could not imagine such a fast confirmation, nor a unanimous Senate approval, during the current administration.
A political cartoon honored Marguerite Higgins Hall, an American war correspondent who, during her 23 year career, was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Foreign Correspondence awarded in 1951 for her coverage of the Korean War. (read her book at https://archive.org/details/warinkoreatherep011941mbp ) She died Jan. 3, 1966 after succumbing to an illness she contracted while on assignment. She is buried in Arlington National Cemetery with her husband, Lt. General William Evans Hall.
“Batman”, starring Adam West as Batman, Burt Ward as Robin, and Cesar Romero as The Joker, debuted on ABC. In the Jan. 13 edition, Rick DuBrow, a United Press International writer, reviewed the television show, the headline declaring, “TV’s Batman falls short of comic book.”
“I don’t know why we should have expected Wednesday night’s premiere of ABC-TV’s “Batman” series, based on the old comic book hero, to be as hip as advertised,” he wrote. “Needless to say, it wasn’t. And needless to say, it couldn’t have been, because to be hip, to be anything - really anything - means to be able to go all out without fear, and television can’t do that because it’s afraid it might lose three viewers in (some) backwoods area.”
Surely, with the plethora of channels available today, each competing to outdo the next with the most boundary-breaking programing possible without breaking FCC rules, DuBrow would probably be shocked. In 2016, several programs are coming out featuring super heroes with history. In fact, at the website DenOfGeek.com, find the post “42 upcoming comic book TV shows and when to expect them.” (See Legends of Tomorrow, Krypton, Outcast and The Infinite Horizon) Another that sounds interesting--Lucifer on FOX.
“Styled on David Bowie, this version of the Father Of Lies jacks in his job in Hell for a more glamorous life in Los Angeles. Here, in the TV version, he will start helping solve local crimes (that bit’s a departure from the comics).”
Speaking of David Bowie, researching this week in 1966, we learned that on Jan. 14, 1966, Bowie released his first record, “Can’t Help Thinking About Me.” Fifty years later, he would release his last, on his birthday, just two days before his death. The final album, “Blackstar,” is currently being talked about worldwide.
In the Jan. 18 edition, it was reported the Great Bend City Council had approved an ordinance which would allow non-partisan elections for city offices such as mayor, city council, city treasurer and police judge. This allowed candidates to run without support from a party and without political designation.
“Great Bend was one of the few cities of its size still holding elections on a party basis,” the report reads. “The new non-partisan election system will be in force for this year’s municipal balloting.”
Now, 50 years later, Great Bend along with every other municipality in the state, is tasked with rewriting its election procedures because the state legislature last year voted to eliminate spring elections, moving all elections to November. Some communities are not only noting the change of elections in their newly penned charters, but also making other changes concerning primaries, and if the system will be by ward or at-large. Great Bend’s city council continues to be elected by a ward system, but other towns in the county are looking at adding an at-large component in order to open up opportunities to more potential candidates. All municipalities in the county continue to be non-partisan.
Homemaker of tomorrow
Miss Marilyn Querry of Great Bend High School was named the GBHS Homemaker of Tomorrow after scoring the highest in the written knowledge and attitude examination for the contest sponsored by Betty Crocker. She would now be eligible for state and national scholarship awards. While no evidence could be found that Miss Querry ever went past the local level in the contest, she did continue her education and became a teacher later in life.
An obituary reveals, “Her family moved to Great Bend, KS where she graduated in 1966. In Great Bend, she met her high school sweetheart and on August 9, 1969 she married Robert Eugene Becker, son of Winnis and Evelyn Becker of Great Bend, KS. She graduated from Kansas State University in 1970, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. She began her teaching career in Abilene.”
Later, the family moved to Ponca City, Okla., where she taught elementary school, retiring after 32 years in 2003. Marilyn passed away in 2010, having led a full and interesting life.
GBHS grad with Apollo program
In the Jan. 14, 1966 edition of the paper, readers learned “Former GB Man at Space Flight Center in Alabama.” It told of Gordon Platt, a graduate from Great Bend High School (likely class of 1954) who was the experiment director for an upcoming Apollo Saturn mission.
Platt was reported to be the son of Mr. and Mrs. C. G. Platt, who lived at 810 Hubbard St. “Platt... is a graduate of Great Bend High School and joined the space program just after graduating from Kansas State University with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1958. He has been involved in work going on for nose cone reentry heat simulations and tests and propulsions system thermal analysis on Jupiters,” it was reported.
While little could be found on the internet about Platt, we found a 1967 NASA document listing Platt.
“Flight Director’s Experiment Representative: Gordon Platt, 31, was born in Pratt, Kansas. He has a BS in mechanical engineering from Kansas State, and an MS degree from the University of Alabama. He joined NASA, Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in July 1960. Platt will advise the Flight Director as required on the experimental AS203 mission. He is the senior MSFC representative present at MSC for the mission.”
A brief description of the mission, launched on July 5, 1966, can be found at http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/history/apollo/as203/index.html Objectives were met, but there was no recovery of the space vehicle.