This week in 1936, many minor historical events took place, all adding up to an interesting week.
First, on March 4, the airship that would be named Hindenburg flew for the first time at Friedrichshafen, Germany. This was not newsworthy to readers of The Great Bend Daily Tribune, but other news concerning Germany and France was. German troops were massing on the border between Germany and France. This was being followed very closely but newspapers all over the world, and Great Bend was no exception.
The Hindenburg would fly it’s final flight a little over a year later, May 6,1937, when it caught fire while tethered to the ground in New Jersey. It took less than a minute, as the craft was filled with 7 million cubic feet of hydrogen gas, according to Airships.net.
Germany would break the Treaty of Versailles on March 7 when Adolf Hitler ordered troops to enter the Rhineland. This marked the beginning of what would become World War II. But, this week in 1936, even France did not believe it would become the war that it was destined to become.
In the United States, historical blips were much more entertaining than world altering. The 8th Annual Academy Awards took place on March 5, and Bette Davis, Victor McLaglen and “Mutiny on the Bounty” were the big winners.
Davis would win another Oscar in 1939, and would be nominated for nine more in her long career. McLaglen would win only one Oscar, but still enjoyed a prolific career.
March 8, 1936, marked the beginning of stock car racing at Daytona Beach, Fla. Prior to that, speed records had been set as early as 1927. Today, Daytona is synonymous with NASCAR.
Moses building repairs
And while all this burgeoning excitement was going on in different corners of the world, day-to-day life was relatively quiet here in Great Bend. Roosevelt was campaigning for a second presidency, and the Great Depression was fading into a recession.
It was reported that the Moses building, damaged by fire years earlier, was soon to be repaired.
“Work began today on remodeling the Moses building, Williams Avenue between Forest Avenue and Broadway, which will be occupied by Evans-Stoss, motor car dealers, when completed. Several men this morning were tearing the galvanized steel from the roof and sides of the rear half of the building.
“It is estimated that the remodeling work will cost approximately $11,000. It will include the removal of the top story of the two-story building which was damaged by fire several years ago, the rebuilding of the rear half with brick and other major changes.”
By 1940, the dealership was under new ownership as Parish Motors. It remained in that family until sometime in 1989, as indicated by city directories in the Barton County Historical Society museum library.
Speaking of fire, Great Bend firefighters were called upon to put out a fire in town on March 8, 1936.
“A stubborn fire of unknown origin resulted in damage estimated at $100 at the Fred Michaux junk paper establishment at 5th and Morton streets yesterday afternoon shortly after 1 o’clock.
“Paper boxes, excelsior and waste paper sold by Michaux was scattered about the premises and close to the barn, in which bales of paper are stored. Several hogs were kept in the west side of the barn and it was at first thought that they would be smothered by smoke. However, the three water lines used by the fire department soon had the fire out.”
Eventually, Michaux’ home and business made way for more houses and ......
Cigarette tax received
More evidence that the Depression was not yet over was the fact it was reported the county had received check for $322 from the state that week. The funds came from the cigarette taxes.
“Two-fifths of the amount was placed in the county poor fund, one-fifth in the county general fund and the remaining two-fifths was distributed among the cities of the county according to population.”
It was also noted that Barton County citizens paid 6.1 cents per capita cigarette tax, which was not the highest (Rice paid 8.5 cents), nor the lowest (Stafford paid 3.1 cents). Since then, cigarette taxes have increased. But, in 2014, Kansas was among the lowest in the country. In 2015, Kansas hiked its cigarette tax, making it among the highest in the country.
Caring for the aged and needy
The poor fund could likely use the money. It was reported many counties in the state were voluntarily providing the benefits of the proposed Federal Social Security program, which would begin providing benefits a year later. This was because Kansas had proposed its own optional plan to the Feds and believed it would be accepted. The first plan was not accepted, and the governor was looking into another proposal.
It was noted there were “approximately 10,000 persons over 65 in Kansas deemed eligible for old age assistance, 6,000 dependent children and 500 needy blind.”
In addition, Kansas counties were carrying between 25,000 and 27,000 relief causes, and funds were also being given to support 3,000 to 4,000 WPA workers whose work relief checks were not enough to meet their needs.
The report stated “it always had been the policy of the county to give financial assistance to aged needy persons and widows with children, provided it was found they were worthy.”
According to an article in the publication Rural Heritage, The Poor Farm Revisited by Don Darling, in 1936 there was the county poor farm for the poor without children. Darling spent many days during his youth there, since his grandfather was the superintendent of the Dickenson County Poor Farm.
“Inmates worked in the large summer gardens, planting, hoeing, and harvesting vegetables. Others practiced animal husbandry, caring for the horses, cows, pigs, and chickens. Two retarded brothers, Ray and Lester, were excellent farm hands. With tobacco juice dribbling down their chins and abysmal dental hygiene, they probably didn’t live long, but their lives were productive and satisfying. All but the most physically and mentally debilitated were able to contribute in some way. This gave them satisfaction and gained the respect of their peers.”
The Barton County poor farm closed under protest in 1968. Many of the state’s poor farms closed at that time. It was the beginning of a new era, where institutionalization was beginning to be frowned upon.
From the sounds of it, one Great Bend depositor made a costly mistake.
“A bundle of currency wrapped in newspaper was received through the mails at one of the Great Bend banks yesterday with the marking “Please Deposit.”
The bank followed instructions but was at a loss as to whom to credit the money. There was no name on the package nor on the instructions.”