This week in 1966, young men of draft age who hoped to complete college were given hope when the Selective Service announced it would continue to provide college deferments based on performance for the time being. It was reported in the March 25, 1966 edition of the Tribune, a Selective service spokesman had put it succinctly, “We are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.” It issued guidelines to the local draft boards that allowed them to consider a student’s calss standing and deferment test score in determining deferment eligibility.
The Army’s build up for the Viet Nam war was about two-thirds complete at the time. Some think the rise in college enrollment among men during this war was due to these deferments.
“Those who finished a bachelors degree before reaching age 25 could apply for a graduate deferment in the early and middle years of the war (up to 1968) and could apply for occupational or dependent deferments throughout the period from 1965 to 1970.” (This according to a paper published by the Univeristy of California at Berkely in 2002 http://cle.berkeley.edu/wp/wp46.pdf )
While soldiers fought across the globe, at home the fight was on for civil rights, and this week a win for fairness was achieved. On March 25, the US Supreme court ruled the “poll tax” in the state of Virginia unconstitutional. That left the state of Mississippi the last in the nation to charge a taxi, and was the subject of a report in the Tribune. Those in favor of the tax claimed the ruling “further degraded the rights of the states as granted under the Constitution.”
Those in favor of the ruling, including Vernon Jordan, director of the Southern Regional Council’s Voter Education Project called it, “a great victory,” and “With the end of the literacy tests, and now the poll tax, the only hurdle is now the registrant.” One can only wonder what Jordan would think of Kansas’ current requirements for voter registration, which some have compared to a poll tax because official identification must be produced to register--and this carries a cost. The state is one of nine with strict voter identification laws.
While there was very real upheaval in the world, it must have seemed far away from the relative peacefulness of a life in Great Bend.
In 1966, the high school offered water ballet as an activity for girls. Today, it is referred to as synchronized swimming. According to Wikipedia, Synchronised swimming is a hybrid form of swimming, dance and gymnastics, consisting of swimmers (either solos, duets, trios, combos, or teams) performing a synchronised routine of elaborate moves in the water, accompanied by music.
The group was called the She Sharks, and they would present the spring recital, “Showtime Splashes,” March 29, 30 and 31 in 1966 at the high school swimming pool.
“Members of the She Sharks, senior high girls, have been preparing their program since last fall. Mrs. Janet Jimison is the organization’s director. Natographer for the program is Bev Skoutant with Mary Ann Gunn as assistant natographer.”
The show had 14 routines choreographed to a variety of musical showtunes. Of course, not every member appeared in each number. How could they? It was a popular activity, with 34 members.
This was the fourth consecutive year that Jimison coached the She Sharks. The tradition would continue through at least 1975. There is a gap of years for the Rhoreah yearbook at the Great Bend Public Library, so we were unable to determine exactly what year the She Sharks last swam together, but by 1981, the high school no longer included synchronized swimming as a sport or activity. The boys continued to have a swim team, but the girls did not appear to. There was gymnastics though, which was a much more widely practiced high school sport during the 1980s than it is today.
Contestants registered to compete in the Miss Barton County pageant in May began making appearances and lending their faces to the advertising campaigns of their supporters. The young women began in earnest to prepare for the event, attending a clinic held at the Highland Manor Hotel and the Civic Theater over the weekend. Readers of the Tribune received a sneak peek at the trophies that would be awarded the winner and the runner up.
“Miss America walks down the ramp, tears flowing gently with happiness, clutching her bouquet of beautiful red roses, while cameras take a thousand pictures,” wrote Marjorie McCallum in her article It takes preparation to be a beauty queen. “But few watching on television realize the hours of preparation that go into the making of a Miss America, or a Miss Kansas, or a Miss Barton County. But 17 girls from this area received an inkling of the work it takes to become a winner in the Miss Barton County contest at a clinic held Saturday at the Highland Manor Hotel and at the Civic Theater.
“During a long, six-hour evening, the candidates were sown correct posture; taught to walk up and down stairs (no looking at your feet, please); shown how to apply makeup; advised on hair-do’s; told what to wear and generally helped in all ways of stage deportment.”
The Great Bend Jaycees, sponsors of the event, would act as chaperones the night of the contest. Candidates were Jackie Murray, Holyrood; Sally Sue Smith, Claflin; Susan Carey and Christie Joiner, both of Ellinwood; Jonnie Beth Valerius, Hoisington; and Brenda McCallum, Cheryl Rowland, Sara Davila, Karyl Palmer, Connie Keesling, Lillian Kober, Marva Eberhart, Debbie Vaughan, Marilyn Jo Querry, Nancy Rodgers, and Pam Schneider, all of Great Bend.
On May 14, Karyl Palmer was crowned 1966 Miss Barton County. Miss America Debbie Bryant travelled to Barton County that year to present her with her trophy. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Palmer of Great Bend. Runners up were Susan Carey of Ellinwood and Diane Mason of Great Bend. Brenda McCallum and Connie Keesling, both of Great Bend were named third and fourth runners up. Palmer would compete in the Miss Kansas pageant in Pratt in June of that year.
The First United Presbyterian Church at 24th and Washington began building an $180,000 addition which would include a carillon of 25 English bells and 25 harp bells to be installed in the Spire Tower. Alvin Schneider, Hoisington, was the contractor for the new addition.
Just for fun
The front page photo of the March 24, 1966 edition of The Great Bend Daily Tribune featured an oddity - a four-legged chick. Hatched at Macurdy’s Hatchery, “The little fellow....has two normal legs plus two additional” Bill Blehm, a Macurdy employee, said the chick was hatched from eggs brought in from the Harold Neuforth farm on Rt. 4. Blehm said he would attempt to raise the chick.