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.
In recent weeks, as the United States has wrestled with our presidential primaries and what lives matter, there have been several comparisons with what was occurring in the country 50 years ago. A look at the Great Bend Daily Tribune from this week in 1966 drives the point home. The peaceful events of the Civil Rights movement were now overshadowed by the violence of riots in Cleveland, Ohio, and in the slums of other U.S., cities. Minorities, especially black people, who felt the progress of equality was moving too slowly. President L.B. Johnson, who was pushing to get his antipoverty and civil rights programs passed, was less than eloquent about the speed of progress. He tried to calm the masses with statements that he was “not interested in ‘black power’ or ‘white power;’ What I am concerned with is democratic power, with a small ‘D’.” The Vietnam War was heating up and the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were enemies with opposing doctrines. Britain was facing economic austerity, and there were rumblings of devaluation of the pound. And, on top of all that, there were the primaries. So, yes, it was a lot like what we are experiencing today. Rock and Roll and the music scene was like relief for the world in the midst of strife on multiple fronts.
This week was a pretty eventful one in the world of Rock and Roll too. On July 23, the Cavern Club in Liverpool reopened after being closed for five months because owner Ray McFall was declared bankrupt. It wasn’t because of any lacking popularity on the Club’s part. After the Beatles performed their last gig on Aug. 3, 1966 at the Cavern, a host of other top artists continued to bring in the crowds, albeit not very profitably. Also this week, Brian Jones completed his final performance as a Rolling Stone, Eric Clapton recorded guitar tracks for George Harrison’s “While My Guitar..,” and the Supremes released “You Can’t Hurry Love.” And on July 20, The Beatles’ “Yesterday... & Today” album went #1 and stays #1 for five weeks. The next day, Alabamians burned Beatle products due to John Lennon’s anti-Jesus remark, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink….We’re more popular than Jesus now.” ( http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/john-lennon-sparks-his-first-major-controversy )
The goings on of the world, while they populated the local paper, seemed to contrast with the everyday lives of those in a small Kansas town. For those who lived here, there were only simulated disasters to worry about.
According to an editorial in the Great Bend Daily Tribune this week in 1966, “two strangers passing through Great Bend Tuesday evening were alarmed at the apparent disaster which had taken place. Fortunately, the screaming sirens, roadblocks, and “victims” strewn about the Courthouse Square were only part of a practice alert for the newly reorganized Civil Defense program in Great Bend.”
The story and photos appeared in the Wednesday paper, front page. In a simulated emergency, EMS responders were dispatched to the north side of the Courthouse Square with information that a tornado had struck. They sought out the “victims” and doctors and nurses assembled at the medical center. The “victims” in the rehearsal were members of the Great Bend Girl Scouts who were realistically made up to simulate people with varying types of injuries. At the review meeting following the simulation, the prime needs for future planning included a better system of radio communication between emergency vehicles and the medical center and a large truck which could be used to transport supplies and personnel to the scene.
Since then, Civil Defense has been renamed Emergency Management, but its main raison d’etre remains the same. “ to reduce the loss of life; to minimize property loss and damage to the environment; and to protect Barton County from all threats and hazards,” according to the county website. The program now includes planning for chemical or technological events, natural disasters, disease planning, and multiple other hazards.
Gemini Club in Sunday spotlight
Photos of Great Bend mothers of twins and their offspring dotted the front page of the July 24, 1966 Tribune. A precede to the Gemini Club’s summer picnic to be held on Aug. 7, the story provided some history about the group and an open invitation to mothers of twins and triplets.
The club, part of the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs, was founded in 1960 by Mrs. Bill Johnson, who was a newcomer to the area. She helped to organize a local chapter of the club. In 1966, Mrs. Gene Rothenberg was a member, and served as a state officer, and as such made contact with Dixie Lee Dodd, the Tribune’s Women’s Editor. The club brought mothers together to share information and support for the unique challenges they faced.
“Members were not selected by their social status, age group or economic level, in fact, as the saying goes, “only God could choose the members.”
Photos included Mrs. August Collins and her sons Leslie and Wesley, Mrs. Douglas Wilson and her daughters Diana and Deanna, Mrs. Glenn Maresch’s boys Eldred and Edward, Mrs. Jerry Lindeman and her fraternal twins Traci and Todd, and Mrs. Ralph Hart and her adult twin daughters Teresa Kay and Clara May Roach.
Today, NOWOTC still exists, but has recently been renamed Multiples of America. The nearest clubs to Great Bend are Hutchison MOM and Wichita POM. More information can be found at http://www.multiplesofamerica.org/
Today, also, The Tribune does not have a Women’s Editor.
This week, library patrons at the Great Bend Public Library were finally able to make copies of printed materials, using the new Xerox 914 Copier, which could reproduce positive single or multiple copies at the rate of seven per minute. Copies cost “just 10 cents” This was a savings over the old copier that produced negative impressions for 25 cents a sheet.
Fast forward to 2016. Last week, patrons of the Ellinwood School and Community Library could use the new 3D printer. The Central Kansas Library System received a grant allowing them to award one printer to each service area, and chose Ellinwood for this new technology. Patrons can print a 3D representation of a program uploaded to the printer for the cost of $.06 per gram of filament. And someday, that’s going to seem just as quaint.
Also, this week, a photo of “the latest thing in large-scale, self-propelled sprinkler irrigation” a rig shown in operation at the interior department’s Columbia Basin Project in Washington State. The blurry photo looked as much like today’s pivot irrigation as a 1960s tractor might look compared to one of today. “Water pressure supplies the power to move the entire sprinkler line across the field,” the caption stated.
One photo on the front page of the July 22 Tribune is evidence that the intersection of 10th and Washington St has flooded after heavy rains for quite some time. “A large size lake formed at 10th and Washington early this morning after the torrential downpour which occurred in about an hour. The water at about 7:30 a.m. was just about floorboard deep all the way to 9th with passage from the A&W drive plenty wet whether one followed the signs for a right turn or sneaked off in a left direction.”
How on earth did Great Bend not hold onto an A&W? That’s the real question. At least we’ll have a Freddy’s soon.