By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Out of the Morgue
Rising up, renovating and building in 1956
otm vlc old-gbpl-childrens-library.gif
According to the 1956 Tribune feature about renovations at the Carnegie-era library, One of the most popular rooms in the new library program is this childrens department smartly styled in the basement. After school the room fills with little people, pouring over books specially purchased for them. Mrs. A.S. Goodwin, one of two librarians n charge of this department, is seated at her desk. - photo by Tribune file photo

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 1956, the world watched as the U.S.S.R. invaded Hungary in response to a student-led demonstration against the Communist government there.
“The people revolted against both their Russian masters and their own Hungarian Communist regime. Russia used her troops to put down the riots and save the Hungarian Communist government,” it was reported by the Associated Press in the Great Bend Tribune Oct. 24.
The uprising occurred shortly after a similar attempt by Communist Poland to seize power and separate from the Soviets.
It was a decisive lowering of the “iron curtain.” The uprising that lasted less than three weeks ended when the Soviet Politburo decided to send in troops to crush the uprising instead of withdrawing its forces and negotiating.
According to the Nov. 12 AP story that ran in the Tribune, “In the relentless Russian pursuit of the nationalist remnants, rows of workers houses were shattered, a children’s clinic was wiped out, hospitals were set afire. To wipe out a single rifleman, the Russians would turn a full barrage from tanks, machine guns and automatic weapons, and destroy an entire building. Correspondents returning from the east said the city was in the grips of indescribable horror, more horrible even than they had seen in the days of World War II.”
Two-thousand Hungarians and 700 Soviet soldiers died, and 200,000 Hungarian refugees fled the country. For those who travel, it should be noted that some of those refugees came to the United States, many to Denver, Colo. In the 1960s, a monument dedicated to the Hungarian uprising was unveiled. It can be seen on Speer Blvd. by drivers traveling between downtown Denver and the Cherry Creek mall.
According to Wikipedia, “Public discussion about this revolution was suppressed in Hungary for more than 30 years. Since the thaw of the 1980s, it has been a subject of intense study and debate. At the inauguration of the Third Hungarian Republic in 1989, 23 October was declared a national holiday.”

Library revolution
In Great Bend, Tribune City Editor Paul Conrad was drawn in by the happenings in Poland and Hungary. Reporting on what’s new at the Great Bend Public Library, he took a revolutionary angle on the story, “All About a Revolution--In Great Bend.
The story detailed efforts to renovate the then 48-year-old building, a Carnegie-era library that stood where the current library’s parking lot is today.
“It began nearly three years ago. Members of the library board had long wrestled with the problem of either building a new library or renovating the present structure. With taxes taking a sizeable chunk of every man’s paycheck, the board doubted whether the community wanted to spend the $100,000 or so required to build a fine new structure.
So Board members took stock of what assets they had on hand. The building was actually big enough to hold all the library’s collection fro some time to come. An entire top floor was empty, having been built originally as a theater, and then abandoned when other facilities in the city replaced the library’s theater. The building would never be beautiful, but it could be made more comfortable.”
One of the key concerns of the library board in 1956 was the creation of a space for children. “If we lose them to television, the youngsters will never come back,” Lewis was quoted having said. Television was new, becoming widely available to the masses beginning in the mid 1950s. Fortunately, libraries continue to remain relevant, and children continue to find their way to the shelves, even now with far more electronic distractions available to them than could be imagined in the 1950s.
Thanks to help from Barton County Historical Society Museum historian Karen Neuforth, we learned more about the transition from the old library to the one we know and love today.
Littler more than a decade later, after much effort was put into the renovations, it was determined that the structure was not sound. In 1969, it was decided that a new library would be built, and in January, 1971, children in Great Bend formed a bucket brigade of sorts between the old library and the new, passing along books to fill the shelves of their new, modern children’s library.

Building their dream home
This week, the Tribune featured the Holt family, who were in the process of building their dream house together that year. Mr. and Mrs. F.R. Holt and their 14-year-old daughter Linda had some help from friends and family, but most of the work was being done by just the three of them. Finding time to work on the project with both parents holding down jobs and Linda in school was, admittedly a challenge. Mr. Holt, a carpenter, went to work early each morning at the Arkansas River Diversion Dam site, and after his shift finished at 1:30 p.m., he would then put in a second shift on the house.
“Mrs. Holt spends her mornings keeping up her housekeeping chores or working on the new home, while in the afternoons she is employed as a secretary at the First Christian Church. From there it’s back to the dream house and hammers, saws, nails are mixed with elbow grease until the sun goes to bed and the day’s work is called to a halt.”
Mrs. Holt designed the house herself, “after three years of studying various magazines and fitting various ideas to the needs of her own family.”
The house is located at the corner of Washington and Quivira. According to the article, the house was to be veneered in dark pink brick with turquoise trim.

And, just for fun--

Double take
The school-aged twins of St. Rose school were featured on the front page of the Tribune Oct. 25, 1956. There was no explanation why, but based on the time of year, it’s possible it was picture day. Who could resist, with eight sets of twins in a school of 402, taking such a photo? It was noted that of all the combinations, none were all boy.