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Out of the Morgue
Pet parades, holiday giveaways and a royal romance in 1936
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Wedding photos of Edward, Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson are rare, as the wedding occurred without publicity shortly after Simpsons divorce was finalized, and after Edward abdicated the British throne in order to marry her. No other members of the Royal Family attended the wedding. - photo by Courtesy BBC

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.

Readers of the Great Bend Tribune opened their evening paper to the news that their President was in mourning for a trusted friend. August (Gus) Gennerich, his bodyguard of 28 years who had accompanied him on a diplomatic trip to Argentina, died of a heart attack suddenly, while dancing into the early morning hours at a restaurant in Buenos Aires. Roosevelt had travelled there to address a 21-nation inter-American peace conference.
But even the president’s grief was not enough to distract Americans, or the rest of the world for that matter, from the unfolding scandalous love affair of Britain’s King Edward VIII, who had ascended to the throne in January of that year after his father, George V died. Edward had been in love with American socialite Wallis “Wally” Simpson for nearly two years, and wished to marry her. The problem was, she was divorced, and was also in the middle of her second divorce. With both husbands still living, a royal marriage would be out of the question on constitutional grounds. The only solution would be to end the relationship, or abdicate the throne. Abdicate is exactly what Edward aimed to do, though support from the Prime Minister and Parliament was wanting. Still, the British people were caught up in the romance. As Edward made his intentions clear, the world waited, and while they waited, Simpson was pursued by the press. Reports, shared in the Tribune, of her travelling to France, where she went into seclusion with the help of friends from her school days, and various sightings, speculation on when the two would meet again, and the usual lack of Royal privacy resulted. A week later, Edward Abdicated, and his younger brother became King George VI. Edward became the Duke of Windsor.
Six months later, once Simpson’s divorce was finalized, they wed. She became the Duchess of Windsor.
It was reported this Wednesday by the BBC that a rare set of wedding photographs of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson sold at auction for £11,400 including fees by Bellmans Auctioneers in Billingshurst. ( )
According to the report, the wedding was done discreetly, and no other members of the Royal Family attended. A Lady Alexandra Metcalfe took the photographs, and provided a set to each of the guests.

Pets on parade
Meanwhile, back home in Great Bend, “big, fluffy flakes of snow began falling here during the noon hour, marking the first snow of the season.” Holiday preparations were underway to make spirits bright. A pet parade was planned for the weekend, and children entering the parade would have a shot at winning one of three cash prizes totalling $15. All participants would also receive a free ticket to the Plaza movie theater. The tickets would only be valid the following week, however.
“Last year considerable confusion resulted when the parade entrants dashed fro the theater immediately following the parade and tied their pets to anything that happened to be in reach.”
The parade starting point was 11th and Main Street, and the children would lead their charges up to Main Street, where the owner of the Plaza would hand out tickets and winners would be announced.
Well, the best laid plans were dashed by mother nature, and it was announced that the parade was postponed to the following week due to inclement weather.
“The committee in charge said it was aware of the fact that many rural children would not be able to participate if the parade was held this afternoon and inasmuch as the parade is for them as well as the children in Great Bend and in other towns, it as deemed advisable to hold it over one week.”
When the day finally arrived, the kids and the pets didn’t disappoint. Too bad there wasn’t a staff photographer at the time, because it would have been a photo-op made in Heaven.
“A caged wagon full of five spotted coach pups called the “Quintuplets” (clearly a reference to the Dionne Quintuplets, born in 1934 and popularized through fictional Hollywood movies throughout the 1930s) won first prize in the annual children’s pet parade this morning and entitled Margaret and Anna Gutierrez of Great Bend to the $5 cash award, given to them at the west steps of the courthouse immediately following the parade.
Other winners were Louis Cameron, who won $4 with his well-groomed collie that trotted alongside him as he rode his blue crepe-paper trimmed bicycle; Jackie McClain, who won $3. He was dressed as a miner, accompanied by his police dog loaded up with pots and pans and blanket to resemble a pack donkey. Raymond Bliss Blankenship, costumed as a gypsy girl, won $2 for his Boston bull dog. The fifth prize of $1 went to Annie Snyder, dressed in red and pushing her kitten in a decorated doll buggy.
The children were followed by the Great Bend High School marching band, and Boy Scouts helped police handle traffic along the parade route.
“Animals of every description were entered. A skunk, apparently an animal necessary to every pet parade, slept throughout the journey from 11th St. to Broadway. A small boy struggled almost vainly to keep a large police dog in line. Two ponies and a light horse trotted near the end of the parade. A huge Persian cat submitted calmly to the tight squeeze of a little girl who apparently was unsteady under her heavy load. Chickens, rabbits, goats, dogs, cats, ponies participated.”
With the parade starting at 10:15 a.m., and the movie at 1 p.m., it was not noted if the kids were able to get their pets back home and return to the Plaza in time, but we imagine most did.
Other Chamber of Commerce sponsored events weren’t nearly as unique. There was the holiday cash giveaway of $100 that week, and Santa arrived on the 19th to hand out bags of candy and hear the Christmas wishes of youngsters, as he faithfully continues to do every year.

Just for fun
A small Associated Press brief out of Silverton, Ore., with the header “Brought Him Back alive,” likely brought readers a smile.
“Albert Dicito went driving without: 1. An automobile license. 2. A driver’s license. 3. Brakes. He bumped an automobile containing: 1. A constable. 2. A deputy sheriff. 3. An assistant district attorney. 4. A coroner. The coroner’s services were not required, but the other officers did their duty. Dicito paid $7.50 court costs and a repair bill.”
Locally, it was reported two McPherson youngsters had committed a rather costly prank in “Two Admit Causing Derailment of a Locomotive.”
“Two boys, Billy Roberts, 8 years old and in the second grade, and Donald Ward Allen, 6-year-old first grader, have admitted to Milton C. James, undersheriff, that they put the surveyor’s oak stake on the track which recently derailed a 350-ton locomotive of the Rock Island. When asked if they knew the stake would throw the train off the track and possibly injure several persons, the boys shrugged their shoulders and replied, “Nope. The other kids put things on the track and it never bothered the train before.” The officers explained to them that the minor derailment they caused cost the company $500.”