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.
On Dec. 15, Walt Disney died. A little less than a month earlier, he had a lung removed when doctors found a tumor. He had gone to the hospital for a post-operative check-up when he passed away. At that time, he had produced nearly 100 feature-length pictures, both animated and filmed, won 29 Oscars, had been awarded the Presidential Freedom Medal and the French Legion of Honor, and had fulfilled his dream of creating a family amusement park, Disneyland, which opened in the summer of 1955. The initial investment in the park was around $17 million, and by 1965 it had grown to about $30 million, but in that time, more than 50 million people had visited the park, at the rate of about 6 million a year. He left it all to his wife Lillian, and two grown daughters,Sharon Brown and Diane Miller. Over the years, the fortune grew into the billions. Today, Disney’s adopted grand children, twins in their 40s, were in the news as recently as 2014, in a bitter battle of distributions denied by trustees.
On Dec. 18, 1966, the animated television show “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” aired for the first time on CBS. In Great Bend, it aired at 6 p.m., just before the Ed Sullivan Show and the Disney’s World. The cartoon has been broadcast in America every year since, and thus became part of our holiday tradition. Earlier this year, on Nov. 25, the full version, 26-minutes long, aired uncut for the first time in more than a decade on NBC. But that’s not all, according to USA Today. TBS aired it on Nov. 20, Dec. 10, Dec. 12, and Dec. 14, and NBC will air it again on Dec. 23. Still, USA Today notes, there is no special celebration planned for the 50th anniversary of the beloved cartoon, like ABC produced for “A Charlie Brown Christmas” last year. Boo hoo.
For many in the Great Bend Tribune newsroom, the movie is a favorite, bringing back childhood memories as well as those spent cuddled up with our own kids on cool winter nights before Christmas. The book which the cartoon is based off was published in 1957. It’s author, Theodor Seuss Geisel, died in 1991.
Meanwhile, here is Great Bend, students at Great Bend High School were gearing up for the Jingle Bell Ball on Saturday, Dec. 17.
“Winter Wonderland will be the theme for the annual Jingle Bell Ball at Great Bend High School Saturday evening at 8.
The Kayettes will be decorating the gym on Saturday morning with a unique city along one of the walls. A Christmas tree in front of the city is also planned.
A lucky boy will be chosen during the program to play the role of Santa Claus. He will be honored by the Madrigals of the GBHS music department singing “Winter Wonderland.”
This Saturday, the Kayettes will be sponsoring Holly Ball, the modern version of the Jingle Bell Ball.
Walking a line
While the Kayettes were busy decorating, the boys were raising money for the March of Dimes on Main Street.
“On Saturday morning members of the Great Bend High School Key Club will be assembled on the Main Street sidewalk along a white chalk line. The line will be drawn between Forest and Broadway for a purpose...not walking a chalk line, but collecting a line of dimes for the March of Dimes. The club hopes to have a line of dimes a block long to help the county’s March of Dimes fund drive.”
It was estimated by one Key Club members that it would take between 7,000 and 8,000 dimes to stretch the length of the block. Each of the 35 members would take turns manning the line, soliciting shoppers to help with the fund drive.
“Brother, can you spare a dime,” would have been the phrase of the day.
Here’s the church,
and here is the steeple
Over at the Presbyterian Church, workers were making sure the new steeple was on straight. The photo appeared with the following caption: “Workmen at the Presbyterian Church got right to the point yesterday as they worked on the newly-erected steeple. After the steeple, towering more than 80 feet high, was erected it was found to be crooked. Yesterday, though, workmen and welders made corrections to keep the spire on the straight and narrow.”
Sam and Jo Richardson, children of Mr. and Mrs. Richardson of Otis, were busy decorating their Christmas tree with unique ornaments courtesy of their pet goose, Georgiana. When the children learned that their new goose, George, was actually a girl, they changed the name. Over the course of the year, she laid 40 eggs, each of which the children removed the insides from and then decorated the shell with gold and silver paint, glitter and sequins to make unusually beautiful Christmas ornaments. They sent in photos of the children hanging them on the family’s tree, as well as a photo of little Sam holding Georgiana to the Tribune. She was the closest thing, it turns out, to a goose that lays golden eggs that these two Central Kansas kids would get near, and she brought a smile to more than a few faces.