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.
This week, as 1976 ended and the world rang in 1977, punk and new wave rock were beginning to rise. The era of the hippies was passing, music was changing, and women were on their way towards breaking one glass ceiling after another.
The Cars, tending more towards new wave, was a Boston band. They played their first gig on New Year’s Eve, 1976 at Pease Air Force Base in New Hampshire.
Days later on Jan. 6, EMI records dropped the punk rock group Sex Pistols. Besides having most of their gigs cancelled because they were so offensive, and EMI handlers refusing to touch their albums, the final straw happened after public uproar over a profanity-laden radio interview in London and a notorious ride to Heathrow Airport, “ the Evening News reporting that the band had “vomited and spat their way” to the flight. And that was prior to the band hiring the notorious Sid Vicious.
In the end, The Cars continue to be active, though all band members have had solo careers too. They reunited in 2010 and have been working together since then. The Sex Pistols, on the other hand, is no longer active. Several music writers, however, can’t stress enough their importance on rock culture.
Women were beginning to make inroads into the world of traditional sports reporting. Mary Shane was hired by the Chicago White Sox on Jan. 4. She would be the first woman TV play-by-play broadcaster. Unfortunately, she didn’t know baseball, and after a few years she was let go. According to Wikipedia, “Shane later worked in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she became a sportswriter for the Worcester Telegram in 1981, covering the Boston Celtics as one of the few female NBA beat reporters.” She died in 1987 of a heart attack at the age of 42.
Back in Great Bend, it was cold. Really cold. Like -40 degrees cold. And it began snowing in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve, prompting law enforcement to recommend staying in. Like this year, 1976 was an election year. The nation’s eyes were turned towards the President-elect Jimmy Carter’s choices for cabinet as ours are today towards President-elect Donald Trump. An editorial in the Tribune asked readers their opinion of a movement to have weekend voting for presidential elections. This, because voter turnout included only 54 percent of eligible voters in 1976. That was pretty low, actually, considering 2016 is heralded as a “20-year low, especially in states that Hillary Clinton won.” According to CNN, total votes cast accounted for 55.4 percent. The last time it was that low was in 1996, when, ahem, Bill Clinton ran against Bob Dole. Dole, coincidentally, was the vice-presidential pick for incumbent President Gerald Ford in 1976.
“Advocates of weekend voting point out the higher percentage of people at the polls in Western European countries where elections are held on Saturdays or Sundays or both. They also say that working people don’t want to fight early morning or late evening lines. Voting on weekends would eliminate the long line problem.” And we decided not to do this why?
Fire Department centennial
The fire department observed its own centennial that bicentennial year, as reported in the Great Bend Tribune on Thursday, Dec. 30. Organized in December, 1876, the department had seen many changes. Twenty young men met at the courthouse and officially formed the first volunteer fire department, electing a chief, foreman, secretary, treasurer and adopted a set of bylaws, rules and regulations. The mayor the city council accepted them. This was real progress, because prior to that occasion, if there was a fire, it was every man for himself. How successful you were in controlling the spread of the initial blaze really depended on how much help you could muster from neighbors. It wasn’t until 1949 that the first paid men were hired to man the station at all times. In 1961, the second station was dedicated. That was at the intersection of Broadway and K-96. In 1972, a new Fire Station #1 was built south of the city building.
Since then, in 2002, construction began on the new Fire Station #2 at 5851 10th. Also, an EMT position was established in 1975, and in 1999, a Paramedic service was added.
New Years Baby
The Jan. 4, 1977 Tribune announced the first baby of 1977. Timothy Allan Urban was welcomed by advertisers in the Tribune with free gifts including $10 bank accounts and a silver plated feeding set, spoon and fork from Komarek Jewelers.