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 in 1967, the folk rock duo Sonny and Cher released their hit single “Beat Goes On.” This news called for a quick trip to YouTube, where we found several videos uploaded featuring the couple singing their signature song, which became the theme song of the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, and continues to inspire entertainers today. “La-de-da-de-de, la-de-da-de-da.”
Entertainment and fashion helped to distract from the ongoing war in Vietnam. The Crest theater in Great Bend was doing its part, featuring popular as well as controversial movies of the day. An advertisement for the movie Hold On!, featuring Herman’s Hermits appeared, with the tag line, “Looking for a show to blow your cool? Well swing loose, bust out and HOLD ON...you’ve never heard faster beats or seen wilder fun?”
And hey, in the spirit of shaking up convention, the movie was featured as the Midnight Friday the 13th Lucky Show. The film didn’t win any awards, but a review in Boys Life called it, “only for swingers who are really with it?”
By Sunday, the Crest was billing Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, attracting an entirely different sort of crowd, staring mega stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The movie which was released in 1966 won five Academy Awards, but was one of only two films nominated for every eligible category.
Reviewed in the Tribune, it was reported “the film, which is playing now at the Crest Theatre, undoubtedly will be the most discussed of the decade, arousing passions and controversy while eliciting attention through both its shock potential and its artistic merit.”
On a more serious note, a trial that received national attention was reported in the Tribune. On Jan. 18, Albert DeSalvo, more commonly referred to as the Boston Strangler, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of at least 13 women. Famous attorney F. Lee Baily was the defense attorney, who called DeSalvo, “an uncontrollable vegetable walking around in a human body.” and , that the mental patient, ex-boxer and former soldier had “developed one of the most crushing sexual drives psychological science has ever encountered.” He later died in prison in 1973.
Friday the 13th
Reminders of the unlucky superstitions surrounding this day were found throughout the paper, starting with the front page. A photo of one Tribune staffer’s newly acquired 1967 license tag had to give readers a chuckle at his misfortune. The tag number was “1313.”
Susie Rondeau and Eileen Otte, students of Alice Humphreys, Great end High School English instructor, presented her with a going away gift, and captured the moment for the local paper. Friday the 13th was her last day as a teacher, and they wanted to send her off right, making the day her lucky day.
Civil rights at BCCC
Barton County Community College hosted this week a Freedom Fund dinner sponsored by the Kansas Commission on Civil Rights and the campus’ chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where fair employment law was the topic of speaker Homer Floyd, executive director of the KCCR and a former University of Kansas football star. The talk was held at the Parrish Hotel in Great Bend. In addition to employment, laws on fair housing were also discussed, as well as the need for young people to focus on consumer education.
Floyd went on to be a force in the Civil Rights movement, retiring in 2011 after a 41 year career. We found an article about his retirement at the digital news site PA Live out of Pennsylvania.
“He was head of the Kansas Commission on Civil Rights Jan. 19, 1968, when he shared the stage with (Martin Luther) King. That turned out to be King’s last speech to a college audience. After King’s assassination, people found notes from that talk in his suit pocket, including Floyd’s name, according to university officials.”
This week was also smack dab in the middle of the 11 day fashion event sponsored by the New York Couture Business Council, so there were plenty of articles describing the shifting fashion trends ladies could look forward to.
“What especially will make the girl-watchers pucker up and whistle are minipants and miniskirts - higher than mid-thigh and almost always worn with tights or fishnet stockings.”
Other figure defining fashions included body skimming dresses, opaque fabrics, stoles and scarves, sleeveless coats, and dresses with matching jackets or coats. Hair pieces, too, were part of the look. “The fun season for hair via hair piece trickery definitely reaches maturity this season.”
Schools in Kansas were slow to adopt the trends, however. One report from Derby, “Mother tests prohibition on dress and loses,” stated that two teenage girls attended a high school basketball game in sweater and slacks outfits, and were barred from entering on student tickets, but paid the adult ticket price of $1 and were admitted. The mother of one of the girls complained to Derby’s Supt. Loren L. Van Petten, who reaffirmed the prohibition of slacks and short skirts on girls at school and school functions.
But on Sunday, two Great Bend boys made a completely different sort of fashion statement. Demonstrating that conservative values never go out of style, Alan Caraway and Mark Mingenback were awarded their Eagle Awards Sunday afternoon, Jan. 15, at the Court of Honor held at the First Congregational Church. More than 50 Scouts were honored at the service, and Vic Meltzer, also a member of Troop 155, was presented an Eagle Palm at the Honor Court, according to the caption that accompanied the photo of Caraway and Mingenback in that day’s paper. We were unable to find information about Alan Caraway in the short amount of time we had available, but Mark Mingenback has been a notable leader of the community for many years, most recently as the marketing director at St. Rose Health Center. He retired last year, but continues to serve his community in more casual ways today. According to his LinkdIn profile, “Mark established himself as a successful business owner and community leader in a career ranging from retail management, oil, farming and business network development. His volunteer civic responsibilities range from the Great Bend City Council and the United Way board to the Kansas Governor’s Highway Task Force and the Leadership Kansas board of directors.”
Just for fun
Today is the 50th anniversary of Dr. James Bedford becoming the first person to be cryonically preserved with intent of future resuscitation. This was not reported in The Great Bend Tribune of the day, however, we couldn’t resist reporting on this ourselves. At the ALCOR Life Extension Foundation website, we found the article, The First Suspension, by Mike Perry, which details the early history of cryonics. We’ll cut to the chase here with this excerpt.
“But to continue our freezing and post freezing story . . . [i]t would seem that after the cooling and partial perfusion and perhaps while the body of this elderly gentleman was continuing its journey downward toward the cryogenic state, it was transported away from the nursing home and into Prehoda’s garage. Eventually Prehoda’s wife found out about the body in the station wagon in the garage and our reporter indicates that she got pretty hysterical. As we understand it the windows of the station wagon were soaped so no one could see in and the wagon was moved up the hill.
“Our observer gave up describing the scene in detail at that point saying it could only be described as hysterical and chaotic. He said that if he had [had] a camera it would have made the movie of the year.
“For all the confusion and `technical difficulties’ the story has two happy endings. First and most important our frozen pioneer is reported to have been successfully spirited out of the state of California and into Ed Hope’s Cryo-Care storage center in Phoenix where presumably he will be placed in a liquid nitrogen environment for his much longer journey through time. The second happy ending is that the activists and survivors are now being interviewed by Life Magazine.”