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.
Happy birthday Prince Valiant
This week, on Feb. 13, the “Prince Valiant” comic strip turns 80 years old. Created by Hal Foster, it made its appearance in the nation’s newspapers this week in 1937. Since then, the Prince Valiant story has been told not only in comic form, but in movies and full length books.
According to the Wikipedia entry, “Prince Valiant,” it is an epic adventure that has told a continuous story during its entire history, and the full stretch of that story now totals more than 4000 Sunday strips. Currently, the strip appears weekly in more than 300 American newspapers, according to its distributor, King Features Syndicate.
But the Great Bend Daily Tribune, as it was called then, continued to run it’s regular comic lineup which included “Dixie Dugan” and “Joe Palooka.” Valiant was finally picked up by the Tribune in the 1960s when it began its Sunday comic insert. In the 1940s and 1950s, there was a children’s or young folk’s page once a week that carried more than the daily comics, but still no Valiant.
In the strip, Prince Valiant is the Duke of Windsor, set in mostly medieval England. Interestingly, in March 1937, the title was created for Prince Edward when he abdicated the throne so he could marry his true love, Wallis Simpson, a divorcee, who then became the Duchess of Windsor. It was probably just a coincidence.
The Tribune followed two issues over multiple days this week in 1937. One, a national issue, was the ongoing sit-down strike at General Motors in Flint, Michigan. The other was a state issue, with legislators debating the introduction of 3.2 beer sales.
The sit-down strike ended on Feb. 11, the Associated Press reporting early in the week that both sides continued to talk about reaching an agreement on a collective bargaining formula acceptable to both sides that would permit the return to work of more than 135,000 workers. But both sides were refusing to yield. The fight was over a demand by union organizers to represent workers at 20 plants, with General Motors “refusing to recede an inch from its position that it could not agree to anything more than proportional representation--the right of the union to speak for its own membership only.”
That was Feb. 9. By the next day, there was hope that the six-weeks-long sit-down strike was about over.
According to History.com, “In the end, GM agreed to grant the UAW bargaining rights and start negotiations on a variety of issues related to improving job conditions for autoworkers. The strike represented a major victory for the UAW...Today, the UAW has more than 500,000 active members and more than a half-million retired members in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.”
The beer debate, however, continued on. In the report “A hot debate in the House on beer bill,” it was reported there was a bill to allow one-half of one percent beer, a “bone-dry” bill, and an amendment ready to go if the one-half of one percent bill failed to amend it to 3.2 percent alcohol. Those who wanted to allow alcohol sales blamed “professional reformers” who were “misleading” the state’s temperance forces.
This was three years after the national prohibition law was repealed, but at that time Kansas opted to continue prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol. As the 1937 session played out, according to the Wikipedia entry “Alcohol laws of Kansas,” eventually a law was passed “defining beer with an alcohol content of 3.2% or less by weight as cereal malt beverage, or “CMB,” thereby excluding CMB from the definition of “intoxicating liquor.” The new law also authorized sale of CMB for both on- and off-premises consumption throughout the state."
In 1937, the women of Great Bend had several clubs to choose from, and each week, there were reports on various meetings usually held in members’ homes around town. This was the era before television, so entertainment and diversions required participation and planning. This week clubs reporting included the Harmony club, where members made plans for a card party for their families the following week, and played cards. There was the Progressive Community Club, where members discussed the story of Col Chas. A. Lindbergh, with a paper on his non-stop flight read by Mrs. Lester Bauer and a discussion on his life and history led by Mrs. W.R. Broadbook.
There was also the Modern Literature Club, where Mrs. Virgil Burgman gave a “very interesting paper on The Modern Dance.” At the next meeting, they planned to hear a review of the book “Gone with the Wind” given by Mrs. A.H. Lanterman. The St. Ann’s Study Club also met, with members giving two papers, the topics of which weren’t specified in the report.
J.L. Cox, owner of Cox Funeral Home, sponsored a column titled “Our Town.” He commented on the benefits of the Boy Scouts, noting that the organization was a sure-fire way to instill the virtues of personal integrity, cleanliness, self-sufficiency, obedience to orders, consideration for others and good sportsmanship into the men of tomorrow.
“The Boy Scouts deserve the esteem in which they are held by every community fortunate enough to have a troop of them.”
Girls were encouraged in their interests in home economics. “Alphi Pi, a high school organization of girls interested in home economics, plans to open a cafeteria for high school students in the school building Wednesday of this week,” one report read. This was significant, because at the time the national school lunch program was just getting off the ground, and in Great Bend students either brought their lunch to school or went home to eat.
“The luncheons may be held weekly for a time, O.E. Bonecutter, principal, said. The project will afford the students a chance to prepare food on a quantity scale without expense to the school. If any profit is realized it will be used to send delegates to a state conference in the spring.”