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Out of the Morgue
Landon and Spuds in 1987
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Who can forget Budweiser spokesdog Spuds Mackenzie? The 1987 top dog made a ghostly appearance during Super Bowl LI. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

 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.

Alf Landon was the 26th Governor of Kansas, serving from 1933-1937. He ran for president, but lost to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Lost, actually, is an understatement (523 Electoral Votes to 8). It was Roosevelt’s second campaign. Only two states, Maine and Vermont, went to his side.
Three days before his 100th Birthday, he was visited by President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan at his Topeka home, where the president wished him a happy birthday. The Great Bend Tribune carried the AP story of the event in its Sept. 7, 1987 edition. It was reported Reagan had this to say to the throngs of reporters.
“In a hundred years,’’ Mr. Reagan said, “Alf Landon has chased many dreams and caught most of them.”
Landon remained active until the end, living for little more than another month. He died of natural causes. His obituary in the New York Times, Oct. 13, 2017, described him thusly.
“Mr. Landon leavened the disappointment of his loss in 1936 with humor. Assessing his two-state victory, Mr. Landon said, “As Maine goes, so goes Vermont.”
The article went on to share, “He displayed the same sense of humor a month after the election, when, as the outgoing Governor of Kansas, he addressed the Gridiron Club, an organization of Washington newspapermen.
“If there is one state that prepares a man for anything, it is Kansas,“ he said. “The Kansas tornado is an old story. But let me tell you of one. It swept first the barn, then the outbuildings. Then it picked up the dwelling and scattered it all over the landscape.
“As the funnel-shape cloud went twisting its way out of sight, leaving nothing but splinters behind, the wife came to, to find her husband laughing.
“She angrily asked him, ‘What are you laughing at, you darned old fool?’
“And the husband replied, ‘At the completeness of it.’ “

Opinion page
There’s nothing like a visit to the editorial pages from an era to learn about a community. Great Bend students in 1987 after school went home to their mothers, or they went home to an empty house, for the most part. The number of women staying home to raise their children, foregoing a career, was continuing on its steady decline that started in the early 1970s (by 1993, the percentage of SAHMs was down to 23.)
Here’s what one Tribune editor shared, in the editorial “What are the kids doing after school?”
“ A parent-teacher survey released recently says that students would do better in the classroom if adults did not leave the children alone after school.
This is the time period when students need to sit down and do their homework instead of watching television. Children alone at home do not have help available when they get stuck on a homework problem.” It went on to say half of the parents and half the teachers “faulted parents for neglecting to make sure homework was done and for not showing enough interest in their children’s education.” It was suggested by the pollsters that in addition to daycare, a whole support system should be made available, most logically at the schools.
“Since there is a growing number of latchkey children on the local and national levels, parents and schools should take this problem into consideration on the local level. Study halls and projects which teach children how to accomplish tasks are alternatives which could be offered to fill after school time at schools or nearby facilities.”
Well, the problem has been considered many times over, and many options exist, from after-school care to sports and clubs, to classes and activities at the Great Bend Rec. Still, plenty of kids still head for home. And why not.? Schools in recent years have for the most part stopped sending homework home, opting instead to provide time to study during the school day. Whether students are better off or not, that’s an entirely different question, and not one for this column today.

‘Spuds is banned’
The Sept. 8, 1987 edition of the Tribune, in a report from Prairie Village, announced “Spuds is banned.” Anyone who was alive in 1987 and not living as a hermit in a cave knew Spuds, the black and white bull terrier billed as “the original party animal in commercials for Budweiser Beer.”
“A school has barred its students from wearing shirts bearing the likeness of Spuds Mackenzie, the spokesdog that achieved fame from beer commercials.
Students wearing the shirts when classes began last week at the Indian Hills Middle School had to turn them inside out and promise never to wear them again.
Officials at the Kansas City suburban school said the shirts promote beer drinking and contradict programs that teach students to say no to drugs and alcohol.”
Spuds Mackenzie was, in fact, a female dog. “Her real name was Honey Tree Evil Eye, and Jackie and Stanley Oles, the humans who owned her, called her “Evie.” This according to a feature at from February of this year. “Honey Tree Evil Eye died of kidney failure at the age of 10 in 1993—she had an average lifespan for a healthy English bull terrier.”
Spuds Mackenzie, at least his ghost, made a brief comeback earlier this year during the Super Bowl. Here’s the link to the article, where you can steep yourself in 1987 nostalgia surrounding Mackenzie.

Courtesy photo
Who can forget Budweiser spokesdog Spuds Mackenzie? The 1987 top dog made a ghostly appearance during Super Bowl LI.

Landon photos
Alf Landon, the 26th governor of Kansas, ran for president and lost resoundingly to incumbent President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936. He celebrated his 100th birthday in September 1987, and was visited by President Ronald Reagan.

Here, a file photo featuring First Lady Nancy Reagan, President Ronald Reagan, Alf Landon, and his daughter, Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, at Landon’s 100th birthday celebration.