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, Disney released “The Jungle Book.” The film was the last one that Walt Disney had direct control of, and it was also the first Disney film where animation off the characters was based on the personality, appearance, and voices of the voice-over artists. This, according to a film analysis by writer Mari Ness on Tor.com. Disney disagreed with his top storyman, Bill Peet, on how to approach Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book,” and it led to a parting of ways. Peet wanted to stick closer to the actual plot of the book, while Disney preferred ignoring most of what Kipling wrote, but loosely adhering to only a few elements. Whatever, it worked, and the film had a good opening at the box office, was re-released twice more, two live action films were made (one in the 1990s and one in 2016), and an animated sequel to the original was released in 2003.
It was also this week 50 years ago that Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin filmed the purported Bigfoot at Bluff Creek in northern California. They spent the next several years trying to find the creature to prove first, its existence and second, that they were not trying to pull off a hoax. Both were reported to have admitted in retrospect, they’d wished they’d killed the creature in order to prove its existence, rather than simply filming it and trying to convince the world it existed. Lucky for the Sasquatch, then, that it managed to never be found.
Drive-in chin drop
Neither of these movies were on the big screen in Great Bend this week in 1967. While we were looking, however, we were shocked, repeat shocked, to learn what was playing this week at the Great Bend Drive-In. An adult feature. The title, a strange configuration of letters, and this brief explanation: “...that’s not the real title of the picture. It’s just an abbreviation.” Not one that we could figure out either, and no, we did not search it on Google.
Perhaps The Jungle Book would come to The Crest later in the week? Flipping through the pages, a movie review caught our eye. The title was “New Swedish film to play at drive-in.” The review reported:
“Dear John,” the highly acclaimed new Swedish film will play a the Drive-In Theater next Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.” So far, not so bad. But then, the article went on to name the other films on the program that night. It’s a family paper, so we won’t list them here. At any rate, the content caused some head scratching, remembering those times our “elders” declared their love for foreign films. Well, the Great Bend Drive-In went the way of all but a fraction of a percentage of the drive-in theaters in America. It is no more.
Coffee house concerts
There was some wholesome entertainment to be found in Great Bend. Located at 1310 Stone, the Icthus II Coffee House opened that weekend with a capacity crowd of Great Bend’s young people.
“This week’s entertainment includes Phil Taylor, giving a spotlight on Bill Cosby, and a folk singing trio of Maria Peers, Susan Standley and Susan Petterson.
“Last week those visiting the coffee house were entertained by the singing of Clyde Amerine and the readings of Mary Jasnoski.”
The decor of the coffee house was reported to have been made by a group of high school students, and included “multicolored burlap wall hangings, foot high tables and a revolving stage.” Punch, coffee and hot tea were available and admission was free.
Like most coffee houses run on a shoe-string budget and offering free entertainment, it was short lived. We’d love to hear of any memories you might have of attending these concerts.
Younger Great Bend youth took part in other fun activities. The country was preparing for a major peace rally to be held in the nation’s capital Saturday, and President Lyndon Johnson was experiencing dwindling support for his Vietnam policies, it was reported. Soldiers, however, were on the hearts and minds of Great Bend’s Campfire Girls. A photo of one chapter showed girls happily preparing the ditty bags they’d assembled for shipment at the local Red Cross office.
A recent conversation in the Tribune newsroom centered around Campfire Girls and Girl Scouts. Both groups used to be popular and well supported. Today, Campfire Girls is simply Campfire, and clubs are open to boys and girls and exist mostly in large urban areas only. Locally, girls can still get involved in Girl Scouts through Great Bend Girl Scouts- Troop 11135. They have a facebook page. Check them out for more information.