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Out of the Morgue
The Big O, The Lizard King and Big Daddy Santa in 1967
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The original caption for this Dec. 14, 1967 Tribune photo read: Big Daddy Santa was hard at work when the photographer stopped by his den, today. You know that I never complain about my job, said Daddy. But some of these cotton-pickn gift requests are purty hard to come by this year. Then frowning, slightly, he added , Especially with help the way it is now-a-days. I really need more good men in this bureau. Seems like Ive got to do everything myself lately. Quickly, then, his mood changed, and beaming at our photographer he continued: Sonny, how they treating you down at that newspaper? I could sure use a devoted, honest and fearless boy in my organization about now. As heady as such an offer was to our indentured servant, he remained true to his craft and hurried back to the plant just in time to get his picture in the paper. Big Daddy Santa requested letters from grown-ups in 1967. - photo by Tribune file 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.

Today, 50 years ago, singer and songwriter Otis Redding was recording his hit song “Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay.” Three days later, he died in a plane crash. It would be a month before his biggest hit would be released. According to the website, it was the first ever posthumous #1 single in the U.S. He co-wrote the song with guitarist Steve Cropper, who produced the album when Redding died. In an interview he gave to National Public Radio, he said that he and Redding didn’t have a final verse, so Redding whistled it, intending to fill in the verse when he returned to Memphis, but he died before he had the chance. Among Otis Redding’s nicknames were: The Big O, The Mad Man from Macon, Rockhouse Redding and The King of Soul.
Meanwhile in New Haven, Conn., Jim Morrison was arrested on Dec. 10 for the third time in his life for of all things inciting a riot during a Doors concert, according to the website
It all happened while he was performing the song “Back Door Man.” Here’s what set it off: a police officer caught him making out with a woman in a shower stall backstage and asked them to leave. When Morrison refused, the officer maced him, not realizing he was the lead singer of the Doors. Despite his apology, Morrison proceeded to “Launch into a diatribe against the cop, calling him a “little blue man in a little blue hat,” and telling the crowd the “little blue pig” maced him and that “they’ll do it to you,” after which the police reportedly rushed the stage and arrested him. This was all before Morrison wrote his poem called “The Celebration of the Lizard,” with the line “I am the Lizard King, I can do anything.”

Big Daddy Santa
On Dec. 10, in Great Bend, the Tribune rolled out an unusual holiday campaign.
“For many years, this paper has been publishing Letters to Santa Claus from children throughout the area. Some of our adult readers, of late, have been complaining that we are guilty of discrimination. In short, they want to get into the act. So, somewhat reluctantly, we have decided to not only accept grown-ups letters but also to award prizes for the best letters to “Big Daddy” Santa. “The genuine Santa has his hands full with the kids.) “
Letters were limited to 25 words or less. Only the initials of the writer would be published. First prize was $24, second $15 and third $10. One caveat- there was no guarantee Big Daddy would deliver.
“Don’t let timidity hold you back. All things are possible where “Big Daddy” Santa is concerned. We would not be at all surprised were he to seriously consider requests for such things as: tax reduction certificates, good five cent cigars, a safe brand of cigarettes, delicious non-fat foods, perfect health pills, instant beauty potions, hair restorers and water from the fountain of youth, slacks to make grandmothers look like teenagers, Bermuda shorts to enhance the appearance of paunchy, knobby kneed men, interest-free loans, golf balls that never get in the rough and putting irons that never miss.”

Letters flooded in. Some were filled with generous and altruistic sentiments:
Dear BDS: Send compassion to people who neglect the needy and the elderly to whom company means to much , and let them know the real pleasure of giving. J.H., Macksville
Dear BDS: Please send us: Problems met with determination; Enough to eat, for every nation; A law - abiding stimulation; Common man’s consideration; End of war’s dark desolation. Mrs. V.B., Shields.
Dear. BDS: Please bring me an electric blanket for my chihuahua. She doesn’t like the cold. Mrs. M.S., Holyrood.
Others, no so much:
Dear BDS: Please bring me a pen like President Johnson gives away when he signs a bill. I feel that I have helped to pay for several thousand of them. So please, couldn’t I have just one? D.P.
Dear BDS: Please send me a New Year’s Eve party kit with a still and decorated outhouse. Also, some day after the night before get well cards. L.A.
Dear BDS: Please bring a muzzle and rabies shot for “you know who.” With her hatred and vindictiveness under control, our community might achieve peace and goodwill. V.D.B.
Dear BDS: Please take my ex-husband along to the North Pole. There is another place I’d rather send him, but I can’t make the proper arrangements. A.S.
Winners were announced days before Christmas. First prize went to Mrs. O.W. Brown, second to Mrs. Nick C. Elsen, and third to Gretchen Watkins.

‘Captain Dan’ recognized for shooting ability
It was announced this week in 1967 the Tribune that Captain Daniel H. Johnson, Btry C, 1 How Bn, 130th Arty, the Great Bend National Guard unit, was the 1967 winner of the Colonel page trophy presented at the National Rifle Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio.
The trophy was presented each year to the member of the Kansas National Guard Rifle Team who had the highest score in the National Trophy Individual Match. He won with a score of 450 - 7x, which qualified him to be a nominee for the 1968 All National Guard Rifle team.
Johnson was mentioned as a member of the rifle team in a 1965 Tribune story, we found. He was listed at that time as living in Hays.
An obituary from the Hays Post archives reveals Johnson died June 29, 2014 at age 77. He was a farmer and rancher in Ellis County, on a homestead that had been in the family since 1897. He graduated from Fort Hays State College, and later taught auto mechanics classes there. But most notably, he was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 1966 and served for 14 years. He served as Chairman of the House Agricultural Committee for seven of those years. He joined the Kansas National Guard in 1954 when he graduated from Hays High School, and he served until 1978, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.
The 1967 National Rifle Matches marked the 50th year they were held at Camp Perry, Ohio. They are sponsored by the National Rifle Association and the Ohio National Guard. The 2018 Matches are scheduled to start July 1, 2018, and continue through Aug. 8.