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Peace, love and tranquility in 1979
Out of the Morgue
lunch lady.jpg
Grand tour — Third grade students at Morrison School watch as chili is ladled from the giant cooking vat into smaller containers during a tour of the central kitchen. The children observed how their school lunches are prepared daily. The field trip was in recognition of National School Lunch Week in 1979. - 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.

In 1979, notable appearances by pop artists Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney made the news. Dylan appeared on “Saturday Night Live,” and Paul McCartney was presented a rhodium disc by the Guinness Book of Records as the all-time best selling singer-songwriter. Both, it should be noted, have been vocal about seeking peace throughout their careers.

Neither, however, compared to Mother Teresa of Calcutta being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. 

The award recognized the nun’s 30 years of working with the poorest of the poor, first in Calcutta, India, and spreading to several other countries throughout the world. The Norwegian Nobel Committee noted “poverty and hunger and distress also constitute a threat to peace,” and she was recognized for “her promotion of international peace and understanding.” 

She began her work in 1947, after receiving permission to live and work outside her order’s convent with the Calcutta poor. She first learned the basics of medical care, and started by teaching street children and providing shelter, a bed, and care to the destitute and dying. Her missions provided the poor dignity in dying. Mother Teresa continued to serve the poor until she died in 1997, age 87. She was Canonized by the Catholic Church in 2016.

The award was the dominant feature on the front page of  The Great Bend Tribune on Oct. 17, 1979. The Associated Press report noted the citation accompanying the award that year was worth $190,000. Mother Teresa told reporters she would use the award to build more centers for lepers and the destitute. 

A brief but thorough biography of Mother Teresa can be found at ( ).

Also this week in 1979, Sylvia Porter, a nationally recognized columnist, cast a spotlight on the new and blossoming hospice industry (the National Hospice Organization had just held its second annual meeting), answering readers questions that ranged from,”How long do patients live, once in hospice?” to “Do patients know they are dying?” ( 14- 105 days for the former, and “it depends on what the patient is willing to hear and accept” for the latter.).

National school lunch week

Students in Great Bend observed National School Lunch Week by taking a field trip to the central kitchen, helping to serve and share a meal at lunch, and exploring the theme of breaking bread in literature. We found photos dotting the pages of the Tribune filled with smiling faces of elementary school children busy learning about the dedication and devotion that went into making sure every student had food to fuel their learning during the school day. 

Lincoln School Principal Laverne Lessor shared how upper grade students did their part to help first, second and third graders during lunch. Tables were set with silverware for the younger students, who went through the line first and lined one side of each of the long cafeteria tables. Then, upper grades would take their seats across from the younger kids in order to assist them as needed. Sharing the meal in this way helped ensure younger kids had assistance, and “the older kids feel some sense of value in helping the younger ones open milk and ketchup.”

4-H winners 

This week was also 4-H week in Barton County. Three Barton County high school students were selected state 4-H winners for outstanding performance in their projects. Two, Lorri DeWerff and Don Miller, were featured in the Tribune, while the third, John Holsapple, had moved away. 

DeWerff took honors through her People-to-People project, receiving a certificate and an invitation to attend the 4-H International Feast at Junction City’s Rock Springs. She served as a delegate to Japan the previous summer, and her family had hosted people from five of the seven continents, the article indicated. She was a member of Comanche Lucky 4’s. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Vernon DeWerff, continue to reside on the family farm south of Ellinwood.

Miller’s family resided next to Cheyenne Bottoms, so he was a member of the Lakin-Go-Getters. His project was in response to the blackbirds in his area that “come in by the millions and can eat up to 50 bushels of milo in a week’s time.” Millers winning sorghum project included 16 acres of bird resistant milo, which he used to feed the family’s swine. He also raised alfalfa and wheat. 

We found Miller and DeWerff (now DeWerff-Chambers) on facebook, and it appears they continue to nurture their interests in family, people, education and the land. They are both proof 4-H is a great way for children to prepare to take their places in the world. 

Just for Fun
Making a claim

Every now and then, people of a certain age in Great Bend and surrounding towns will recall good times spent at Kennedy’s Claim. We found an advertisement this week in 1979, advertising the establishment as a “Class B private club,” which offered “Free! Hor’doeurves in the cocktail lounge daily from 4-6 p.m.” 

We also read a quip about the club in the weekly column by Leonard Sekavec, “Sek’s Appeal.”

“Kennedy’s Claim is the name of a comparatively new private club in Great Bend. Two members that I know of are a Republican Holyrood couple, which dispelled my idea that possibly one had to be a Democrat to belong.” 

Kennedy’s Claim is long gone, but the memories remain. 

Class B clubs are for-profit clubs. Class A clubs are operated by non-profit social, fraternal and war veteran’s clubs. The designations are still valid today, though they haven’t been used in advertising since 1986, when “liquor by the drink” was legalized at bars and restaurants in Kansas.