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Presidential debate, ‘gang’ fight, boys in the band and drugs in 1920
Out of the Morgue
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When it comes to election season, things haven’t changed too much in the past 100 years.

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 2020, President Woodrow Wilson issued a letter to Americans appealing to them to consider the benefits of joining the League of Nations. While he was not backed for a third term by the Democratic party, the convention strongly endorsed his policies, so he had cause to believe this plea would have an impact on the upcoming election. This was long ago, when presidential debates occurred with a high level of decorum. For those unable to attend a live debate, printed transcripts were distributed, so it would weeks in some instances before voters could experience them. 

A report in the Oct. 4, 1920 Great Bend Daily Tribune included his letter. He wrote, “This election is to be a genuine national referendum. The determination of a great policy upon which the influence and authority of the United States in the world must depend is not to be left to groups of politicians of either party, but is to be referred to the people themselves for a sovereign mandate to their representatives. They are to instruct their own government what they wish done.”

“The chief question that is put to you is, of course, this: Do you want your country’s honor vindicated and the treaty of Versailles ratified? Do you , in particular approve of the League of Nations as organized and empowered in that treaty? And do you wish to see the United States play its responsible part in it.

“You have been grossly misled with regard to the treaty, and particularly with regard to the proposed character of the League of Nations, by those who have assumed the serious responsibility of opposing it....”

He went on to characterize those against membership as similar to the Prussians in the policy of isolation and defiant segregation. According to him, they wished to “stand apart and watch for opportunities to advance our interests, involve ourselves in no responsibility for the maintenance of the right in the world or for the convicted vindication of any of the things for which we entered the war to fight.” 

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Warren G. Harding days later in a speech delivered in Des Moines, Iowa, “accepted ratification or rejection of the League of Nations covenant as the principal campaign issue.”

He declared that he favored staying entirely out of the League as written at Versailles, and that the proper course would be to reject the covenant altogether. 

In the end, Harding won the election, and Congress did not ratify the treaty, and the United States did not enter into the League of Nations. 

‘Town boys paid for fun’

Not everyone was caught up in the politics of the day. Young people had other things on their minds, according to a report, “Attempt to “gang” country boys put gangsters in jail.”

“The attempt of a number of town boys Sunday night to have fun with a couple of boys from the Olmitz neighborhood resulted somewhat disastrously for the aforesaid town laddies, at least so far as their pocketbooks were concerned.

“According to the reports, a couple of boys from near Olmitz, together with their best girl, were auto riding here Sunday evening, and the town boys decided that they would appropriate the girls and at the same time teach the boys from the farm not to infringe on their territory in the future. The affair is said to have wound up in a somewhat free-for-all fight and although the boys from the country were outnumbered a half dozen to one, they were said to have given a good account of themselves and to have demonstrated that pitching wheat and other forms of physical culture on the farm are more conducive to both mind and muscle than putting in the time smoking cigarettes and idling on the streets. 

“Four of the town boys were arrested and lodged in jail to give them opportunity to ponder over the error of their ways and later paid fines for their pleasure. Roscoe Merrick donating $20 and John Luft, Jim Steadman and Homer Naylor each $10 to the city officers.” 

The next day, the Tribune ran a correction of sorts that gave further insight into the incident and the character of at least one of the young men. 

“Three of the boys who were mentioned in yesterday’s Tribune as being mixed up in the fracas with some Olmitz boys Sunday night were not put in jail, as the article stated. John Luft, Homer Naylor and Jim Steadman were each fined $10, but were not locked up, and the boys are of the opinion that this was sufficient to pay for all the fun they did not have without being credited with having been in jail. 

“It was stated today that young Naylor did not even have a warrant served on him in the case, but of his own volition appeared and entered a plea of guilty to being in the crowd but not to taking any part in the disturbance. Instead, it is said, he attempted to separate the combatants and only made the mistake of being mixed up in poor company.”

The lesson is still the same then as now. Don’t underestimate a country boy. 

‘A fine band’

The Great Bend band was praised this week in the Lyons newspaper, the report then ran in the Tribune for all to see. Consisting of 27 musicians including the band leader and drum major, the band was invited to come to Lyons for a three day festival the week before, and made a great impression.

“Whenever Lyons needs a big band for any event the boys from Great Bend will get the first invitation. This band of 25 pieces has been in Lyons for three days, and if they stayed thirty not a soul would tire of their music. Their repertoire seems to be unlimited and runs the gamut from the jazziest of ragtime to difficult classical numbers. The boys have marched and played day and night. Their lips and legs must be mighty tired, but there has never been a murmur of complaint. They are ready to march and play at any time music is needed. As individuals every man is a thorough gentleman. If Great Bend is as fine a city as her musical representatives indicate she must be a Jim Dandy.” 

After a summer like the one we’ve just experienced this year, we’re looking forward to someday hearing our Great Bend band once more. Let’s hope next summer our wish is granted. 

Just for fun

‘School teacher needed brains’

Advertisements in the newspapers of 100 years ago were far from flashy. With no photos, and limited line drawings or clip art available, advertisers had to rely on wordy (not to mention factually questionable) stories to get their point across. This one caught our eye. 

“I never have had such a ‘Godsend’ come to me as when I took the first dose of Mayr’s Wonderful Remedy. I was afraid I would have to give up my school because of severe stomach, liver and bowel trouble which caused such a pressure of gas that I could not use my brain at times, and my heart would palpitate awfully. Since taking a treatment of Mayr’s Wonderful Remedy a year ago, all this has disappeared.” 

It is a simple, harmless preparation that removes the catarrhal mucus from the intestinal tract and allays the inflammation which causes practically all stomach, liver and intestinal ailments, including appendicitis. One dose will convince or money refunded. By druggists everywhere. 

Whatever happened to this magical elixir? Has the recipe been lost? 

According to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the concoction was created by George H. Mayr’s Manufacturing Chemist of Chicago, Ill., as early as 1910. The over the counter preparation was a powder that was to be dissolved in a glass of hot water. “Drink upon getting up following morning; then drink two more glasses of water within two hour.” 

According to an entry in the Michigan Food and Drug Monthly, dated January 1919, the Remedy consisted of a heavy dose of Cottonseed Oil followed by dissolved Epsom salt. It was treated in the literature as a preposterous joke. Mystery solved.