Title: Sports, classified and TV sections of the Kansas City Kansan
Date: Sunday, May 7, 1967
Discovered at: Fairway estate sale
Representative quotes: Proud Carlton, a 30-to-1 shot, stormed around horses in the stretch Saturday to score a stunning one-length victory in the $162,000 Kentucky Derby as 2,500 security officers guarded against incidents that never occurred.
About 50 Negro and white youths fought in a parking lot across from the school Wednesday night.
Sgt. Pepper and boomer nostalgia notwithstanding, the Summer of Love was, for much of white America, a summer of acute anxiety. Even the sports coverage of this yellowed, mildewed Kansas reveals a nation bristling with unrest. A UPI reporter retells long-shot Proud Carlton's Kentucky Derby triumph with gusto, but almost half of the report is given to the Kentucky National Guardsmen "lined up almost shoulder to shoulder down the long Churchill Downs stretch" to prevent protesters from disrupting the race. (The protesters' cause gets two words: "open housing.")
Meanwhile, Wichita was boiling over. A UPI story reports, "A gang of 25 to 30 Negroes attacked a white baseball player from Drake University Saturday." The "Negro youths" reportedly surrounded William Huffman, the white guy, called him names and beat him with a broken bottle. (This necessitated 25 stitches.) Only in its last line does the piece suggest any possible motive behind either this madness or the black-on-white brawl near Wichita's East High School earlier in the week: "Negro students have been protesting this week about the failure of a Negro girl to be selected as a cheerleader."
Another article announces that five cheerleaders had been chosen at Piper High School, apparently without bloodshed. The headline of a third seems to promise violence, but "Missouri's Blacks Beat Golds, 19-6" merely reports, thankfully, on an intramural game.
The hard news articles, deeper in the section, also present the national unrest as somewhat inexplicable. A photo shows a police dog biting the trench coat of a (white) rioter in Boston. The only explanation: "Several thousand persons staged a pushing and shoving match with police. Many were injured and arrested. The large crowd had gathered to see a special preview of a James Bond movie."
All that for the lousy spoof Casino Royale? How did the East Coast survive the tragedy of Moonraker?
The upbeat "Friendly Lima Greets Nixon" chills more than any other story here. This account of the perpetual candidate's trip to Peru foreshadows one of the 20th century's most astonishing shifts of political fortune: "The crowd's warm response to Nixon contrasted sharply with the hostile reception he received in the same place nine years ago, when the then vice president was stoned and spat upon."
Baseball's "League Standings" box reveals at least one constant in a world of turmoil: a KC baseball club in the American League basement. In the team's final year before decamping to Oakland, the 1-and-11 A's were en route to losing 99 games, an improvement on 1964's 105 losses. To the team's credit, the A's summoned superstar-in-the-making Reggie Jackson from the minors twice in '67. (On September 17, in a game against the California Angels, the future Mr. October hit his first major-league home run.) In classic Kansas City fashion, he would debut here and then never look back.
This Kansan's local coverage charms. Washington High School football coach Don Stump's move to a new home gets a paragraph and a photo. His address, like that of every local notable, is helpfully included: "Jesse Deals, 7758 Waverly, has been promoted the manager of a new Gambles store that will open August 29 in Carlsbad, N.M."
The classifieds offer homes that tend to range from 12 to 20 grand; Jim Clark Dodge at Ninth Street and State Avenue will set you up with a white-walled '67 Coronet for $2,289. The television listings take an eighth of a page and feature three channels.
Nixon wasn't the only change on the way for KCK. In just two years, an ambitious redevelopment of downtown would fail to spur the growth that developers had promised — a lesson Jackson County should have learned from the 'Dotte. Decades later, the downtown hosts an excellent strip of thrift stores and Mexican restaurants. My favorites are the two (seemingly unrelated) La Michoacana locations: 1259 Central for the tostadas and hot-chili fruit cup and 719 Minnesota for spectacular tacos.
The Kansan, which still tracks KCK's changes online, ceased publication in January of this year — a loss not just for today's residents but also for those who, decades from now, might wonder how daily life in the Obama age might have felt.
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