Last Sunday, a memorial service took place for Harry Dobbin, a member of the bands Sawdust Charley and the Funtones. He was also the graphic artist who made possible the recent book on Wichita rock & roll from 1950-1980. I still remember the work he did to arrange all the elements for the cover. Dobbin joins the ranks of so many Wichita rock figures who have recently passed.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy as well as the turbulent 1968 Democratic Convention. We remember these events as national change points but they had local ramifications as well. The racial unrest in Wichita that summer included curfews as well as tanks and uniformed personnel on the streets of northeast Wichita. These years are now the subject of works including Gretchen Eick’s Dissent in Wichita and Patrick O’Connor’s Tales from a Blackout.
We are still feeling the impacts of these events today. That is why documenting that era is so important, especially as those participants start to age and pass on. NOW is the time to write down memories, scan and donate photos, archive letters, copy those limited release albums, conduct oral histories, and make sure the next generations learn the stories.
It may be worth recalling Price’s Law of History: History is not written by the winners. It is written by the survivors. We need to make sure that the traces of the 1960s and 1970s survive while the participants are still with us.