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Yesterday in La Crosse (331)

In 1964, the city Plan Commission wanted to build a fire station at 5th and Cameron in La Crosse.  It was supposed to replace stations on South 6th St., and on State St. where the current Post Office stands.  Fire Chief Fred Ganz was in favor of the Cameron site, but because of city council opposition, the station was built a few blocks away at 5th and Market.  That station may soon be remodeled, to include city administration offices.

Contractors were busy around La Crosse in '64.  They built an addition to Logan Junior High School, a new Coca-Cola plant, a sound lab for the Trane Company, and a high-rise dorm at Viterbo, which eventually was named Marian Hall.

And a local church had a special "thank you" for its pastor.  The Rev. James Bell and his wife were given a 3-month trip throughout Europe for 10 years of service to the First Presbyterian Church...54 years ago, 1964, yesterday in La Crosse. 


In 2013, the La Crosse park department was debating whether to keep the name Hood Park on public property along 5th Avenue South.  There was a concern that the name "Hood" suggested crime, even though the park and a nearby street were named after William Hood, an early surveyor of La Crosse.  One alternate name proposed for the park was that of George Poage, the first black athlete to compete in the Big 10, and a past Olympian.  By 2016, the Poage name became official on the remodeled park.
The village of Holmen had to decide whether to put fluoride in its drinking water or not.  A referendum two years earlier had approved fluoridation for Holmen, but the system was put on hold because of concerns about how much of the cavity-fighting chemical would actually be placed in the drinking water.
It was not a good baseball season for either the Brewers or the Twins.  Both teams finished fourth in their divisions in 2013, well out of playoff contention.   The American League shut out the National League in the All-Star game at Citi Field in Queens, the home of the Mets.  Time to play ball 5 years ago, 2013, yesterday in La Crosse.

Glancing at newspaper ads from 1905, it seemed like everybody had kidney trouble.  The papers advertised plenty of medicines that claimed to calm the kidneys.  One ad for Warner's Safe Pills claimed that "weak kidneys cause more suffering and deaths than all other diseases combined."  Warner's pills could help not just the kidneys, but the liver, bladder, and blood.  Or you could take Dr. Kilmen's Swamp Root for the same ailments.  The Hoeschler brothers had drugstores on Main Street and South 4th St. in 1905, and they sold Matt J. Johnson's 6088, which supposedly cured blood trouble guessed it...kidney trouble.

The castles on Cass Street were where the rich folks lived a century ago, and one of the castles caught fire in 1905.  Col. F.A. Copeland's house at 10th and Cass burned to the ground, a loss of $35,000.  Arson was suspected.  Copeland and his family were spending the winter in Florida in 1905, yesterday in La Crosse.


Until July of 1962, La Crosse's only TV station at the time, WKBT, waited until 8:30 in the morning to sign on for the day.  But that July, Channel 8 moved the sign-on time up to 7:30, so it could carry "Captain Kangaroo" at 8:00.  The Captain's show had already been a popular program for seven years.

"To Tell the Truth" had just become a daytime game show on Channel 8 that summer, featuring different panelists than on the nighttime version.  The show came on at 2 p.m., just after "Art Linkletter's House Party."

Live television from Europe was being seen in the U.S. for the first time, because of the satellite Telstar.  Men were already in space, but Sparta's Deke Slayton would not be among them in 1962.  Slayton was supposed to become the second American to orbit the earth.  However, a heart irregularity got Slayton removed from the solo Mercury flights.  NASA said Slayton might be considered for a two-man or three-man crew in the future.  Deke was back home that summer to go fishing.

New businesses attracting customers in the area included the Holiday Lanes bowling alley near the Holiday Inn, and the Bell Discount Store on the Causeway.  That was 56 years ago, 1962, yesterday in La Crosse. 




Wednesday - July 11, 2018 8:43 am

The area's first shopping "mall," 54 years ago

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The La Crosse area already had shopping centers like the Village and Jackson Plaza in 1964, when Winona announced a proposed "miracle mall,' using the name "mall" to describe it.  It would be built near Highway 61 and Gilmore Avenue, where you'd find a Hy-Vee store today.  The tenants of the mall would include Montgomery Ward and the Tempo department store.

Such a mall might sell "chic togs for chubby girls."  That was the headline of a newspaper article promoting clothes "especially designed for the chubby figure."  The story said a little girl who is overweight needs to feel fashionable, too...otherwise, "her charm has no chance to develop."

Wally's Knotty Pine in Onalaska promoted itself as the only night club in town with two bars.  It was featuring music by the Ken Bye Quartet.  And La Crosse's only McDonald's, on the northeast corner of Losey Boulevard and Ward Avenue, advertised more than 1 billion hamburgers sold.  The company mascot was not a clown named Ronald, but a cartoon character named "Archy McDonald," who had golden arches where his stomach should be...54 years ago, 1964, yesterday in La Crosse.


Tuesday - July 10, 2018 8:43 am

FEMA to the rescue, 11 years ago

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In August of 2007, the La Crosse area was inundated by flood waters after a very rainy Saturday.  Less than a week after the disaster, FEMA director David Paulison toured some of the most heavily damaged towns in the area, including Gays Mills, and then met with reporters at Goose Island near La Crosse to report on what he saw.  The same day of Paulison's visit, local media staged an all-day fundraiser outside the La Crosse Center.  The 12-hour effort raised more than $313,000 for flood relief. 

The City Brewery was putting on a "History of La Crosse Rock and Roll" concert at the southside Festgrounds.  The concert featured the Studebaker 7, the Headliners, the original Molly Maguires, and the "farewell reunion" performance of Johnny and the Shy Guys.

The NFL had just suspended Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick indefinitely, because of his gambling on dogfights.  At the same time, Brett Favre was about to start what would be his final season in a Packers 2007, 11 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.



Wednesday - July 4, 2018 8:49 am

Christmas isn't the only holiday to sing about

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Some 12 score years ago, our forefathers declared independence on the 4th of July.  And many songwriters have included that date in their lyrics.  Chicago did so in the 1970's..."Saturday in the park, I think it was the 4th of July."
A century ago, George M. Cohan claimed he was "born on the 4th of July" in his song "The Yankee Doodle Boy."  Jimmy Cagney won an Oscar for singing it in the movies.  In the 50's, Maurice Chevalier did his own version on TV, with Desi Arnaz conducting.  Chevalier sang that he had a "Yankee Doodle sweetheart" who was "like Marilyn Monroe."
Elton John may not be a Yankee Doodle Boy, but around the time of the Bicentennial, he sang about "Philadelphia Freedom" and about a girl named "Pinky,"
who's "as perfect as the 4th of July."  
And what would 4th of July be without fireworks?  Leave that one to Katy Perry.  In "Firework," she sings "Just own the night like the 4th of July." 
May the 4th be with you.

Tuesday - July 3, 2018 8:56 am

A pre-4th visit by the president, 3 years ago

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On July 2nd of 2015, President Barack Obama spoke at UW-La Crosse, in the Recreational Eagle Center.  It was Obama's only visit to the city during his eight years in the White House, but it continued a tradition of presidents...past, present, and future...making speeches on the university campus, dating back to John F. Kennedy in 1959.  Obama's stop in La Crosse fell during the city's 4th of July festival, but he didn't make it to the party himself, but he told the audience that he has heard good things about Riverfest.  His previous visit to La Crosse had been in 2008, during Oktoberfest.
The headline performer at Riverfest that summer was country singer Dustin Lynch, performing on the 3rd.  On the north side of La Crosse, a popular restaurant would close before the year was over.  Edwardo's on Rose Street would shut down after a total of 55 years in business in different locations.
Gas prices for that 4th of July were a little lower than they are this year.  Regular was selling for $2.73 a gallon in La Crosse.  The lowest price in America was $2.44 in South Carolina.  It was up to $3.48 in Alaska.  Pain at the pump three years ago, 2015, yesterday in La Crosse.  

In 1972, the 4th of July fell on a Tuesday, and the La Crosse Tribune suggested that Independence Day become a Monday holiday, for the sake of convenience.  Just one year before, the U.S. had started celebrating Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Presidents' Day on Mondays instead of on their traditional dates.  La Crosse was preparing for an "Old Fashion 4th of July" celebration at the festgrounds for the long holiday weekend.  Riverfest wouldn't come along for another decade yet.

Miami Beach was getting ready to host both big political conventions that summer.  The Democrats would nominate George McGovern in July, with President Nixon being nominated again by Republicans in August.

The Midwest was catching lottery fever.  Illinois and Michigan were competing to become the first Midwestern state to offer lottery games.  Wisconsin was still against it, though, with one Justice Department spokesman arguing that the biggest winner from a lottery would be organized crime.
On Thursday nights in the summer of '72, TV watchers could see Dean Martin, "Ironside," the final season of "My Three Sons," and reruns of "My World, and Welcome to It," a comedy based on the cartoons and writings of James Thurber.  On Channel 19 in La Crosse, you could watch Dick Cavett's talk show at 10:30, and stay tuned at midnight to cook with the "Galloping Gourmet."  Forty-six years ago, Yesterday in La Crosse.

La Crosse's Riverfest was still fairly new in 1988...only in its sixth year.  The 4th of July festival attracted big-name talent, such as singer John Prine.  But it also featured the "Tromso Singers" from Norway, acrobat and juggler Bobby Hunt, and crowd favorite, hypnotist Jim Wand.  The '88 Riverfest also marked the first appearance of the "Puttin' on the Lips" contest, modeled after a syndicated TV show that had just been cancelled.  The lip sync show was a staple of Riverfest for about 15 years. 

La Crosse had an unusually warm and dry summer in 1988.  The average temperatures for May, June, and August that year remain among the 10 warmest for those months.  And there was less than an inch of rain for all of May, leading to brown grass throughout the city when it was time for Riverfest. 

The Summerstage show at UW-La Crosse that year was "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," directed by Richard Tinapp.  It had recently been done as a movie musical with Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton.  Kyrst Hogan played the madam of the Chicken Ranch in the La Crosse version, and the Reynolds character, Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd, was played by future Riverfest Commodore Michael Hartigan.  That was 30 years ago, 1988, yesterday in La Crosse.


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