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Yesterday in La Crosse (301)

In early 2002, somebody from the Milwaukee area was interested in building a big store on the west side of Mormon Coulee Road in La Crosse, across from All-Star Lanes.  But the name of the client had not been revealed yet.  The manager of Woodman's food market in Onalaska said it probably wasn't going to be another Woodman's.  He speculated that it might be Wal-Mart, which was in Onalaska at the time, but not in La Crosse.  Eventually, the south-side lot became the home of a Wal-Mart.

Amtrak was cutting back on its service hours in La Crosse and Winona.  The federal passenger rail service announced that the two depots would be closed on Saturdays and Sundays as a cost-cutting measure.  Amtrak's Empire Builder only stopped in Winona and La Crosse two times a day...eastbound in the morning, and westbound at night.  La Crosse Mayor John Medinger was worried that the Amtrak route might be eliminated completely.  A study showed that the most popular eastbound destination for La Crosse travelers was Chicago.  Westbound riders went to the Twin Cities most often, 16 years ago, 2002, yesterday in La Crosse. 


In 1994, a Coon Valley man wrote to the La Crosse Tribune that La Crosse's Oktoberfest wasn't German enough.  His problem was with the Oktoberfest button chosen for '94, featuring a wizard and a crystal ball, emphasizing the "magic" of the event.  The writer said associating a wizard with a German festival is a "major historical inaccuracy."

Not enough parking in downtown La Crosse was the complaint of another letter writer, just after Riverfest.  This man had attended a senior citizen breakfast during the fest, but had to park a long distance away because "No Parking" signs were posted on Front Street all day, even before anything was scheduled for the day at Riverfest.  Mayor Pat Zielke told the man that he would try to do something about it. 

Sequel-mania was big at the movies, with films such as "Major League 2," with Charlie Sheen..."The Mighty Ducks 2," with Charlie's brother, Emilio Estevez...and "Naked Gun 33 1/3," featuring Leslie Nielsen and O.J. Simpson.  Twenty-four years ago, 1994, yesterday in La Crosse.


In 2006, Wisconsin Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and associate Justice Ann Walsh Bradley appeared at the Viterbo Fine Arts Center on "Law Day," answering questions from local reporters.  Abrahamson has been called an "activist," and said people don't agree on what makes a judge activist.  She said it may depend on whether the person using the word liked a decision made by a particular judge.  Bradley said the use of the "activist" label has become "alarming."

Abrahamson also spoke that day at a celebration in the La Crosse County courthouse for local attorney Ernie Hanson, who was marking 65 years as a lawyer, and who had just turned 90.  The Chief Justice said she felt "very young,' having served only 50 years in the profession herself.

And a youth theatre group from Japan visited La Crosse for a week, to perform a play at La Crosse Community Theatre about the Hiroshima bombing.  Several local residents also played parts in that production 12 years ago, 2006, yesterday in La Crosse.


In July of 1981, Britain's Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer at a lavish wedding seen on TV around the world. That same day, the Hotel Stoddard in La Crosse was auctioning off its property, including crystal chandeliers. It was less than a year after the Radisson along the riverfront opened its doors.
A baseball strike over free agency ended that same week, leading to a two-part season for major league teams. The Milwaukee Brewers did well enough to make the playoffs for the first time in '81.
MTV made its debut the week of the royal wedding. The first music video played on the channel was "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles. MTV's second video featured Pat Benatar. Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll...1981, yesterday in La Crosse.
Tuesday - May 15, 2018 8:49 am

The city gets a new police chief, 41 years ago

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Acting La Crosse chief Ray Lichtie was promoted full-time to chief in May of 1977.  Lichtie had been in that position since the previous October, when former chief Ron Wold resigned to work in security at Gateway Foods.  Two members of the city council said they might sue City Hall for not advertising the chief opening first.  Lichtie's new post was announced at the same time that the police and fire commission was completing a study of poor management and morale problems within the La Crosse Police Department.  
The Holiday Inn on the pike promoted a champagne 'bruncheon' buffet for only $3.50, which featured, according to one advertisement, a make-your-own "Blood Mary bar."  Kilger's Four Seasons, south of La Crescent, served German food most nights...with offerings such as sauerbraten on Wednesdays, and pot roast with German potato pancakes on Thursday.  
And America was marking the 50th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh's historic solo flight across the Atlantic.  The 1927 voyage was being featured in TV documentary programs, and the 50's movie "The Spirit of St. Louis" with Jimmy Stewart as "Lucky Lindy" was broadcast in 1977...41 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.  

Monday - May 14, 2018 8:44 am

The "Queen" was coming to town, 53 years ago

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The La Crosse Queen paddlewheeler was being introduced in 1965.  Roy Franz of the Big Indian Boat Lines said the new excursion boat could hold as many as 150 passengers.  Franz had been offering river trips in La Crosse for three years before the Queen's first tour.  The boat would arrive in La Crosse after a 10-hour trip up the river from Prairie du Chien.  
Memorial Field might have to be moved, to allow the state university in La Crosse to grow.  A new campus heating plant was part of the expansion project, along with the physical education building, Mitchell Hall.  The La Crosse city council had been talking for some time about possibly building a new football stadium in the marsh.  
Four women had been turned down as candidates to become U.S. astronauts.  By May of 1965, only seven Americans had gone into space, with Gus Grissom the only man to do it twice.  That spring, Barbra Streisand did her first TV special, and the La Crosse Tribune said "feminine viewers (would be) interested" in a fashion salon segment on the show.  Space travel versus fashion?  That was 53 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.


" London" was a familiar opening to Edward R. Murrow's radio reports from England during 1942.  Murrow and other CBS reporters, including Charles Collingwood and Eric Sevareid, kept American listeners up to date on World War II, and went on to do news for CBS in the early era of television.

La Crosse had a department store named Barron's downtown at 5th and Main in 1942.  Barron's later changed its name to Herberger's, and years later, Herberger's moved to Valley View Mall.  In the next few weeks, Herberger's will move out of the mall for good.

You could get 5 cents for your old 10-inch or 12-inch records at Terry's Music at 307 Main St.  Most popular records sold in the 40's were 12 inches across, and were played at 78 rpm. 

Back to the war...La Crosse County had a council of defense, headed by Ray Dwyer.  The council provided wardens for air raids, when people were asked to pull their blinds so the lights in your home wouldn't be noticed by enemy planes.  It was easier to block out the lights in those days, because many homes had window shades made of dark green paper, in 1942...76 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.


In 1962, the La Crosse City Council was offered the chance to convert an old station wagon into an ambulance, and turned it down.  Police chief George Long said the city already had two ambulances, and the La Crosse Hospital had three, so that was plenty.  Those were the days before La Crosse was served by private ambulance companies.

Folks in north La Crosse wanted a swimming pool in '62, but they couldn't agree on where to put it.  The Redevelopment Authority was asked to decide.  The parks commission wanted a pool at the Black River beach, but a group of citizens lobbied for Swanson Field, where there didn't seem to be enough room.  Eventually, Logan Middle School became the pool site. 

The Pizza Villa had its grand opening on South 3rd St., between Main and Pearl.  You could get two free bottles of Pepsi with any pizza order, and the restaurant was also giving away new 45 rpm records.  Elvis had a #1 hit in early 1962 with "Good Luck Charm."  So did a future Elvis co-star, Shelley Fabares of "The Donna Reed Show."  Shelley topped the charts for two weeks with "Johnny Angel," 56 years ago, 1962...yesterday in La Crosse. 

In May of 1968, the Catholic Diocese of La Crosse named Monsignor John Paul its temporary administrator, while Bishop Frederick Freking was recovering from an illness.  Paul was rector of St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral at the time.  He was an Aquinas graduate, and a former principal at Eau Claire Regis High School.  The church said Freking had a "physical breakdown," and would spend at least a month resting in Texas.  Paul would be appointed Bishop of La Crosse himself nine years later.
Wheels came cheaper in '68.  A Mercury Cougar, advertised as a luxury sports car, could be bought for just over $2000.  If you wanted something smaller, but still with an engine, some new Honda motorcycles were priced at less than $300.
TV spy shows were still pretty popular in 1968.  Even though "The Man from UNCLE" had been replaced by "Laugh-In" that year, "Get Smart" won the Emmy award for best comedy series, and "Mission: Impossible" was the best drama.  Also nominated that year were "Hogan's Heroes," "I Spy," and "The Avengers"...the British spy show with Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg, not the Marvel superhero group.  Don Adams as Maxwell Smart and Barbara Bain as Cinnamon from "Mission: Impossible" won their own Emmys in, would you believe, 1968?  Yesterday in La Crosse.

In May of 2012, the La Crosse park board was told by tree specialists that about five thousand ash trees might have to be removed from city parks, following the local discovery of the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect that was destroying the ashes.  The park department had been warned about the spread of the bug six years earlier, and there were warnings that the borers would eventually kill all the area's ash trees.
Wisconsin's lieutenant governor was traveling the state that May, fighting for her job.  Rebecca Kleefisch was the target of a recall drive, along with Gov. Scott Walker, because of the opposition to the Act 10 law putting limits on some labor unions.  Kleefisch believed that voters were sick of non-stop campaigning and political fighting, going on for three years.  She told reporters that a Wisconsin state law limits recall attempts against any single elected official to just one special election per term.  
And a new summertime music festival was being introduced in La Crosse.  The Valley View Rotary launched "Noon Tunes" at Riverside Park, a live concert at the bandshell one afternoon a week during lunch time, for a 12-week period.  Within a few years, the concerts were switched to early evening, and are now called "Moon Tunes."  Name those tunes...2012, yesterday in La Crosse.

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