Yesterday in La Crosse (134)

Friday - August 18, 2017 8:42 am

Radio, movies, music that were popular 53 years ago

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In 1964, local radio stations broadcast lots of high school sports.  WKTY in La Crosse was broadcasting the WIAA basketball playoffs at all four levels, from regional to state.  In those days, all the schools in Wisconsin competed in one class, with only eight teams making it to Madison.  The tournament broadcasts were sponsored by Standard Oil. 

The Beatles dominated the record charts in '64, but it took a while for Americans to get to know them.  The La Crosse Tribune ran a front-page photo of the Fab Four during the group's first visit to the U.S., but only Ringo was identified correctly. 

The Trib often featured local surveys of teenagers, to see what kind of entertainment they liked.  One poll in 1964 found that the favorite movie stars of teens were 60-year-old Cary Grant and 39-year-old Doris Day.

In the midst of Beatlemania, the Sawyer Auditorium brought Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians to town, appealing to an older audience.  The choral group's concert started at 8:30 p.m., with tickets costing $2 to $4...53 years ago, 1964, Yesterday in La Crosse.





Thursday - August 17, 2017 8:42 am

Mr. Burke became a Father, 42 years ago

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Raymond Burke returned home to La Crosse in the summer of 1975, just after being ordained as a priest in Rome by Pope Paul VI.  Father Burke was 27 years old, and was named associate rector of St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral.  Within 20 years, Burke would become the bishop of the La Crosse Diocese, and later, the archbishop of St. Louis.  Now, he's a cardinal.

Most people didn't need to use a wood heater during that August, but Menard's on the Causeway had them on sale for $209.  A gas range at Menard's sold for $136.

At the Towne House in La Crescent, you could get ribs or fish on Friday night for only $2.50.  The John Lincoln Trio played country music at the Towne House that August, and the Minnesota Ranch Hands performed at the Red Sails Resort in what an advertisement called "Brices" Prairie.  There were no bands playing at Henry's Drive-In at 7th and King in La Crosse, now the site of Pizza Doctors.  But Henry's did sell a half-chicken dinner for $1.59.  Buy a Pepsi with your chicken, and you could keep the Looney Tunes souvenir glass.  That's all, folks...42 years ago, 1975, yesterday in La Crosse.


In August of 1977, Medary was proceeding with a bond sale that would allow the town to operate its own sewage treatment system, just as Dayton-Hudson was getting ready to build a shopping mall off Highway 16.  The town pursued its own plant even after the proposal was turned down by the DNR, which wanted Medary to connect to the La Crosse sewer system.
Marine reservists training at Volk Field took part in a hostage rescue exercise, designed to resemble a raid in Uganda the previous year which freed the passengers on a hijacked airplane.  The exercise began at 4:30 a.m., and in less than an hour, the rescuers had killed the mock terrorists and freed the hostages.  The reservists who played the terrorists then cleaned up the mess.  
Montgomery Ward had a 'trainload sale' of new record albums...featuring releases by Peter Frampton, Heart, and Kiss.  
And 40 years ago this week, we heard about the passing of a famous performer...known as a movie star who sang in many of his films.  He was instantly recognizable just by his first name.  Comedian Groucho Marx was 86 when he died, three days after Elvis Presley, in August, 1977...yesterday in La Crosse.

In August of 2012, the La Crosse School District decided to schedule a fall referendum on whether to build a new north-side elementary school to take the place of two schools showing their age.  Franklin School was built in the 50's, while Roosevelt had been around since 1923.  During a tour of Franklin, a pencil was placed on the floor of a second-story classroom, and the pencil rolled downhill.  Voters okayed the construction plan, with Franklin being torn down to make way for Northside Elementary.  Roosevelt has just been remodeled into an apartment building.  
The La Crosse School Board met one week that summer in an old classroom in the Hogan Administrative Center, instead of the school auditorium.  The board decided to skip the Pledge of Allegiance for the night, because it turned out there wasn't an American flag in the room.
Former Governor Tommy Thompson was running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Herb Kohl.  Shortly before the summer primary, Thompson...who served as health secretary for Republican President George W. Bush...campaigned in La Crosse with Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House.  Gingrich called Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid "destructive," and said it would be important to have a Republican-controlled Senate if Mitt Romney unseated President Obama.  
"The Hunger Games" and the first Marvel "Avengers" film were big movie hits in 2012, along with new sequels to the animated comedies "Ice Age" and "Madagascar."  Five years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.

Monday - August 14, 2017 12:16 pm

They started building the La Farge Dam, 46 years ago

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In August of 1971, about 500 people attended the ground-breaking for a new Kickapoo River dam project near La Farge.  Just one protester spoke out at the ceremony.  The plan to prevent flooding in the Kickapoo Valley had been proposed as early as 1937, and got Congressional approval in 1962.  The $29 million dam was scheduled to be finished in 1977...but construction shut down in '75, as a result of rising costs and growing environmental concerns.  The project never was completed.
La Crosse's city council was busy with a few summertime issues.  The council voted down a plan to resume mosquito control in La Crosse, which used to require sending a fogging machine down the streets on summer nights.  Council members also stopped a plan that would prevent outdoor charcoal grilling within 20 feet of a neighbor's house.  
Some long-running TV shows were ending their runs in the summer of '71...including "The Ed Sullivan Show," "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Green Acres," "Hogan's Heroes," and the western "The High Chapparal."  But August also saw the debut of "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour"...46 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.

On this day last year, in 2016, Indiana Governor Mike Pence campaigned at UW-La Crosse as the new Republican vice presidential nominee.  Pence led a mid-afternoon rally at the Cartwright Center, saying that Hillary Clinton would continue policies that have run the U-S into an "economic ditch."  He also claimed that the media were biased in favor of Clinton, suggesting it was as if the Packers played every football game on the road in front of hostile refs who favored their opponents.  
Pence was followed to La Crosse the next week by the man at the top of the ticket, Donald Trump.  The presidential candidate arrived at the Charmant Hotel on the night of August 15th, and stayed there until about noon the next day, when he traveled to the Cargill Room at LHI to speak at a local fund-raiser.  Guests attending the luncheon were asked to donate at least $2700 to the campaign.  It was Trump's second visit to La Crosse during the year, following an April speech at the La Crosse Center.  By August, Trump was 15 points behind Clinton in Wisconsin...but in November, he won the state by 23,000 votes, although Clinton took La Crosse County.
The Trump and Pence visits to La Crosse occurred during the Summer Olympics, being staged in Rio.  And for most of the summer, the #1 song on the radio was "One Dance" by Drake, one year ago, 2016...yesterday in La Crosse.

Thursday - August 10, 2017 8:43 am

A full ballot for a house race, 31 years ago

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Last year, La Crosse Congressman Ron Kind ran unopposed in the November election in Wisconsin's 3rd District.  Back in 1986, the House race was more lively, with four Democrats lined up to challenge Republican Steve Gunderson.  Karl Kruger, Chessie Lee, and Charles Dow lost the nomination to Leland Mulder of Holmen.  Mulder said he ran because he was angry about farm prices.  Gunderson won his 4th of 8 terms that year.

At Comb Liquidators on French Island, you could buy a sewing machine for $179, or wooden music boxes for $7.99.  Duff's Smorgasbord at Bridgeview Plaza was offering two dinners for $7.95.

"Crime is a the cure."  That was the slogan for Sylvester Stallone's new picture in 1986, a cop movie called "Cobra."  Other hit movies in '86 included "Top Gun," "Aliens" with Sigourney Weaver, and Jeff Goldblum as "The Fly."  Be very afraid, 31 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.


Wednesday - August 9, 2017 8:42 am

It was easy to find the Stoddard, 49 years ago

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In August of 1968, downtown La Crosse's largest hotel, the Hotel Stoddard, put up a huge new rooftop sign that summer, spelling out the building's name in big letters that would be lit at night with fluorescent lights...replacing a worn-out neon sign.  On the other side of 4th Street from the hotel, Montgomery Ward was trying to clear out its air conditioners as summer was ending.  Wards was selling the chillers for as low as 119 dollars.
Richard Nixon won the Republican nomination for president for the second time that summer, and chose Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew as his running mate.  A newspaper story described Agnew as 6-foot-2, a father of four, and an "immaculate dresser."  Wisconsin's delegates put Nixon over the top on the night of the convention roll call at Miami Beach. 
On Sunday nights that August, you could turn on the TV and watch "Mission: Impossible"..."Gentle Ben"...or a new variety show called the "Summer Brothers Smothers Show," hosted by singer Glen Campbell.  The show lasted for four years on CBS, and was renamed "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour."  It started in 1968...Yesterday in La Crosse. 



Tuesday - August 8, 2017 8:42 am

Heileman went for a Blatz, 48 years ago

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The Heileman Brewery of La Crosse was eager to buy Milwaukee's Blatz Brewery in the summer of 1969.  Heileman offered $8.5 million for Blatz, competing with two other breweries, including Grain Belt of Minneapolis.  The local company argued that letting an out-of-state company purchase Blatz would be "adverse" for the state's academy. 

In the late 60's, many communities still sent fog machines out on summer nights, spraying a white cloud of pesticide to kill mosquitoes.  The La Crosse Tribune published notices, describing which part of town would be sprayed that night. 

The Apollo 11 astronauts had to spend several days in quarantine after their historic flight, but early tests indicated that the three men had not brought back any alien life from the moon.  On just one day, August 13th of 1969, astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins took part in a cross-country celebration of their feat, starting with a ticker tape parade in New York and ending with a dinner in Los Angeles.

And on August 8th of 1969, the Beatles took a stroll across a London street, for the cover of what would be their last album together.  A photographer took six poses of the band walking single-file across Abbey Road.  Forty-eight years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.


Monday - August 7, 2017 8:43 am

The UW, times two? The idea came up 52 years ago

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In the summer of 1965, the University of Wisconsin was talking about building a second campus in Madison...predicting that the school couldn't hold more than 40,000 students on the existing U-W campus.  The guess was that Madison would reach the 40,000 mark by 1970.  A suggested site for the second campus was on farmland at the west side of the general area where West Towne Mall eventually was built.  By comparison, the La Crosse State campus had just under 4000 students in the fall of '65.
The Villa Louis mansion in Prairie du Chien was getting ready for its half-millionth visitor, who would be showered with prizes from local businesses.  The former home of fur-trading millionaire Hercules Dousman had been the property of the State Historical Society since 1962.
A newspaper ad announced that there were only six tickets left for a Beatles bus trip to Minneapolis on August 21st.  The band played its only Minnesota concert ever on a Saturday night at Met Stadium in Bloomington, the home of the Twins and Vikings.  
A touring production of the musical "Bye Bye Birdie" played for two shows at the Coleman Auditorium.  The biggest name in the cast was Jack Bailey, the long-time host of the TV show "Queen for a Day."  Bailey took on the father role played by Paul Lynde on Broadway and in the 1963 movie.  Hello to "Birdie"...52 years ago, 1965, yesterday in La Crosse.

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