Brad Williams

Brad Williams

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from U-W-La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area.  Brad writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse.  He's been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.  

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Friday - October 20, 2017 8:49 am

Coffey, or Rice? A supreme choice, 40 years ago

In October of 1977, Judge James Rice of Monroe County launched a bid for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  Rice said the main issue of his campaign was to promote judicial efficiency, to tackle problems of delays in the state court system.  The judge was running for a seat being vacated by retiring Justice Leo Hanley.  Rice lost the 1978 election to Milwaukee Judge John Coffey. 

City and school leaders in La Crosse broke ground in October for the new north-side high school, which would be the new Logan High.  The site near Swanson Field had been chosen three years earlier.  It was budgeted at $7 million, including a new indoor swimming pool.  That same week, ground was broken for Valley View Mall along Highway 16.  Logan would open a full year before the mall.  The Valley View ceremony was delayed for two hours, because officials from the mall management company and the Dayton-Hudson department stores were flying to La Crosse, and were slowed down by fog.

Another airplane disaster in music history happened on October 20th, 1977 in Mississippi, when three members of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd were among six people killed in a Mississippi crash.  Twenty others on the plane were injured.  The accident happened only three days after the release of the band's new album 'Street Survivors' in 1977, 40 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.


Friday - October 20, 2017 4:27 am

Onalaska DMV getting $950,000 makeover

Building commission approved plan Wed. 


City has bid of $50,000 to run harbor. 


In the month before the 1960 presidential election, both major candidates campaigned in La Crosse.  Vice President Richard Nixon spoke at the Sawyer Auditorium one day after one of his TV debates with Sen. John Kennedy.  The state college newspaper, the Racquet, was not impressed...claiming that Nixon said little during his La Crosse speech, except to promote GOP farm policy.  And when Kennedy arrived two weeks later, the Racquet also slammed him for saying very little.  The newspaper also criticized faculty members of the college for protesting the arrival of a Republican "truth squad" plane at the airport when JFK was there.  One Senator in the truth squad was Prescott Bush of Connecticut, father of the 41st president, grandfather of the 43rd.

A beauty pageant scandal arose, shortly before the election.  The young woman chosen to represent the US in the Miss World contest was too young.  Annette Driggers of New York was 15, but had claimed to be 20.  The runner-up, Judith Achter of St. Louis, became Miss United States instead.

An odd assortment of movies hit #1 at the box office in October of 1960.  They included the western drama "The Magnificent Seven"..."The Alamo," starring John Wayne...the Roman epic "Spartacus"...and "High Time," a comedy with Bing Crosby as a businessman who goes to college.  Fifty-seven years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.


The La Crosse city council took up a public consumption ordinance in 1975.  The ordinance would prohibit drinking on the streets of the city, or the sidewalks.  Aldermen admitted the purpose of the ordinance was to control drinking during events like Oktoberfest.  One council member, Dennis Kaufmann, wanted open drinking to be allowed if paper or plastic cups were used.  Tavern owners would have some responsibility, to warn customers that they couldn't leave a bar with a beer or other drink in hand.  A sign saying so had to be posted at the exit.  Alderman Dick Arneson asked to have those signs posted at every exit of a bar.

On this night in 1975, Simon and Garfunkel re-united five years after their break-up to perform together on "NBC's Saturday Night"...the show now known as "Saturday Night Live."  Paul Simon was hosting the second episode of the series, after George Carlin hosted the debut.  The different title was used to avoid confusion with a new ABC prime-time series called "Saturday Night Live," a Ed Sullivan-type variety show hosted by Howard Cosell.  Other hosts in the first few weeks of NBC's "SNL" included Richard Pryor, Lily Tomlin, Robert Klein, and the first two-time host, Candice Bergen.  Live from New York 42 years ago, 1975, yesterday in La Crosse.


In the fall of 1992, the La Crosse County Republican Party had a meeting shortly after the election in which President George Bush had been defeated by Democrat Bill Clinton.  Speaker Steve Knudson promoted a television channel called 'National Empowerment TV,' which was being organized to 'bypass' perceived liberal bias in the national media.  A video viewers of the channel could get 'unvarnished truth' that would not be 'filtered' through the regular media, and it could help college students cope with 'radical professors.'  There was talk among the local Republicans of replacing some of the 'deadwood' on the La Crosse city council in the 1993 election, when 9 seats would be on the ballot.  
The La Crosse Center had been open for only 12 years, but it was considering expansion plans.  There were proposals of building a larger arena, possibly by 1997 or 2007, along with more space for conventions and meetings.  Board members talked of expanding the center to the south or the east, but definitely not west into Riverside Park...which is an option being reviewed by the La Crosse Center now.
TV watchers in '92 were checking out new fall shows such as 'The Ben Stiller Show'...'Mad About You'...'Bob,' with Bob Newhart playing a cartoonist...and 'The Golden Palace,' which was 'The Golden Girls' minus Bea Arthur.  Twenty-five years ago, 1992, yesterday in La Crosse.

In 1966, a 'La Crosse Citizens Committee Against Fluoridation' bought a newspaper ad claiming that a 'propaganda' piece in the West Salem newspaper led voters there to vote for fluoride in the tap water...because the voters didn't get to hear the other side. The committee was being re-activated and expanded to include six counties, in hopes of preventing other communities from saying yes to what the group called 'mass medication.' La Crosse had voted down fluoridation once in the 50's. There would be referendums again in the city in 1968 and '69...and both were defeated.
The next presidential election was two years away, and Wisconsin leaders were debating whether to have an early primary again. Wisconsin was traditionally the second primary state, after New Hampshire, with a presidential vote in early April. But a bi-partisan committee suggested moving the state primary to May, when it would have less influence on the nominating process. The '68 primary remained in April.
And a popular series of TV commercials featured the Ajax White Knight.  The knight on a horse pointed a lance at people with dirty clothes, and magically their clothes became clean.  Ajax laundry detergent ran a sweepstakes, asking customers to vote on a name for the knight...Lancelot, Bayard, Roland, or Galahad...with the winning name to be announced on 'The Dean Martin Show.'  But the Ajax website today doesn't have a record of what name won the contest.  Stronger than dirt in 1966, yesterday in La Crosse.




In November of 1981, La Crosse tried an experiment to keep shoppers coming downtown, after the opening of the Valley View Mall.  The city council considered a one-year suspension of nearly 700 curbside parking meters, and later reduced that to a three-month trial.  Eventually, all the city-owned meters were removed, and were kept in storage until a recent sale.  When bags were placed on the meters to allow two-hour free parking, some drivers thought parking was banned in those spaces, and they tried to park somewhere else.  City Hall estimated that it would lose tens of thousands of dollars without those meters.

The Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium was empty and unused, a year after being replaced by the La Crosse Center.  But the center board voted to rent the Sawyer to the Blue Stars drum and bugle corps for $5000 a year. 

Gas prices in La Crosse averaged $1.29 a gallon around Thanksgiving of '81.  Some of the lowest prices for regular gasoline could be found at Frank-Len on N. 3rd St., the Clark gas station on Lang Drive, and the Citgo Quick Mart on West Avenue near campus.  Cheap gas in 1981, yesterday in La Crosse.


Council also approved CCA rezoning and $1.8 for boat harbor 


About $1.4 million would be paid back to city through slip fees 


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