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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It was on December 8th in 1980 when John Lennon was shot and killed outside his New York apartment building by an obsessed fan who had gotten Lennon's autograph earlier in the day.  The former Beatle was 40 years old, and had a new hit single and album on the charts after a five-year hiatus from the music business.  Many Americans heard the news while watching "Monday Night Football" on TV.  In La Crosse, the Racquet newspaper at UW-L called Lennon "the first cultural hero to be assassinated"...unlike other popular celebrities such as Buddy Holly or Jimi Hendrix who may have been killed in accidents or died from substance abuse.
 
Another pop culture icon to die that December...the real Colonel Sanders, the founder of and commercial pitchman for Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Harland Sanders had just turned 90.  La Crosse's first KFC outlet stood for many years on Losey Boulevard, across from the Village.  Around the time of the Colonel's passing, the south-side restaurant moved to its current location, along Mormon Coulee Road.  
 
The Christmas edition of the Racquet featured ads for the People's Food Co-op at 6th and Adams...the Office Lounge...Lang Drive Liquor...and Clothes 'n Counter at Menard Plaza.  Places for holiday shopping in 1980, yesterday in La Crosse.
 

Thursday - December 7, 2017 8:47 am

Taking a leap, 42 years ago

In the summer of 1975, hang gliding was becoming a fad in the Midwest, with the bluffs along the Mississippi used as jumping-off spots.  A group called the La Crosse Sky Surfers had spent several months trying to persuade the city to let them take off from Grandad Bluff.  The park board was taking its time studying the idea, with one board member suggesting that hang-gliders pay a fee of at least $5 to run off the bluff top.  The money would be spent to improve the bluff.

A UW law graduate was opening a La Crosse law office.  Milwaukee native Roger LeGrand had spent three years in India with the Peace Corps.  LeGrand has been in La Crosse ever since '75, serving in many elected offices including district attorney, and presiding as a circuit judge.

The Pizza Wagon on the UW-L campus offered an individual cheese pizza for just $1.30.  For the 16-inch Wagon Special, you'd have to pay just over $5...the price for your slice 42 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.

 

The biggest court case of 2012 in La Crosse County was the double murder trial of Eric Koula.  That June, a jury found Koula guilty of shooting his parents, Dennis and Merna Koula, for their inheritance after racking up large debts through internet stock trading.  Defense lawyers proposed a theory that the Koulas were victims of mistaken identity, shot by a hitman looking for a different house in Barre Mills.  CBS News built an episode of "48 Hours" around the Koula case.  In 2017, Eric Koula's latest attempt at a new trial was turned down by a local judge.
 
Four new murders occurred in La Crosse that same year.  One woman was found strangled in a parking lot, in a drug-related case.  A college student was shot on her living room couch by a burglar looking for money.  And a robber shot and killed a camera store owner and his 19-year-old son, inside the store on a Saturday afternoon.  Shortly after that double slaying, Ron Tischer was sworn in as La Crosse's new police chief, succeeding retired chief Ed Kondracki.
 
There was a downtown closing that Christmas, when the La Crosse Community Theatre ended a 44-year run on 5th Avenue, in what is now the Cavalier Theatre.  LCT relocated to the Weber Center after a holiday production of "A Christmas Story."  Five years ago, 2012, yesterday in La Crosse.
 

In the fall of 1969, the Marching Chiefs band from La Crosse State was making travel plans to play in the Rose Parade at Pasadena on New Year's Day.  More than 200 musicians would be marching in the parade, and each of them needed to raise $230 to pay for the trip.  The Chiefs were selling cookbooks of their favorite recipes, and planned to sell concessions at Oktoberfest.

The "Racquet" newspaper on campus declared that ending the Vietnam War was the most important task facing the nation.  The paper promoted two anti-war moratoriums that were scheduled in Washington during the fall.

Music lovers in La Crosse could buy popular records at the Pic-a-Book Store on Campbell Road, with albums priced as low as $3.67.  The hot albums included "Chicago Transit Authority," by the band later known as just Chicago...Bob Dylan's "Nashville Skyline," featuring "Lay Lady Lay"...and "Johnny Cash at San Quentin," featuring the live version of "A Boy Named Sue."  Forty eight years ago, 1969, Yesterday in La Crosse.

 

In late 1976, the city council voted to end a development contract with Harborview Plaza Associates, complaining that the company had been given several years to find something to put on the empty Harborview lot near Riverside Park.  Hotels, condominiums, and retail stores had all been suggested.  The council was told that only the city redevelopment authority could end the contract...and two nights later, aldermen reversed their firing decision.  
 
When Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale were elected president and vice president that fall, Mondale had to give up his job as U.S. Senator from Minnesota.  Governor Wendell Anderson wanted Mondale's job, and publicly announced that he would resign, so the new governor, Rudy Perpich, would appoint him.  Minnesota law only allowed appointment by the governor as a way to fill a Senate vacancy.  People around the state were angry about that deal, and two years later, they voted out both Senator Anderson and Governor Perpich.  In the La Crosse area, Paul Offner moved up from the Assembly to win an open seat in the State Senate.  Winning Offner's former seat was future La Crosse mayor John Medinger.
 
The Sirloin Stockade, along Mormon Coulee Road, was featuring a club steak special for $1.69.  And Con's Grill, on 7th Street near Lutheran Hospital, had a $4.25 steak dinner...with coffee included.  Dinner deals in 1976, yesterday in La Crosse.

 

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