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Yesterday in La Crosse (363)

Wednesday - September 19, 2018 8:43 am

Republicans were targeting Gaylord Nelson, 38 years ago

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In 1980, Democratic Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin was running for a fourth term, and four Republicans ran in the primary to get the chance to oppose him.  Former Congressman Bob Kasten won the nomination, with businessman Terry Kohler coming in second.  Kasten had run for governor two years earlier, and lost the primary after getting the party endorsement.  In '80, Kasten unseated Nelson, during a year when several Democratic Senators were thrown out after being targeted as too liberal. 

The Democratic Congressman for the 3rd District also lost his seat in 1980, with Al Baldus being replaced by state legislator Steve Gunderson of Osseo.  Baldus had only served 6 years in the House.

Esteban's restaurant opened in downtown La Crosse in 1980, at 3rd and Jay.  The Mexican eatery stayed open for 16 years at that site.  Years later, a Hooters restaurant opened in the old Esteban's...and it's now the home of a restaurant called Lovechild.

And "Brat on a Bun, or Hold That Kraut" was the title of the very first Heart of La Crosse production that September.  It was a comedy group made up of six guys...Sean Kelley, Ken E. Brown, Bruce Rogers, Jim Moenke, Bill Walz, and Paul Heckman.  They did two shows a night at the Pump House, with tickets costing $3.  Heart got its start in 1980, yesterday in La Crosse.


In 1955, UW-La Crosse was still La Crosse State College, and its homecoming parade was held downtown.  Some of the float ideas might not be approved today...such as the fraternity float with guys dressed as butchers, with pieces of dummies lying on a table.  They're slogan was 'We'll cut 'em up.'  Photos of the '55 parade showed the names of businesses no longer downtown...like Fields, Miller's, the Tru-Valu Shop, and Kinney Shoes.

Ford Rexall Drug was at the corner of 4th and Main, in October of '55.  You could buy men's shoe trees for 59 cents, or an egg beater for 19 cents, and the soda fountain had a special of hot fudge shortcake with ice cream, 19 cents.

Families with a good TV antenna could get WCCO, Channel 4 from Minneapolis, to watch "The Murray Warmath Show."  Warmath was the Minnesota Gophers football coach, answering questions about the previous game.  WCCO advertised the coach's show in the La Crosse Tribune in 1955, 63 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.

 

Monday - September 17, 2018 8:58 am

Welcome to the All-America City, 53 years ago

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In the fall of 1965, La Crosse made the list of 24 communities that were declared "All-America" cities, by the National Municipal League.  Only three men in La Crosse knew that the city was in the running...the Chamber of Commerce president, the Chamber manager, and Jim Conway of WLCX Radio.  Conway said La Crosse's response to the record Mississippi River flood might have helped the city's chances, along with the opening of a new courthouse, and the building of a Montgomery Ward store where the old courthouse had stood.
 
The World Series was being played in Minnesota in '65.  The Twins hosted the opening game at Met Stadium in Bloomington, and beat the L.A. Dodgers.  The Series went the full 7 games...and the Dodgers took the title.  It was also the last season that the Braves played in Milwaukee, before moving to Atlanta.
 
That September, TV watchers were introduced to some new heroes with the same last name.  Anne Francis played a female private eye named "Honey West"...Major Don West was with the Robinson family and Dr. Smith, "Lost in Space"...and secret agent James West rode a train through "The Wild Wild West" in 1965, yesterday in La Crosse.
 

In the fall of 1990, the stalled La Farge Dam project was back in the news.  A federal judge ruled in favor of the Army Corps of Engineers, in continuing a hold on that proposed dam on the Kickapoo.  The ruling went against a former landowner and some local governments which wanted the unfinished dam completed.  Construction was stopped at La Farge in the 70's over environmental concerns. 

Wisconsin and Minnesota were voting for governors in 1990.  Tommy Thompson easily won a second term in Wisconsin, over Democratic Assembly speaker Tom Loftus.  The Minnesota race was a bit wilder.  Incumbent Democrat Rudy Perpich won the September primary against Mike Hatch, whose campaign slogan was "You're gonna like THIS governor."  Perpich was supposed to face Republican Jon Grunseth...until Grunseth dropped out less than two weeks before the election, because of a couple of sex scandals.  The Republican Party quickly made Arne Carlson its candidate, and he defeated Perpich by about 60,000 votes. 

The TV networks tried sitcom versions of the movies "Parenthood," "Uncle Buck," and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."  They all flopped, but one of the new hits of 1990 featured rapper Will Smith, as "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," yesterday in La Crosse.

 

Tuesday - September 11, 2018 8:43 am

Oktoberfest after 9/11...in 2001

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The September 11th attacks on America in 2001 came just a couple of weeks before La Crosse was scheduled to start the 41st Oktoberfest.  It was the second year that Oktoberfest went to a 9-day schedule, spanning two weekends.  The fest went on a planned, but people were mindful of the attacks.  CenturyTel ran a patriotic newspaper ad defining "gemuetlichkeit" as closeness, friendship, and congeniality.  Posters about 9/11 were seen along the Maple Leaf parade route, including one sign which said that the attacks could not stop Oktoberfest.

Some songs were temporarily banned from U.S radio stations, for a time after 9/11.  The Clear Channel company recommended that its stations avoid playing certain songs such as "Jet Airliner," "Leavin' on a Jet Plane," and "Great Balls of Fire."  All songs by the group Rage Against the Machine were on the banned list.  "Stairway to Heaven" was out, as well as the Pretenders song "My City Was Gone"...except when that record was played every day as the theme music for Rush Limbaugh's radio show. 

And the La Crosse Community Theatre was performing a production of "The Fantasticks," which LCT would take to a theater festival in Japan that November...in 2001, yesterday in La Crosse.

 

Monday - September 10, 2018 9:12 am

Big plans for a new City Hall, 52 years ago

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In the fall of 1966, La Crosse would be asked to put up a new city building to replace the City Hall which had been on State Street since the 1890's.  The new six-story City Hall would cost almost $3 million, and would be built at the corner of 4th and Badger, just north of the courthouse.  Citizens passed the City Hall referendum by a 4-1 margin.  That new City Hall opened in 1970, and it's still being used today.
 
Republicans had a really good year in the '66 election.  They picked up three U.S. Senate seats, 47 House seats, and elected nine new governors, in states such as California and Minnesota.  The GOP wins in the Gopher State were portrayed as a snub to Democratic Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who had campaigned for other Democrats in his home state.  Political experts were predicting that Humphrey and Sen. Robert Kennedy would oppose each other in 1972, assuming President Lyndon Johnson won a new term in 1968.  
 
Some now-classic TV shows made their debut in the fall of '66...including Mission: Impossible...That Girl, with Marlo Thomas...and Star Trek.  Launched in 1966, yesterday in La Crosse.

 


 

Friday - September 7, 2018 8:46 am

The student body was shrinking at UW-L, 46 years ago

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In the fall of 1972, enrollment at UW-La Crosse was down almost 10% from the previous year, dropping just below 7000.  One-third of all the students on campus were freshmen.  As the number of students was going down, new buildings were going up.  UW-L had started building a new fine arts center, and ground was broken for the $4 million classroom building now known as Wimberly Hall.

Party planners could buy plenty of supplies at the Quillin's stores on West Avenue and in the Village.  A 12-pack of Old Style cost only $1.86, and a case of Old Milwaukee was $2.35.  You could get 10 cans of pop for less than a dollar.  And the Quillin's Deli featured potato salad, baked beans, and cole slaw.

The UW-L radio station, WLSU, announced it would broadcast La Crosse Common Council meetings gavel-to-gavel...even if they went past midnight, which they often did.  The council broadcasts ended a few years ago, because the FM station increased its signal and joined the Wisconsin Public Radio network.  Radio days in 1972, 46 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.

 

 

In September of 2012, Ron Tischer was sworn in at La Crosse City Hall, to succeed Ed Kondracki as La Crosse's chief of police, just a day before the official start of Oktoberfest,  The New Berlin native said he was ready to face the local challenges of alcohol, drugs, and violent crime.  And Chief Tischer had a message for people who would come to Oktoberfest for the purpose of being disruptive.  He warned that the police would deal with trouble-makers "swiftly and severely."

The 2012 Oktoberfest was led by new Festmaster and Frau Brad and Lynn Sturm.  Brad's day job was as president and CEO of Coulee Bank.  He pointed out that La Crosse's very first Festmaster, Don Rice, also was a banker.

Among the visitors to the fest that year were crew members for a VH1 reality show to be called "Off Pitch."  The TV series was being built around La Crosse's adult show choir, the Grand River Singers.  Choir director Rob Jones said his performers were being treated incredibly well by the televsion workers.  "Off Pitch" was in the works 6 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.

 

Wednesday - September 5, 2018 8:59 am

There was money to be made in fishing licenses, 44 years ago

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In 1974, La Crosse County clerk Russ Fiedler reported that he had earned more than 53-hundred dollars in the previous year in fees from licenses issued through his office...mostly from hunting and fishing permits.  That amounted to about one-third of Fiedler's income.  The clerk's annual salary in '74 was 11-thousand dollars.
 
In the months before he resigned over the Watergate scandal, President Nixon's approval rating was unusually low.  The Harris Poll gave Nixon ratings in the lower 30's during April and May, but the president dropped to 26 per cent approval in June.  
 
Gundersen Clinic in La Crosse opened a 5-story addition that summer...actually putting the top three floors on some older parts of the building.  The clinic housed just over 100 doctors in La Crosse.  
 
On Memorial Day of '74, the Ray Stevens comedy record 'The Streak' was the number 1 song in America.  At the end of summer, Labor Day weekend, Paul Anka topped the charts with '(You're) Having My Baby'...44 years ago, Yesterday in La Crosse.

 
In October of 2008, Arizona Senator John McCain and his wife Cindy landed at the La Crosse airport, for a campaign rally roughly a month before the presidential election.  McCain's opponent, Barack Obama, had spoken outside the La Crosse Center a week before.  The McCain event was inside the arena on a Friday morning, and in
photos of the rally, you can also see former Governor Tommy Thompson and future Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus.  McCain commented on polls which showed him trailing Democrat Obama, saying he was going to "fool" the pundits who didn't give him much of a chance of winning.

It would be McCain's last campaign appearance in Wisconsin before the November election.  At another rally that same day in Lakeville, Minnesota, a woman in the audience claimed that Obama was an "Arab."  McCain responded that the woman was wrong, and told his supporters that he admired and respected his Democratic opponent, calling Obama "a decent family man."  The John McCain campaign came through the region in 2008, 10 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.  
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 
It would be McCain's last campaign appearance in Wisconsin before the November election.  At another rally that same day in Lakeville, Minnesota, a woman in the audience claimed that Obama was an 'Arab.'  McCain responded that the woman was wrong, and told his supporters that he admired and respected his Democratic opponent, calling Obama 'a decent family man.'  The John McCain campaign came through the region in 2008, 10 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.  
 

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