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Yesterday in La Crosse

A homecoming for Deke, 43 years ago



Astronaut Donald “Deke” Slayton came back home to the Sparta area around Halloween of 1975, to be honored shortly after his only mission in space…the Apollo-Soyuz orbital flight with Russia. Slayton was chosen as one of America’s original Mercury 7 astronauts, but a medical condition grounded him until that ’75 flight. The 51-year-old Slayton said he would like to be the first man to walk on Mars, and predicted that men would reach the red planet before the end of the 20th century.

A popular department store in La Crosse was closing. The W.T. Grant store was on the same block of 5th Avenue as Sears…and the local store was among nearly 300 targeted for closing by the Grant company. Grant’s had more than a thousand stores around the U.S., but decided to downsize and limit its business mainly to the East Coast.

The rock band Kiss was becoming popular, and on Halloween weekend of ’75, it performed at the Sawyer Auditorium in La Crosse for the second time in less than a year…with the group Brownsville Station on the same bill. Forty-three years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also 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. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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