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Yesterday in La Crosse

The Coulee Region jobless rate was fairly high, 44 years ago



The La Crosse area is seeing record low unemployment right now…but a newspaper story in November of ’74 called the jobless rate in La Crosse County “chronically high.”  The rate was around 8 to 10 %…with thousands of people unable to find work.  The story blamed labor walkouts and plant closings for the bad local economy…specifically pointing to the closings since the late 50’s of three La Crosse factories, Auto-Lite, Northern Engraving, and Allis Chalmers.

Doug La Follette had a new job that fall, but he didn’t want it. Democrat La Follette had just been elected Wisconsin secretary of state, a mostly ceremonial post. La Follette was bothered that a new elections board had taken the job of supervising voting away from the secretary. Eventually, La Follette did assume the office…and except for one four-year period, he’s had that job ever since.

A TV sitcom star came to UW-L to perform, just before Thanksgiving. Jimmie Walker, who played J.J. on the new comedy show “Good Times,” appeared on the Main Hall auditorium stage. Walker’s character was known for his catch phrase “Dyno-mite!” Also performing on the bill with Walker was the Viterbo choir known as the Hallelujah Singers, directed by Sister Thea Bowman. That was in 1974, 44 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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1 Comment

  1. Michael Drake

    November 20, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    I been trying to write an article for Campion Fire (50 Anniversary) Kostka Hall on December 14. 1968. Are you interested?

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