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.