In 1975, La Crosse area residents raised several hundred dollars to help people in Corn Island, our sister city in Nicaragua. A group of visitors from La Crosse helped the community get $1800 in X-ray equipment. The visitors included Randy Larson, James Michaels, and Gundersen Clinic doctor Ramon Gonzalez.
What were La Crosse school employees earning in ’75? Maintenance people were negotiating with the school board. The district wanted to pay starting janitors $2.90 an hour, while experienced ones could earn $4.90. The janitors wanted an extra 28 cents per hour above those levels. Meanwhile, La Crosse’s school superintendent was getting a raise…a nearly 8 % increase for Eugene Balts. The raise gave Balts a yearly salary of $29,000.
And Billy Joel almost performed at the Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium in March of ’75, one year after his breakout hit ‘Piano Man.’ But it seems Joel wasn’t a big shot yet in La Crosse. The show was cancelled when only 120 tickets had been sold, at $4.50 a seat…44 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.