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Yesterday in La Crosse

Trying to buy a car on Sunday? A ban was in the works 60 years ago

Brad Williams



In April of 1959, the Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill to close auto dealerships on Sundays. In the 50’s, it was rare for many retail businesses in the state to have Sunday hours. The Assembly also decided to make ‘On, Wisconsin’ the official state song.

Wisconsin had a new governor, in office just a few months. Democrat Gaylord Nelson had been a state senator before being elected governor. It was later, in the U.S. Senate, that Nelson founded the Earth Day holiday for environmental awareness.

Secretary of State John Foster Dulles resigned that April, after six years of serving the Eisenhower White House. The 71-year-old Dulles was fighting cancer, and died the following month.

At the Starlite Drive-In Theater of La Crosse, one double feature that April was ‘Houseboat,’ with Cary Grant and Sophia Loren, and ‘The Blob’…not with Cary Grant, but starring Steve McQueen. In 1959, yesterday in La Crosse.

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    Patricia Downs

    April 23, 2019 at 7:19 am

    The only retail business I remember open on Sundays at that time is Soell’s liquor store on Main St-I have a vague memory of my Mom buying a can of powdered baby formula there after church at the Cathedral (the old one).

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