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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.

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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    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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