In the spring of 1956, 8th grader Duncan Lloyd became the state champion speller in the Badger Bee, sponsored by the Wisconsin State Journal. It was only the 8th year that Wisconsin had a statewide bee to choose a contestant for the National Spelling Bee in Washington. Duncan spelled his way to Madison by winning the Onalaska bee with a correct spelling of ‘grenadier.’ Sixty years would pass before La Crosse County would send another speller to the nationals.
Plenty of people in the area knew how to spell ‘grenadier,’ or at least knew the word from advertising for Heileman’s Old Style…the ‘beer of the Grenadier.’ The ads said Old Style ‘tastes better, because it’s aged longer.’
Singer Elvis Presley was about to perform in La Crosse that May, and some parents were concerned about the influence Elvis could have on their teenagers. Following the trend of recent hit movies such as ‘Rebel Without a Cause,’ local theaters were showing films with titles like ‘The Steel Jungle,’ ‘Three Bad Sisters,” and ‘Teenage Crime Wave.’ The grown-ups may have been all shook up…in 1956, yesterday in La Crosse.