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Yesterday in La Crosse

Putting the brakes on a fire engine festival, 46 years ago

Brad Williams



In May of 1973, Crawford County Sheriff Ray Childs called for an end to the ‘Ye Olde Fyre Engine Muster’ held in Prairie du Chien. The event had started just two years earlier as a fire engine race through the county. It became a Memorial Day festival in ’72, getting the attention of Charles Kuralt who did an ‘On the Road’ story for CBS about the engines. But at the ’73 Muster, a crash between two fire trucks cost an Illinois man both of his feet. Sheriff Childs said the festival had become a 3-day ‘drunken orgy,’ which allowed ‘John Q. Public’ to buy an old truck and play fireman. The Muster continued for a few more years after that.

Viterbo College passed its budget for the coming school year…just over $2 million. The Catholic college was up to an enrollment of 660 full-time students…an increase of 100 from the previous year.

And Shakey’s Pizza was promoting its ‘Bunch of Lunch’ on weekdays. Shakey’s offered a buffet featuring pizza, chicken, and ‘mojo potatoes.’ The restaurant was at the corner of 3rd and Jackson…now the site of Dave’s Guitar Shop. Lunch time 46 years ago, 1973, Yesterday in La Crosse.