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Yesterday in La Crosse

Did you know your ZIP code? We had to learn those numbers, 56 years ago

Brad Williams



The U.S. Post Office introduced ZIP codes on July 1st of 1963, as a new way to move the mail along more quickly.  The five-digit codes started with a zero in New England, and a ‘9’ on the west coast.  Wisconsin ZIP codes all began with ‘5,’ such as 54601 for La Crosse.   

A cartoon in the paper joked that a guy running for president was ‘a real dark horse’…he wanted to be the Democratic candidate.  Readers who got the punch line knew that in the summer of ’63, President John Kennedy was expected to be the party nominee in ’64.  Meanwhile, Republican presidential hopeful Barry Goldwater claimed liberals were stuck in the 1930’s, and would have to be dragged ‘kicking and screaming into the 1960’s.’   

Catholics had a new pope, Paul the 6th, and thanks to the broadcasting satellite Telstar, Americans would get to see almost live TV coverage of the pope’s coronation in Rome.  Every Catholic church in the La Crosse Diocese would ring its bells to celebrate the occasion at noon on June 30th.   

A solar eclipse was on the calendar for July, on Saturday the 20th.  The total eclipse would be seen in many parts of Canada, but only in two U.S. states, Maine and Alaska.  The La Crosse area would get about 80 per cent of the eclipse.  A newspaper headline said that an astronaut and a–quote–‘lady astronomer’–would fly across Canada on the 20th to make observations about the sun while it was hidden behind the moon.   

At the movies, you could see ‘The Longest Day,’ ‘The List of Adrian Messenger,’ the musical ‘Gypsy’ with Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood, and ‘Dr. No,’ the first movie about a spy named Bond, James Bond.  Yesterday in La Crosse. 

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