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Yesterday in La Crosse

The Crystal Ballroom might meet the wrecking ball, 38 years ago

Brad Williams



In July of 1981, the State Bank of La Crosse announced that the former Hotel Stoddard might be demolished if a new use could not be found for it.  The Stoddard had gone out of business a year earlier, around the time that the Radisson opened a few blocks away.  Just one tenant was left in the building at 4th and State…WKTY and WSPL Radio, which had offices in the basement.  WKTY announced that it would build a new studio on 7th Street, near City Hall.  

Sports celebrities came to La Crosse in July to help St. Francis Hospital raise money.  Kansas City Royals slugger George Brett joined several golf pros in a tournament headed by La Crosse’s PGA golfer, Don Iverson.  And tennis pro Bobby Riggs still drew a crowd for a charity tennis tournament, eight years after his Battle of the Sexes against Billie Jean King.  

The Prince of Wales was all over the media that summer.  Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer were about to get married in England, and the wedding hype in America was so heavy, one Ohio radio station cooked up a wedding promotion of its own as a response.  The station in Dayton said if it could find a local couple named Charles and Diana who would agree to be married on the same day as the royal wedding, the radio folks would pay for the celebration.  A deal fit for a king, or a prince, in 1981, 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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