In July of 1964, La Crosse’s Sawyer Auditorium was about to bring in a touring production of “The Music Man,” and demand for seats was so high, some folks might have trouble getting in. Trouble with a capital T, that rhymes with P–as in Ray Plamadore, the auditorium manager. Plamadore said the brisk early sales for “Music Man” tickets were almost as good as for a Liberace concert.
Barry Goldwater had just been nominated for president by Republicans in San Francisco, and Democratic President Lyndon Johnson was still looking for a running mate. The 25th Amendment hadn’t been passed yet, so the office of vice president had been vacant since Johnson succeeded John Kennedy the year before. LBJ ruled out anybody in his cabinet, especially Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the late president’s brother. The field of possible veeps included both Minnesota Senators, Hubert Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy.
La Crosse’s only TV station in 1964 celebrated 10 years on the air that summer, with an hour-long special shown on a Saturday night. WKBT featured events and personalities seen on Channel 8 during the previous decade, and showed film of the station’s new transmitting tower at Galesville, taller than the Empire State Building. That was 55 years ago, 1964, yesterday in La Crosse.