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Yesterday in La Crosse

1963 is still a summer to remember

Brad Williams



The summer of 1963 has been immortalized in movies such as “Dirty Dancing” and “The Flamingo Kid” as the last carefree summer in America, before the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, and Beatlemania. Nat King Cole sang that year about the “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer,” and the biggest hit song of ’63 was “Surfin’ USA” by the Beach Boys. ABC had a new Saturday night show called “Hootenanny,” capitalizing on the folk music craze. The top movie released in the US that summer was “Cleopatra,” starring Elizabeth Taylor.

Pope John XXIII died that summer, to be replaced by Paul VI. Martin Luther King gave his famous “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial, during an equal-rights march in Washington.

Comedy records hit it big in ’63. “The First Family” album, with Vaughn Meader imitating JFK, was a big seller, and Allan Sherman’s huge hit record was the summer camp classic “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah.” They don’t make summers like 1963 any more, like yesterday in La Crosse.

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