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The end of the “Line” in prime time, 52 years ago

Brad Williams

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On September 3rd of 1967, the game show “What’s My Line?” ended a 17-year run on CBS. The show where celebrities guessed people’s occupations was known for having contestants give a handwriting sample by signing in on a blackboard, and for the panel wearing blindfolds to figure out who the famous “Mystery Guest” was. “What’s My Line” was a Sunday-night tradition around the country, but not in La Crosse. Even though the city’s only TV station at the time, WKBT, was a CBS affiliate, the local sponsors who bought the 9:30 slot on Sundays weren’t interested in the game show. Instead, Channel 8 filled that half-hour with shows like “Biography,” “Dobie Gillis,” and “Gidget” with Sally Field. But “Line” panelist Bennett Cerf was still popular enough in La Crosse to be invited to speak one year at the annual Chamber of Commerce dinner.

A citizen planning committee in La Crosse said the city would need a lot more homes within the next decade, maybe 4000 new homes by 1977. Houses and apartments weren’t being built fast enough in La Crosse to meet that demand, with only 150 new units being constructed each year.

Harold Ristow was named the new postmaster of La Crosse that September, replacing Kootch Carroll, who was the superintendent of mails. Ristow was a La Crosse native who had spent some time in South Dakota and served as a state senator there. But running the post office became Harold’s line in 1967, yesterday in La Crosse.

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