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Yesterday in La Crosse

A celebration in Crawford County, 51 years ago

Brad Williams



In the early 1800’s, the area that became Wisconsin was briefly divided into two large counties. Brown County covered the east side of the state, and Crawford County took up an area which now includes 41 counties. Crawford was founded in 1818, so historians marked the sesquicentennial of that event in 1968. A month-long celebration throughout Crawford County followed in June of ’69. There was no major celebration of the county’s bicentennial in 2018.

Late in 1968, the presidential commission on violence, formed after the shooting of Bobby Kennedy, filed a report on violence at that summer’s Democratic Convention in Chicago. The report supported the complaints of several TV reporters, concluding that 63 reporters–about one out of five at the convention–were found to have been attacked by Chicago cops without reason. Future network news anchors Dan Rather and John Chancellor both had confrontations with police live on TV during convention coverage.

You didn’t see too many talk shows on La Crosse TV in ’68, unless you had cable. Channel 8 did not carry either Johnny Carson or Joey Bishop late at night, but did run Merv Griffin’s talk show in the afternoon. WKBT also aired Joe Pyne, one of the ‘nasty’ hosts of the 60’s, late on Sunday nights, in 1968.

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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