Connect with us


The original “October surprise,” 47 years ago



A cease-fire in Vietnam could happen before the end of ’72. That’s what a group of wealthy contributors to President Nixon’s re-election campaign was being told in October, just weeks before the election. Later in the month, Nixon adviser Henry Kissinger announced “peace is at hand” in southeast Asia. That declaration led to the coining of the phrase “October surprise,” used to express suspicion that an event in the news is announced in October with the aim of influencing an election.

House Democratic Leader Hale Boggs and three other people were missing after flying in a small plane to a political event in Alaska. The plane and the people aboard have never been found. The Louisiana Congressional seat held by Boggs was later declared vacant, and his wife Lindy succeeded him. Hale and Lindy Boggs were the parents of the late political reporter Cokie Roberts.

The Montgomery Ward department stores were celebrating their 100th anniversary with a “Century 2” sale. La Crosse’s Wards store on Courthouse Square, now known as Belle Square, was having a sale on nylon carpets, no-wax flooring, and home freezers.

A letter to the editor in the Tribune complained that “long-haired, drug-oriented…radical parasites” had “invaded” Oktoberfest weekend in La Crosse, and the writer said “Go home, don’t come back.” The letter complained that the visitors had left litter behind and parked on private lawns during the fest.

A Johnny Cash concert at the Sawyer Auditorium, featuring June Carter Cash, Carl Perkins, and the Statler Brothers, was already sold out the day before the show. And Bob Hope’s last theatrical movie comedy, “Cancel My Reservation,” was playing at the Cinema Theaters in 1972, 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.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.