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Yesterday in La Crosse

It started like any other Friday, the day JFK died in 1963

Brad Williams

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The Friday before Thanksgiving in 1963.  November the 22nd.  La Crosse would set a new record high for the date, 59 degrees.  Central would host Richland Center in a basketball game at the Sawyer Auditorium.  Or you might watch TV on a Friday night, to see “Route 66” or “The Flintstones.”  There were ads on ABC for a new show with Kurt Russell as a young boy on the frontier, “The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters.”  And the CBS morning news featured a hot new musical group from England.  Singer John Lennon was asked whether fans might get tired of the Beatles, and John said “Depends how long it takes them to get tired.”  

By that afternoon, there wasn’t much talk of the Beatles, or Route 66.  Don Pardo broke the news on NBC, and Walter Cronkite interrupted “As the World Turns” on CBS, to announce that shots were fired at President John Kennedy’s motorcade in Dallas.  The TV networks replaced all their regular programs for the next four days with news about Kennedy’s murder.  The La Crosse Tribune ran pictures of when JFK appeared in town, campaigning in 1960.  College football was called off, the NFL was not.  David Brinkley on NBC commented on the rapid change of events in America, saying a young president was alive in the early afternoon, but four hours later, Kennedy was dead and Lyndon Johnson was president.   A history-changing stop to normal life in November, 1963, yesterday in La Crosse.        

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