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Yesterday in La Crosse

A reformed conman teaches businesses to look out for tricks, 39 years ago

Brad Williams



In December of 1980, Gateway Foods brought Frank Abagnale to La Crosse for a seminar on how to watch for bad checks and other scams.  Abagnale would become famous years later, when Leonardo DiCaprio played him in the movie “Catch Me If You Can.”  Abagnale had faked his way into different jobs and wrote many phony checks himself before going straight.   

A La Crosse woman hit it big on “Hollywood Squares” in 1980.  Gale Yarber was a waitress at the Party House in La Crosse, who won $9000, a trip to Miami, and a Caribbean cruise on the game show.  It was still the original version of “Squares” with Peter Marshall and Paul Lynde that had been on the air since 1966, but by 1980, the show had moved to a Vegas resort.   

UW-L theater professor Richard Tinapp was onstage in 1980, instead of directing a show.  Tinapp played the lead in a La Crosse Community Theatre production of the comedy “Tribute.”  The newly-formed Heart of La Crosse comedy group was at the Pump House, performing its first Christmas show, “Crisco Kringle, or Wesson 10 Shopping Days ’till Christmas.”     

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