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Yesterday in La Crosse

The Senate votes against one of its own, 65 years ago

Brad Williams




Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy was condemned by fellow Senators in 1954, for his tactics in looking for Communists in America. The vote on December 2nd of 1954 was 67 to 22.  Republican McCarthy called it a “circus.”  His party was evenly divided, 22-to-22. All the Democrats and one independent voted against McCarthy.   He said he was trying to uncover Communist infiltration of American defense plants that fall, and his investigation was held up by the Senate investigating him.  

Pope Pius XII was said to be “gravely ill” that December.  Gastric problems and an ulcer reportedly were the causes of the 78-year-old pope’s illness.  The pope recovered, and lived for another four years.  

Adlai Stevenson advised Democrats that President Eisenhower could be defeated in 1956.  Ike had been president for less than two years, after beating Stevenson in ’52.  Stevenson said his party should pound away at the unpopularity of the GOP.  Democrats had just taken control of the House and Senate, and would remain the majority party in both houses for the next 25 years.  The Democratic Party was claiming that Eisenhower’s military background was not sufficient enough to make him a good president.     

WKBT, Channel 8, had signed on the air that summer.  On a typical Monday night that December, viewers of Channel 8 could watch new episodes of “I Love Lucy,” “December Bride,” and a local talent show called “Student Varieties.”  The 6 o’clock news was anchored by Howard Fredricks, featuring Jack Martin with the farm report, and the forecast from “Miss Weather Vane.”  In 1954, 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.

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