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Yesterday in La Crosse

Ich bin ein La Crosser? JFK comes to visit, 60 years ago

Brad Williams

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In the month before the 1960 presidential election, both major candidates campaigned in La Crosse.  Vice President Richard Nixon spoke at the Sawyer Auditorium one day after one of his TV debates with Sen. John Kennedy.  Two weeks later, Kennedy campaigned at the La Crosse airport, claiming he had campaigned in Wisconsin’s 3rd House district more than any other presidential candidate since George Washington.  Faculty members from La Crosse State protested when a Republican “truth squad” showed up at the airport to criticize JFK.  One of the Republicans on the truth squad plane, Sen. Prescott Bush of Connecticut, was father of the 41st president, and grandfather of the 43rd.  Both Presidents Bush campaigned in the La Crosse area while they were in office.   

A beauty pageant scandal arose, shortly before the 1960 election.  The young woman chosen to represent the US in the Miss World contest was too young.  Annette Driggers of New York was 15, but had claimed to be 20.  The runner-up, Judith Achter of St. Louis, became Miss United States instead.  

Movies hitting #1 at the box office in October of 1960 were an odd lot.  They included the western drama “The Magnificent Seven”…”The Alamo,” starring John Wayne…the Roman epic “Spartacus”…and “High Time,” a comedy with Bing Crosby as a businessman who goes to college.  Sixty years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.

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