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Yesterday in La Crosse

Groucho and his brothers perform in La Crosse, in 1912

Brad Williams

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In December of 1912, The Four Marx Brothers played a four-night stand at La Crosse’s Majestic Theater, in a play called “Mr. Green’s Reception.”  Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Gummo hadn’t been given their famous nicknames yet, so they were billed by their own names, Julius, Arthur, Leonard, and Milton.  The Marxes were barely in their 20’s, and wouldn’t become famous for another decade, so in 1912 they were basically just another vaudeville act touring the Midwest.  

Americans had just voted President William Howard Taft out of office that fall, replacing him with Woodrow Wilson.  Former president Teddy Roosevelt came in second.  Roosevelt had been shot in Milwaukee while speaking less than a month before the election, but he had minor injuries.  The bullet went through a copy of his speech, inside his coat.   

The U.S. Senate was busy with an impeachment trial.  Federal Judge Robert Archbald was convicted on 5 out of 13 counts, mainly for making money from questionable land deals with railroads.  After losing his job, Archbald insisted “I have done no wrong.”  

Back to La Crosse, the Marx Brothers and other visitors to town could have shopped at Fred Kroner Hardware on 3rd Street.  Kroner’s was selling “air moisteners” which could prevent grippe and pneumonia, in 1912, yesterday in La Crosse.        

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