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Yesterday in La Crosse

The idea of public TV wasn’t too popular, 66 years ago

Brad Williams



In 1954, long before Sesame Street and Mister Rogers, there was opposition to the idea of a government-run public television channel in Wisconsin, with a task force report recommending voters turn down a fall referendum on the plan.  The report came from the Wisconsin Committee on State-Owned Tax-Supported Television, a small study group with 34 members.  The committee members agreed that television has educational value, but they also worried that classes taught with the help of TV could hurt the traditional ‘teacher-pupil relationship.’  They also cited the fear of government control expressed by people in other states.   

Sears was celebrating its 68th anniversary with a sale.  The Sears store at King and 5th had deals on products for your car–tires, motor oil, and anti-freeze–and ‘the gun you want’ at 10 per cent down, in time for hunting season.   

The former owner of the Bodega Lunch Club, William Bonadurer, passed away.  Bonadurer was known for organizing local fireworks displays, and was credited as one of the founders of the Skyrockers fireworks on New Year’s Eve.  

On network TV in the fall of 1954, you might see George Burns and Gracie Allen, followed by Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, and the number 1 show on television, I Love Lucy.  Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca got their own shows after performing together on ‘Your Show of Shows.’  And on ‘The Millionaire,’ the fictional John Beresford Tipton gave away million-dollar checks each week to strangers through his secretary, Michael Anthony.  You sent for me, sir?  1954, yesterday in La Crosse.   

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