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Yesterday in La Crosse

Many Americans remember where they were when the president died, 75 years ago

Brad Williams

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President Franklin D. Roosevelt died suddenly in Georgia on April 12th of 1945.  We didn’t have TV networks then, but the news spread quickly on radio. La Crosse Mayor Joseph Verchota ordered businesses in the city to fly their flags at half-staff.  The mayor also wanted those businesses to close during the hour of the Roosevelt funeral on a Saturday afternoon in Washington.  Roosevelt was one of three major world leaders who would die in April of 1945.  Benito Mussolini of Italy would be executed, and Adolf Hitler would commit suicide in Berlin.   

The Wisconsin legislature was working on election reforms.  A bill was proposed to guarantee that the party of the incumbent governor would be listed first on the ballot statewide, and in 1945, that was the Republicans.  State law at the time required the parties to be listed in alphabetical order.  

The Happy Hour bar on North 3rd Street in La Crosse put out a call for entertainers to compete in a talent contest.  The bar wanted singers, instrumentalists, acrobats, tap dancers, and hula dancers, in 1945, 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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