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Yesterday in La Crosse

The Badger State throws a birthday party, 72 years ago

Brad Williams

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The state of Wisconsin turned 100 in May of 1948.  The actual centennial was on May 29th, and a huge celebration was planned for that day in Madison.  About 100,000 people came to party, and see a 12-mile parade featuring 16,000 performers.  Before the festivities began, a “mammoth” citizenship program would be held that morning outside the state Capitol.  

Gen. Douglas MacArthur would not return to the U.S. that spring, to testify before a Senate appropriations committee.  The famous World War II commander had no immediate plans to come back to the States from abroad.  That decision was taken as a sign that MacArthur would not try to run for president against Harry Truman in 1948.  MacArthur had hinted that he wanted the Republican nomination, but was not going to quit the Army in order to run a campaign.  Thomas Dewey, who had lost to Franklin Roosevelt in the 1944 election, became the GOP nominee again in ’48.   

In Minnesota, the Whoopee John orchestra played two nights a week at a ballroom in the Twin Cities.  And a Minneapolis church hosted an Iowa evangelist named B.F. House.  A newspaper ad said House was known for “preaching…praying for the sick…(and) playing the trombone” in 1948, 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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