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Yesterday in La Crosse

Downtown stores were looking to move to the mall, 43 years ago

Brad Williams

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In May of 1977, J-C Penney agreed to open an anchor store at the Valley View Mall being planned along Highway 16, near I-90. At the time, La Crosse’s Penney’s store was on 5th Avenue, next to the Hollywood Theater. Penney executives in New York would have to give final approval for the move. The addition of a Penney store helped build momentum for the $20 million mall that Dayton’s was planning to open by the fall of 1979, and pretty much shut down the efforts to put a mall either on the Harborview land downtown, or on the far south side at the intersection of Mormon Coulee and Losey Boulevard.  

Former President Richard Nixon was back on TV, three years after resigning because of the Watergate scandal. Nixon was featured in a highly-anticipated series of interviews with British TV host David Frost. Decades later, the Frost-Nixon interviews would inspire a stage play, and a movie directed by Ron Howard.  

The original ‘Star Wars’ movie debuted that month, just before Memorial Day.  Area theaters were showing the Barbra Streisand version of ‘A Star Is Born,’ ‘Silver Streak,’ and the original ‘Fun With Dick and Jane,’ starring Jane Fonda, in 1977, 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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