In 1972, the 4th of July fell on a Tuesday, and the La Crosse Tribune suggested that Independence Day become a Monday holiday, for the sake of convenience. Just one year before, the U.S. had started celebrating Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Presidents’ Day on Mondays instead of on their traditional dates. La Crosse was preparing for an “Old Fashion 4th of July” celebration at the festgrounds for the long holiday weekend. Riverfest wouldn’t come along for another decade yet.
The newspaper also congratulated La Crosse School Board president Elizabeth Staley, for becoming the first woman to head the local board. Staley was one of three women on the school board that summer. La Crosse had only started publicly electing the school board a few years earlier, ending the tradition of the board being appointed by city leaders.
The Midwest was catching lottery fever. Illinois and Michigan were competing to become the first Midwestern state to offer lottery games. One Illinois legislator, Zeke Giorgi of Rockford, said bingo had been approved by his state the year before, and people were becoming more liberal about gambling. Wisconsin was still against it, though, with one Justice Department spokesman arguing that the biggest winner from a lottery would be organized crime.
On Thursday nights in the summer of ’72, TV watchers could see Dean Martin, “Ironside,” the final season of “My Three Sons,” and reruns of “My World, and Welcome to It,” a comedy based on the cartoons and writings of James Thurber. On Channel 19 in La Crosse, you could watch Dick Cavett’s talk show at 10:30, and stay tuned at midnight to cook with the “Galloping Gourmet.”