The city charter for La Crosse was signed in 1856, but La Crosse was considered a settlement as early as 1842. That means a centennial for the city was being planned in 1941. The centennial would be celebrated July 1st through the 4th of ’42. Local businessman Ray Bice was president of the centennial celebration. An Ohio company was hired to produce the pageant, and the contract included a clause that the event would be cancelled in case of a national emergency. It was signed months before Pearl Harbor brought the U.S. into World War II.
Listening to the radio was a lot different in 1941. Back then, La Crosse had one radio station, WKBH (now WIZM). Instead of having talk shows or programs like “American Top 40” in hour-long blocks, local programs often lasted just 15 minutes at a time. In a single hour, there might be 15 minutes of devotions, another 15 minutes of home economics, and a segment of accordion music. And if announcers were just playing popular records of the day, the music might be packaged as “Morning Melodies” or “Timely Tunes.”
Baseball was a big deal, and 1941 was a momentous year for the sport. The “Yankee Clipper,” Joe DiMaggio, got hits in 56 games in a row. And Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox finished the ’41 season with a batting average of .406. Nobody has hit over .400 for a full season since then, yesterday in La Crosse.