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Yesterday in La Crosse

A riverboat cruise with the Carter family, 41 years ago

Brad Williams

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In August of 1979, President Jimmy Carter took a Mississippi River cruise on the Delta Queen, along with First Lady Rosalynn and their daughter Amy. The riverboat did not make an official stop in La Crosse, but on August 19th, the Delta Queen spent the afternoon in Prairie du Chien. There, the president spoke about energy policy at a 3M Company picnic and took a jog around the PDC High School track.

While at 3M, Carter also signed a wall-sized mural of the Delta Queen, based on a picture by local photographer and 3M employee Griff Williams. The signed wall photo eventually was moved to a local history museum in Prairie.

The Wisconsin Touring Theatre Company from UW-La Crosse took its last tour that summer, ending a five-year run of performing summertime shows around the state. The final performance was a production of “Twelfth Night” at West Salem High School. UW-L would begin its “Summerstage” shows at the Toland Theatre the following year.

Disco ruled the radio, but the biggest hit of the year was the rock tune “My Sharona” by the Knack, which topped the charts in the summer of 1979.

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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