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Yesterday in La Crosse

La Crosse becomes an “All-America” city, 55 years ago

Brad Williams

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In 1965, La Crosse became one of 13 communities to win the title of ‘All-America City’ for that year.  Three towns in Alaska were included on the list, for their efforts to recover from a massive earthquake the year before. 

The 1965 flood of the Mississippi, which would be a record-breaker, caused some concern for the Wisconsin Republican Party, which was planning to have its annual convention in La Crosse.  Party leaders considered whether to move the meeting to another city.  Even though the main convention sessions would be held on high ground at the Sawyer Auditorium, other events were planned on water-logged Barron Island, site of the Holiday Inn.  The Mississippi crested at 17.7 feet in La Crosse on April 20th…almost 6 feet over the flood stage.  Almost all of Riverside Park was underwater, except for the Big Indian statue.  The flooding did lead to cancellation of one La Crosse concert, a show by country singer Marty Robbins.   

Musicals dominated the Oscars in the spring of ’65.  The movie version of ‘My Fair Lady’ beat ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘Dr. Strangelove’ for Best Picture, and won the Best Actor award for Rex Harrison as Professor Henry Higgins.  Julie Andrews, as Mary Poppins, took the Best Actress honor over Anne Bancroft, Sophia Loren, and Debbie Reynolds.

The Milwaukee Braves played their last home game in Wisconsin in September of 1965, before the franchise moved to Atlanta. The Badger State would go without a major league baseball team for the next four seasons, until the Seattle Pilots were moved to Milwaukee and became the Brewers in 1970.

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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