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Yesterday in La Crosse

Santa Claus wasn’t the only guy circling the earth at Christmas-time in 1965

Brad Williams



NASA was busy with two manned space flights in December of 1965, and you could say they sneaked a band aboard one of the capsules.   Astronauts Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford played ‘Jingle Bells’ on harmonica and bells while orbiting the earth on the Gemini 6 mission.  The song came right after Schirra joked he saw a flying object, supposedly a sleigh driven by a fellow in a red suit.  Two Gemini capsules were in orbit that day, December 16th.  The other was Gemini 7, carrying Frank Borman and Jim Lovell, who would orbit the moon together in Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve of 1968.   

Back on earth in 1965, NASA was trying to figure out what the surface of the moon was like before trying to land men on the lunar soil.  Their scientists had a theory that the moon dust was at least 10 feet deep.  When men finally did walk on the moon, they found the ground was hard with just a little dust on top.   

The Pioneer Labor Hall at 5th and Market in La Crosse was closing for good on Christmas Eve.  The union hall, originally called Germania Hall, had been sold to the city, which was going to replace it with a new fire station that still stands there today.   

The brand-new K-Mart on Losey Boulevard was selling home movie cameras and projectors for Christmas, with Kodak cameras priced as low as 36 dollars…in 1965, 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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