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Yesterday in La Crosse

There was fear of closing Franklin and Roosevelt, 38 years ago

Brad Williams



In 1982, the La Crosse School District was considering more school closings because of declining enrollment. Two elementary schools on the north side, Roosevelt and Franklin, were targeted for shutdown, and 14-hundred people responded by signing petitions to keep them open. Each building was expected to have fewer than 200 students the following fall. School board members did not respond to comments about the proposed closings, saying they wanted to keep their minds open…which led to accusations that the decision was already final. The two schools actually stayed open well into the 21st century, until they were replaced a few years ago by La Crosse’s new Northside School.  

The Equal Rights Amendment for women was still being debated around the U.S. in ’82.  That summer, the amendment was still three states short of becoming part of the Constitution. Meanwhile, a state ERA for Wisconsin passed in the Senate in Madison by a vote of 28 to 4. Among the opponents was Republican Senator Walter Chilsen, who argued that an equal rights amendment might open the door for more abortions in Wisconsin.  The national ERA was not ratified by the June 30th deadline.   

Five movies released in 1982 made over 100 million dollars in theaters.  “E.T.” was king of the box office.  “Tootsie” was number 2 for the year, followed by “An Officer and a Gentleman,” “Rocky 3” featuring Mr. T, and “Porky’s.”  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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