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Yesterday in La Crosse

What do you call that big round thing with the tomato sauce on it? Pizza catches on in La Crosse, 60 years ago



Pizza Hut, Pizza Villa, Pizza Ranch, Pizza Doctors.  La Crosse has fallen in love—that’s “amore”—with the Italian delicacy of crust and sauce, cheese and toppings.  In 1961, the Racquet newspaper at La Crosse State devoted a large article to the popularity of pizza in the U.S.  Only about 500 pizza places existed in North America in the mid-1930’s.  That ballooned to 20,000 by 1961.  World War II vets who served in Italy were credited with bringing the love of “tomato pie” or “cheese pie” to America.   

Pizza probably was big at final exam time on campus.  The spring semester at La Crosse State lasted until the end of May, and some tests were given on Saturday…but no tests were given on Memorial Day, which still occurred on May 30th every year.  

The owner of John’s Bar on 3rd Street, John Urbanek, was acquitted of selling beer to a 17-year-old customer.  The underage drinker showed up at John’s with three older friends, and their ID’s were all accepted.  Police learned about the deception when one of the older guys was caught driving drunk.  

A station manager for Delta Air Lines in Louisville wasn’t happy with his new phone number.  Bert Smith complained that you could dial the first three digits of his number…8-9-2…by dialing the initials of a different airline, TWA.  In 1961, 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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