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Yesterday in La Crosse

Look before you leap, 45 years ago

In 1975, hang gliding was becoming a fad in the Midwest, with the bluffs along the Mississippi used as jumping-off spots.  A group called the La Crosse Sky Surfers had spent several months trying to persuade the city to let them take off from Grandad Bluff.  The park board was taking its time studying the […]

We got a lot more Monday holidays, in 1971

The ‘Uniform Monday Holiday Act,’ passed by Congress in 1968, took effect three years later.  Up until ’71, Labor Day was the only holiday in the U.S. always observed on a Monday.  But the new law gave government workers Mondays off for George Washington’s birthday, Memorial Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans’ Day.  Martin Luther King […]

Some folks thought the highway plan was a goner, 28 years ago

La Crosse Mayor Pat Zielke predicted in 1992 that the north-south corridor idea was “dead” for the decade after Plan 5 was voted down by the city council.  But another plan, named 5-B-1, got on the ballot six years later.  That referendum was aimed at stopping project funding for two years, but the defeat led […]

A new performing arts center planned downtown, 9 years ago

In November of 2011, Viterbo and the La Crosse Community Theatre announced a partnership to put up a new theatre building along the riverfront, next to the Logistics Health complex.  L-C-T had been in the old Cavalier restaurant since 1968, and had spent years making expansion plans.  Viterbo was also looking for more performing space.  There was some doubt about the agreement […]

Big night for the GOP, 40 years ago

On election night of 1980, American voters changed course by replacing Democratic President Jimmy Carter with Republican Ronald Reagan.  The election happened on the first anniversary of the hostage crisis at the American embassy in Iran…a crisis which would not end until the day Reagan became president.  Forty-four states voted for Reagan, with Carter carrying […]

A local brew pub becomes a magnet for big-name candidates, 4 years ago

The national media have often claimed that Hillary Clinton never visited Wisconsin during the 2016 presidential race.  It’s true, she didn’t get to the state in the fall of 2016, but before the April primary that year, Mrs. Clinton did appear in La Crosse, and toured the Pearl Street Brewery in the old rubber mills building.  […]

John Paul (the bishop, not the pope) gets a promotion, 52 years ago

In 1968, the Catholic Diocese of La Crosse named Monsignor John Paul its temporary administrator, while Bishop Frederick Freking was recovering from an illness.  Paul was rector of St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral at the time.  He was an Aquinas graduate, and a former principal at Eau Claire Regis High School.  The church said Freking […]

Martians were invading, but not on all the radio stations, 82 years ago

On the night before Halloween in 1938, many Americans heard that spaceships from Mars had landed in New Jersey…but they only heard it, if they were listening to CBS.  “The Mercury Theatre on the Air,” starring young Wisconsin native Orson Welles, presented a modern version of “The War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells.  Orson […]

What are you dressed as? What, a college debater? Halloween, 45 years ago

On Halloween night in 1975, a Friday night, most UW-L students probably wouldn’t be caught dead…or alive…attending a college debate between teams from La Crosse and Japan.  Especially a debate on the subject of whether the U.S. should withdraw all military forces from the Pacific basin.  That event took place at the Annett Recital Hall […]

Trouble for the Catbirds, the new team in town, 35 years ago

In the fall of 1985, the Catbirds basketball team of the CBA was about to play its first season in La Crosse, after spending two years in Louisville.  But a Tribune story talked of trouble with the new team. In November, the players were still in training camp.  Center Russell Cross had his right knee […]

Rice, or Coffey? Wisconsin voters were offered the choice in the 70’s

In October of 1977, Judge James Rice of Monroe County launched a bid for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  Rice said the main issue of his campaign was to promote judicial efficiency, to tackle problems of delays in the state court system.  The judge was running for a seat being vacated by retiring Justice Leo Hanley.  […]

Get your skateboard off the sidewalk, 33 years ago

In October of 1987, the La Crosse city council passed an ordinance to ban skates and skateboards from city streets, parking ramps, and sidewalks in business districts.  Skating would be allowed in residential parts of the city.  The manager of the Village Shopping Center said the rule would help prevent skateboard users from crashing through […]

It’s hard to stop a campaign train, 72 years ago

In October 1948, the president was traveling around the country, speaking to voters just before the election.  Democrat Harry Truman had been president for three years, after the death of Franklin Roosevelt, and he crossed the U.S. by train on a ‘whistle-stop’ journey in the final weeks of the campaign.  Truman did not give a speech […]

Hiawatha got a reprieve, 20 years ago

The Big Indian statue was removed from La Crosse’s Riverside Park during the summer of 2020, but there was an effort to take it down in 2000.  Some native American residents of the area thought Hiawatha was stereotyped and offensive, and wanted it removed from the park.  The concrete man had been designed by local […]

The best place to watch a presidential debate? How about a bar, 36 years ago?

In October of 1984, a Republican president who had been a TV personality in the past was running for a second term, and faced off in debates with the Democrat who had been vice president just four years earlier.  Sound familiar?  Ronald Reagan was the president, Walter Mondale was the former veep.  For their first of two televised […]

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

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 […]

Jackson Plaza was a pretty big shopping center, 63 years ago

The strip mall at Jackson Plaza had its grand opening on Jackson Street in ’57.  The complex was anchored by Major Rexall Drug and a Piggly Wiggly store, and it was just a few blocks west of another big southside shopping center, the Village.  Other businesses at Jackson Plaza included the Sew ‘N Sew store…Pappy’s Chicken […]

The VP called it quits, and La Crosse was “Reddy” for Helen, 47 years ago

Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in October of 1973, less than a year into his second term, and in the middle of the Watergate scandal surrounding President Richard Nixon.  But Agnew’s troubles were not connected to Watergate.  He pled no contest to tax evasion, related to his time serving as Governor of Maryland.  The 25th […]