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Yesterday in La Crosse

A history-making inauguration, 80 years ago

In January of 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first, and so far only U.S. president to be sworn in for a third term.  Roosevelt went on to get a fourth term in 1944, and then the constitution was changed to impose a two-term limit on presidents.  America was still coming out of the Depression in ’41, […]

A new boss at the Chamber of Commerce, 60 years ago

In January of 1961, D.J. Petruccelli was introduced to the Thursday Rotary Club as the new manager of the La Crosse Chamber of Commerce.  The 32-year-old Petruccelli spoke about a campaign to create a more positive attitude in La Crosse, called “Operation Pride.”  Petruccelli became known for bringing famous speakers like Ann Landers and Ronald […]

What do you remember from LAST January?

It may seem like 12 years ago, but it was only 12 months.  In January of 2020, La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat gave a ‘state of the city’ message, predicting progress on the Trane All-Abilities Park, and 6 miles of road repair in La Crosse.    The January meeting of the La Crosse park board […]

Showtime at the old courthouse, 56 years ago

Historic preservation was not a priority in La Crosse during the 60’s and 70’s.  In those two decades, the city replaced its turn of the century post office, city hall, and courthouse with newer buildings, and took the old ones down.  The domed courthouse was demolished in April of 1965 to make way for a […]

Nobody was saying “Take it all off” at the Ice Bowl game, in 1967

Imagine, your college marching band playing the song “The Stripper.” Not hard to imagine in 1967, yesterday in La Crosse.   The Stripper was included in the halftime show being planned by the Marching Chiefs of La Crosse State for New Year’s Eve of 1967.  Why “The Stripper”?  It was part of the band’s salute to songs […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

Political intrigue in ‘0-0-4

The 2004 presidential election was won by Bush…George W. Bush.  He won his first term in 2000 through the electoral college, after narrowly losing the popular vote.  Republican Bush seemed assured of a second term with a 3-million vote edge over Democrat John Kerry.  But before the Electoral College met in 2004, third-party candidates and Jesse […]

The next president of the U.S.? A good question in 1943

In 1943, the U.S. was at war in Europe and the Pacific, and Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt was already a record-holder on his third term in the Oval Office.  FDR was prepared to run again in ’44, and New York Governor Thomas Dewey was said to be interested on the Republican side.  Dewey had sought […]

December 8th…we read the news that day, oh boy (1980)

It was on December 8th in 1980 when John Lennon was shot and killed outside his New York apartment building by an obsessed fan who had gotten Lennon’s autograph earlier in the day.  The former Beatle was 40 years old, and had a new hit single and album on the charts after a five-year hiatus […]

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 […]