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Yesterday in La Crosse

Wisconsin still wasn’t ready for casinos, 30 years ago

Gambling and even sweepstakes were forbidden in Wisconsin for decades.  But by 1990, the state had legalized bingo, the lottery, and dog-racing.  Casinos were still off-limits, though.  The Ho-Chunk opened a casino near the Dells in the summer of 1990.  The attorney general said that wasn’t allowed yet, and within a couple of weeks, the Sauk County […]

World War II truly was fought all over the globe, 77 years ago

In July of 1943, the Second World War was raging on several fronts.  Just on the front page of the La Crosse Tribune, the Secretary of the Navy said the Japanese had taken a “damned good licking,” losing six of their ships at Kula Gulf.  The Germans were fighting on the Russian front at Orel and […]

Celebrating a new City Hall, 50 years ago

The 4th of July in 1970 was the official opening day for La Crosse’s current City Hall.  The 6-floor building on La Crosse Street replaced the City Hall that stood for nearly 80 years at the corner of 6th and State, now part of the post office parking lot.  La Crosse’s oldest living mayor, 86-year-old Gus […]

The last time a sitting president came to La Crosse was 5 years ago

On July 2nd of 2015, President Barack Obama spoke at UW-La Crosse, in the Recreational Eagle Center.  It was Obama’s only visit to the city during his eight years in the White House, but it continued a tradition of presidents…past, present, and future…making speeches on the university campus, dating back to John F. Kennedy in […]

“Goofy Golf” was a fun summer attraction, 59 years ago, Yesterday in La Crosse

In the summer of 1961, the Country Fair Amusement Park was located at Avon and Monitor Streets.  On Wednesday nights, the whole family could play miniature “goofy golf” for just a dollar.  Country Fair offered prizes for low golf scores.  For example, free root beer floats from Vi’s Drive In on South Avenue.  Or box […]

So why not celebrate the 3rd of July? The idea came up 48 years ago

In 1972, the 4th of July fell on a Tuesday, and the La Crosse Tribune suggested that Independence Day become a Monday holiday, for the sake of convenience.  Just one year before, the U.S. had started celebrating Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Presidents’ Day on Mondays instead of on their traditional dates.  La Crosse was […]

Riverfest makes its debut, 37 years ago, Yesterday in La Crosse

The first four days of July in 1983 were set aside for a holiday festival in Riverside Park, called Riverfest.  Organizers were hoping it would become a yearly celebration.  On the Mississippi, you had water skiing shows, the Venetian parade, and trips on the La Crosse Queen.  There were helicopter rides, sky divers, and square-dancing […]

Cheney and Kerry just missed each other in La Crosse, 20 years ago

On the weekend before the presidential election in 2000, Republican Dick Cheney and Democrat John Kerry both made trips to La Crosse, but not at the same time or in the same location. Cheney was about to be elected vice president, and had a campaign rally at the La Crosse airport. Kerry campaigned for Democratic […]

There was no more zoo at Myrick, but there was a bear, 11 years ago

On a Saturday morning in June of 2009, a 300-pound black bear made its way into the city of La Crosse. It wound up in a tree in Myrick Park, which no longer had a zoo. Onlookers had followed the bear and tracked its movements with video cameras. A crowd gathered, and wouldn’t leave. When […]

La Crosse was up to two TV stations, 50 years ago

The debut of WXOW, Channel 19, happened on March 7th of 1970, a day when the big story was a solar eclipse over North America. WXOW has been an ABC affiliate from the start. Before 19 came on the air, WKBT aired shows from both CBS and ABC. On a typical weekday in early 1970, […]

A rainy start to summer, 53 years ago

You would have heard Aretha Franklin a lot on the radio in 1967.  She had five hits in the top 10 that year, including “Natural Woman,” and “Respect”…a song which went to #1 that June, La Crosse’s wettest June in 53 years.  The 9.3 inches of precipitation that month was 5 inches above normal…and June […]

Arrests during the fests used to be more frequent in the 1990’s

In early 1992, District Attorney Scott Horne said several people arrested during the ’91 Oktoberfest had pled guilty, or they were convicted and sentenced.  Run-ins with city police were routine for a few years during Oktoberfest and the Coon Creek festival, until police began a practice of blocking off parts of 3rd Street to traffic […]

Suspicions about spending to promote tourism, 30 years ago

In 1990, a newspaper report said the La Crosse Area Convention and Visitor Bureau had spent $3 million in tax money, without actually being an elected government body. Receipts and bills for the CVB were missing, and so were the minutes of many of their board meetings. Ten years’ worth of minutes were unaccounted for.  […]

Sparta’s astronaut could have been the first man in space: the prediction 61 years ago

In April of 1959, the introduction of America’s first seven astronauts was front-page news around the country, and especially for the La Crosse Tribune, which touted the selection of Sparta’s Capt. Deke Slayton for the Mercury program.  At the time, Slayton was a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base.  NASA declared that all seven […]

D-Day, the 6th of June, in 1944

The Allied invasion of France on June 6th, 1944, was a major turning point in World War II, but back home, workers were still needed to help with the war effort.  In La Crosse, a representative of Boeing was enlisting men and women to travel to Seattle to help build ‘America’s most needed big bomber,’ […]

Sgt. Pepper was a lot more than 20 years ago today

On June 1st of 1967, the Beatles released their ground-breaking album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”  Besides the title track, the “Sgt. Pepper” album also featured “A Day in the Life,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” and “When I’m Sixty-Four.”  A few famous people who would have turned 64 in June of 1967 […]

Snow in time for Memorial Day, 73 years ago

School was ending and summer was beginning in the last week of May, 1947 around the Midwest, when an extremely late-season snowstorm developed in the Rockies and made its way as far east as Michigan.  Some of the heaviest snow fell on May 29th in western Wisconsin.  Only about 3 inches in La Crosse, but […]

Future stars got a chance to shine on summer nights, 50 years ago

The year 1970 is remembered for anti-war protests, environmental awareness, and the breakup of the Beatles.  For people watching TV that summer, there was a wide variety of what they used to call ‘variety shows,’ new programs filling time instead of reruns.  Many talented performers got big breaks appearing on those shows.   The Smothers Brothers […]