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Yesterday in La Crosse

There used to be a lot more “soap” on TV

Five-day-a-week soap operas were introduced on radio in the 1930’s, and then moved to television.  An episode only lasted 15 minutes, until April of 1956.  That’s when a pair of half-hour dramas debuted the day after Easter on CBS: “As the World Turns” and “The Edge of Night.” For years, the opening of “The Edge of Night” showed darkness falling […]

University parking plans had some folks worried, 10 years ago

In March of 2010, a parking consultant was hired by UW-L to work on a possible campus ramp.  The school only had surface parking at the time, about 2300 spaces for a college area used by 10,000 people.  A new science hall and a bigger student union were being proposed, to be built on existing parking […]

As a popular song says, “Kick it like it’s 1986”

In 1986, the Onalaska school district was trying to decide whether to keep the 78-year-old La Crosse School of Agriculture and Domestic Economy, also known as ‘Old Aggie.’  It stood on a hill below the new Onalaska High School, and above where a new public library would soon be built.  Eventually, most of the old […]

The idea of public TV wasn’t too popular, 66 years ago

In 1954, long before Sesame Street and Mister Rogers, there was opposition to the idea of a government-run public television channel in Wisconsin, with a task force report recommending voters turn down a fall referendum on the plan.  The report came from the Wisconsin Committee on State-Owned Tax-Supported Television, a small study group with 34 […]

Kenny was still that “First Edition” guy, 44 years ago

After the “First Edition” band from the 1960’s broke up, singer Kenny Rogers launched a solo career, hitting the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975 with the song “Love Lifted Me.” Rogers was an opening act in May of 1976 when he appeared at the Sawyer Auditorium in La Crosse, on the same bill as headliners […]

The city had an airport, but was in danger of losing some air service, 91 years ago

In March of 1929, Uncle Sam was threatening to take away La Crosse’s airmail service, if something wasn’t done about the airport.  Northwest Airways had the airmail contract between the Twin Cities and Chicago, and it seems the La Crosse airport wasn’t keeping its runway sufficiently clear during the winter.  But, a little shoveling by […]

It felt like summer when the Hilltoppers brought home a gold ball, 8 years ago

St. Patrick’s Day of 2012 was very lucky for the Onalaska boys basketball team. The Hilltoppers became state champions of Division 2 at the Kohl Center by beating Kaukauna 55-38 in the WIAA basketball tournament.  Another big number that Saturday was 83–the record high temperature set in La Crosse.  The warm weather continued into Sunday, […]

Richard Nixon rides in a La Crosse parade, 60 years ago

You don’t necessarily see many candidates riding in the back of a open car any more, but Richard Nixon did that in La Crosse, in the fall of 1960.  The vice president came to town for a rally that October, and he sat in the back seat of a convertible along with Republican candidates for governor and […]

If you’re up for recall, you might as well resign. That was one opinion, 43 years ago

In 1977, five members of the La Crosse school board were fighting for their board seats, in the face of a recall campaign.  The board angered some citizens by voting not to renew the contract of Longfellow Junior High principal Myron McKee, who had gotten praise and criticism for his approach to discipline at the […]

Wisconsin was very early in primary season, 52 years ago

Only 14 states had presidential primaries in 1968.  New Hampshire was first as usual, in March, favoring President Lyndon Johnson and former Vice President Richard Nixon.  Wisconsin’s primary was next, on April 2nd.  State Democrats chose Minnesota’s Eugene McCarthy over Johnson, who had announced two days earlier that he would not seek re-election.  Republicans favored […]

Man, what are you doing here? Billy’s show was called off, 45 years ago

By March of 1975, Billy Joel had scored two Top 40 hits, “Piano Man” and “The Entertainer.” You’d think that would make him a good draw for the Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium in La Crosse.  The Sawyer booked Joel, along with Al Stewart and a band called Pavlov’s Dog, for a concert on March 12th […]

We were paying the lowest gas prices in years, 38 years ago

In March of 1982, an ‘oil glut’ on the market led to some pump prices in Wisconsin dropping 5 cents in a week.  The AAA said the lowest gas price in the state was $1.11 per gallon, the cheapest since early 1980.  The typical price in La Crosse was around $1.22.   A guy on […]

The Reagans come to La Crosse to campaign, 44 years ago

On March 23rd of 1976, former California Governor Ronald Reagan brought his presidential campaign to La Crosse.  Reagan and his wife Nancy came to La Crosse on the same day of the North Carolina primary.  The candidate spoke to a Ducks Unlimited dinner at the Sawyer Auditorium, and also at the Hotel Stoddard, where he […]

Would the Delta Queen stay on the Mississippi? A big question 50 years ago

In 1970, Congress was talking about ways to preserve the popular Delta Queen paddlewheeler, which made regular trips on the Upper Mississippi.  The boat was nearly 50 years old, and made mostly of wood, which violated a 1966 ‘safety at sea’ law requiring metal hulls on riverboats to prevent fires.  There was some resistance to […]

An amendment for term limits, 73 years ago

In March of 1947, Congress passed a constitutional amendment, barring a president of the United States from being elected to more than two terms.  The proposed 22nd Amendment was a reaction to Franklin Roosevelt being elected to four terms during the depression and World War II.  Iowa wanted to be the first state to ratify […]

“Let’s lower the tax rate,” said La Crosse’s mayor, 47 years ago

In March of 1973, La Crosse Mayor Peter Gilbertson was seeking a second term, and declared that his administration was the first in the city to substantially lower the property tax levy.  There was a three-person primary for mayor, and Gilbertson scored 7300 votes.  Joining him on the April ballot would be WKTY Radio general […]

A change on the way on 3/3/33

Four score and seven years ago, March 3rd of 1933, the U.S. was saying goodbye to President Herbert Hoover.  The man from Iowa was voted out after one term, following the start of the Great Depression.  Franklin Roosevelt took office on the 4th, declaring that the only thing we had to fear is fear itself.  […]

“WE’VE HAD IT!” was the Tribune headline after a record blizzard, 61 years ago

During the first week of March in 1959, a late winter storm brought 10 inches or more of snow to many parts of the state.  The blizzard left 22 inches of snow on La Crosse, with 13 inches falling just on March 5th.  Twenty-six years would pass before the next time La Crosse got that […]