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Yesterday in La Crosse

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 […]

Make way for the new Queen, 55 years ago

The La Crosse Queen paddlewheeler was being introduced in 1965.  Roy Franz of the Big Indian Boat Lines said the new excursion boat could hold as many as 150 passengers.  Franz had been offering river trips in La Crosse for three years before the Queen’s first tour.  The boat would arrive in La Crosse after […]

Who does fest the beste, La Crosse or Munich? A debate 54 years ago

In 1966, the police chief of Munich in West Germany visited La Crosse. Chief Manfred Schreiber was on a six-week tour of the U.S. Oktoberfest in Munich dates back to 1810, while La Crosse’s fest began in 1961, and officials here were worried about increased crime and disturbances during the celebration. Schreiber said there was […]

Downtown stores were looking to move to the mall, 43 years ago

In May of 1977, J-C Penney agreed to open an anchor store at the Valley View Mall being planned along Highway 16, near I-90. At the time, La Crosse’s Penney’s store was on 5th Avenue, next to the Hollywood Theater. Penney executives in New York would have to give final approval for the move. The […]

The closed Genoa reactor was considered safe, 22 years ago

The Genoa power plant was meeting all federal safety requirements.  That’s what Dairyland Power and federal officials told an audience in Viroqua in May of 1998, 11 years after the plant was shut down to save money.  Atomic fuel was still being stored at the site near the Genoa lock and dam.   Nuclear weapons […]

Smoking and drinking, both bad ideas, 53 years ago

In May of 1967, Wisconsin lawmakers were talking about raising the drinking age to 21, and banning cigarette ads. At that time, 18-year-olds could drink beer in the Badger State, and local governments could set their own minimum ages for consuming alcohol.  As for tobacco, one legislator slammed cigarette commercials for showing people doing healthy things […]

Victory in Europe, 75 years ago

The 8th of May in 1945 was declared V-E Day, marking the German surrender to the Allies in World War Two. It came five years and eight months after Adolf Hitler and the Nazis invaded Poland to start the war. Harry Truman marked his first birthday as President of the United States on the 8th, […]

Pleasure on tap, on campus, 49 years ago

In early 1971, the state university board of regents approved beer sales at the La Crosse campus.  The taps installed at the “Cellar” in Cartwright Center would offer one local brand and another beer made in Wisconsin.    Students still went downtown, though.  The Madrigal Bar on 3rd had a 10-cent tap night on Tuesdays, […]

The Badger State throws a birthday party, 72 years ago

The state of Wisconsin turned 100 in May of 1948.  The actual centennial was on May 29th, and a huge celebration was planned for that day in Madison.  About 100,000 people came to party, and see a 12-mile parade featuring 16,000 performers.  Before the festivities began, a “mammoth” citizenship program would be held that morning […]

Rock musicals at the auditorium, 49 years ago

In October of 1971, the Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium brought in touring productions of two popular rock musicals, “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Hair.”  There was public concern about “Hair,” and talk of getting the city to ban the touring actors from doing the show’s famous nude scene.  Since then, “Hair” has been performed by student actors […]

The Wisconsin Senator known as Tail Gunner Joe died, 63 years ago

In May of 1957, Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin passed away at age 48, reportedly from a liver inflammation. McCarthy was described in a newspaper story as ‘probably the most controversial’ American politician of the decade, because of his campaign to seek out Communists in America. Several potential successors were mentioned in the media, including Walter […]

Four dead in Ohio, 50 years ago, Yesterday in La Crosse

One newspaper editorial in late April of 1970 said “Here we go again,” as word spread that the U.S. was planning an invasion of Cambodia, while still fighting a war in neighboring Vietnam.  President Nixon explained the Cambodia strategy on network TV, which led to protests around America, including the demonstration at Kent State University in Ohio.  […]

Welcome to Oktoberfest, guv’nor…18 years ago

In the fall of 2002, Wisconsin Governor Scott McCallum stopped in La Crosse on the opening day of Oktoberfest.  Republican McCallum was running for a full term as governor, a year after succeeding Tommy Thompson, who had joined the George W. Bush cabinet.  McCallum said he had attended Oktoberfest as a college student, but couldn’t […]

The governor brought Madison to western Wisconsin for a week, 32 years ago

In July of 1988, Governor Tommy Thompson scheduled a week of state government events in the western part of Wisconsin.  Thompson had a question and answer session one night at La Crosse’s Riverside Park.  The next day, the La Crosse area hosted more than two dozen separate events involving the governor and other state leaders.  Such as: breakfast […]

Wisconsin was bullish on family travel, 51 years ago

In March of 1969, the state’s lieutenant governor, Jack Olson, spoke to the La Crosse Tourist Activities Corporation about ways that the Badger State could attract more visitors from other places. Olson said there should be a stress on family activities, rather than taking a fishing trip where Dad goes fishing while Mom and the […]

Mister Zielke becomes the mayor, 45 years ago

It was no April Fools’ joke on April 1st of 1975, when La Crosse voters replaced two-term mayor Peter Gilbertson with city council president Patrick Zielke.  The race was close, with Zielke winning by nearly 600 votes.  Zielke would go on to serve as mayor for 22 years.    Taking Zielke’s former seat on the council […]

A shooting, a standoff, and a freezer combine for an unusual crime story, 15 years ago, Yesterday in La Crosse

Fifteen years ago, on April 22nd, 2005, police were called to a gray house on French Island.  A young boy had told his parents that a neighborhood man had hit him and grabbed his bicycle, for riding too close to the man’s house.  The parents went to talk to the neighbor, who ended up shooting the […]

Russian man in space! 59 years ago

In April of 1961, the Soviet Union won another battle in the space race, when Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the earth.  U.S. President John Kennedy admitted that America was behind in the space competition, and a House committee in Washington heard the director of NASA say that reports of the Russian space […]