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Yesterday in La Crosse

Playing “Twenty-One” with the King

This month marks the anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. Elvis was just 21 when he played his only concerts in La Crosse, two shows in one night at the old Mary E. Sawyer auditorium in 1956. Twenty-one years later, in August of 1977, Presley died at his Graceland mansion in Memphis. Twenty-one years after the […]

Should high school bands play at partisan events? A big debate, 59 years ago

In 1960, Vice President Richard Nixon was coming to La Crosse for a rally on the day after one of his televised debates with Sen. John Kennedy. Local Nixon volunteers asked the La Crosse School Board if band students could perform at the rally. The board said if the students wanted to play, that would […]

What do you know about Ed Gein? We learned more about him 37 years ago

Judge Robert Gollmar, who sent Ed Gein to a mental hospital for grisly murders he committed in central Wisconsin, wrote a book about Gein in 1982. The book was called “Edward Gein: America’s Most Bizarre Murderer.” Gein was born in La Crosse County, and lived for a time on the north side of La Crosse. […]

Cover up, girls! Don’t you know it’s 1980, yesterday in La Crosse?

In 1980, the city of La Crosse was cracking down on nude dancing at nightclubs. Two years earlier, city voters has passed an anti-pornography ordinance. City council members wanted to require female dancers and women working in other jobs at bars to cover certain parts of their bodies above and below the waist. That measure […]

The university was talking about going coal-free, 10 years ago

UW-La Crosse just recently announced it would stop using coal as a source of heat in 2020. But there was a rally in 2009 which called for the campus to do just that. A song that declared ‘Coal Stinks’ was performed outside the college heating plant, and singers in the crowd included university chancellor Joe […]

“Do you remember your President Nixon”, resigning, 45 years ago?

On August 8th, 1974, President Richard Nixon spoke on TV, announcing he would resign, following the passage of articles of impeachment by a House committee. Vice President Gerald Ford cancelled a planned trip to the West Coast and Hawaii, and was sworn in as president the next day. Wisconsin Gov. Pat Lucey was campaigning for […]

His mistake was killing a snake, 29 years ago

In the summer of 1990, the La Crosse Tribune printed four letters to the editor on a single day which all sharply criticized an area man who had killed a rattlesnake in Hixon Forest. They said a snake in a wildlife preserve should not have been killed, and one writer called the man a “misguided […]

The battle to keep the 10 Commandments in a park was starting, 34 years ago

In the summer of 1985, the Freedom From Religion Foundation of Madison threatened to take the city of La Crosse to court if it did not remove a 10 Commandments marker from Cameron Park. The marker was donated to the city after the record Mississippi flood of 1965, and other communities had similar monuments on […]

Go out and move your car every hour, a plan 34 years ago

In the summer of 1985, the latest parking dilemma for downtown La Crosse was whether 2 hour free parking was too long.  The city already had removed its curbside parking meters in the early 80’s, as a way to battle competition from Valley View Mall.  Downtown businesses proposed a one-hour limit, to prevent workers from […]

Little asphalt plant on the prairie, 16 years ago

In 2003, the Mathy Construction Company wanted to build an asphalt factory on industrial land in Brice Prairie, and plenty of people living near the site didn’t want that to happen. There were concerns about pollution, and heavy volumes of noisy truck traffic affecting the quality of life. At one hearing which took place in […]

Gaylord Nelson wasn’t interested in being VP, 47 years ago

In the summer of 1972, Sen. Nelson of Wisconsin was approached by Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern to be his running mate. Nelson said no, but reportedly made a fateful recommendation, suggesting Missouri Sen. Tom Eagleton for vice president instead. The party approved Eagleton, but a short time after the convention, Eagleton was under fire […]

Four years later, he’d be a presidential nominee, but in 1968, it was “George who?”

George McGovern was the Democratic nominee to face Richard Nixon in the 1972 election…but four years earlier, in 1968, McGovern was a little-known Senator from South Dakota who came to La Crosse Statefor a speech about foreign policy. McGovern was billed as a “liberal critic” of President Johnson’s policies. The Senator recently had visited Oktoberfest. […]

The county turns a little more blue, 8 years ago

Three legislative seats representing La Crosse County changed hands in 2011.  At the start of the year, the 32nd District Senate seat was held by Republican Dan Kapanke, who had just made a run for Congress.  Republican Mike Huebsch was the 94th District Assemblyman, and Democrat Jennifer Shilling served the 95th District.  When Scott Walker […]

You had “Trouble in River City” getting tickets to “The Music Man,” 55 years ago

In July of 1964, La Crosse’s Sawyer Auditorium was about to bring in a touring production of “The Music Man,” and demand for seats was so high, some folks might have trouble getting in.  Trouble with a capital T, that rhymes with P–as in Ray Plamadore, the auditorium manager.  Plamadore said the brisk early sales […]

Grandview was getting ready to close, 50 years ago

During the summer of 1969, it was announced that the Grandview hospital on Main Street in La Crosse would merge with the Skemp Clinic, and the combined medical facility would be known as Skemp-Grandview. The hospital closed down for about a year, until it was taken over by the UW-La Crosse Foundation. Many organizations moved […]

The mercury hits 100, a high mark 36 years ago

In July of 1983, La Crosse was expecting its warmest weather in three years.  The temperature had not reached 100 degrees in La Crosse since the summer of 1980, but the mercury rose to 100 exactly on July 21st.  Local appliance stores were seeing a run on air conditioners, and movie theaters were doing good […]

Did you see the first moon walk, 50 years ago?

In July of 1969, the ‘Eagle’ moon lander of Apollo 11 became the first manned spacecraft to arrive on the lunar surface.  Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon the night of July 20th, around 10 p.m. La Crosse time, as a worldwide audience watched in black-and-white on TV.    Other things were […]

A vote of “no confidence” in the school board, 45 years ago

In 1974, voters in La Crosse overwhelmingly wanted to keep Washburn School open. Nearly 12,000 voted in favor of saving Washburn, compared to 3000 against it. The school district wanted to close the building which was only being used by mentally disabled students at the time. Washburn was torn down a few years later, and […]