Brad Williams

Brad Williams

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from U-W-La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area.  Brad writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse.  He's been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.  

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The city of La Crosse may be named after the game of lacrosse, but it seems bowling was played here before lacrosse was.  The La Crosse Tribune wrote in 1922 that city founder Nathan Myrick built La Crosse's first bowling alley in 1846, near the corner of Vine and Front Streets.  Only about 50 white settlers lived in La Crosse at the time, and the newspaper said settlers and natives patronized the bowling hall, with some Indians wagering furs against money or whiskey bet by the white bowlers.

The bowling pins at Myrick's place were made of soft wood, and the balls were made from any material hard enough to resist damage...sometimes, just harder wood. 

Many other bowling alleys have come and gone in the area since 1846.  The Company Store building just off the pike was built as a bowling place in the 60's.  La Crescent used to have Shamrock Lanes, and Charlotte's Bridal in La Crosse is inside a converted bowling alley.  But the first bowling lanes in town were on Front St. in 1846, yesterday in La Crosse.


Tenants feel city didn't listen to their ideas


Thursday - November 16, 2017 12:34 pm

Bangor wins 2nd state football title in 3 years

Cardinals dominate Black Hawk, 37-14


Thanksgiving of 1963 came six days after the assassination of President John Kennedy.  The U.S. TV networks aired only news programming for four days after the Kennedy shooting, but by Thanksgiving, they were back to regular programs, including the Macy's parade in New York and others.  NBC coverage of the Macy's event was described by "Bonanza" star Lorne Greene and Betty White.  On CBS, Betty's husband, Allen of "Password"...was among several celebrities hosting holiday parades on that network. 

On a typical Thursday night in the fall of '63, the nighttime version of "Password" could be seen on CBS, followed by "Rawhide" and "Perry Mason."  "Dr. Kildare," Donna Reed, and "The Jimmy Dean Show" also were popular on Thursdays.

Milwaukee's downtown Christmas parade went on as usual, the day after Kennedy's death.  Like the New York parade, Milwaukee brought in huge balloons in 1963, such as Porky Pig, Felix the Cat, and a 55-foot-long replica of Noah's Ark.  The shooting did lead to the postponement of the Wisconsin-Minnesota college football game, moved to Thanksgiving Day, and won 14-0 by the Gophers.

The Packers were the visitors in the traditional Detroit Lions football game on Thanksgiving.  The teams played to a 13-13 1963, yesterday in La Crosse.


Law to be easier to enforce than mixture of local ordinances 


In 1972, Wisconsin was among several Midwestern states considering a state-run lottery.  Observers were betting on Illinois or Michigan becoming the first state in the region to offer the games.  Northern Illinois lawmaker Zeke Giorgi was confident of getting a lottery, saying his state was becoming more liberal, having approved bingo the year before.  Wisconsin was known for opposing games of chance like sweepstakes, and a spokesman with the state justice department said organized crime would benefit the most from a lottery.  The Badger State finally did start its own lottery in the late 80's.  
La Crosse County ended the bounty...on foxes.  County board members had argued for about 20 years over whether the county should pay people to shoot foxes.  The bounty would still continue for other animals...$2 for a rattlesnake, 25 cents for a crow, and 5 cents for a striped gopher.
On Wednesday nights in late 1972, you could turn on the TV and watch "The Carol Burnett Show," "The Julie Andrews Hour," "Banacek," with George Peppard, and "The Dick Cavett Show."  On Eau Claire TV, Badger football fans could see Coach John Jardine's show in 1972...45 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.

Friday - November 10, 2017 8:35 am

A historic shipwreck on the Great Lakes, in 1975

On this day in 1975, the freighter Edmund Fitzgerald sank in 75 mph winds on Lake Superior, less than 20 miles from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.  All 29 men on board went down with the ship.  The exact cause of the disaster remains a mystery.  The story of the shipwreck became well known when Gordon Lightfoot recorded a song about the Fitzgerald the following year.

That week in '75, La Crosse was getting ready to celebrate its ranking as the #1 small city in America, according to a research firm from Kansas City.  About 1000 people would attend a banquet at the Sawyer Auditorium with entertainment including barbershop singers, and the Blue Stars drum and bugle corps. 

The manager of the La Crosse Airport was leaving after just two years in that job.  James Brough resigned to run the airport in Lexington, Kentucky.  La Crosse's airport had recently opened a new terminal, which would be used until 1989. 

The #1 song in the U.S. that week was "Island Girl," by Elton John.  Elton actually spent 6 weeks in a row in the top spot that fall.  "Island Girl" was preceded at #1 by Neil Sedaka's "Bad Blood," which featured Elton John on backup vocals...42 years ago, Yesterday in La Crosse.



Favored plans need around $2-3 million more 


In November of 1969, the Interstate Commerce Commission was holding hearings on whether to let the Milwaukee Road end its afternoon "Hiawatha" run between Chicago and Minneapolis.  The city of La Crosse objected, along with two Winona colleges, St. Mary's and the College of St. Teresa.  La Crosse Mayor Warren Loveland sent a statement saying that more than two thousand people in the city had used the Hiawatha train over a two-month period.  The railroad said the Hiawatha runs lost more than $400,000 in 1968.
People in Cameron Park were asked to sign a "Nixon letter"...a petition to support the troops in Vietnam.  A table was set up in the park for signing the letter backing President Nixon's war policy, following the president's "silent majority" speech on TV.  Media criticism of Nixon's address led Vice President Spiro Agnew to accuse reporters of liberal bias during a speech in Des Moines that month.  
Astronauts landed on the moon for a second time that November.  During the Apollo 12 flight, Pete Conrad and Alan Bean walked on the lunar surface, while Dick Gordon orbited the moon in the command module.  Gordon and Conrad had both flown together three years earlier in Earth orbit on Gemini 11.
Meanwhile, the first men to land on the moon were honored as heroes in Milwaukee that month.  The Apollo 11 crew of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Mike Collins received the first-ever Discovery Awards from Marquette University...which have since been given to Bishop Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa, and the Little Rock Nine.  The moon walkers landed in Wisconsin in 1969...48 years ago, Yesterday in La Crosse.

In November of 1977, downtown La Crosse was still the city's main shopping area, with the big stores open on Friday nights.  The Downtown La Crosse Business Association tried a 90-day experiment to let shoppers park for free on Friday evenings, without plugging the parking meters.  But after two months, it was clear that cars were parking longer than the 1-hour maximum allowed on the meter, so the freebie might have to come to an end.  

For Halloween, lots of people wanted to dress as the year's newest movie villain...Darth Vader of "Star Wars."  Vader lookalikes turned up at several parties around the area.  Local comedian turned realtor Ronnie Eastman had his own Vader costume, including a sound-effects system.  Eastman appeared as the Dark Lord at State Road School. 

The hottest comedian in America in '77 showed up in La Crosse that November with a white suit and an arrow through his head.  Steve Martin entertained 3000 people at the Sawyer Auditorium, saying it was great to be in the capital of Wisconsin.  Opening for Martin was musician John Sebastian, who sang his recent hit, the theme song from "Welcome Back, Kotter."  The top ticket price to see Steve Martin was $8 in 1977, 40 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.


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