Madison in the Sixties – the last week of April, 1960
19-year-old Jon Micky Hayes is unstable but not insane, doctors say, and so is fit to stand trial for the March 12 first-degree murder of his father, Henry Vilas Zoo Director Harold Hayes. Hayes shot his father and another man to death with a .22 rifle and pistol, and wounded two others, in a drunken rampage at the Hayes home, 1317 Wingra Drive. A night orderly at University Hospital, the teen had hosted a record party with beer and vodka for underage friends earlier that evening while his parents were at a birthday party at the Moose Club. A high school dropout who spent seven months in a psychiatric hospital during a failed Navy enlistment and once slashed his wrists, Hayes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and was remanded to Central State hospital for examination. Doctors now report that he “showed gross emotional instability, but who demonstrated no psychotic activity, and was not mentally defective, insane or feeble-minded.” The doctors gave no opinion on his mental condition at the time of the crime.
Two generations of civil rights leaders came to Madison this week, just as university students renew their protest in support of the sit-in movement seeking to desegregate lunch counters at national chain stores throughout the south.
Through cold rain and snow flurries, about fifty university students picket the Woolworth’s, Grant’s, and Kresge’s on the Square for six hours. The Reverend Max Gaebler of the First Unitarian Society endorses the picketing but Dean of Students LeRoy Luberg denounces it, saying the local merchants “should be commended for their non- discriminatory practices rather than be embarrassed” over things they can’t control.
The group organizing the protest, members of the Human Rights Committee of the Wisconsin Student Association, also sponsors the weekend’s visit by twenty-one black students from Tennessee colleges, including leading Nashville sit- in activist Diane Nash. Among those meeting with the group, WSA President Ed Garvey. Some are concerned that the local chain- store picketing is so unpopular among the off-campus community that the action will tarnish the students’ visit; they needn’t have worried. “When we saw the picketing, it really touched our hearts,” a student from Tennessee A&I says. Many of the southerners bunk with sororities and fraternities, helping broaden Greek support for the sit- ins. The visitors share their stirring stories of lunch- counter confrontations with about a hundred UW students gathered on the Union steps.
The Rev. Ralph Abernathy, cofounder with Dr. Martin Luther King of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, praises the local protests at the annual meeting of the Wisconsin Civil Liberties Union. Abernathy tells the crowd of about 175 meeting at the Hillel Foundation on Langdon St. that the demonstrations are part of the “fierce wind blowing rumblings of discontent and frightening the keepers of the status quo.”
The status quo of no full-time Negro teachers is no longer acceptable, the mayor’s commission on human rights says. It names a delegation to talk to School Superintendent Philip Falk about the school system finally hiring its first full-time Negro teacher. The commission has already met with several principals about hiring Sloan Williams, who has been a substitute in the high schools and has applied for a full-time post. Now, at mayor Ivan Nestingen’s suggestion, the commission has delegated its chairman Lloyd Barbee, atty. Gordon Sinykin and Mrs. Willard Hurst to press the case to Falk directly at a meeting next week.
The city council overwhelmingly rejects an ordinance banning off- premises alcohol sales to anyone under twenty- one, proposed as a way to stop eighteen- year- old high school students from buying beer for their younger classmates. Ordinance sponsor, painters union business agent alderman Harold “Babe” Rohr, argues the ordinance would force eighteen- year- olds to do their drinking in beer bars, “where they should be.” And he cited the Hayes tragedy as further justification. But police chief Wilbur Emery disagrees, telling the council he’d rather have teens take a six- pack back to their rooms. The council sides with the chief rather than the south side labor leader, 16-3.
It’s a newsworthy week on the east side.
More problems for the F. S. Royster Guana Co., as neighbors around its Dempsey Rd. fertilizer plant — including 15th Ward Ald. Robert Hagen – file 18 police complaints over three days for smoke and odors. Police confirm stinging, stringent odors, causing the nostrils and eyes to inflame. White dust from its smokestacks, so thick as to seem a dense fog. Two earlier complaints are pending in Superior Ct.
About sixty union workers go on strike against the Swift company chemical plant on Mayfair Ave. The international association of Machinists lodge 1406 voted last week to strike if their demand for a 25-cent-an-hour raise, increased shift differential and an eighth paid holiday were not met. The company offered the holiday, a four-cent hourly raise, and nothing on the shift differential. It’s the union’s first strike against Swift since it was organized 12 years ago.
More than 700 acres now in the Town of Blooming Grove may soon be coming into the city, as two major annexation plans are announced. One, a 430-acre area between Milwaukee Street and Cottage Grove Rd., includes the residential plats of Acewood and Rolling Meadows, and two family farms. The other, encompassing 300 acres, starts at the city limits at the intersection of East Washington Ave and Highway 30 and heads east.
And now the realty firm developing the Acewood plat wants to do a big deal downtown – an eight-story lakefront hotel for the foot of N. Pinckney St. just below the Ambassador apartment building. Towne Realty of Milwaukee is proposing a full-service hotel with 169-units and parking for 175 cars
Winkie the elephant needs new accommodations, says her keeper at the Henry Vilas Zoo, because her current pen is so small and inadequate as to be dangerous. The popular young pachyderm, who already weighs about four tons and is almost eight feet tall at only 15 years old, should have at least 160 square feet; instead, her quarters are less than half that, giving her enough room for only a few steps forward and back. The zoo’s first elephant lived in the same pen, and didn’t even have enough room to lie down; she stood for the last eleven years of her life.
And that’s this week’s Madison in the sixties. For your award-winning, hand-washing, physically distant WORT news team, I’m Stu Levitan.