High school students take a stand for civil rights while the city and university each take a stand for sexual restraint. Campus Drive and the Humanities Building both open. And a very special performance by Peter, Paul and Mary. Just some of what was going on in Madison, November 1969.
Madison, November 1969
November 6—In his first budget, Mayor William Dyke seeks to lay off 70 city employees (including 24 firemen), close fire station No. 4 at the corner of Randall and West Dayton Streets, prohibit city snow removal outside the normal 40-hour work week, eliminate lifeguards at city beaches, delay the start of the State Street Mall, adopt a $9 auto registration fee, and double the $3 hotel room tax in order to hold the city’s share of the current 53-mill rate at 11.96 mills. The council does not signal support for any aspect of the mayor’s proposal.
November 2—The Sears, Roebuck and Company on East Washington Avenue is among the company stores nationwide to start a two-month test of opening on Sundays. Stores won’t open until noon, so workers can attend church, and close at 5 p.m.[i]
November 25—The council enacts a new obscenity law making stores keep adult magazines in an area where persons under 17 can’t enter, and outlaw the topless dancing now featured in several city nightspots. City attorney Edwin Conrad recently dropped several prosecutions of stores and nightclubs because he felt the old ordinance was unconstitutionally vague. Reverend Richard Pritchard proposes a city commission, patterned on the Equal Opportunities Commission, to review questionable material and “help keep people away from temptation.” Second Ward alderman Gordon Harmon supports the proposal: “Would you want your daughter to dance naked before these people? That’s what’s going to happen” without immediate adoption, he warns.[ii]
November 26—Campus Drive opens, taking about 15,000 cars a day off University Avenue by providing nonstop driving from Babcock Drive to Farley Avenue and University Bay Drive. The $4.5 million project, phase two of the expansion adopted in 1961, was funded at the referendum in 1966 and begun in 1967. The third and final phase will start next year—six lanes out to the Blackhawk Drive overpass just west of Segoe Road.[iii]
In late November, the East Senior High Student Senate votes against participating in the Elks Club $2,500 scholarship contest until the clause restricting membership to white males is stricken from the club’s national charter. “We can’t morally cooperate,” student president Dix Bruce says of the decision to forfeit the chance to compete for the scholarships. The West High Senate quickly follows suit.[iv]
November 9—Beat poet Gary Snyder gives a Sunday night reading in Great Hall.[v]
November 12—Uniformed UW Protection & Security officers start regular patrols through Memorial Union.[vi]
November 14—Fed up with sex, drugs, and protests, the regents reinstate curfew for female students and raise the minimum age at which students may live in unsupervised housing without parental permission from twenty to twenty-one. Regents’ President Dr. James T. Nellen calls it “a vote against the permissiveness that is going on in universities.” Over the strong opposition of President Harrington and Chancellor Young, the regents vote, 7–3, to give freshmen women under twenty-one a curfew of midnight on weeknights and 2 a.m. on weekends. Cross-gender visitation, in housing units where it is allowed, will be limited to the hours between noon and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and between noon and 10:30 p.m. on Sundays. Regent Maurice Pasch, the Madison attorney who is now the sole Democratic appointee on the board, cites “promiscuity and immoral behavior” as grounds for the new restrictions, which take effect next fall. Regents endorsing the new restrictions claim overwhelming support from parents.[vii]
November 15–23—Delayed a year by strikes and shortages, the grand opening of the Humanities building is celebrated by four formal dedication programs and a series of recitals and lectures. Due to unfavorable construction bids, the regents eliminated from the massive building several architectural features, including significant amounts of trim and decorative plaster, stone entrances, and a sculpture garden in the interior courtyard.[viii]
November 16—President Harrington starts a two-month leave of absence and vacation to India and Egypt, accompanied by his wife, under a so-called “tired president” grant from the Danforth Foundation.[ix]
In protest news
— After Peter, Paul and Mary entertain thousands at the Dane County Memorial Coliseum on November 13, the folk trio comes to the University Catholic Center on lower State Street to perform another full set at a crushingly crowded Midnight Vigil for the Moratorium. At both shows, they urge fans to join the Moratorium in Washington that weekend, and many do.[x]
November 18—ROTC reports that freshman enrollment has dropped from 279 last fall to 125 this fall, and that overall enrollment has dropped from 751 in 1968 to 550 in 1969.[xi]
November 19—About five hundred SDS supporters stage a quick, orderly march from Bascom Hall to the Army Mathematics Research Center to the Army ROTC building on Linden Drive, across University Avenue to the Air Force ROTC offices in the Mechanical Engineering building and back; their only infraction is some jaywalking.[xii]
November 14—The Dow Chemical Company announces it has lost the government contract for manufacturing napalm and has ceased its production.[xiii] What the protests of 1967 didn’t accomplish, defense procurement does.
[i] “Sears on E. Washington Ave. Will Test Sunday Openings,” CT, October 4, 1969.
[ii] William R. Wineke, “Council OKs New Obscenity Laws,” WSJ, November 26, 1969.
[iii] “Expressway Section Opens Today,” WSJ, November 26, 1969.
[iv] Patrick McGilligan, “Madison East Votes Boycott of Elk’s Scholarship Contest,” DC, December 3, 1969.
[v] David Douglas, “The Crazy Man Comes Back,” DC, November 8, 1969.
[vi] “Cops Prowl Rathskeller,” DC, November 13, 1969.
[vii] BOR minutes, November 14, 1969; Gene Wells, “Regents Reinstate Hours,” DC, November 15, 1969; Maureen Santini, “Double Standard for Sexes Reopened by Regent Action,” DC, November 14, 1969.
[viii] “U.W. Music Faculty Will Dedicate New Facilities,” CT, October 22, 1969; Feldman, Buildings, 398.
[ix] “Harrington Starts Leave and Vacation,” CT, November 17, 1969.
[x] Lynne Rasmussen, “Peter, Paul, Mary Sing, with Message, WSJ, November 14, 1969; DC, November 15, 1969; Facebook messages[to author?] from Donna Vukelich-Selva and Ira Mintz, August 27, 2017.
[xi] “ROTC Roll Drops,” DC, November 19, 1969.
[xii] Elaine Cohen, “SDS Sponsored March Hits U Research, ROTC,” DC, November 20, 1969.
[xiii] “Dow No Longer Making Napalm,” WSJ, November 15, 1969.