1963 — The UW Protection and Security Department hires its first female investigator, Nancy Marshall, a former member of the Madison Police Department’s Bureau of Crime Prevention. Campus police chief Albert Hamann says Marshall will handle investigations involving women and juveniles.
In 1964, teenage romance turns to trouble, as high school gangs rumble all over town. An Edgewood HS girl entices the Verona boy she’s dating and four of his friends into an ambush at Peppermint Park, the carnival area on the far west side, where they are severely beaten with clubs and rubber hoses by a gang of 16 led by her other boyfriend, from Madison West. Police thwart a rematch rumble, set for a Verona gravel pit, after getting an anonymous tip. Days later, another two-timing teen is the focus as eleven students from East, La Follette, and Monona Grove High Schools battle with fists, clubs, and switchblades in the 2400 block of East Washington Avenue. Madison police also confiscate three switchblade knives from students at Central and West after a knife fight between two young teens at West, also over a girl.
In 1965, right- wing talk show host Bob Siegrist reveals that Daily Cardinal managing editor John Gruber rents a room at 515 W. Johnson St. from Gene Dennis Jr., the son of the late head of the Communist Party USA, and that another renter was both the son of the former chair of the state Communist Party and a Communist himself. And Siegrist claims to see a disturbing pattern of the Cardinal covering the same stories as the Communist Party’s Daily Worker. The next day, Republican state senator Jerris Leonard writes UW Regents president Arthur DeBardeleben that he’s “very much disturbed” to learn about Gruber’s rooming house relationship “with known political leftists,” and calls on the regents to “investigate Mr. Gruber’s associations and intensively review the editorial policy” of the Cardinal and report to the governor and legislature. “If it is determined that Mr. Gruber’s reported association influences the political tone of the Cardinal,” Leonard writes, “it is clear that his removal must be sought.” The assistant majority leader and chair of the powerful State Building Commission, which controls major university construction, Leonard threatens to call for a special legislative committee to “study this matter and take appropriate action” if the regents don’t act promptly.
Also that week, The city council votes to start buying forty acres of land east of S. Stoughton Rd. between Milwaukee Street and Highway 30 for the long-delayed east side hospital.
In 1968— Two ranking city officials paint a bleak picture of local race relations. Extensive racial discrimination in Madison has caused black residents to lose hope in the American dream, says Charles Hill, director of community services for the Madison Redevelopment Authority. Hill, recently named Wisconsin’s first Black cabinet secretary as head of the state Department of Local Affairs and Development, also says city welfare services are inadequate. And city personnel director Charles Reott says Advertising and outreach have failed to persuade sufficient numbers of nonwhites that past discrimination has ended and that City Hall is truly an equal opportunity employer. Reott pledges to “just keep hammering away” at minority recruitment.
Town/gown relations are also suffering. Chancellor William Sewell says he’s “distressed by the growing hostility” the community is showing to students and even faculty, especially over “protest activities which are offensive to community values and expectations”— even those protests which are “perfectly legitimate and carried out in a legal manner.” Speaking to a joint luncheon of twenty- one service clubs at the Field House, Sewell also derides those who treat students with “contempt, derision and censure” over their hair and dress, as though their appearance were “a major challenge to the very foundations of our society.”
In a related development, Legislative Council staff attorney James R. Klauser issues a forty-five page report recommending that the Madison Police Department be given control of the university campus because university police are incapable of dealing with increased campus disorder, drug traffic, and violent crime.2
Also that week, Professor Maurice Zeitlin the Citizens for a Vote on Vietnam organization turn in 8,140 signatures on petitions for a referendum on Vietnam, giving the council only two choices— adopt the statement calling for “an immediate cease- fire and the withdrawal of United States troops,” or put it on the spring ballot. Yet eight aldermen ignore the city attorney’s advice and vote against doing either. “I find it extremely repugnant to deal with this question in any way,” says Ald. Dick Kopp, on the losing side of the 13–8 vote to proceed with the referendum. Ald. James Crary even blames North Korea’s recent seizing of the spy ship Pueblo on “these same pacifists” giving “the impression that our country is divided.” Council president Ald. George Gill calls them out: “You objected to [student protesters’] acts of civil disobedience, you should support this legal action.” Having put the referendum on the ballot, the council then restores its patriotic self- image by voting 20–0 to urge the public to vote “no”; antiwar west side liberal Ald. Toby Reynolds abstains. In a related development, the Community Action Committee of Clergy and Laymen concerned About Vietnam holds a worship service of witness and commitment in support of antiwar leaders Dr. Benjamin Spock and the Rev. William Sloane Coffin as they are arraigned on federal criminal charges.
And the war bring tragedy in late January to two Madison families. In 1966 Marine Lance Corporal Jean Pierre Dowling, 22, East High class of 1962, whose parents live at 4509 Darby Ln., is killed by small- arms fire in Quang Ngai province on January 29. In order that Dowling can be buried in the soldiers’ section at Forest Hill Cemetery, the council quickly adopts an ordinance expanding eligibility from the World Wars and the Korean War, to any combat area or American police action.67 And in 1968 Army Private First Class Edgar Gerlach, twenty, a tank driver, is killed January 30 at the Pleiku base camp during a mortar attack. A 1965 graduate of Robert M. La Follette High School, Gerlach was a counselor at the Monona Grove YMCA and a Life Scout in Boy Scout Troop 150, where he received the God and Country Award and was elected to the Order of the Arrow. He entered the Army in October 1966 and had been in country since August 1967.
And that’s this week’s Madison in the Sixties. For your award-winning, casualty mourning, mask wearing, hand washing socially distant WORT news team, I’m Stu Levitan.
|Deputy Sheriff Russell Chesemore shows some of the rubber hoses, a switchblade knife, and a bat-club confiscated from Madison West and Verona High School students who were planning a gang fight|
Richard Sroda photo WHS Image ID – 116442