1963 When attorney Albert McGinnis, chair of the Madison Redevelopment Authority, decided to run against Mayor Henry Reynolds, he knew that urban renewal would become an issue in the campaign. A week after McGinnis stuns Reynolds in the March 5 primary it does, as the mayor attacks the MRA over the Triangle project, where the authority has been tearing down Greenbush houses for two years without fully relocating Greenbush residents. The MRA issued a report in 1959 assuring everyone there was adequate and affordable replacement housing; Reynolds, in office since 1961, now calls the report “fantastically inaccurate.” And although the relocation plan was written by city staff, Reynolds holds McGinnis— volunteer chair of the MRA since its founding in 1958— personally responsible for what he terms, “A great deal of needless human suffering.” “The hasty and ill- planned removal of people from the Triangle area reflects the bungling of my opponent,” Reynolds asserts in a campaign statement, adding “Due to the speed with which the authority went ahead, the problem grew worse.” Southside alder and union leader Harold “Babe” Rohr, vital to Reynolds’s 1961 election but now backing McGinnis, blasts the comments as “uncalled- for and irresponsible. If he’s got something to say, he should come here and say it.” State Rep. Norman C. Anderson, another citizen Member appointed to the MRA by the liberal former mayor Ivan Nestingen, says he “resents” the comments from the conservative Reynolds, which he ascribes to “purely political reasons.” The MRA considers Rohr’s proposal to invite Reynolds, but concludes “that nothing would be served in having the Mayor appear before the Authority and read the statement that he had already released to the press.”
And pianist Ben Sidran and His Quintet inaugurate live Friday afternoon jazz in a packed Memorial Union Rathskeller.
1964 Nine inches of heavy snow and a couple hundred young men from the Lakeshore dorms make for a spectacular frozen melee, as students roll a huge snowball— eight feet around— onto Elm Drive, blocking the street just east of the new Natatorium and snarling traffic for a four- block area. As their numbers grow to about five hundred, the students drive police back with a barrage of snowballs for about ninety minutes, tip over two large flatbed trucks around the massive mound to protect it, and even block westbound University Avenue with trailers from the barn at the stock pavilion. Campus police finally start pulling random students into squad cars for questioning, and the crowd fades, off to study for six- week exams. There are no arrests.
La Follette High School student Eugene Parks wins a medal and a $50 savings bond by taking first place in an American Legion oratorical contest with a ten-minute original speech on the US Constitution.
1965 — Nearly a thousand Madison residents, most coming directly from church, mass at the State Street steps of the State Capitol for a Sunday-morning prayer vigil for civil rights. Republican governor Warren Knowles draws sustained applause when he salutes the demonstrators, including a group that marched almost two miles through biting winds from the First Congregational Church on Breese Terrace. Rabbi Manfred Swarsensky is master of ceremonies for the program organized by the Reverend George Vann, pastor of St. Paul’s African Methodist Church. The emotional highlight is the eulogy by First Unitarian Society’s Reverend Max Gaebler for the Reverend James Reeb of the Unitarian Universalist church in Boston, who died Thursday after being attacked by segregationists in Selma.
Eighteen years after voters by referendum abolished the position of city manager, the council appoints Robert Corcoran, former administrative assistant to Mayor Festge, to the newly created position of city administrator, a civil service position that will have primary responsibility for the daily operations of city government.
Two Madison men die on the same day in 1968, March 11. An old man in his bed in Nakoma, a young man in his boots in Vietnam
Marine Private First Class Daniel Lloyd Meysembourg, eighteen, 117 S. Marquette St., is killed in action in the Quang Tri area. Meysembourg joined the Marines a month after graduating from Central High School in 1967; he had been in country about fifty days at the time of his death. Born in Rice Lake, Meysembourg grew up with his family at 821 Regent St. in the Greenbush neighborhood, attending St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and School; the family moved to the east side when their house was razed for urban renewal and joined St. Bernard’s Catholic Church.
Emeritus professor Rudolph E. Langer, former chair of the mathematics department and of the humanities division, dies at his home, 822 Miami Pass, three days after his seventy- fourth birthday. Langer joined the Wisconsin faculty in 1927 and retired in 1964; he led the Army Mathematics Research Center from its start in 1956 until 1963 and was the first mathematician to receive the Army’s “Outstanding Civilian Service” award. He was also the founding president of the Madison Art Foundation and president of the Madison Art Association, and gave his vast collection of prints to the Madison Art Center, which would grow into the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, where the highest donor group is called the Langer Society.
1969 — Reflecting the backlash against out-of-state Jews over their leadership in leftist politics and counter-culture lifestyle, the regents cut nonresident freshmen enrollment in half, from the current 30 percent to 25 percent this fall, 20 percent in 1970, and 15 percent in September, 1971.
And that’s this week’s Madison in the Sixties. For your award-winning WORT News Team, I’m Stu Levitan