Madison in the Sixties – January, 1967
As 1967 opens, it appears the university’s Old Red Gym will soon be closing and coming down, just as campus planners called for in a master plan adopted in 1960. It was a point of statewide pride and celebration when the armory/gymnasium was dedicated in 1894, but now it’s badly deteriorated, and administrators think the lakeside site begs for better use. “It will be razed this summer,” university president Fred Harvey Harrington tells the regents on January 15, because it won’t be needed once the massive new gym out by the western playing fields opens that fall. He says there’s “considerable disagreement” over whether the site should be used for a faculty lounge, guest house, or some other purpose, but he declares emphatically that the fortress-like facility “should be razed.” “Unfit for anything other than sweaty exercise,” adds university vice president Robert Clodius.216
UW student Alan E Shepherd won’t be exercising at the Red Gym for a while, as he is is sentenced to a year in jail, a year’s probation and ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment after pleading guilty to possession of marijuana. Dean of Students Joseph Kauffman says the Committee on Student Conduct will also consider whether to impose any university discipline on the 21-yo Madison native. And in other UW-related AODA news, a city committee has proposed extending the dry zone around campus in which retail liquor stores are prohibited. A subcommittee of the City University Coordinating Committee wants to move the southern border from Dayton Street to Regent St and the eastern ends from Lake Street to Frances. The dry zone has not been changed since it was established in 1934.
And the city cracks down on another aspect of student life, banning scooter and motorcycle parking on State Street and most of University Avenue, except in specially designated stalls.
Lots of news from the public schools, starting with the traditional New Year’s Day vandalism – this years at Orchard Ridge School, where juveniles smash forty- four windows and eighteen shades; their parents pay about $400 of the $761 in damages.
The school board ends a lengthy stalemate over contract terms with its teachers, approving An agreement with Madison Teachers Inc. that keeps teachers among the lowest- paid in the area but establishes the union’s right to compulsory arbitration of grievances. Madison schools will pay starting teachers $5,500 in the 1968–1969 school year; most area systems will pay $6,000.230
That same night, the board approves $408,265 in contracts for an athletic facility and grandstand at James Madison Memorial High School, which veteran board member Arthur “Dynie” Mansfield extols as a year- round multisport complex to be available for public use. Deviating from its standard practice, the board lets Roberta Leidner representing the Capital Community Citizens, raise questions about the proposal. “A citizen can’t just stand up and ask to be heard,” superintendent Robert Gilberts says, but the board lets Leidner speak before overriding her concerns and agreeing with Mansfield; the legendary university athlete, in his thirtieth year as the Badger baseball coach, advocates forcefully for the facility, which will be named in his honor after his death in 1985.231
It’s the cost of schools, Mayor Otto Festge tells a League of Women Voters luncheon a few weeks later, that has almost single- handedly caused the city tax rate to rise over the last eleven years, from 36 to 47 mills. The cost of city services have stayed at about $10 per thousand dollars of property value, he notes, while school costs have jumped from 15.7 mills in 1957 to 26.3 mills this year. Festge and the council continue to oppose creation of a unified school district, which would give the school board independent budget authority.
A legal setback for feminism, as Judge Richard Bardwell voids, on jurisdictional grounds, the 1966 Industrial Commission ruling that Madison discriminated against Ruth Fey when it denied her a bartender’s license. Bardwell finds it “clearly reasonable” to conclude that the city denied Fey a license “because she was a female,” but holds that Industrial Commission jurisdiction is limited to employment relationships and does not cover the issuance of licenses.294
Democrats in the State Senate make a modest bit of history by choosing as their leader the young Madison attorney Fred A. Risser – their first floor leader from outside Milwaukee since another young Madison attorney Gaylord Nelson nabbed the top spot in 1951. Risser, an unabashed liberal, is able to put together a winning coalition because the conservative and liberal factions from Milwaukee could not agree on a candidate. He’ll have his work cut out for him, as Democrats hold only 12 of the Senate’s 33 seats. Risser maintains a law practice with his father, Fred E Risser, whose own career as a Republican state senator was ended in 1948 by … Gaylord Nelson.
Three deaths to note this month.
Thomas R. Hefty, eighty- one, the son of Swiss immigrants who rose from being a parttime bookkeeper to become president and chairman of the First National Bank, dies January 19 after breaking his hip in a fall at his home in Maple Bluff.
And two young men of Madison die the same day, January 12.
Major Charles Thoma, thirty, East High 1954, UW class of 1958, dies after being shot in the head by a sniper while leading a search- and- destroy mission of the “Black Lion” Second Battalion, Twenty- Eighth Infantry, First Infantry Division, in the jungle northwest of Saigon. The son of retired Army colonel Henry C. Thoma, 4182 Nakoma Rd., and Mrs. Clifford Engle of San Francisco, Major Thoma was captain of the cross- country team, a member of the track and wrestling teams, and a member of Phi Kappa Sigma at UW. Recipient of the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf clusters, he is survived by his parents and his wife, the former Beverly Hubbard, and three sons.
Army Private First Class Thomas E. “Pete” Matush, twenty- one, East High class of 1964, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph J. Matush, 1959 E. Washington Ave., is killed when the truck he’s in goes over a land mine. Matush was drafted shortly after high school graduation and sent to Vietnam in August, 1966.
And that’s this week’s Madison in the Sixties. For your award-winning, vaccine-taking, mask-wearing WORT news team, I’m Stu Levitan.