Madison in the Sixties – the fourth week of May, 1962
The United Community Chest will likely soon stop paying the membership dues at the Madison Club for its executive director’s due to concerns about alleged discrimination in the exclusive private club’s membership practices.
The club, where Madison’s business, legal and social elite entertain and intertwine, insists it does not discriminate. But it acknowledges it has never had a Jewish or non-white member since its founding in 1909.
The Community Chest, which conducts the United Givers campaign to raises funds it then distributes to non-profit social welfare agencies, has for several years paid the $150 annual dues for its executive director, Ralph Metz. Community Chest president Francis D. Holford, controller of Oscar Mayer & Co., told the group’s budget committee that if it felt the club did discriminate, it would “be the better part of valor” to stop paying Metz’s dues.
On the motion of former State Rep. Ruth B. Doyle, the committee this week voted to do just that, reducing Metz’ expense account by $150. Mrs. Doyle had raised the same concern last year, unsuccessfully. While it’s unclear exactly what caused the committee to now agree with her, allegations have been raised privately about an alleged recent incident of anti-Semitism.
It’s a big week for Governor Gaylord Nelson as he uses his appointment power to reshape the state supreme court and the uw board of regents in his liberal image.
To fill the vacancy created by the recent death of chief justice Grover Broadfoot, Nelson names Democratic State Senator Horace Wilkie to the bench. Wilkie, in his second term as Senator for the city of Madison, has supported liberal welfare policies and tighter control of campaign spending since his election in 1956. As chairman of the Madison Housing Authority in the late 1940s, he was instrumental in starting the city’s public housing program. Nelson’s first choice was Mrs. Doyle’s husband James, a former chair of the state Democratic party, but he declined.
Wilkie’s appointment, and his resignation from the State Senate, has an immediate impact on local politics, as State Representative Fred Risser, who had already declared his candidacy for reelection to the Assembly, withdraws from that race, and announces for the Senate instead. Risser, whose father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all in the state legislature was also first elected in 1956, and re-elected without opposition in 1958 and 1960. The 35-yo attorney, the youngest legislator ever to co-chair the powerful Joint Finance Committee, does not indicate in his announcement how long he seeks to serve in the Senate, if elected.
And Nelson names fellow UW Law School alumnus Kenneth L Greenquist to the UW Board of Regents. A former Racine city attorney, Greenquist served in the State Senate from 1939 to 1943 as a member of Phil La Follette’s Progressive Party. Greenquist is also a past commander of the Wisconsin American Legion but he strongly defended the university in 1953 when other Legion officials attacked it for allowing leftist speakers to appear on campus. Nelson, who has been in office not quite three and a half years, has now appointed five of the ten UW Regents.
As a new regent comes, the old vice president gets ready to leave. UW vice president Fred Harvey Harrington is packing up his office as he prepares to move to Honolulu to assume his new duties this fall as President of the University of Hawaii.
Harrington no doubt regrets he can’t bring with him the UW’s best male athlete, junior Pat Richter, honored this week as Badger “athlete of the year” by his fellow members of the W Club. A graduate of East High, RIchter has made the Varsity squad two years running in baseball, football and basketball, and next year could become the first Badger since 1923 to win nine Varsity letters.
But Harrington is probably happy to leave behind some of the 100 knuckleheads on Langdon Street, who at about 1:30 Sunday morning opened a fire hydrant, set off cherry bombs, and tried to tip over a Mister Softee truck. Police, Dean of Students LeRoy Luberg and Mayor Henry Reynolds were called to quell the disturbance, which left five students facing disciplinary proceedings.
It’s a criminal proceeding for 22yo Larry McDonald, fined $155 after he pleads guilty to stealing $30 from a physician’s trousers while the doc was treating his treating his buddy for facial injuries at the University Hospital emergency room. After the pair had left, Dr. Curtis Knight found that his civilian clothes, left in a nearby room, had been rifled and the greenbacks taken.
An estimated twenty thousand people— one of the largest crowds to gather in Madison since the end of World War II— jam the Capitol Square as fifty marching units and a series of bands mark Memorial Day. “We are dedicated to the principle that we shall be neither dead nor Red,” says US Representative Robert W. Kastenmeier (D- Watertown). The solemn ceremony features a wreath- laying tribute, a reading of the roster of Madison and Dane County wartime veterans who died over the past year, and patriotic proclamations. At a later service at the Memorial Union terrace, flowers are strewn in Lake Mendota to honor military personnel lost at sea.
And from commemoration to celebration, as more than a thousand people come to an open house for the brand-new Monroe Street Library. It’s the Vilas neighborhood’s first branch library since the old one on Monroe Street closed in October 1960. The concrete block and red brick building cost $75,000 and holds eleven thousand volumes, with another four thousand to be added throughout the year.
The month ends with a total power failure a little before 8 am on May 31, when a squirrel crawls into the main control panel at the Madison Gas and Electric power plant off Blount Street and causes a short circuit. Television and radio transmissions are halted, water pressure drops, traffic is snarled, some people are stuck in elevators. Power is restored downtown after about 15 minutes, but not as quickly in the outlying areas. The only serious injury is to the squirrel, who does not survive.
And that’s this week’s Madison in the sixties. For your award-winning, hand-washing, mask-wearing, social distancing WORT news team, I’m Stu Levitan.