Madison in the sixties, the second week of February
An important week for university expansion. In 1961, the regents authorize vice president A.W. Peterson to start buying land for the massive $30 million South East Dormitory project which will create about 4,000 housing units. Exactly one year later, the regents approve $6.4 million in contracts to build the first unit, twin towers for eleven hundred and thirty four young men and women, in the area bounded by Park, Johnson, Dayton and Murray streets, where construction will soon begin.
In 1963, the new Joseph P Kennedy Memorial Laboratory gets its first director, pediatrics professor Harry A. Waisman. The lab, funded by a quarter-million-dollar grant from the Kennedy Foundation, will study the chemical causes of mental retardation and seek to develop methods of prevention. At the same meeting the regents appointed Waisman, they approved the employment of Mrs. Nancy Jane Marshall as the university’s first policewoman.
Days later, a horrified crowd of 2000 at the Zor Shriner circus screams then falls into a stunned silence as aerial artist Mary Lou Lawrence – working without a net – misses her grasp of her flying trapeze and falls 35 feet to the cement floor of the fairgrounds arena. The 22-year-old from Crown Point IN, billed as the “beautiful queen of the high trapeze,” “Hollywood Sky Rocket” suffers a fractured skull, internal injuries, and broken left collarbone. As county traffic officers carry Lawrence off on a stretcher, the circus band strikes up an enthusiastic march and the next act – Lona’s trained dogs – begins.
In 1964, celebrations of the life and legacy of John Muir, father of the national parks, founding president of the Sierra Club, and UW dropout, as US Postmaster General John Gronouski unveils a commemorative five-cent stamp in his honor and helps dedicate Muir Woods, north of Bascom Hall overlooking Lake Mendota. Muir, who emigrated from Scotland to Portage in 1849, spent two years at the UW, living in North Hall, before leaving in 1863. Muir died in 1914 outside Los Angeles, where the stamp will be issued November 29.
This week in 1966 brings some progress for equal opportunity in employment. The Common Council ignores advice from Mayor Otto Festge and a warning from police chief Wilbur Emery, and votes 16–6 to issue the first- ever bartender’s licenses to five women applicants. Festge wants the council to wait for an attorney general’s opinion on the legality of refusing to license women due to the nature of the work; Emery claims that the introduction of go- go dancers has led to increased prostitution, which would be worsened by licensing women bartenders. Ald. Babe Rohr agrees, asserting that licensing women will depress industry wages and “create the same kind of situation as now confronts our community because of the go- go girls. We have a moral responsibility to the city to exclude women bartenders,” he says, because they should be home taking care of their families. Prior to the Council action, women could only obtain a license if a close relative to the tavern owner or under a licensed bartender’s supervision. Capital Times editor/publisher William T. Evjue, who has railed against alcohol since he supported Prohibition as a member of the State Assembly in 1917, zealously opposes the “rush to abandon a historic policy and start licensing women bartenders.”
The UW hires its first Negro football coach, Lewis ‘Les’ Ritcherson, the highly regarded head coach at Moore High School in Waco TX. Ritcherson, whose son is a quarterback, will coach offensive ends and backs.
But not all employment news is good this week. Robert Callsen, who was demoted from director of the Madison housing authority to assistant in 1964 after he was jailed for driving after his license was suspended for drunk driving, is relieved of his duties, at his request, and designated a part-time accountant – the same job Callsen had when he started with the housing authority in 1950.
In 1967, the high priest of LSD, Timothy Leary, headlines the WSA symposium “Revolution ’67.” Wearing an all-white Indian angarka, sitting cross-legged on the union theater stage before a single candle, the former Harvard professor exhorts an overflow crowd of about 2000 to “turn on, tune in and drop out.” “Drugs are the key to ridding yourself of this great big television studio called world,” he declares, cautioning students to only turn on with family or friends “who want to pursue the wonders of LSD with religious convictions.”
That same day, another set of controversial initials – CIA – proves a problem for law school student Ed Garvey, a former president of both the Wisconsin and National Student Associations, when Ramparts magazine reveals that the intelligence agency had been secretly funneling funds to the national group since the early 1950s – which Garvey learned when he was president in 1961-62. Although the CIA’s interest was in the Cold War battle for young hearts and minds abroad, Garvey focused the NSA during his administration on the civil rights battle in the American south. The NSA was founded at a convention on the UW campus in 1947, and had its headquarters here until 1952. Dean of student Joseph Kauffman, a member of the NSA board of advisors, says he’s “profoundly surprised” by the revelation that the CIA was providing about $200,000 a year through a dummy foundation.
In 1969 The Wisconsin National Guard is deployed to the University of Wisconsin for the first time, as the student strike black militants are leading, and white radicals are enforcing, in support of a black studies department proves too much for local law enforcement to handle. Although classes are disrupted for several days, and some major intersections blocked, there are no violent disturbances or mass arrests.
And the UW announces that its two most popular history professors, men with special interest in student activism, will be on sabbatical when the sixties end this winter. George Mosse will be at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem; Harvey Goldberg will be on the Left Bank in Paris.
And that’s this week’s Madison in the Sixties. For the award-winning WORT news team, I’m Stu Levitan.