Madison, the second week of June, 1969
The three private clubs in Madison that practice racial discrimination in their membership – the Elks, Eagles and Loyal Order of the Moose – have known since 1966 that they could lose their city liquor licenses if they didn’t change the “whites-only” clause in their charters. That’s when the city council declared it would stop granting licenses “at some future date” to any club that retained the racist provision. That date isn’t here yet for the Elks and the Eagles, as the council gives preliminary approval to their renewals. But it may have arrived this week for the Moose, after one of the club’s past state officers endorses the racial restrictions and says they are even enforced against invited guests of members.
With Eugene Parks, elected Madison’s first black alder just two months ago sitting directly in front of him, Moose attorney Willis Donnelly gives a passionate but counter-productive defense of the club’s whites-only membership clause which he ends by inviting to the club “those of you who are qualified to go” – namely white men not married to a non-white woman. The comment causes an east side alderman who supported the elks and eagles license to vote against the Moose, leaving it one vote short of approval. But due to an error in the official notice, the matter will be reconsidered in two weeks, along with the request from the Equal Opportunities Commission to finally set a date for enforcement.
The Madison Firefighters union has a different attitude than the Moose – it wants minorities as members. Firefighters Local 311 passes a resolution, drafted by its president, captain Ed Durkin, strongly endorsing equal opportunity and calling on non-whites to apply to become a firefighter.
Republicans who the State Assembly and the UW Board of Regents team up to crack down on campus disorder and drug trafficking.
The Regents adopt new rules limiting use of the Memorial Union to members and their guests and setting penalties for unauthorized entrance onto a UW campus. Persons convicted of a crime during a campus disorder will not be able to enter the campus for two years without the chancellors’ permission; those who violate a regent policy during a disorder would be similarly barred for one year. The new rule provides for a fine of up to $500 or six months in jail, or both, for those who enter a campus without the necessary permission. The Regents also consolidate conservative control by naming Madison native Dr. James T. Nellen, the team physician to the Green Bay Packers, as their new president. Nellen, a Badger footballer himself in the early 1930s, was the first regent appointed by Republican governor Warren Knowles in 1965. In 1967, Nellen had called for any faculty involved in the protest against the dangerous wrong-way bus-lane on University Avenue to be fired.
The assembly gives easy initial approval to a bill to abolish the UW office of protection and security and put the Madison Police Department in charge of campus safety. Legislative council staff attorney James R Klauser recently issued a 45-page report accusing the campus cops of going too easy on protesters and drug users.
Downtown Ald. Paul Soglin starts the second year of his term with some very positive national press – a Look magazine profile entitled “The Boy Alderman of Madison.” The five-page feature calls the 24yo “one of the more effective members of the City Council,” despite his casual dress and “cutting attacks on the status quo.” He’s “willing to work within the system,” the article says, despite the disapproval of ultra-leftists. Among the illustrations of the eighth ward alderman is one of him at work – driving a taxi cab. “I can’t take a job that could co-opt me and make me part of the system,” he says in explaining his unusual alderman occupation. The Chicago native represents the student-dominated eighth ward.
Quirky attorney Edward Ben Elson is convicted of a driving a motorcycle without a helmet, thus violating a state law he says violates his constitutional right to gamble with death if he so chooses. A former candidate for mayor and owner of the No Hassel clothing shop, Elson says we’re approaching the world of intrusive government George Orwell envisioned in 1984, and warns that someday cigarettes might be banned and it could become a crime to not buckle your seat belt.
Members of the conservative Young Americans for Freedom announce plans for a new free weekly newspaper called the Badger Herald to challenge the left-leaning Daily Cardinal. “The campus needs a newspaper that prints unbiased news, not just radical views,” says editor-designate Pat Korten, calling the Cardinal “the only underground newspaper in the United States published with university sanction.” The 21yo Thiensville senior, also an officer in the campus YAF, denies his political views would color the paper’s news coverage. Editors at the Cardinal, long under fire from regents and republican legislators for alleged editorial bias and for printing obscenities, say they’re not worried about the competition.
Merchants on lower state street file a petition with Mayor Bill Dyke opposing city plans to address the congestion crisis by turning the street into a semi mall. City traffic engineers want to eliminate parking, widen the sidewalks and reduce traffic to one lane in each direction. The city hopes to have a plan in place by the end of the summer.
As downtown merchants fret, site preparation starts for the $10 million West Towne Shopping Center at Mineral Point and Gammon Roads, scheduled to open in late 1970. The 100-acre center with 4000 free parking spaces, West Towne is being developed by the Cleveland firm of Jacobs-Visconti-Jacobs, which plans to open the East Towne Shopping Center the following fall.
Mayor Bill Dyke directs the city plan department to look into creating what he calls an “historic site zoning category” as a way to save the 116yo Mapleside House on university avenue. The Greek Revival farmhouse of buff sandstone, built by the first white settlers to plant crops in Dane County, is scheduled to be torn down in July for a gas station and restaurant.
And it’s the end of an era for Madison show business as the great stage at the Orpheum Theater shuts down after 42 years so Madison Twentieth Century Theaters can start work converting some of its space to a new theater to be called The Stage Door. Some of America’s greatest touring acts, from vaudevillians to rock and rollers appeared on the Orpheum stage since it opened March 31, 1927. Among the modern musicians to appear this decade – Bo Diddley, the Coasters, Pete Seeger, Everly Brothers, Johnny Cash, Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, the Byrds and Bob Dylan.
And that’s this week’s Madison in the Sixties. For your award-winning, vaccine-taking WORT news team, I’m Stu Levitan.
Look Magazine photo of Ald. Paul Soglin.