Madison in the sixties – the third week of January
January 18 1962
— The most important cultural and social institution in the Greenbush neighborhood celebrates its fiftieth anniversary of its founding — the Club Lavoratori Italiani Sicilia di Mutuo Sucorso e Beneficenza, more widely known as Italian Workmen’s Club. The club opened its fine brick building on Regent St. in 1922
Also this week in 1962, George C. Sellery, UW PhD ’01, dean of the College of Letters and Science from 1919 to 1942, dies on his ninetieth birthday. A scholar of Renaissance history, Sellery came to Wisconsin for his doctorate at the invitation of the famed historian Frederick Jackson Turner. An educational conservative, Sellery was acting president after the regents fired President Glenn Frank in 1937.
January 19 1965
— The Allied Development Corporation, developer of the Allied Drive development just off Verona Road, files for bankruptcy after charges of securities fraud filed against its top officers, Neil Woodington and Robert C. Kelly, cause a severe curtailment of its credit.
January 15 1967. University President Fred Harvey Harrington tells the regents the old red gym will soon be torn down and replaced by a faculty lounge or guest house, as called for in the campus plan adopted in 1960. “It will be razed this summer,” he says, even though there is still “considerable disagreement” over the site’s ultimate use. 215 “Unfit for anything other than sweaty exercise,” adds university vice president Robert Clodius.
That same week, Judge Richard Bardwell finds that the city of Madison did deny Ruth Fey a bartender’s licence “because she was a female,” but throws out the 1966 Industrial Commission ruling that the city thereby committed illegal discrimination because the Commission only has jurisdiction over employment relationships and does not cover the issuance of licenses.
January 15 1968
— West High School principal Orris C. Boettcher bans students from bringing the current issue of Connections into the school because he finds some of the artwork in the current issue “obscene.”
January 15, 1969
Hopes that the city would soon start construction on a 2,300-seat civic auditorium at Monona Terrace start to fade when architect William Wesley Peters reveals he’s had to eliminate elevators from the seven- story building to cut costs and has cut parking from 775 spaces to 361 to facilitate traffic movement. The performing arts palace will also lack a sound system; Peters says traveling shows provide their own light and sound, and he suggests a portable system be purchased for use during conventions.
Mayoral candidate Edward Ben Elson says city employees should be allowed to strike, and police officers allowed dress as they choose. An attorney and owner of the No Hassel headshop on University Avenue, Elson buys time on WKOW-TV to proclaim “A spiritual revolution is taking place.”
Most Madison parents and teachers want new rules in schools for student dress and grooming, a new survey shows, including a requirement that boys be clean shaven. The Board of Education, which killed just such a code in the spring of ’68, continues to grapple with the issue.
The Madison Art Center opens a month-long exhibition of sixty-seven paintings, drawings, and lithographs by American regional realist painter John Steuart Curry, including the large Wisconsin Landscape, on special loan from the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Curry, the university’s first artist in residence, died here in 1946, during the tenth year of his residency.
Revolutionary dramatists Julian Beck and Judith Molina bring their Living Theatre to Madison for an intense two- night engagement, part of a national four-month tour. Actually, they come to Shorewood Hills, to the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, where Rev. Max Gabler welcomes them after city of Madison officials say their intended venue, Turner Hall, lacks the necessary theater permit. Promoter Morris Edelson, editor of the avant garde literary magazine Quixote claims political harassment when police step in to stop the performance, but he manages to move the production – and the audience – from South Butler Street to University Bay Drive.
Once there, the 21-member troupe lives up to its radical reputation. Opening night, a turbulent and often discomforting performance of Malina’s translation of Bertolt Brecht’s Antigone of Sophocles, 130 minutes of menacing interaction, interspersed with moans and shrieks, building to an orgiastic frenzy. A very modern adaptation of the ancient Greek meditation on civil disobedience and honor.
On the 16th the notorious Paradise Now, a confrontational and semi-improvisational attack on repression and hypocrisy which blurs the line between actors and audience. Performing in loin cloths and skimpy halters, the integrated cast is upstaged at one point by two women and five men from the crowd who disrobe entirely, while others swear, argue, spit, and form a pile of nearly nude bodies. Soon, the strident debate and anarchist-pacifist polemics devolve into so much chaos that the disruptive drama itself is disrupted. There are no arrests.
January 20 1969
— Ruth B. Doyle vice president of the Madison Board of Education and wife of federal judge James E Doyle Sr resigns as administrator of the Special Program of Tutorial and Financial Assistance she initiated and nurtured, becoming assistant to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Merritt Norvell. Doyle was forced out by black students who praised her as “a beautiful person” but insisted the program be run by a black director.
Ray Sennett, president of the Madison Board of Education announces he’s not running for re-election after 23 years to focus on his duties as chairman of the boards of Security and Randall State Banks. He is the second incumbent to retire, following the earlier announcement by UW baseball coach Arthur Dynie Mansfield, stepping down after 12 years. Following the April 1 election, Mrs Doyle, with five years of service, will be the most senior member of the board, and thus in line to become its first female president.
For the award-winning WORT News team, I’m Stu Levitan