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1979 - a good year for Muscoda
Random Thoughts - July 7, 2022
Random Thoughts by Wendell Smith

MUSCODA - People seem to enjoy columns that look back at the past. This week, I randomly picked the file book for 1979 as a source. It turned out to be a good choice as some important and interesting things took place that year.

If you have been in the vicinity of the local ball diamonds this summer you are aware of the large amount of activity involving girls. That wasn’t always the case. Girls were allowed to be part of the Muscoda Little League and Tee Ball programs for the first time in June, 1979. Three young gals were brave enough to prove they could swing a bat and catch a ball. They were Jeannie Hackl, Suzi Zintz and Jennie Victora. Director of that program was the late John Kraus.

Now isn’t the first time people have worried about the price of gasoline. During the summer of 1979 Riverdale School Administrator Tom Patterson told the school board he was having difficulty getting a “summer fill” of gasoline and fuel oil tanks as was usually done. It was feared the price of fuel oil for winter heat could cost as much as 75 cents a gallon. By August 1st the price of gasoline had reached $1.00 per gallon. Because pumps at local stations were only calibrated to go to 99.99 cents, gasoline was being sold by the half-gallon.

A group in Blue River sponsored a Hunger Walk to raise money to help buy food for people in need, Among those taking part was the Rev. John Yingling of Muscoda. He and his husky dog Blue walked 31 miles so people “would not have to be hungry and live like a dog!”

During 1979 the U. S. Department of Treasury was promoting the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, hoping it would replace the $1.00 paper bill. The coin was larger than a quarter and smaller than a half dollar. It never became popular. One local wag suggested if the goal was to make the coin popular it should carry the likeness of Dolly Parton rather than Anthony. He reasoned that would have made both women and men happy and assured the success of the coin as just about all men would like to carry Dolly in their pocket.

The possibility of cable TV coming to Muscoda was being discussed. It was estimated it would cost subscribers about $15 a month, plus $9.00 for a movie channel.

Perhaps the biggest event ever to take place in Muscoda took place August 18 and 19, 1979, when the annual Harvest Festival and the United States Canoe Association Canoe Races were held at the same time. The race finish line was at Riverside Park. Racers came here from across this country, including “Toad Suck, Arkansas.” Some racers were hoping to become Olympic competitors. About 350 canoes took part in the race with 306 finishing.

Meanwhile, at the Harvest Festival, local youths were showing their talents. Valerie Johnson of Avoca had the grand champion female, all breeds cow and Mike Gibbons, Muscoda, took home the first place beef trophy.

A Farmers Market was held each Saturday morning with things like, tomatoes, sweet corn, walnuts and pickles, as well as baked goods on sale in Railroad Park.

Joggers of all ages gathered on a Saturday morning to raise money for two new scoreboards at the local high school gym. The oldest participant entered was 90-year-old Margaret Hughes. The event raised $1,137.75,

A Labor Day celebration at Avoca included many muscles as draft horses from across a wide area competed in a pull. Also, human pullers tested their strength in several tug-o-wars.

“Club 60”, a popular night spot overlooking Highway 60 between Boscobel and Blue River was destroyed by fire on a September night. In its early years the tavern was known as “The Golden Pheasant.”

As 1979 ended, something new was offered in Muscoda for the Christmas season – a Singing Santa who would go to a designated home and for $5.00 deliver a musical Christmas card. Money raised went to the Empty Stocking Club, an organization that provided toys for needy children.