Did you know the director of "Rebel Without a Cause" and the first black American to compete in the Olympics both have ties to La Crosse?


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Any list like this that does not include Hamlin Garland and Howard Mumford Jones cannot be taken too seriously. Garland, while he might not be read too much anymore, in the lat 19th century changed the style of American fiction when he began to write his superb stories and later memoirs of settling the American West with unromantic realism. By the early 20th century he was for years considered the dean of American letters, an American literary giant hailed in America and Europe. Howard Mumford Jones as a schoolboy in the 1910s earned money to help support himself and his widowed mother by selling newspapers in the bordellos along La Crosse's downtown riverfront. He went on to become a renowned intellectual leader in the mid-century as a Harvard University historian and writer. His often mordant observations on American life are as applicable today as they were seventy years or more ago: "While it is true that we in this nation remain free to be idiotic, it does not necessarily follow that we must be idiotic in order to be free!" These two will pop up in American history long after most of the people on this list are forgotten even as footnotes.

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