Harry J Olson Senior Center


Welcome to Harry J Olson Senior Center!!  The Center has a mission of providing age appropriate activities, exercise classes, informal social groups, and other events specifically designed for age 50 and older residents in La Crosse and surrounding areas.   We are here to help each other age gracefully, while remaining physically, mentally and socially active.  Come join us or come for a visit.  Everyone 50+ is welcome.

January Winner for Member Drawing:  Dr. Charles Engel

February Winner for Member Drawing :  Bob Bloom

Our next Member Drawing will be at the March Wednesday for Lunch

This drawing is limited to Members only.  

You must come into the Center on or before March 14th to enter.

You need not be present to win

There are entry slips provided at HJO

Please make sure to leave your name AND phone number!!


Wednesday For Lunch

Wednesday March 15, 2023


Can you guess what we are having in March?

Soup and Salad and Dessert!!

Brightstar Care will be here providing blood pressure checks/screenings

Harry J Olson Senior Center

1607 North Street

La Crosse, WI 

This is a no cost event for those of us 50+ years and older.  February Lunch was very well attended - we ran out of buns.  (I heard that the BBQ was really good and that there have been many requests for it to be on the "Wednesday for Lunch" menu again)  Please RSVP by coming in to the Center to sign up or by calling us 608-781-2122 - if it is after hours leave a name and the number of people coming and we will get you RSVP'd.  We saw way more people than signed up in February - while that is a very good thing - we want to know you are coming so that we can make sure we have enough food for everyone!!   (Thankfully, we have had some very generous donors that have stepped up and donated the food for the last two lunches. )  Please put us on your schedule so that you can come and join us for lunch, laughs, and conversation!  Come see what's going on around La Crosse and at Harry J Olson Senior Center!!!

                                                                                                                                                                        SEE YOU AT THE CENTER!!!!!

Introductory to Bridge Class

Classes being offered for Introduction to Bridge 

Start Monday March 6, 2023


This class will be taught by Jim Bloedorn.  Jim is an ACBL Accredited Bridge Scholoar

Don't be intimidated - Jim is patient, kind and loves to teach

  You will need to purchase the book:  Bidding in the 21st Century

All other materials provided.  

Please call the Center to register - 608-781-2122 - if it is after hours please leave your name and number!

What's Going on at Harry J Olson Senior Center?

Monday and Friday -9:30a.m. - Tai Chi

Tuesdays and Thursdays - 9:00a.m. - Strong Seniors

Tuesdays -1:00p.m. - 500 Cards - Call Cheryl 608-786-1114 to register

Tuesday 7:00p.m. - Duplicate Bridge - Call Dave Melin 608-797-3587 

Wednesdays - 1:00p.m. - Euchre - Call Cheryl 608-786-1114 to register

Wednesdays - Public Dance - 7:00p.m.-10:00p.m. - EVERYONE WELCOME!!

Thursday - 12:30p.m. - Duplicate Bridge - Contact Dave Melin 608-797-3587

**Every THIRD Wednesday of the Month: 

Watercolor Class w/Pam Lee  10:00a.m.-12:00p.m. - Call 608-781-2122 to register

**Every THIRD Wednesday of the Month:

WEDNESDAYS FOR LUCH - Lunch from 11:00a.m.-12:30p.m. - Menu will vary - Please call 608-781-2122 to RSVP - 50+ years invited - No Cost Event!

February 15, 2023 - BBQ/Chips/Dessert - See You There!!!

***Every THIRD Wednesday of the Month:

Brightstar Will Be Here to do Blood Pressure Screenings/Checks

Harry J Olson Senior Center is OPEN!!!

We Will Be Starting Another Introduction to Bridge Class in March - Stay Tuned - Call to Register 608-781-2122

Also - Looking to Start a Scrabble Club - Call us if You are Interested - Time to be Determined - 608-781-2122


Don't Forget to Come into Harry J Olson and Sign up for Monthly drawing!!

You must be a Member to Sign Up!  One Entry per Member!

You must COME into the Building to Enter!  You Need Not Be Present To Win!

"Ticket" is available at HJO!!!

December Winner:  Mary Ann Pankratz

Harry J Olson Senior Center Volunteers out ringing the bell for the Salvation Army!!  


A BIG thank you to everyone that made our Christmas Party on December 10, 2022 one to remember!

Donations from:  McDonald's, Pogy's, Neuie's Vogue Bar, Sam's Bar, Cottage Grove Floral, La Crosse Loggers, Ron Hammes Refrigeration, 

Pogreba's, Pettibone Boat Club, Shimmy's Tavern, Mike's Ye Olde Style Inn, Hy-Vee, Altra Federal Credit Union, Mark Hamre, Ralph Geary

Thank you all for the Wonderful donations!!!

Thank you to the Harry J Olson Christmas Elves!!!

Decorating the Building,  Running Bingo at the Party, Making Sure We Had Fun Prizes For Bingo, Setting Up, Tearing Down!!!

Whew!!  It Could Not Have Been Done Without You!!!

Cheryl , Deb, Jean, Karen, Gordo (X10) Mary Ann, Ralph

If I am leaving anyone out - forgive me!  

Can't Wait Until Next Year! 

              Merry Christmas

Hope everyone is enjoying the rush and crush of the Holidays!

Remember to take a minute for yourself!

WE ARE OPEN at Harry J Olson Senior Center!

Don't listen to all the chatter and rumors out there!!

If you have any questions about the Center and the impasse that we find ourselves in with the City...

Give me a call at 608-781-2122 - Erin Goggin

I am happy to answer all your questions and to give you any updates that I may have!


Are You Interested in Learning How to Play Bridge?

Jim Bloedorn/ ACBL Accredited is in the House

Class Starts Monday November 21, 2022


Do Not Be Intimidated By Learning To Play Bridge -  Jim is an excellent teacher.

Patient, Knows the Game, and All Around Great Guy!

You Do Not Need to be a Member or a Senior to Participate in This Class

All Materials will be Provided - Except for the Bridge Book.

Give us a Call 608-781-2122 with Questions and to Sign Up!

Pam Lee - Artist/Instructor

Watercolor Class

Third Wednesday of the Month - Beginning in January 2023


Harry J Olson Senior Center

1607 North Street

La Crosse, WI

All abilities are welcome, all materials provided

Class: $10.00


What's Going On at Harry J Olson Senior Center:

Friday October 29, 2022 - Drawing for October Ticket - Pumpkin Basket and Gift Card

Tuesday November 8, 2022 - Election Day - Voting Here!!

Wednesday November 9, 2022 - 8:00a.m. - Trader Joe's (Rochester) and Lunch at Del's Diner (St Charles)

Wednesday November 16, 2022 - CHILI LUNCH (Free) Rural Farm Tales - 11:00a.m.

Monday November 21, 2022 - 9:30a.m. - Introductory Bridge w/Jim Bloedorn

HJO CLOSED - November 24 & 25

Saturday December 10, 2022 - HJO Membership Christmas Lunch/Bingo 11:30a.m.-Social  12:00p.m.-Lunch 1:30p.m.-Bingo

TBA - Bell Ringers for Salvation Army - Please let Erin know if you are interested - we will ring in groups

HJO CLOSED - December 23rd and 26th

HJO CLOSED - December 30th and January 2nd

All other scheduled activities are going on as well!


The calendar to your left highlights all the fun activities at Harry J.  Please come and join us at: 1607 North Street, La Crosse WI

If you have any questions or would like to contact us: 608-781-2122 or email harryjolson@gmail.com

Here is how to find us:

                                                                                                         A Little History of the Harry J Olson Senior Center:  

Around the time of 1964-1965 the residents of La Crosse and the surrounding communities became aware of a growing need for Retirees.  Three local community leaders stepped up:  Professor Walter Thoreson UW-La Crosse, Dr. Sig Sivertson Gundersen Clinic/Lutheran Hospital, and Russell Cleary Heilman Brewing Company.  These men had a survey commissioned that showed the need for a Senior Center.  Several other local leaders became involved and formed an Advisory Board of Directors, which became the governing body for this new idea.  Harry J Olson, became the first President of that Board.  

In May of 1965 a group of interested retirees furnished, painted and prepared the U.A.W Building at 624 Gillette Street to be the home of their group.  July 12, 1965 was the first official meeting.  Eighty people attended.  A governing body of the retirees within the organization became the first Executive Board.

The meeting place at 624 Gillette flourished.  As more events and activities were added:  from square dancing, lip reading classes and much more the retirees were finding that they were growing out of their building.  In 1974 the hunt was on for a new place to meet.  The Board wanted to stay on the Northside of La Crosse and found a building to purchase.  The Bethany Free Church at 1607 North Street.  The City purchased the building from Herman Tillman who owned it at that time.  The building was originally built in 1886.  It was the Chicago Burlington and Northern Railroad Dormitory back then.

Well, as the story goes...after the purchase in 1975 many ambitious seniors brought their hammers and saws to be part of the remodeling.  Never looking for a handout, the seniors wanted to pull their weight in this new endeavor.  The kitchen was overhauled and modernized, the walls and ceilings were replaced and painted, windows repaired, floors buffed and carpeted.  This as they say was all done by the "White haired senior brigade".

On May 2, 1976 the Harry J Olson Multi-Purpose Center celebrated it's grand open house.  Goverment officials from Senator Paul Offner to Mayor Zielke (and many more) were all here to celebrate the new home for seniors to gather.  A new flag which had been flown over the White House was raised outside our doors.

June 1, 1978 saw the groundbreaking project for a "new" 60' x 60' addition.  Also part of the project was a new parking lot east of the building. The project took 185 days to complete.  

Present day:  There has been a lot of activity and changes in the last 57 years, we continue with the original mission of a Senior Center that is a vibrant evolving part of the community.

                                                                                                                                              STRONG SENIORS

Strong Seniors is an exercise class that is designed for those 50+ who are looking to maintain strength, build back to a desired fitness level, or develop a stronger core and balance.  .  The classes are lead by Nancy Jones.  All weights and equipment are provided.  You can call the Center 608-781-2122 for information.  This is a great way to get moving and a chance to meet a great group of people.  Everyone 50+ is welcome, all abilities welcome!!  Our First Session in 2023 will begin January 3, 2023.  The class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00a.m.-10:00a.m.  We welcome you in at any activity level you find yourself.  COME JOIN US!!!  SEE YOU AT THE CENTER!!!!


There are dances every Wednesday night at Harry J!  Come and shake your socks with dancers of all abilities.  All ages are welcome!!  

Cost: $8.00 single   $15.00 couple.  Don't dance?  You can come for the live music and the social gathering.  Music, treats and conversation....does it get any better?


There are some members who are looking to start playing cribbage at the Center on a weekly basis.  Anyone out there looking for a place to play or someone to play cribbage with?  Give us a call and we will get this started.  608-781-2122.  So far, the interest has been to play in the mornings.  Maybe Monday, Wednesday or Friday?


Tai Chi classes is offered every Monday and Friday.  The classes are from 9:30a.m. - 10:30a.m.  Tai Chi is a video guided class.  There is no fee for members.  Please join us on Mondays and Fridays.  It's good for your balance and your brain!!!

This is Baxter.  His human is a member at Harry J Olson.  We encourage you to send us photos of your favorite things so that we can post them on the website.  Your garden, your grandkids, your artwork.  A few suggestions to start you out!!  

Make sure that you check out our new FACEBOOK PAGE and like what you see.  We are working on trying to get the news out about Harry J Olson in any way that we can think of.  There are lots of rumors out there....the best place to check and see what's going on is to check in here on the Website or on FACEBOOK.  We are OPEN - Come in and join us!!!  Friend us on Facebook - Harry J Olson - The one with almost 700 followers!!!

    THANK YOU!!!

Last week Harry J Olson Senior Center threw a FREE Hot Dog Lunch in honor of National Hot Dog Day.  We invited the public, 50 years and older, to the Center to enjoy free hot dogs, desserts and community.  While we thought it would be nice if 25-30 people would come....we are thrilled to report that almost 100 people came to check out HJO.   The support shown for the Center is heartening and welcome.  


While doing a little cleaning around the Center today I came across a program from the Harry J Olson 25th Anniversary Banquet.  It is dated July 12, 1990 and taped behind a plaque hanging in the game room.  In the program it has "The HJO Senior Center Philosophy".  I thought it would be appropriate to print it here and see what you think.  It reads:

The HJO Center seeks to create an atmosphere that acknowledges the value of human life, individually, collectively, and affirms the dignity and self worth of the older adult.

Older people are individually adults with ambitions, capabilities, and creative capacities.  They are capable of continued growth and development.  They, like all people, have certain basic needs, including opportunities for relationships and to experience a sense of achievement.

Society expresses its attitudes and concerns about older people in many ways.  A Senior Center facility makes an important statement about a Community's commitment to the well being of its older citizens.

The Harry J Olson Multipurpose Senior Center has been designated as a focal point to accomodate the recreational, educational, vocational, and individual activities for older adults.  

It was true then and it is true now, Seniors are a vital part of the Community.  Seniors deserve a safe, dignified place to gather to share what they know, what they have experienced.  A place to come together to support each other.  A place to laugh, to sometimes cry, but most of all a place to find friends and share life's ups and downs.  You are always welcome at Harry J Olson.


       Blast from the Past!!!

While exploring around HJO I came across a little salad recipe book that was put together by the Harry J Olson Autumn Queens.  These were gals that were nominated and would go on to win the title of Autumn Queen.  One of the highlights of their year reign would be riding in the Oktoberfest Parade in a convertible sponsored by the Northside Merchants Association

I thought I would share a recipe:  MOLDED SHRIMP SALAD

And the recipe goes like this:

1 pkg Lemon Jello 1 can salad shrimp or frozen pkg

2 cups boiling water 1/2 cup shredded pimento cheese

1/2 cup coffee cream 1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 Tb. grated onion 3 hard boiled eggs - chopped up

1 Tb. chopped green pepper

2 cups celery - chopped fine

Mix together Jello and boiling water.  Set in refrigerator till partly set.  Combine cream and mayonnaise, then add remaining ingredients.  Mix with the Jello and pour into mold.  Refrigerate to set.

***From the Kitchen of Bernice Berg

There are more recipes that I will post as we go!


Recently while talking to some members at Harry J Olson the subject of grief came up.   "What should I say?"  "This is taking too long".   "When will they get back to normal?"  Wouldn't you know that an article about grief was in the paper only a few days later.   Some of the article is summarized here.  I hope you can find something useful, or comforting in these words.

How to help a grieving loved one:

Checking in with a phone call or a card  to remind the person that you are thinking of them is always welcome.  The first year of loss is always the hardest.  Be patient.  Be present.