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Jim Kershner’s This day in history

THURSDAY, DEC. 30, 2010

From our archives, 100 years ago

The chilly December waters figured in three different news stories in 1910:

• An “extraordinary sight” was witnessed on the river on this December day. “Half a dozen boys in nature’s habiliments” (in other words, nude) were spotted swimming in the Spokane River near the Schade Brewery.

“Say, isn’t that some ad for Spokane’s winter climate!” remarked an onlooker.

Well, maybe. The high was 36 degrees that day. The boys had a bonfire burning on shore.

• A more somber event was taking place a few miles downriver. The father of a 19-year-old Spokane man was dragging the river in an attempt to find the body of his son.

A day before, his son and a companion were crossing the river in a boat near Fort Wright when the boat capsized. Both were thrown into the icy waters and tried to swim to shore. Only one made it.

• C.W. Custer, “a well-known character among the sporting fraternity” in Spokane “played his last game in life.” He committed suicide in Seattle at age 40 by jumping into Elliott Bay.

He was formerly a popular dealer of faro (a gambling game) at the Owl gambling house.

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