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Jim Kershner’s This day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

A Mother’s Congress in Spokane, ever vigilant for signs of creeping immorality among its daughters, took on two threats to public decency.

The first: department store waiting rooms.

“Young girls who use the waiting rooms of the department stores to paint and powder, away from their mother’s eyes, should be looked after by the Mother’s Congress,” said one delegate. “I know that the young school girls congregate in these places, use the hospitality of the shops for applying cosmetics and indulge in frivolous and even vulgar conversation. Then they walk out upon Riverside Avenue to attract attention, carefully erasing all signs of their paint before going demurely home.”

The second threat: the general delivery post office. Apparently, young girls were using it to “receive clandestine mail” from suitors.

One woman said she was recently in a Spokane post office when she heard two girls discussing a letter one had received, in which the writer asked her to elope. The eavesdropping woman stepped up and “told the young girl to tear up the letter right away.”

The girl apparently did not express the proper gratitude for the woman’s advice. The girl called her “an old hen from the Woman’s Club.”