Jim Kershner’s this day in history

MONDAY, NOV. 12, 2012

From our archives, 100 years ago

A federal agent in Spokane found himself in a bizarre predicament. He arrested Alex Schmidt on charges of selling liquor to an Indian and then hustled Schmidt “off to the calaboose.”

Here’s the problem: Schmidt was a professional snake charmer. He was exhibiting his show at the Penny Parlor in Spokane, and he demanded that someone go and feed his snakes.

The snakes included a 5-foot-long diamondback rattlesnake, a “spotted adder” and a “poisonous type of moccasin.”

A U.S. deputy marshal was dispatched to take care of the snakes, but when he found how large and dangerous they were, he declined on the perfectly reasonable grounds that he had no idea how to feed a poisonous snake.

Another federal agent was given the task. He, too, demurred.

Finally, the U.S. marshal declared that it was not the job of the U.S. government to take care of the snakes of bootleggers. He ordered “a proper disposition be made of the reptiles.”

That was not exactly defined. The story added mysteriously that the snakes “were removed to a hotel” next to the Penny Parlor.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1942: The World War II naval Battle of Guadalcanal began. The Allies ended up winning a major victory over Japanese forces. … 1987: The American Medical Association issued a policy statement saying it was unethical for a doctor to refuse to treat someone solely because that person had AIDS or was HIV-positive.

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