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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

Sat., Jan. 25, 2014

From our archives, 100 years ago

Antonio Lopez, an immigrant from Guatemala, was held by city authorities for “terrifying” the homeowners of Summit Avenue. Lopez had been wandering the neighborhood begging for scraps of food.

His appearance alarmed people because he had an enormous beaklike nose and disfigured face.

As it turned out, Lopez was harmless, although desperately hungry. When asked through an interpreter what was wrong with him, he said, “Me hungry, not much to eat, that all’s matter.”

“Not much doing; everybody afraid of Antonio,” he said.

He had been wandering from city to city throughout the Northwest trying to scrape by, but Seattle authorities had held him on suspicion of having leprosy.

Spokane doctors examined him and determined that he did not have leprosy. He had lupus vulgaris, a rare skin disease that enlarges the nose to “a beak like a hawk.”

Lopez said he had been educated in Guatemala and had come to America 11 years earlier and was a farmer. 

He had been afflicted with the disease for only the last four years. Since then he could not hold a job and “people have shunned him and he has been buffeted about from one city to another.”

Spokane police said they would “turn him over to county authorities for permanent care.”

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