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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

Mon., May 5, 2014

From our archives, 100 years ago

May Arkwright Hutton, Spokane’s famous suffragist, wrote a letter to the editor declaring that “it would be little short of a crime” for the city to put 350 “telephone girls” out of work.

She was commenting on the ongoing debate about whether Spokane should change to an “automatic” phone system that did not require switchboard operators, who were almost entirely young women. The advocates of the “automatic” system said it was more efficient and economical.

Opponents, such as Hutton, said it would throw the “hello girls” out of work.

“Here, we have a permanent payroll of $20,000 per month, going to 350 girls who are earning a respectable living,” Hutton wrote. “Club women and many right-thinking people are continually admonishing girls to live right, to be respectable, but how can they if they have no employment? Every avenue open to girls in Spokane to earn a respectable living, with perhaps the exception of domestic service, is filled to repletion.”

She concluded by writing, “Let Spokane for once make the dollar a secondary consideration and give humanity an inning.”

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1961: Astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr. became America’s first space traveler as he made a 15-minute suborbital flight aboard Mercury capsule Freedom 7.

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