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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

“Spokane Baby Is A World Beater,” trumpeted the somewhat startling headline.

William Sass Jr., 18 months old, had been named “the champion better baby” in the Spokane Interstate Fair’s Better Baby Contest.

In fact, little Billy Sass had won the contest for an unprecedented second year in a row. He won the same contest at age 6 months in what the paper called the “largest class ever examined in the world.” This time, he had prevailed over 600 other babies.

The criteria involved a number of physical and developmental measurements. Apparently, little Billy wasn’t so little, because his winning margin was specified as “two one-quarter-inch measurements,” barely defeating a 22-month-old who had also scored a perfect 100 in the tests.

Little Billy spent the day wearing his gold medal on his chest, and he was “admired and praised” throughout the day by Spokane’s prominent men and women.

To what did his mother attribute his success? She said they let little Billy sleep in the fresh air in an open sleeping balcony and used “commonsense methods” in raising him. Her other two children also scored well in the contest – but not 100 points – and she said that “Spokane is an ideal climate for rearing good, healthy children.”


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