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100 years ago today in Spokane: Orchestra brawl leaves cornet player with dinged horn and bruises

From The Spokesman-Review of May 18, 1918. (Spokesman-Review archives)
From The Spokesman-Review of May 18, 1918. (Spokesman-Review archives)

L.C. Lotzenhiser, a cornet player in the Pantages Theater orchestra, said orchestra leader “Heine” Strutzel had been “saying insulting things about me for a long time and tonight he goaded me beyond endurance.”

So Lotzenhiser took his cornet and whacked Strutzel with it.

“I thought he was one of those kid-glove chaps and that I could lick him,” said Lotzenhiser. “But when I hit him with my cornet and smashed the instrument without fazing him, I knew that I had made a mistake. There were three or four others in the orchestra room under the stage, where the fight took place, and I thought they would separate us, but they ‘beat it’ instead.”

Lotzenhiser freely admitted that he was the aggressor, but he also admitted that he got the worst of it.

“Every time he stuck out his fist, I stopped it with my eye,” said Lotzenhiser.

A dejected Lotzenhiser declined to lodge a formal complaint, nor did Strutzel. Lotzenhiser vowed to pursue a more peaceful path from now on.

“No more fighting for me,” he said. “This has cost me $65, as my cornet is ruined and I will have to buy a new one.”

From the war beat: Tom Sweeny, a native of Ireland, was convicted as a slacker (draft evader) because he said he would not fight for the United States because it would mean, in essence, fighting for England.

However, a Spokane draft board commissioner “reasoned with Sweeny” until he agreed to register for the draft and go to Camp Lewis next week.



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Then and Now: Comstock Park

James M. Comstock, born in 1838 in Wisconsin, arrived in Spokane in time to witness the great fire of 1889 and start Spokane Dry Goods with Robert Paterson. It became the Crescent, Spokane’s premier department store for a century. He also worked in real estate and owned other businesses. He served a term as Spokane mayor, starting in 1899. James Comstock died in 1918.