Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: ‘Likeable stranger’ swindles two young men

From our archives, 100 years ago

Richard Peterson and Gus Hamilton, both 22, were victims of a classic bunco trick.

The two young men arrived in Spokane a few days earlier and were seeking work. They ran into a “likable stranger,” Harry Johnson, who said he was a civil engineer in charge of a surveying crew near Grants Pass, Ore. He told the two young men they could have a job on his crew.

In the meantime, however, he told them he was in a bind. He needed cash for a freight bill, but he had only a $100 check which he could not cash until the banks opened on Monday. He offered to give the young men the check as security if they would loan him their cash. One handed him $40 and the other handed him $45 – their entire savings.

The two young men were not complete rubes. They insisted on accompanying “Johnson” when he went to pay off his freight bill.

So they walked with him to the freight building. He went inside – and that was the last they saw of him. Somehow, he gave them the slip. The check, of course, turned out to be bogus.

From the health beat: The county physician, A.E. Stuht, returned from a visit to the east to compare health conditions in Spokane with the large Eastern cities.

He said the infantile paralysis (polio) scourge was “carrying off children” in New York City, Boston and Chicago. He said the conditions in tenements were appalling. He saw one street in Boston – one block long and 12 feet wide – that was home to 1,600 people.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.