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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: school janitor came to work for days with smallpox

From our archives, 100 years ago

A neighbor turned Theodore Gest in to the city health office — and that’s when the staff, students and parents of the Whittler School discovered that Gest, the school’s janitor, had an advanced case of smallpox.

When the city’s health officer went to investigate, he discovered that Gest had been suffering from this contagious disease for eight or 10 days, and worse, that Gest had continued to go to work.

According to one account, the feverish Gest “was so so sick he had to lie on a pallet behind a boiler and direct his brother how to do his work.” Gest denied that charge, but other than that, “he refuses to talk.”

Gest was immediately put in quarantine, but it was too late. Two pupils in the school had already developed smallpox, “undoubtedly due to exposure on account of the janitor’s carelessness.” The principal of the school and the president of the school board vowed to prosecute Gest, once he was released from quarantine.

From the court beat: A woman “stool pigeon” testified in court that Ah Wong, a Chinese waiter in a Main Avenue noodle parlor, sold her six packets of cocaine.

He was sentenced to 60 days in jail.

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