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Tuesday, August 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Patriotic citizens organize youth drum corps

A “patriotic grand ball” was planned at the Davenport Hotel to raise money for to equip 50 drum corps units throughout the city, The Spokesman-Review reported on April 9, 1917. The newspaper also reported that Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, a famous firebrand of the Industrial Workers of the World, made a “sudden appearance” in Spokane and spoke to a crowd in the union hall. (Spokesman-Review archives)
A “patriotic grand ball” was planned at the Davenport Hotel to raise money for to equip 50 drum corps units throughout the city, The Spokesman-Review reported on April 9, 1917. The newspaper also reported that Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, a famous firebrand of the Industrial Workers of the World, made a “sudden appearance” in Spokane and spoke to a crowd in the union hall. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Spokane’s young men were rushing off to war.

Yet Spokane’s younger boys wanted to contribute, as well – in dozens of patriotic drum corps.

A “patriotic grand ball” was planned at the Davenport Hotel to raise money for to equip 50 drum corps units throughout the city. The organizers said they were inspired by a visit to St. Paul, Minn., which had “scores of drum corps.”

“We are going to do what we can to assist the boy scouts and the Sons of Spanish War Veterans build up 50 drum and bugle corps of which the city may be proud,” said one organizer. “The present spirit of patriotism seems to us to make this the proper time to get busy.”

From the Wobblies beat: The Industrial Workers of the World – the Wobblies – made their presence felt in Spokane in a series of gatherings and speeches. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, one of the Wobblies’ famous firebrands, made a “sudden appearance” in Spokane and spoke to a crowd in the union hall. Details on her remarks were not reported, but she was scheduled to return for another appearance in a few days, after doing some organizing in St. Maries and Wallace.

Another speaker, C.B. Ellis of Portland, made a “bitter attack on the Potlatch Lumber Company,” a target of Wobbly organizing. He held up a card that contained questions that Potlatch was supposedly asking its job applicants.

One question was “Residence?”

“Tell ‘em between two pairs of blankets,” said Ellis, to a hearty round of cheers.

They were also supposed to answer the question, “Honest?”

“Tell ‘em you’re honest,” said Ellis. “Of course you are. Answer some of these questions truthfully, but be sure to lie a little about your age, your height, weight and things like that. Let ‘em investigate all they want to. It will take ‘em three months to trace you, and then if they have anything on you, why, you will be ready to move on to another job, anyway.”

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