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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Spokane’s ‘perfect’ baby slated to illustrate chapter on babies in new encyclopedia

Billy Sass, Spokane’s “perfect” baby, was about to be honored as the perfect baby for all of America in an upcoming encyclopedia, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Feb. 2, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)
Billy Sass, Spokane’s “perfect” baby, was about to be honored as the perfect baby for all of America in an upcoming encyclopedia, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Feb. 2, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Billy Sass, Spokane’s “perfect” baby, was about to be honored as the perfect baby for all of America in an upcoming encyclopedia.

“Billy’s picture will be used to illustrate a chapter on ‘The Baby,’” reported the paper.

You might think that perfection in babies is difficult to measure, but a century ago, people believed it could be done. In fact, several years earlier, Spokane held a “baby competition.” Doctors and nurses measured 600 babies and tested their developmental progress. Billy won the competition at age 6 months.

Then, at 18 months, he won the contest again, this time with a perfect 100 in the tests. His mother attributed his perfection to “common sense” methods in raising him. She also said that Spokane had “an ideal climate for rearing good, healthy children.”

Billy’s picture “now embellishes the birth cards in the health office,” said the paper.

He was now four years old – and whether he had remained perfect through the terrible twos and threes was left unstated.

From the capital punishment beat: Sister Flora Bilkiss, Spokane’s famous street evangelist, announced a new cause: abolishing capital punishment.

“I’m going to start out on a lecture tour next spring and this old woman is not going to quit until she has knocked out legal murder from every state in the union,” she said.

This new crusade was apparently prompted by the case of Edward Mayberry, who was sentenced in Spokane to hang for murder. She spoke out on Mayberry’s behalf. He was later granted a stay of execution, which was set to expire soon.

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