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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Gonzaga’s night watchman guards agains ‘ingenuity’ of mischevious pupils

Violin maker, Irish jigger, Gonzaga watchman: ‘Cap’ Clark was the whole package, the paper proclaimed. (Spokesman-Review archives)
Violin maker, Irish jigger, Gonzaga watchman: ‘Cap’ Clark was the whole package, the paper proclaimed. (Spokesman-Review archives)

The Spokane Daily Chronicle ran a feature on “Cap” Clark, the Irish night watchman at Gonzaga University.

“As night watchman, Cap holds the position of custodian of the front door of the university,” the paper said. “This guarding of the front door is a rather strenuous job, considering the ingenuity of certain young men, who, having succeeded in getting out of the school at night, are determined to get back without being discovered. This ‘getting back’ is what Cap strives to prevent. The cleverest ruses have failed with him and the preferred cigar has been turned aside.”

Cap’s other occupation was making violins, which he took up in the quiet, early hours in the morning. When he first started, he used only a pocket knife and a piece of glass, and the neck of the violin was made from a discarded soup bone. Since then, he refined his technique to make higher-quality violins.

Cap was a fiddler himself and an expert player of “little ditties and jigs and Irish ballads,” which he learned as a boy.

Lately, it was a common for people to ask, “What are the Germans going to do today, Cap?”

To which his invariable reply was, “Not a darn thing, me boy, just digging their own graves.”

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