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Tuesday, August 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: As city begins distributing whiskey to treat flu, demand is high

UPDATED: Tue., Dec. 11, 2018, 10:50 p.m.

 (Jonathan Brunt / The Spokesman-Review)
(Jonathan Brunt / The Spokesman-Review)

The city began distributing confiscated bootleg whiskey as a flu medicine, with predictable results.

City Hall was besieged by men “who declared their wives were dying and their children seriously ill and that a little old scotch and bourbon would revive them,” The Spokesman-Review said.

Some of those men were “fairly quaking” with anticipation when they asked for the liquor.

City health officer Dr. J.B. Anderson “turned a deaf ear to all such pleas.” He said the only patients who would receive whiskey would be those who had a prescription from a physician, and then only in urgent cases.

The precise medicinal value of whiskey was not specified.

Meanwhile, the Spanish flu epidemic continued to cut a swath through the city. A total of 14 more deaths were reported in one day, tying the former daily record. The victims included one nurse-in-training, one 3-month-old infant and the pastor of Spokane’s First United Presbyterian Church.

From the discrimination beat: A group of Spokane citizens formed the Colored Men’s Progressive Club to combat racial discrimination in Spokane.

“There are laws prohibiting discrimination against colored people, but they are not enforced,” said Clarence Grubbs, president of the new club. “We will seek to have a harmonious understanding with the management of certain public places where discrimination has been shown in the past.”

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