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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Waitress apprehended smuggling booze off train

A waitress’ clever ruse to smuggle illegal alcohol off a train was undone by a sharp-eyed Spokane police officer. (Spokesman-Review archives)
A waitress’ clever ruse to smuggle illegal alcohol off a train was undone by a sharp-eyed Spokane police officer. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Spokane police heard rumors that women bootleggers were carrying booze into Spokane by train in their grips (suitcases) and trunks.

So when waitress Ada Johnson walked off a train and handed her suitcase to a man, a Spokane police officer was immediately suspicious. As he approached, the woman slipped away to an upper floor of depot, “leaving the man to his fate.”

The officer confronted the man and found that the suitcase contained 15 pints of liquor. He told the officer that it was not his grip, and that the woman, a stranger, had simply asked him if he would help her with her suitcase.

The officer then apprehended the woman, who was hiding upstairs. At first, she declared she knew nothing about the suitcase and had never seen the man before.

Both were hauled off to the police station, where she soon changed her story. She said it was her suitcase and that the man was not her accomplice.

“I guess I’m into it,” she told a reporter. “But that man is innocent. I never saw him until just before I got off the train, when I asked him if he would not carry my grip off for me.”

The man was released and the woman was booked. A trunk belonging to her was found to contain another 48 pints of whiskey.

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