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Saturday, March 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Sheriff vows crackdown on illegal booze in new year

County commissioners approved the purchase of a new Dodge car for the exclusive use of the “dry squad,” the Spokane Chronicle reported Dec. 30, 1919. (S-R archives)
County commissioners approved the purchase of a new Dodge car for the exclusive use of the “dry squad,” the Spokane Chronicle reported Dec. 30, 1919. (S-R archives)
Jim Kershner

Spokane County Sheriff George L. Reid declared a renewed assault on bootleggers and moonshiners in 1920.

At least one new officer would be added to the county’s “dry squad.” In addition, the county commissioners authorized the purchase of a new Dodge car for the exclusive use of the dry squad.

Reid admitted that the dry squad had not been able to devote enough energy to their work in 1919, but “beginning with the first of the year, we expect to enforce the liquor laws vigorously.”

This would also be good for the city’s schools, because all liquor fines would be split two ways, with half going to the schools and half going to the current expense fund of the dry squad.

From the jitney beat: The beginning of the new year would also spell the passing of the jitney business in Spokane.

Jitneys were small vans that picked up passengers for a nickel fare. When they first appeared in Spokane in 1915, they sparked a sudden fad and began to cut into streetcar traffic.

“Streetcars became almost old-fashioned,” said the Spokane Daily Chronicle. “Jitney riding was a near substitute for joyriding.”

The city’s streetcar operators complained that jitneys had an unfair advantage because they had low license fees and low bond requirements. So from 1918 on, the city attempted to “legislate out the buses in favor of the streetcars.” A new city ordinance, to take effect at the beginning of the year, would bar jitneys entirely, unless overturned by the courts.

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