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Monday, October 19, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Phonographs threaten pianos’ dominance in homes

If you wanted to stage a small dance in your living room, nobody had to be assigned the “cheerless task of manufacturing the music by hand.”  (SR archives)
If you wanted to stage a small dance in your living room, nobody had to be assigned the “cheerless task of manufacturing the music by hand.” (SR archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

The piano was threatened by a “deadly rival” in the nation’s homes, according to an editorial in The Spokesman-Review: the phonograph.

“The piano as an integral part of the American home has been thought invulnerable,” said the editorial. “For a generation or two at least, the piano in the front room, though possibly mute, has been a token of respectable solvency; the taking of piano lessons by the youth of the family a prerequisite of social standing.”

But now, the record player had arrived as a “powerful competitor.” Its cost was a fraction of the piano’s. No lessons were required. It did not need tuning. If you wanted to stage a small dance in your living room, nobody had to be assigned the “cheerless task of manufacturing the music by hand.”

The Spokesman-Review noted wryly that the phonograph had some drawbacks – bricabrac and photos could not be displayed on top. But the piano “will have to fight hard to hold its ground.”

From the labor beat: A Superior Court judge in Olympia upheld the statewide minimum wage of $18 per week for women working in hotels, restaurant and lodging houses.

The judge ruled that the state’s industrial welfare commission, which mandated the minimum wage, was acting within its powers to protect the health and safety of workers. Any wage below $18 per week would be “not adequate for their maintenance” and “detrimental to their health and morals.”

The Association of Hotel Owners had appealed to the court to rescind the mandate.

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