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Monday, January 20, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Before Dukakis, city’s mayor offered ride in a World War I tank

Mayor Charles A. Fleming turned down an Army lieutenant’s offer to ride in a World War I-era tank in Spokane on a recruitment drive on this day in 1920. (S-R archives)
Mayor Charles A. Fleming turned down an Army lieutenant’s offer to ride in a World War I-era tank in Spokane on a recruitment drive on this day in 1920. (S-R archives)
Jim Kershner

Spokane’s mayor, Charles Fleming, was offered a little spin around town in Ermentrude, also known as Erma, a U.S. Army tank.

Erma wasn’t any old tank. She was the “heroine of the Argonne,” and was visiting Spokane as part of a recruiting drive.

Erma “waddled” down to city hall, under the guidance of Lt. C.H. Brittenham. The lieutenant asked Fleming if he would like to take a ride in Erma.

“I don’t believe I will take a ride with you today,” said the mayor. “She doesn’t look to me as though she would ride much like a Packard.”

From the court beat: The manslaughter trial of Dr. Mary Swartz, midwife, went to the jury following closing arguments.

The prosecution alleged that Fay Hamilton died of blood poisoning, resulting from wounds from an abortion performed by Swartz.

Defense attorneys alleged that an unnamed soldier had performed an operation on Hamilton, and that she was already suffering from blood poisoning when she was brought to Swartz. Witnesses said that Swartz told her there was nothing she could do for her. Hamilton was taken to a sanitarium where she died several days later.

The prosecution was basing its case on a “dying declaration” in which Hamilton said Swartz performed an operation on her.

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