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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: It was a drunken ‘carousel of indecency’ at the city’s Veterans Day celebration

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 11, 2020

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives )
(Spokane Daily Chronicle archives )
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

Spokane was stunned by an Armistice Day celebration the night before that became rowdy and “disgraceful,” in the words of the City Council.

Here’s how the Spokane Daily Chronicle detailed the problems:

  • Mobs turned a “confetti battle” into an “orgy of ribaldry.”
  • “Girls and women were spirited away while escorts battled with rowdies.” Some girls were carried into automobiles against their wishes and taken on joyrides.
  • ”Dancers at Silver Grill were ordered to shimmy – girls competed with partners in the consumption of cigarettes.”
  • “Hundreds of boys and girls of grade school age were enmeshed in a carousel of indecency.”

The Chronicle blamed it all on drunken rowdies who “proclaimed an open town for insulting womanhood.” The confetti battle, which was supposed to be a harmless bit of fun for grade school children, was somehow transformed into a “maelstrom of vulgarity.”

Officers, who tried in vain to control the crowds, reported that there were more people either mildly or fully intoxicated than at any time since the saloons closed years ago. Women, they said, were encouraged to drink up.

“It was positively the rowdiest celebration I have ever seen,” Mayor Charles Fleming said. “Things that happened to girls and women on the streets were unfit to print.”

The Spokane City Council weighed in the next morning, and said, “It will never happen again.”

On this day

(From Associated Press)

1942: The World War II naval Battle of Guadalcanal began.

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