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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: Illegal liquor mail gets creative

UPDATED: Mon., Jan. 4, 2021

Postal and custom inspectors were busy attempting to prevent illegal liquor from arriving in Prohibition-era Spokane.  (Spokane Daily Chronicle)
Postal and custom inspectors were busy attempting to prevent illegal liquor from arriving in Prohibition-era Spokane. (Spokane Daily Chronicle)

Postal and custom inspectors were busy attempting to prevent illegal liquor from arriving in Prohibition-era Spokane.

One common ruse was to label liquor as medicine. One parcel contained a bottle which advised patients to take “two teaspoonfuls before each meal, gargle well.”

The bottle contained French cognac.

Another parcel, addressed to a Spokane merchant, contained a cute little toy dog. A cork came loose during rewrapping, and “the tell-tale contents” – booze – spilled out.

From the music beat: The Spokane Orchestra, a precursor to today’s Spokane Symphony, played a concert at the Auditorium Theater, which dispelled any doubts “as to the capability of this splendid group of musicians.”

The orchestra played works by Strauss, Beethoven and Grieg. The orchestra “established itself in the heart of the music lovers of Spokane,” according to the Spokane Daily Chronicle’s music critic.

Conductor Leonardo Brill was as “enthusiastic as ever.”

“In fact, he was so enthusiastic that he was not afraid to tell the audience that they ‘did not applaud enough,’ ” the Chronicle said. “By this means, he came to the playing of two wonderful encores which would not otherwise have been included in the program.”

The critic speculated that the lack of sufficient applause was because the audience was “relaxing from a strenuous holiday week” and was therefore “not much given to outward demonstration.”

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Tags: history