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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: Baseball, boxing and burn ointment — How the city celebrated the 4th of July in 1921

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives )
(Spokane Daily Chronicle archives )

Spokane’s two top fireworks retailers reported that their sales were “the best we’ve had in ten years.”

One of the reasons was “the return of the five-cent package of firecrackers.” This was a bargain that had apparently disappeared in the war years.

K. Fujita, of Fujita & Co. fireworks importers and retailers, said the most popular fireworks were firecrackers in small sizes, followed by the largest legal firecrackers, the 2-inchers.

Many other fireworks were banned by city ordinance after years of mayhem. All skyrockets, Roman candles and “balloons” were now illegal unless in a public display.

The city emergency hospital was bracing for an influx of burns and had a gallon of burn ointment (“carron oil”) ready for use. They had not had to use any of it by the Spokane Daily Chronicle’s noon deadline, but the holiday was still young.

The only injury reported in the morning came after a 6-year-old boy tossed a small firecracker into his backyard, but it failed to explode. While other kids gathered around him, he broke the firecracker in two and touched a match to the powder.

It blew up and some of the powder went into his eye. Emergency room stewards washed his eye out and said he would be fine.

Meanwhile, thousands of area residents headed to the area’s lakes, including Coeur d’Alene, Liberty, Medical and Loon.

Thousands more went to Natatorium Park, where a doubleheader baseball game was part of the attraction, along with the thrill rides and fireworks.

Fans of the fight game descended on the Alan racetrack and arena east of Spokane to watch a 15-round match between Mike Gibbons of St. Paul and Al Sommers, the Pacific Coast middleweight champ.

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