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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago today: Medical Lake facility for women closed

Published in the March 30, 1921 Spokane Daily Chronicle.  (From the S-R archives)
Published in the March 30, 1921 Spokane Daily Chronicle. (From the S-R archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

The Spokane police station was filled with 37 women from the Medical Lake Industrial Home for women, which had just been closed down by the governor.

“Most of the women were well-dressed, some of them were attractive,” said the Spokesman-Review. ” … For the most part they were young and in trouble for their first time.”

Many women declared themselves glad to be out of the home.

“I’ve been in these homes all over the country and this one was the worst I ever was in,” said one woman, 22. “I’d rather be in jail any time. In jail, you (write) letters and receive letters, but there was nothing doing out there. I was there for four months and it seemed like four years.”

Others were sorry to see the home abolished. They could get out in the fresh air and work, unlike in jail.

In any case, authorities had to figure out what to do with the women. Some were being sent to other institutions, but in many cases, there was no option except to release them.

A police court justice said “now they will probably be back on society, as the city accommodations are not ample to care for them.”

From the education beat: Teachers from all across the Northwest were pouring into Spokane for a massive convention.

About 1,800 teachers were registered opening day, and officials expected attendance to hit 2,700 over the next days. The Inland Empire Teachers’ convention included teachers from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Hotels in Spokane were at capacity.

The opening speech was about the place of vocational education.

“When a boy or girl reaches the age of 16 years, they should begin to mold their minds toward their life occupation,” said Dr. Charles A. Prosser of the Dunwoodie Institute in Minneapolis. “Before this time, they should get all the general education they can get.”

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