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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: Bootleggers were free to have a field day after local Prohibition agents got furloughed

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

Spokane’s bootleggers and rumrunners were free to “ply their trade” for the next 40 days.

That’s because Spokane’s federal Prohibition agents got the word – as anticipated – that they were laid off for the next six weeks.

The federal government had run out of money to pay them, and a new Congressional appropriation had yet to be approved. The local office closed down immediately and three agents were sent home.

From the arson beat: A trial date was set three weeks hence for Anna L. Corbin, charged with first-degree arson for allegedly setting fire to her own posh home on Seventh Avenue.

Her home’s caretaker, Louis Lilge, was scheduled for a separate trial on similar charges. They were accused of plotting to burn down the mansion in order to collect the insurance money and split it. Both pleaded not guilty – although Corbin originally confessed about the existence of such a plot.

From the circus beat: Five boys who called themselves the Mission Avenue Rovers’ Gang had the most exciting day of their lives.

They were recruited to help set up the tents for Howe’s London Circus, which was being staged on a lot near the Spokane County Courthouse. The Rovers toted tent poles, carried stakes, handled ropes and – most exciting of all – carried water for the elephants.

They got the job because they were the first to show up, before dawn.

“Holy smoke, but we got up early,” one of the boys said. “I bet my mother’ll be peeved. I got up and sneaked out before she could send me on an errand or anything.”

One of the other boys, nicknamed Red, said his mother would forget all about it when she discovered their compensation – free tickets to the Big Show.

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