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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Department store workers first contestants for newspaper’s ‘mermaid queen’ competition

Palace department store became the first entrants of the Spokane Daily Chronicle’s “Inland Empire Mermaid Queen” contest, the newspaper announced with a front page photo on Aug. 2, 1922. The newspaper also reported that some union officials agreed to President Warren Harding’s proposed settlement to a railroad strike.  (Spokesman-Review archives)
Palace department store became the first entrants of the Spokane Daily Chronicle’s “Inland Empire Mermaid Queen” contest, the newspaper announced with a front page photo on Aug. 2, 1922. The newspaper also reported that some union officials agreed to President Warren Harding’s proposed settlement to a railroad strike. (Spokesman-Review archives)
</p><p></p><p>The Spokane Daily Chronicle was running a contest to pick the “Inland Empire Mermaid Queen.” The Spokesman-Review

Mermaid queen?

By mermaid, they obviously meant “bathing beauty.”

The entire contest seemed to be an obvious ploy to fill the paper with lots of photos of women wearing bathing suits.

The Chronicle generously offered the services of five photographers “who will take the contestants’ photos free of charge.” All photos must be “full-length.”

A day after the contest was announced, six women who worked at the Palace department store became the first entrants. They were “attired with the latest models of bathing costumes,” and their group photo was splashed across the front page.

What would be the prize for being named Mermaid Queen?

“In addition to being known as the most beautiful girl on the shores of Inland Empire lakes, the winner will be awarded a prize of a $100 costume or articles of that value to be selected at Spokane stores.”

By the way, the Mermaid Queen did not have to know how to swim.

From the strike beat: Heads of the six striking rail unions accepted President Warren G. Harding’s settlement proposal – but the nation’s rail executives still remained opposed to it.

This meant that one of the most disruptive strikes in Spokane’s history – totaling 1,800 strikers – still dragged on.

There was no indication “as to when or where the next peace move might arise.”

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