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100 years ago in Spokane: The sheriff warned of ‘petting parties’ taking place on county highways

Automobiles were a threat to the morals of the community, the Spokane sheriff warned on this day 100 years ago.  (S-R archives)

Automobiles had become a “menace to morals, and are wrecking the lives of so many girls,” the Spokane County sheriff said.

Why? Because young people were driving out on highways and having “petting parties.”

“The situation has become intolerable,” the sheriff said. “Our reports show that it is appalling how the lives of girls are wrecked now, and it is an outrage the way the highways are being used. You can go out and find girls in the arms of young men on the highways and they do not seem to take into consideration that others may want to use the road.”

The head of the Inland Automobile Association agreed.

“A girl jumps into an auto and is able to get home before her parents miss her,” he said. “I understand that figures on illegitimate births show a mighty bad situation. Any man with a car may ruin a girl while her parents at home do not know she is away.”

From the mountain beat: An auto excursion party, featuring some of the most famous names in Spokane, made their way to the top of Mount Spokane for a high-altitude picnic. Among the passengers were hotelier Louis M. Davenport, architect Kirtland Cutter and several local office holders.

Their excursion met with a few challenges.

“Several of the party had studied Frank Guilbert’s log and map of the route in The Spokesman-Review the previous Sunday, but nobody bothered to take it along,” said W.W. Hindley, the correspondent along for the trip. “Under the experienced guidance of George A. Phillips, the big cars proceeded to get lost in the wilderness.”

They eventually found their way, with guidance from a woman walking her “Scotch collie.”

“Kirk Cutter enlivened the journey with his version of the story about the drunken traveler and the flapper on the top of a Fifth Avenue bus,” Hindley wrote. “Personally, we thought Frank McCullough’s adaptation of the same anecdote, told at the summit, had a little more snap.”

Sadly, the exact content of this story was left unexplained.

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