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100 years ago in Spokane: The rise in cars bred a rash in speeding, and one judge suggested a jail ‘speediac ward’ as a deterrent

 (S-R archives)

The proliferation of autos was creating a host of new problems, including an alarming rise in speeding.

A Spokane County court justice proposed a solution: The “speediac ward.” That is, an entire floor of the county jail reserved for convicted speeders.

The judge said that fining speeders and taking away their “cards” (licenses) was not sufficient. He said he had the power to send them to jail, and he was increasingly inclined to do so. But he voiced some concerns.

“There are times when a justice might hesitate to send a young man to jail if he was to go into a cell with murderers and pickpockets,” Justice Mann said. “It is for this reason that I have arranged for a section of the jail for speeders. They can serve their terms there, as it does not appear proper to give suspended sentences in many cases.”

The only special privileges in the “speediac ward” would be in the choice of cots. They would be allowed to pick one that was “cream-colored, white or blue.”

From the European beat: E.C. McBeath, a Spokane dentist living in Vienna, wrote a letter to The Spokesman-Review describing the rough post-war conditions there. He said the city is “now in the throes of depression and poverty, and worst of all, the people have lost hope.”

“One does not see the real Viennese of the cultured class, as they do not go out at all. Most of them are too poor and too proud to be seen in their old haunts, the operas, theaters and first-class cafes and restaurants. The city maintains a certain business activity through the aid of foreign tourists and students – also profiteers, who made fortunes during the war and are utterly despised by the real Viennese. … Beggars line the streets and one has to either close his eyes or empty his pockets to the poor wretches.”

Yet even in the midst of squalor, “Vienna is full of music, and the very best of music.”

“Even the common laborers and children are familiar to the operas, and crowds of poorly dressed people stand around the billboards, studying the dates and casts of the operas to be sung in the following weeks.”

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