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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

100 years ago in Spokane: Spokane ‘mermaid’ is bound for the London stage

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle Archives)
Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

Ruth Harkins, a Spokane “mermaid,” was on the way to the London stage.

Harkins was the winner of the Spokane Daily Chronicle’s 1922 “Mermaid” contest, which was actually a bathing beauty contest.

After winning that contest, she was chosen to appear in the stage act of the Duncan Sisters, a famous vaudeville song-and-dance team.

The Duncan Sisters had a 17-week engagement in San Francisco, and Harkins had some glowing mentions from the critics.

The troupe was now on the way to a “lengthy engagement in London.”

Harkins went by the nickname Dixie both on stage and behind the scenes. She would later appear on Broadway and in at least one movie.

From the elder beat: J. Mel Grimmer, described as “probably the best-known pioneer in eastern Washington,” had some advice on his 80th birthday.

“My advice to young folks who would get the most out of life is that they get out and see the world and rough it,” he said. “That is the happy life and the healthy one.”

Grimmer certainly lived that kind of life. He was born in New Brunswick, Canada, spent his youth in England, spent many years on the sea as a sailor and ended up in California in 1864.

In 1881, he came to the small settlement of Spokane Falls. He bought the old Northern Pacific Hotel in 1882, and then went into the transfer business with his Grimmer Transfer Co., still thriving as of 1923.