Harper Whisky is liquid music, bottled poetry, ripe mellow, refreshing and delicious. Sold by L.W. Walker and O.C. Vammen.
— Advertisement, Aberdeen Herald, April 19, 1900
Silkwood Whiskey sparkles the eyes and brightens the teeth.
— Advertisement, Aberdeen Bulletin, December 19, 1905
Despite the romantic air of the newspaper ads, some people just end up being stupid after too much “liquid music.” Here are a few shots of alcohol-fueled antics from local papers of the past that generally ended with little more than a bad headache and public humiliation.
There were loopy loggers — Aberdeen Herald, Feb. 1, 1900: A logger hired a buggy at Crain’s livery stable Friday evening to go to Hoquiam. Before starting he fortified against the inclement weather to such an extent that he was unable to distinguish the sidewalk from the middle of the road, and upset the rig onto the tideland on Wishkah Street, from whence the horse and buggy were rescued later, not much the worse, by Mr. Crain. After the mishap with the buggy, the festive logger found W.J. Patterson’s bicycle standing where its owner had left it, and concluded to make Hoquiam with it. He had no more success with the wheel than with the livery rig, and the bike got away from him also. Mr. Patterson compelled the fellow to accompany him to the marshal, who gave him lodging in the cooler. Mr. Patterson found the wheel about an hour later, where it stopped to rest after escaping from the logger.
And grog-drunk sailors — Aberdeen Bulletin, Sept. 21, 1906: SHIPWRECKED — Captain of Skookum Loses His Bearings and Lands on Limbo Island. Last night the police were attracted to Burrows dock [at the foot of G Street] by the bellowing and roaring of an infuriated man, and as a result Captain Miersch of the Skookum was taken in. The Skookum is used to tow logs, and was due to leave for Humptulips at 9:30 last night. The crew assembled ready to weigh anchor and unfurl the sail, but no captain appeared to give orders. About 10:30 the captain arrived loaded to the gunwale with the stuff that makes Milwaukee jealous, and sea captains crazy. He began to berate his men for offenses they had not committed and a row ensued. The officers had some little difficulty in transporting the wiry tar to the city jail, and it was necessary to put the lockers on him and call a cab. After being placed in the cell, Captain Miersch proceeded to tear down the jail. The noise attracted the attention of Chief Schneider, who repaired to the scene. After tearing up the bunk and thrusting it out through the grating, in sections, at the chief, the fury of the fire water died out, and the captain lay down on the cement floor to peaceful dreams. This morning he stepped into Judge Drake’s court and “paid the fiddler” to the tune of $25, including costs.
And whisky-addled women, because alcohol is an equal-opportunity inebriant — Aberdeen Bulletin, Dec. 23, 1907: STRONG WOMAN WRECKS CELL FURNISHINGS — Rhoda Dowski, a woman who has not heretofore figured in police court proceedings, was brought to the station Saturday evening by Officer Mike Leitch for attempting to create a disturbance in the restricted district. The woman is married and has a home in the city, but has been in the habit of doing washing for the people below the line. Saturday she gathered rather more liquor than she could handily carry and was about her best to create a row by abusing everybody she happened to meet on the street. After being brought to the station it required two men to get her into a cell, and afterward she took her spite out on the cell furnishings and not only tore the mattress to shreds but broke the chains which held the cot in place. She also made it extremely torrid for an officer who went into the cell to quiet her, and otherwise kicked up quite a disturbance. Her husband finally appeared on the scene and put up the coin for her appearance in police court this morning. She failed to appear, however, and her bail was declared forfeited.
Things were no calmer after prohibition went into effect, as a pie-eyed Finn’s shooting affray shows — Aberdeen World, Jan. 6, 1922: GUN AND LIQUOR BAD COMBINATION — A house badly wrecked inside and Omni Tuonio, with smoking revolver in his hand, were found by Captain O’Brien and Officers Allen and O’Neill when they responded to a call at 204 North A Street last night.
As Captain O’Brien entered the building, a smoking revolver was thrust in front of his nose.
“I’m an American citizen; I can carry a gun if I want to,” protested Tuonio when Captain O’Brien proceeded to take his weapon away from him.
“You’re a drunk American citizen right now and you’ll come with us,” returned the captain.
A quantity of beer was found in the room where Tuonio was arrested. His wife, who entered shortly after the police arrived, is said to have admitted that she made the beer. She said that her husband must have got some moonshine.
Tuonio was placed in the county jail where he was booked as drunk and carrying concealed weapons. It is possible a more severe charge may be placed against him later.
When the officers arrived, the revolver was empty, but showed that it had just been discharged, Captain O’Brien said.
Finally, a booze-befuddled logger wandered into what is now the Grays Harbor College Whiteside Continuing Education Center on East First Street — Aberdeen World, Nov. 22, 1923: UNDERTAKER HAS PLEASED GUEST — Hugo Johnson, 43, a logger, wanted peace and quiet last night after a day of more or less violent celebration. So he sought out the Elerding Undertaking Parlors, walked into the waiting room unannounced and with a resounding sigh of relief sank into a comfortable Morris chair by the fireplace.
“This is a fine place,” observed Mr. Johnson. “I’m going to stay here the rest of the evening. It’s the first bit of comfort I’ve had since I came back to Everett.”
L.E. Elerding sought to convince Johnson he had made some sort of mistake. “While we always welcome visitors, I have a hunch that you picked out the wrong place.”
Johnson, however, stayed “put” in the cushioned chair. Occasionally he took a sip from a soft drink bottle which was labeled “strawberry flavor.” The liquid was colorless, and obviously carried a tang, judging from grimaces. Finally V.E. Herren, of the police, came in. After introducing himself he induced Johnson to walk with him to the “city hotel.”
“I’m glad I got back to Everett,” Johnson informed Herren. “Down in Aberdeen the police are not a bit nice. They pinch loggers for getting drunk. Well, tomorrow I’m going home for a spell. I live just a little way down towards Seattle.”
Arrived at the police station, Johnson showed no signs of recognition, although he had been released from there only yesterday morning.
“Will you have a room with a bath, or not,” inquired Desk Sergeant W.M. Atwell.
“No, just an ordinary room.”
So Johnson strode unsteadily back into jail. Early this morning he discovered he was still in Aberdeen, and immediately he dug up $50 from somewhere in his coat lining. With his bail deposited, he walked away from jail for the second time in as many days. Police now are wondering how long his supply of cash will hold out. He has paid the city $100, having been charged with possession as well as drunkenness both times he was arrested.
Roy Vataja is the son of Finnish immigrants and enjoys an occasional dram of liquor or a quaff of brew but generally keeps his wits about him.