Pages of the Past, Sept. 29

A weekly collection of stories from The Vidette archives.

125 years ago

Oct. 2, 1891

Saved by a Prince

Sometime during Saturday night, Jack Cubberly was awakened by his dog Prince, who was barking and jumping onto the bed. Mr. Cubberly tried to make the dog lie down and keep quiet, but he would not and kept up the racket until his master, becoming satisfied that something was the matter, arose and went out into the billiard room. Sure enough — something was wrong.

The stove door had come open and allowed a large stick to fall out which had set fire to the floor and there was quite a lively fire in progress. It had burned several holes in the floor, one of them about 18 inches across.

It is easy to guess what would have been the result had it not been for Prince. Montesano would have had a large portion of the property on Main street burned down, and there is no knowing where the fire would have stopped. Prince should be given the freedom of the city.

100 years ago

Sept. 29, 1911

A possible new industry — success with sugar beets suggests factory

Montesano as the center of a big beet sugar producing locality is a possibility of the future that should be looked into. While a scientific investigation of the practicability of the project has never been made, yet it seems to the uninitiated that our community offers an ideal location for a big beet sugar factory and the consequent intensive and extensive development of our farming lands for sugar beet culture.

Grays Harbor county sugar beets at the recent State Fair made an excellent showing and were much larger and of a finer quality, without an analysis of the sugar contents, than those of the eastern portion of the state, where the erection of a factory and heavy cropping to beets is being considered.

The adaptability of our lands to any kind of root crop production insures a high yield to the acre and would render the sugar beet industry a profitable one to the farmers.

The markets of the Pacific Northwest within easy reach would give the factory an advantage in disposing of its output over the factories that are obliged to ship across the mountains, and the extensive dairy interests of the county would take over the beet pulp residue for feed for dairy cows, at a profit to both the factory and the dairyman, who now imports such succulent provender.

Beets yield heavily in this locality. From 25 to 40 tons to the acre are average crops and such returns would spell prosperity to the producer with a sugar factory in Montesano. Seattle, Portland, Tacoma and the smaller cities of the coast offer a market that would be attractive to a promoter of a beet sugar plant and our city has many advantages that would make it an excellent site for such a factory.

75 years ago

Oct. 2, 1941

Firemen up in the air

There aren’t any five story buildings in Montesano, but, just in case there might be, Montesano volunteer firemen are preparing themselves for all possibilities.

This Thursday and Friday evenings, the firemen will attend a special school in Aberdeen dealing with five-story ladder work, utilizing the new drill tower of the Aberdeen fire department.

They will become familiar with pompier ladders — the kind you hook over a ledge and pull up after you — and with rescue work from upper stories.

Captain Joe E. Cook of the Seattle fire department is on special leave to act as instructor in such schools. Firemen from other centers in this vicinity will also attend the Aberdeen school.

50 years ago

Sept. 29, 1966

New school, better gym

Members of the Montesano School Board convened in special session Monday, and, after two hours of studied discussion, voted unanimously to place a pair of issues before the district’s voters at the November 8 general election.

It was noted that the ballot promises to be top-heavy with statewide initiatives as well as county propositions of great local interest, but the trustees agreed that school plans should take a backseat to no other issue and the time to act is now.

First and foremost, the board endorsed a proposed $450,000 bond issue for construction of a new elementary school on Monte’s east side. Leftover funds would be earmarked for classroom and auditorium remodeling in the Wheeler building.

As a separate issue, the board voted for a 20-mill levy for the improvement of physical education facilities at Monte High School. Included would be remodeling of the gymnasium to double seating capacity and add a stage, plus complete refurbishing of the athletic dressing rooms.

Board members figured that the levy would provide $132,000, a big step toward a project which would probably cost $250,000 before it was finished. Matching state funds and reserve revenues could well account for the difference they said.

25 years ago

Sept. 26, 1991

Soviets visit courthouse

A group of Soviet visitors had many questions for Grays Harbor superior court judge Michael Spencer on their recent tour of an American criminal justice system, but perhaps the most telling was “What is the penalty for staging a coup?”

Spencer was taken aback by the question, but he was able to come up with several charges that could have been pressed against hardline communist leaders if they had committed their recent coup in the United States.

“Kidnapping,” for one, said the judge, recalling Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s detention in the Crimea. Assault, perhaps, even murder for the deaths of glasnost defenders at the foot of the Russian parliament. Spencer wasn’t sure if there was a state statute against treason.

The 13 guests were delegates of the Soviet Peace Fund, the largest organization supported by individuals in the Soviet Union, with offices in nearly every city. The visit was part of the Homeland Project, organized to help support the filming of a television documentary by both American and Soviet filmmakers, and the exchanges between the two countries.

The guests had a number of inquiries about American justice, such as how many days a week Spencer works. Five, he told them.

The most common crime? Burglary, said Spencer, and “we have a serious drug problem, too.”

What if someone insults the judge, he was asked. “You can disagree, but you must be respectful,” said Spencer, noting that people can be charged by a judge for contempt.

Asked another, what are some of the differences between various state laws? Spencer noted that in Michigan, drug offenders can be sentenced to life, whereas in Washington, the maximum is five years.

“So we should undertake the drug business in this state,” joked one of the visitors.

The guests also wanted to know about the laws for carrying weapons — illegal in the Soviet Union, and appeared to be fascinated to learn that killing can be allowed if a jury finds it was done in self-defense. They seemed equally spellbound to know that hundreds of concealed gun permits are issued in the country every year.

After their tour of the courthouse, the Soviets got an extensive tour of the county jail.

10 years ago

Sept. 28, 2006

Lions’ turtle race a splashing success with kids

It was a perfect, 75-degree day on the banks of the Wynooche River, south of Montesano, for the second annual Lions Club Turbo Turtle Trek fundraiser. A couple of dozen people turned out for the free hot dogs and to socialize while waiting for the plastic toys to float across the finish line.