Oh, the fun I could have had.

If I had been a newspaper reporter at the turn of the previous century, I would have worked for free. Back then, Lewiston was but a young city, with childlike dreams and childlike enthusiasm for all that the wild world had to offer.

Or something. It was just plain crazy, by the sound of it.

I hold in my hand a report from the Lewiston Police Department summarizing a year’s worth of crime and mayhem in 1914. Although to be fair, some of what they called crime in 1914 today sounds like hopping good times.

You want an example? I got your example.

Two people were arrested that glorious year “for running a house of ill fame.”

You can just picture the scene, can’t you? A bull-faced man snarls from beyond the bars of his jail cell. He is surrounded by killers and thieves and licentious brutes of all varieties.

“What’re you in for?” his hulking cellmate inquires.

Our hero takes a long drag of his cigarette, grimaces and tells his bunk mate that he killed nine people in a bar fight. Because who is going to admit to being thrown in the slammer for something as nebulous and wussy as “running a house of ill fame?”

The dude three cells down has it no better. According to the 1914 police cheat sheet, this fellow was one of four who was collared for “lewd and lascivious cohabitation,” a crime so downright confusing, I think I might be committing it myself right now.

Lewd and lascivious cohabitation sounds like it might mean that our pal in Cell No. 6 was caught shacking up with a woman of loose morals. Maybe he was shacking up with SEVERAL women of loose morals. Good for him, I say — but the law of 1914 clearly disagrees.

According to the legal definition, a man simply living with a woman who was not his wife could be slapped with this charge. In 1914, Jack Tripper (come on, you remember “Three’s Company!”) would have been a double felon in Lewiston, which is probably why he chose to do his sinning in Santa Monica, Calif.

In the Lewiston of 1914, 14 people were arrested for fornication. I don’t know if they were all arrested at the same time, but that had to be the most embarrassing paddy wagon ride ever.

One person, according to the report, was arrested for being a tramp. I wonder how you prove that in court.

Another 22 were arrested, not for gambling, but for being present at a gambling place, which means if you were the hired plumber or the guy delivering pizza that night, into the hoosegow you went.

One person was charged with keeping a disorderly house, which also must be terribly embarrassing when you’re exchanging war stories with your buddies on the cellblock:

“My bed was unmade, the sink was full of dishes and somebody was playing the Victrola at 10 p.m. I guess I had it coming.”

Half a dozen people were charged for “street affray.” I’m not real clear on what this involves, but if I don’t get “street affray” into a news story in coming days, I will consider myself an abject failure. It conjures images of flying fists, bloodied noses and, for some reason, men in swim trunks circling each other and shouting, “Bully!” back and forth.

Four were arrested for adultery, while one was charged with street-walking. Say what you want about 1914 Lewiston, but they really cared about the sex lives of their people. I have it on good authority that the city slogan was, “You hardly know her!” until it was changed, by popular vote, to, “You’re disgusting.”

A whopping 1,229 folks were arrested for intoxication in 1914, which probably contributed a great deal to the street affray and the unfortunate tramping incident.

Another 86 were arrested “for safe keeping.” I’m sure those people appreciated it. If not for the helpful police intervention, they might have succumbed to the temptations of fornication.

And finally, last on the list, one person was arrested “for suicide in city jail.” The poor soul. A charge like that will follow a fellow around for the rest of his life.

Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. Email him at [email protected] if you spot an affray on the street or elsewhere.

One person was charged with keeping a disorderly house, which also must be terribly embarrassing when you’re exchanging war stories with your buddies on the cell block. “My bed was unmade, the sink was full of dishes and somebody was playing the Victrola at 10 p.m. I guess I had it coming.”


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