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As It Was: Coos Bay Prankster Seeks Election on Slogan “Pirate for President”

George Vaughan grew up in North Bend, Ore., in the roaring 1920s.  From the stories he would tell his kids, he was a man who knew how to have a good time, but sometimes took it a little too far.

As a married family man in the 1940s, Vaughan joined the Coos Bay Pirates, a city booster club whose main function was partying, and was elected the club leader, or “Chief Skull.”  When the 1952 election year rolled around, Vaughan ran for president of the United States as a publicity stunt to draw attention to Coos Bay.  His campaign slogan was “George Vaughan: Pirate for President.”

Dressed as buccaneers, the Pirate pranksters stormed the state capital in February and chained the state treasurer and several officials to the Capitol steps.  As Vaughan made a campaign speech, other Pirates replaced the state flag on the roof of the capit0l with the Jolly Roger’s skull and crossbones.

The Pirates gained more publicity across the state by disrupting civic meetings, but eventually Vaughan became concerned voters might take him seriously and withdrew his candidacy. 

Dwight D. Eisenhower handily won the Oregon vote.

Sources: Vaughan, Don. Coos Bay in the Fifties, edited by Don Vaughan, Wordpress,  https://donvaughan.wordpress.com/genealogy/family-story/chapter-16-coos-bay-in-the-fifties-2/. Accessed 19 Apr. 2018

Valerie Ing was a teenager when she hosted her first music program on the airwaves. As a student at SOU, she was JPR’s Chief Student Announcer and the first volunteer in our newsroom. She's now JPR’s Northern California Program Coordinator, hosting Siskiyou Music Hall from JPR's Redding studio in the Cascade Theatre.