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As It Was: Youths Get Drunk on Jamaica Ginger and Lemon Extract

In February 1918, two young men faced Justice M. T. Wright on a charge of disturbing the peace in Gold Beach, Ore.

It was reported that their misconduct came from a cache of bootleg booze hidden on the beach.  It turned out their intoxication came from consuming a large amount of Jamaica ginger and lemon extract.

Nonetheless, Judge Wright assigned them a $25 fine or 12 days in jail.

The men didn’t have any cash, so they were taken to a concrete housing unit known as “the jug,” to fulfill their sentences, where Sheriff Tolman provided the boys with enough work to build up an appetite.  They swept the courthouse building, felled a hazardous tree, and gave the grass in the yard a much-needed trimming.  Due to their good conduct, no watch was kept over them during the term of confinement.

Some people protested their laborious punishment did not fit the crime, and the cost of transporting and housing the culprits far out-weighed any negative effects of any disturbance.

Several friends offered to pay their fine, but the inmates declined any assistance.

Source: "Drink Too Heavily of Lemon Extract." Gold Beach Reporter, 21 Feb. 1918, p. 1.

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Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.