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As It Was: Klamath County Sheriff Raids Blind Pigs in 1908

The Sacramento Bee of Dec. 24, 1908, ran the following article with a Klamath Falls, Ore., dateline:
“Sheriff W.B. Barnes, who is determined to rid (Klamath Falls) … of blind pigs and dives, assisted by three deputies, made a raid that resulted in finding a jug of whisky in a place called the Standard and owned by C.L. Reed, while in the Central, … a place operated by J.V. Houston, nothing but a bottle of grape juice was found.”

The article continues, “Sheriff Barnes believes by … raiding some of the places under suspicion occasionally he will be able to suppress (those) … that have since last July been a disgrace to the people of this city and a detriment to the entire county.”

So what is a “blind pig?”

The Blind Pig Supper Club in Asheville, N.C., defines it this way:

“The term ‘blind pig’ originated in the United States in the 19th century; it was applied to lower-class establishments that sold alcohol during prohibition.  The operator of … a saloon or bar would charge … to see an attraction (such as an animal) and then serve a ‘complimentary’ alcoholic beverage, thus circumventing the law.”

Sources: "What is a Blind Pig?" The Blind Pig, theblindpigsupperclub.com/what-is-a-blind-pig/. Accessed 22 Jan. 2019; "HISTORY SNAPSHOT 110 YEARS AGO: Sheriff's raid on blind pigs. [original story published by the Sacramento Bee on 24 Dec. 1908]" The Midge: Cultural Newsletter for the Klamath Basin. 19 Dec 2018.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.