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As It Was: Judge Throws the Book at Whiskey-Toting Teachers

Two Kerby, Ore., high school teachers learned the hard way one Saturday night in June 1925 that Prohibition was strictly enforced.

Their career-ending caper started when night police officer Smith spotted a half-filled bottle of moonshine in their car and reported it to Police Chief McLane. 

The teachers, R.J. McArthur and W.J. Taylor, taught in Kerby, but were returning to their homes in Eugene for the summer when they stopped in Grants Pass to say goodbye to friends there.  They left their car in a parking garage where Chief McLane searched it and found an additional gallon of moonshine in the trunk. 

When McArthur and Taylor returned to their car, they were arrested and taken to jail. 

The two pleaded guilty in court the following Monday.  The judge sentenced them to 30 days in jail and fined each of them $250 (about $2,900 in today’s dollars).

Friends pleaded for leniency, but the judge showed no mercy for the two young men, well known for partying.  They lost their jobs and feared their state teaching certificates would be canceled.
 

Source: Hoogstraat, J.J. "School Teachers in Jail." Southern Oregon Spokesman, 5 July 1925 [505 So. Sixth Street Grants Pass OR], p. 1.

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.