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As It Was-Pranksters Disrupt Brookings Cocktail Hour

One night shortly after the end of the Second World War, the infamous “Pine Cone Tavern Incident” startled bar patrons in Brookings, Ore.

Rip and Howard Gardner staged the prank. The Gardner brothers were known in their hometown for a series of shenanigans, each designed to outrage and entertain.

During cocktail hour at the tavern, the Gardners arrived with a young black bear constrained by a rope.  They sat the obviously stressed bear between them at a table, each holding tightly to his respective end of the tether.

When Rip raised three fingers and shouted an order for three beers, some outraged patrons fled for the doors, while others remained to see how the scenario would play out. After considerable dithering, the barkeep delivered two beers and retreated to a place of safety.

The bear became increasingly agitated and let out a roar and clamped its jaws around Howard’s lower leg.

Amid the bear’s growling and Howard’s cussing, spectators fired a barrage of conflicting and confusing advice until two lumberjacks and four inebriates stepped forward, subduing the bear and ending the latest Gardner brothers’ shocker.


Source: Adams, Michael W. “Chetco - The Story of the River and Its People.” Chetco Valley Historical Society, 2011, p. 100.

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.