by Drew Desmond, Secretary, Prescott Western Heritage Foundation
By 1918, Prescott was keen to cleanup the city’s reputation in regards to prostitution. Fines were increased from a simple slap on the wrist to truly punitive amounts. The red-light district on Gran-ite Street was closed down, and prostitution stings were begun at other locations including the Depot – House.
However, on the night of Aug. 4, the sensitivities of the Chief of Police Bert Bloom would be put to the test.
“The chief has been making strenuous efforts for the past several weeks to break up the illicit love matches which are being staged in divers local hotels which don’t seem to care much what goes on in the various rooms,” the Journal-Miner reported. “And on Saturday night one of his sleuths who had been stationed at the rear entrance of the (Depot House) reported that it would be advisable to raid one of the rooms.”
It would be Chief Bloom and his lieutenant, William Sieckmann, who would make the arrests. They weren’t in any great hurry, however. To make such a charge stuck in court, it was necessary to catch the couple in the act. So the two officers “allowed the guilty couple ample time in which to prepare for their love-making, and then caved in the door and switched on the electric lights.”
Evidently the couple had progressed a little too far. The woman “was taken so totally unawares that she did not have time to protect herself from the … gaze of the pair of cops, and lay on the bed a la September Morn or a la Mother Eve or a la Lady Godiva or a la most anything else one could think of that wasn’t overly clad,” the paper reckoned. Her male companion was so overcome with fright “the chief had to take his gaze off the surrounding scenery” just to calm the man down.
“The cops finally managed to leave the room gracefully with the warning … that (the woman) get inside a kimona, (sic ) or a bathrobe, or some other suitable covering and also to get ready for a trip to the … county jail; where they spent the night.”
An embarrassed Chief Bloom told the newspaper that the next time he goes out “on a raiding expe-dition, (he was) going to wear a pair of smoked glasses!”
The young couple would have to wait until Monday to see a judge. This gave them time to think of their plight. They argued that they were not a prostitute with her John, but instead, two young lov-ers on a clandestine rendezvous. To their dismay, they must have been told: “That’s what they all say.” Unless they were married, it would make no difference.
So instead of facing the embarrassment, the judge and the steep fines, the couple decided to get hitched! The newspaper concluded: “On Monday morning the guilty couple decided that the cheap-est way out of the mix up was to get married, and consequently Cupid was allowed to triumph over the majesty of the law, and the charges which had been lodged against the young people were wiped off the slate.”
Still, one wonders about the inquiring minds this union might produce:
–Daddy? Why did you and Mommy get married?
–We got married because we were in love. Now eat your breakfast!
Love conquers all!
Sources: Weekly Journal-Miner, 8/7/1918, Pg. 2, Col. 5; Depot Postcard: Courtesy Tim Gronek; Depot House ad: Weekly Journal-Miner