Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bootlegger accidentally destroys own house

A bootlegger near Echo accidentally destroyed his own house when law enforcement came to serve a search warrant on his property during Prohibition.

Chester Cox, who lived in a two-story farmhouse about seven miles southwest of Echo, panicked when deputy sheriffs Charles Hoskins and John Arkell showed up at his home about 3 p.m. on January 18, 1928, with a search warrant. Instead of letting the officers inside, Cox dashed upstairs with a hammer and began smashing a number of jugs containing illegal moonshine whiskey.

The officers heard the destruction and forced the door open, finding the kitchen in flames. The moonshine had leaked through the ceiling onto the hot stove, igniting instantly. Hoskins and Arkell rushed upstairs and found the flames had followed the stovepipe to the second story, dooming the house.

A small amount of the liquor was saved in a dish pan as evidence and the officers hurriedly carried furniture and other household articles out of the burning house. Cox reportedly refused to save anything other than his bed, and also attempted to destroy the evidence of his moonshining activities. He resisted when the officers arrested him, but was eventually handcuffed and taken to Pendleton, where he was lodged in the county jail.

Cox pleaded guilty to charges of possession of intoxicating liquor, and he was sentenced in Echo justice court to 60 days in jail and a $250 fine.

The home was completely destroyed.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Crime spree foiled near Heppner

Margaret Havely was slightly hysterical when a rescue party forced its way into a cabin where she was being held and caught one of her kidnappers, well, napping.

State Police Sgt. N.W. Smith reported Alvin Dahl, 17, had an arsenal of nine rifles and shotguns and four revolvers, all of them fully loaded, in the cabin 15 miles from Hardman in the Blue Mountains when law enforcement arrived. “It’s lucky for us that he was asleep,” Smith said.

The rescue captured the last of three young men who had kidnapped Mrs. Havely from Portland in the midst of a score of robberies and burglaries that ended October 7, 1946, in Heppner. Dahl’s partners in crime, James W. Neal, 24, and Ernest W. Avery, 21, were arrested by City Marshal Charles Gomillion and Deputy Russell Wright at a Heppner gas station after a tip from a Condon store owner, who had recognized Avery the previous day, focused the search for the serial burglars on central Oregon. The trio was returned to Portland to face charges of kidnapping and burglary.

In addition to absconding with Mrs. Havely, the gunmen robbed her brother-in-law’s cafe in Portland and then drove east along the Columbia River Highway, committing crimes along the way. Francis F. Vause of Pendleton was robbed of $50 cash and his car Sept. 28 near Hinkle after offering Avery and Neal a ride; the men bound and gagged Vause and left him at the Fred McMurry ranch near Arlington after looting it. The pair also struck the Jim Han and Dazell ranches near Hardman while holed up at the cabin near the Harry French ranch west of Heppner.

Sgt. Smith reported that most of the loot from the burglaries, including several hundred dollars, was recovered.

Mrs. Havely was reunited with her husband at the home of Morrow County Sheriff C.F. Bauman, who led the rescue party. She said she used her feminine wiles to ward off attacks by the men. “I begged and pleaded and I guess my tears and my prayers  protected me. For they never did me actual harm. They never laid hands on me,” Havely said.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tiny guests move into swinging home

Spring is the time for new beginnings, and one of the most ubiquitous signs of spring is nesting birds. They build their homes in a variety of places: trees, under the eaves of roofs, and even in houses provided by helpful humans. But one set of parenting birds in 1990 built their home in a most precarious  place  — on top of a wind chime.

Arnold and Arlene Schiller first noticed the pair of Rufos hummingbirds fluttering around the porch of their home on Southwest Hailey Avenue in Pendleton in early June. The nest, built of spider webs and grass, was perched on the top of the wind chime, where it swung freely in the breeze. “That nest must be on there pretty good because the wind blows it around like crazy. They must like the swinging,” said Arnold.

Usually, hummingbirds are a frenzy of activity, flying upward, downward, backward and forward on wings that beat more than 70 times per second. On June 22, 1990, the female hummingbird was firmly planted on the nest, which the Schillers said contained two or three navy bean-sized eggs. Bill Jacobson, biology instructor at Blue Mountain Community College, said the birds sometimes will have two broods, each with one to three eggs, which hatch after a 20-day brooding cycle. Rufos hummingbirds, which usually breed and nest in the forest or on brushy slopes, winter in the southwest as far as south central Mexico.

The Schillers said they hadn’t changed their lifestyle much since the arrival of their tiny guests. They put up a feeder, and they didn’t let kids come up on the porch. And, of course, they kept the cats away.

“They really are a lot of company,” said Arlene. “They will fly up and look though the window at us.”

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Man saved from death by fancy ropework

Round-Up roping champs, move over.

A workman hurtling to his death from the 14th floor of the Loop Hotel in Chicago was saved when a coworker caught him with a loop of rope in a one-in-a-million rescue April 10, 1946.

James Anderson, 29, swung out on a rope from the scaffolding on the 15th floor of the partially finished hotel, intending to lower himself to a 14th floor window to enter the building and pick up his tools at quitting time. He lost a glove and suddenly began to plummet to the street.

Coworker Philip Walsh, a 53-year-old tuck pointer, grabbed the rope from which Anderson had fallen, twirled it in a wide circle and jerked. The rope, corkscrewing in the air, looped around Anderson’s body and braked his descent. Anderson slid the length of the rope with the loose loop around him but lost his grip at the second floor and fell the rest of the way to the ground.

Walsh rode down the elevator and found Anderson sitting up in the street. Anderson was rushed to St. Luke’s Hospital, where attendants said he suffered from nothing but rope burns.