It didn’t pay to go without bathing in Pendleton 100 years ago.
A mob of several hundred men formed on Pendleton’s Main Street July 14, 1915, with a slouching man in the center. The man had a rope around his body, and strangers and locals alike were sure there was a lynching going on.
The victim was a well-known character about town, and dirty to the point of obnoxiousness. A group of young men finally became so outraged by his filthy appearance and horrible smell that they determined to do something about it.
The man eluded capture for about an hour by loitering inside one of the downtown eateries, but he was nabbed as soon as he walked outside. A crowd of men secured him with a rope around his middle and hustled him down Main Street to Court Avenue, where they began the trek to Round-Up (now Roy Raley) Park.
At this point, Officer Scheer of the Pendleton Police Department intervened and came to the man’s rescue. About 15 minutes later, however, the mob again captured the man and hurried him into a car they had waiting on Webb Street (Emigrant Avenue). Followed by a couple of hundred gawkers on foot, the car made its way to Round-up Park.
The swimming pool was empty but a concrete basin that held water entering the park from the river was overflowing. Taking off the man’s garments, the leaders of the mob threw him into the pool, passed him a bar of soap and demanded he begin bathing. Relieved that he wasn’t being lynched, the man gave himself a thorough scrubbing until the ringleaders decided he was clean enough to emerge.
The clean patrol declared that the incident should be taken as a warning by all slovenly persons in the city.