A Portland teenager was arrested near Meacham after engaging state law enforcement agencies in a state-wide manhunt in 1931, and his young female passenger was cured once and for all of thrillseeking after spending time in a local jail.
Merle Smiley and 17-year-old Peggy Carnahan left Portland together Jan. 14, 1931, after “borrowing” a car from a Portland garage. The couple traded the car for another one and $20 cash in Mosier, then continued east on their joyride. Portland police posted an all-points bulletin for the pair, and a Umatilla County sheriff’s deputy spotted them near Meacham two days later, where they were arrested.
Smiley was returned home by Portland authorities the same day. Carnahan, who confided to a reporter that she had run away with Smiley because she “wanted a thrill,” had a few adventures to ponder as she awaited her own transport home. Besides two days on the lam and her arrest, she got to spend the night in jail with two Native American women as companions — one of whom told her fortune — and had an unflattering “rogue’s gallery” photo taken as part of her stay in Umatilla County.
Carnahan declared she was ready to go home, and vowed to be a good girl from then on.