I picked up a 2004 issue of Nostalgia magazine and the blurb right on the cover caught my eye: “A Whale Visits Spokane.” Wwhhaaaatt?
Author Peggy Cunningham (a past EWGS member) wrote how in the summer of 1930 her Dad loaded up the family and off they went to Spokane to see the whale. Let Peggy tell the story: “As I remember it was a warm day and Dad let us off by the railroad station. Mom paid for us, maybe ten cents each. Following the “SEE THE WHALE” signs, we soon were caught up with the rest of the crowd. When the pace of the crowd began to increase, we followed and soon smelled the reason for their hurry. We could see the (railroad) flatcar completely covered with the huge smelly carcass! With hankies to our noses we hurriedly looked and then made a hasty retreat to meet Dad.”
Peggy explains the beginning of this “whale tour.” “The whale tale started in Massachusetts in 1930 when two friends happened to find a dead whale washing ashore on a local beach. Seeing an opportunity to make some money, they rented a railroad flatcar, pumped the monster full of formaldehyde, hoisted it onto the flatcar, and went from town to town charging admission to see the whale. They made sure that local papers in the towns along the route where they were planning to stop received an enhanced story……. their bonanza ran out when an unendurable odor began to rise from the corpse. (They soon) made a decision to call it quits, rolled the whale off the flatcar onto a vacant lot near the railroad tracks and buried it under a scant three feet of earth.”
This same photo appeared in the Nostalgia article but was taken about 1913 in Florida. Guess there were more than one “whale on tour.”
In 1930 my husband’s father was living in Spokane. Wonder if the family also went to see the whale?? Did somebody in your family?