Prohibition prognosticator pushes peanut

October 5, 2020 1:00 AM

In 1909, Kootenai County citizens voted to outlaw liquor sales and become a “dry” county. The “drys” won by a narrow margin of 164 votes. So, for the next two years the prohibition debate continued. In 1911, it was once again put on the ballot.

Some said that the proprietor of the OK Barbershop on Sherman Ave., Ed Cyr, was an exceptionally astute businessman. This was because he publicly announced that he was betting that the County would remain dry. But, if he was wrong, he would roll a peanut across Sherman Avenue with his nose. Of course, this would take place in front of his barbershop.

So, on Nov. 22, 1911, the citizens cast their votes. When the returns were in (3,536 “wets” to 3,417 “drys) Ed honorably accepted his humiliating task.

What fun for the spectators! All that was needed now was Ed, a proper sized peanut and plenty of “lubrication.”

At the proper time Ed appeared nattily dressed in a grey mackinaw coat with a sign on his back reading “Ed Cyr’s OK Barbershop and Bath.” (It was on his back in order to be seen since he would be on his hands and knees.)

The crowd was large and loud with school truancy noted but tolerated. Police and fireman had been called for crowd control. First, some ground rules needed sorting out. A carpet runner had appeared to facilitate the peanut’s progress across the street. After much discussion, it was allowed for reason of hygiene. Next, where was the starting point of the peanut? The border of the street was at the curb, not 6 inches out. That issue was agreed to if the carpet was pulled back far enough to cover the curb.

Finally, the Fire Chief, Jack O’Rourk, held the peanut aloft and with great ceremony place it curbside. In about 5 minutes the peanut was on the other side of Sherman and a triumphant Ed Cyr was accepting the adulation of an admiring crowd.

In the barbershop back across the street a jug of Old Crow materialized and was drained. Undoubtably Ed’s business improved. The only fatality was the peanut. No one knows for sure, but a good guess would be that

Ed ate it.

The Museum of North Idaho continues to seek all possible resources in order fulfill their mission to “Move History Forward”. As we move into the last quarter of this year’s capital campaign please consider donating to our building fund.

Visit the Museum of North Idaho Tues-Sat 11-5 until Oct. 31. Great selection of reproduction photos from past exhibits, mounted on foam core, are on sale at bargain prices. The Museum Store has a great selection of regional history books and gift items.

Richard Sheldon

Coeur d’Alene, ID

-Exerpt from “The Day the Peanut Rolled” by Ed Cyr Jr. and edited by Deborah Mitchell