Prosser Opium Den Raid and Reflections on Marijuana


PROSSER – Circa September 5, 1907, via reports of the Prosser Record and Don Carter of the Prosser Record-Bulletin

Headline: Opium Den Raided at Last

“That vile den at the corner of Meade Avenue and Fifth Street, ostensibly a Chinese laundry, but long known to be an opium den, has at last been broken up, at least for a time.”

The old newspaper reports the Chinaman as Wong Hoy, a “dope fiend” and as “an exceedingly repulsive-looking brute and physical wreck who admitted that he smoked opium, but denied that he kept a den.”

Former Benton County Sheriff Deputy C.J. Alexander participated in the raid, and decades later told Mr. Carter of the Prosser Record-Bulletin there were six people down there found smoking opium with the Chinese proprietor.

 Laundry a Front for Opium Den

Alexander recalled “they didn’t do much laundry down there.”  The den was in a cellar under the laundry, with access through a trapdoor in the floor.  Beds inside were full.

 Yakima Doctor Robert Martin Arrested

Wong Hoy was eventually fined $100. Yakima Doctor Robert Martin $50, and his female companion Lillian Peele $25. Dr. Martin said that Ms. Peele was “his wife.”  All three were ordered by the judge to leave town.

Opium Pipe a Museum Artifact

C.J. Alexander kept the pipe (which he was supposed to have destroyed along with the opium seized) and eventually donated it.  The opium pipe used in the den is now an artifact in the Prosser Museum.  Staff there took it out and allowed me to photograph it.  It is made from polished bamboo, about two feet long, and has a cone at one end.

Alexander told Carter that another pipe also survived the Prosser Opium Den, and was kept by the courthouse custodian, an ex-Confederate soldier.  In 1967, when Carter interviewed Alexander, he said that the custodian’s son inherited the other pipe, and was a practicing dentist in Tacoma.

Personal Reflections on Opium Dens and Marijuana

Viewing this opium pipe from over 100 years ago, and reflecting on the contemporary issue of marijuana in our state, I am struck by a deep sense of historic irony.  At the turn of the last century, the powers that be utilized town ordinances to ban opium dens as they were generally considered harmful to orderly society.

After the turn of our current century, a concerted effort to reintroduce smoking of strong substances is among us. As it is written in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “…there is nothing new under the sun.”

Marijuana and opium are not the same thing, but both are considered dangerous; with a high potential for abuse.

Modern concerns place a higher priority on safeguarding children than on policing negative behaviors of adults. Keeping illicit drugs out of the hands of children is of utmost concern.  Where society draws its lines is up for grabs.

For reference, here is a copy of the news article about the opium den that is kept at the Prosser Museum:













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The Oldest Building In Sunnyside Is…

As parents can tell you, kids often ask questions. Yesterday, while driving down the road, my oldest child asked “What is the oldest building in Sunnyside?”

At first the answer was elusive, with none of us having a conclusive answer. I informed the kids that staff at City Hall will likely know.

Today, I asked a couple of City employees the question, and we could not think of any building older than Snipes’ Cabin, next to the Sunnyside Museum.

It is an old line cabin used by cowboys starting around 1850, when up to 250,000 cattle first ranged the Yakima Valley.

If you can think of any building in Sunnyside older than this, please let me know. (Betcha can’t do it!)


Why You Should Read A Book About Bad Dads

Bad Dads_240_360_Book.1095.cover

What is gained from reading a book about bad dads? Sometimes we can learn from the mistakes of others. This book devotes time to eight mistakes every good dad can avoid. The author, Roland C. Warren, knows a thing or two about being a good dad; for over ten years he was the President of the National Fatherhood Initiative.

Using contemporary examples everyone will be familiar with, Warren explores where bad dad mistakes led to catastrophic results we see in news headlines around the world. He also draws parallels with dads from the Bible, who made mistakes that caused consequences for many generations to come.

The author points out, among other things, that good fathers are physically present:

“Alas, while there are a plethora of programs for women focused on maternal health and child well-being, for years, there have been just two for fathers: the tax code for married fathers and child support enforcement for unmarried fathers. Basically, from the government’s perspective, if a father is paying for his children, then he is a good father. Interestingly, this viewpoint has spread throughout the culture, with some unfortunate and unexpected consequences, especially for low-income, unemployed, and under-employed fathers. Some of these dads actually believe that they can’t be good fathers and really have nothing to offer to their children if they don’t have a paycheck of a certain size.” (p. 169-170)

In many communities, over 50% of babies are born into homes where the father is not physically present. In some places, this is as high as 2/3 of newborns. Millions of children without fathers want to have mentors in their lives, but do not have one. Among those who do, women are filling the role of mentors much of the time. The result is that all too often children enter adulthood without male role models, or examples of being a good dad that they can follow.

It is important to recognize that people in the Bible had faults that members of modern society can relate to. Warren does an outstanding job reinforcing the positive parenting behaviors that can help every family in America.

This book is worth five stars.

Product Details
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (January 28, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031033716X
ISBN-13: 978-0310337164
Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Clearly Unclear Confluence of Events at Council

This past Monday night a confusing situation developed regarding the Sunnyside Municipal Code and changes being made to it.

The confusion began just after the Pledge of Allegiance when the Mayor and City Manager proceeded to add an item named “Introduction of Civil Service Commissioners” to the agenda. No additional information on this item was provided to other members of Council prior to the meeting.

At this point the Mayor introduced a new City Manager appointee to the Civil Service Commission. Following this, I raised a point of parliamentary inquiry, asking if Council would confirm the appointment. During the discussion, I looked up the relevant City Code (emphasis added):

2.20.070 Police Department Civil Service Commission.

There is created for the administration of the Civil Service for the Police Department, a Civil Service Commission composed of three members, who shall be appointed by the City Manager subject to the approval of the majority of the City Council. The term of office of the Civil Service Commission shall be six years, except that the first three members of the Commission shall be appointed for different terms, as follows: one to serve for a period of two years, one to serve for a period of four years, and one to serve for a period of six years. In the event any Civil Service Commissioner resigns, becomes disqualified, or is removed for cause, another Commissioner shall be appointed to take his place for the unexpired portion of the term. [1956 Code § 3-101.]

The active agenda for the meeting included changes to remove this section of city code. Council had already had a first reading of the proposed changes prior to Monday night’s meeting, however no changes had been adopted.

While the Mayor initially thought the new code language was in effect, he realized it was not, so the code cited above was enforceable.

Council then voted to confirm the City Manager’s appointment.

Later in the evening, when discussing the code changes on our agenda, the Mayor began citing various portions of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW’s) and giving his views on them. The related RCW’s and original language of the Sunnyside Municipal Code (SMC’s) were not included in the agenda packet for Council.

A Minor Error of Reporting…

Media coverage of the meeting states that I “asked for – and received – copies of the RCWs detailing the topic at hand.” This is a point of contention I raised with the publisher of the newspaper during a phone call yesterday. I was never provided this information; instead I looked it up myself.

A More Serious Error of Reporting…

“Raines eventually concluded that city councils are prohibited from taking part in the process of appointments to the civil service commission.”

I never said that city councils are prohibited from confirming appointments. While discussing this with the newspaper publisher, I pointed out the obvious: we confirmed an appointment earlier that same evening, so it clearly is something the City Council can do.

While the Mayor may possibly think council is prohibited from confirming appointments, I do not agree with this assessment. What I said was that I thought it would be in the city’s best interest to adopt the code changes being proposed. (Which Council did when we took a vote.)

Moving On…

In hindsight, this confusing situation could have been avoided if appointments to the Civil Service Commission were not made during the time of changing relevant City Code. However, it is sometimes important to make appointments when pressing business needs to be done.

Both the Mayor and City Manager are responsible for setting the agenda for Council meetings. In my view, reasons for proposed code changes, and information regarding appointments can be communicated more clearly than they were in this case.

While it is unfortunate that the Mayor, Council, media, and members of the public were confused by the events that unfolded this past Monday night, we are all better positioned moving forward as a more streamlined and consistent version of the City Code will be in place.


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More Suggested Names for Soccer Park…

Additional suggested names for the Soccer Park on Homer Street have been received:

  • Steckler Soccer Field: It was Nick Steckler that had the original idea and pushed for soccer fields in the city limits when we didn’t have any. As a senior in high school, he was the one that got the ball rolling and kept it rolling. (Pun Intended) If it were not for Nick, the field would still be a dump site full of broken concrete and trash. (submitted by Nate Bridges)
  • Sunnyjuana Soccer Field: Sunnyjuana captures the blending of cultures in our city (now over 75% Hispanic), combining the words Sunnyside and Tijuana. Migrant workers’ lives will be honored with such a park name, which has never before been dedicated in the city. It is also ambiguous enough that people may interpret it as a mix of Sunnyside and marijuana, which would surely make it a big draw for youth in the community. Marijuana use is also getting increasing national recognition, and this could really put the city on the map. Naming the park Sunnyjuana is a great way to promote unity in the community, as Hispanics and Whites will all be able to relate to it. (submitted by James Ricks)
  • Oliver Vasquez Memorial Futbol Field: Being that Sunnyside is looking to name the soccer field by the police station; some prominent national leaders’ names have surfaced. But, it seems that Sunnyside should be honoring local people who have lived in this area for many years.  One of the finest people I have ever had the privilege of knowing and respecting for years was Oliver Vasquez. Oliver and his family have been fantastic people in this community for years. A good name for that field would be “Oliver Vasquez Memorial Futbol Field!” (suggested by Don Padelford, via Daily Sun News)

The Sunnyside City Council is continuing to take your suggestions. If you additional input to provide, please contact Sunnyside City Hall, Phone: (509) 837-5206

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Fact, Fiction, Faction?

Samson_240_360_Book.986.coverShawn Hoffman’s book “Samson,” subtitled “A Savior Will Rise” is a fascinating novel exploring the bonds of family during the most horrific circumstances of World War II.

Samson Abrams and his family are imprisoned in the infamous concentration camp Auschwitz. When Commandant Rudolf Hoess recognizes him as a former Olympic champion boxer, Samson is forced to fight for the entertainment of the local Nazi officers. The deal offered to him: if he wins, he gets extra rations; but if he loses, he is sent to death in the gas chambers.

The book is billed as “based on true events.” However, it is not strictly a historical work. This is more of a historical novel. Throughout the book, Hoffman inserts footnotes to document actual events that occurred, upon which he bases his story. The characters are, in the words of the book, “amalgamations.”

With some artistic license being taken, Hoffman is free to create a dramatic story worthy of telling on the movie or TV screen. The author is an actor himself, as well as a screenwriter. The book has the feel of having been written with the intent to market the story as a movie. The screenplay for “Samson” has won awards at film festivals.

The subject of the victims’ plight is treated with the utmost respect by the author, who met with a survivor from Auschwitz and was told stories of his experiences there. Readers will appreciate both the suspenseful story, as well as the historical information being presented.

Depictions of the horrific conditions and torture of prisoners can make some squeamish, but the author does not want people to forget this part of history. Worse still, there are those that deny the Holocaust happened. Despite the unpleasant nature of the setting, stories like this need to be told so we can learn from the past, and avoid ever having something like this happen again. The author takes care to present the major points without dwelling on gory details.

The main gate at the former nazi concentration...

The main gate at the former nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Samson’s fights in the ring offer hope to other prisoners who have none, and serve as an inspiration for those struggling with faith in God.

This is a suspenseful story that will keep readers turning pages to see what happens next. Fans of history, boxing, and stories of a man’s love for his family, will enjoy this book.

With elements of fact and fiction blended together, perhaps the book should be called faction. Well blended and documented for the reader to know the difference between actual historical events and character driven drama, this book should not be missed.

4 stars out of 5.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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More suggested park names

The Sunnyside City Council is still looking for your suggestions on what to name the new soccer park on Homer Street.

Several proposed names were recently received via the Sunnyside School District. Some, but not all, have some supporting information included with them.

Take a look. If you see one you like, or think you have a better suggestion, send your information to Sunnyside City Hall to have your thoughts considered.

  • Heroes Park
    • It would be a great homage to our community’s emergency responders (police, fire department, paramedics), especially given the location. The name is also abstract, so it could also be used to honor veterans and community volunteers who are also heroes to our community. (submitted by Curtis Campbell)
  • Sun City Park
    • Short for Sunnyside (submitted by Sandra)
  • Sunnyside Sunshine Park (submitted by Rosa Tiliano)
  • 12th Man park, Hawks Nest, (something to do with the seahawks)
    • I believe the name will attract not just locals, but people from outside the community. It will add a sense of tourism. The name will also tie us closer as a state. With the name, we should make it football friendly by adding a goal post and pre marked lines. Should also include playing equipment that promotes football skills. This would encourage players from the seahawks to come visit our community, putting us on the map. (submitted by Anonymous)
    • Sunnyside has changed a lot throughout the years and now is a community of over 75% Hispanic. The Migrant worker that lives, works and spends their money in our community is apparent. The name of Mr. Cesar Chavez is something that the Hispanic Community can relate to. Cesar Chavez was the Martin Luther King of his day. He fought for justice and equality for the migrant worker. It was because of his dedication and unrelenting love for his community that he became the ICON that he is today. He is nationally recognized and many states have adopted his name for streets, parks and important community events. As a City Council you would be doing a great service of helping to Unite our community by choosing a name that the Hispanic Community can relate to. Thank you for your consideration and your time. (submitted by Bengie Aguilar)
  • Grizzly Park
    • Because it would be named after the high school mascot and show the high schools pride (submitted by Anonymous)
  • Radder Park
    • Ed Radder did a lot to help this community. He always worked hard to keep the kids involved. (submitted by Anonymous)
  • Sunnyside Serenity Park
    • Implication of mood and easing of tension based on the thought that the park is there for peaceful contemplation and activity. (submitted by Frank Salinas)
  • Funnyside Park
    • Because it represents Sunnyside and fun! (submitted by Rosa Morin-Cazares)
  • Sunnyside Has Character Park
    • The community has been working on character traits such as citizenship, accountability,etc. several businesses also post these traits throughout the community. Therefore, it would be another nice tie in with that. Perhaps as a part of the project or a future project, art or stones that display these character traits could be incorporated into the park in order to keep projecting a positive image of Sunnyside! (submitted by Anonymous)
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