Today medical marijuana's the thing, but a century ago, it was medical cocaine and morphine - likewise legal, as long as you had a prescription.
Congress banned the importation of opium in 1905, but didn't prohibit or restrict sale of drugs made from the narcotic itself. Two years later, California took the lead with the Pharmacy and Poison Act of 1907, which required a prescription from a physician, dentist, or veterinary surgeon (!) to buy any product containing opium or cocaine from a drug store.
Trouble was, by 1907 Americans were already hooked. A generation had grown up with myriad bottles and pill boxes in their medicine cabinets that contained some form of opium or cocaine. Laudanum famously became the drug of choice for women with menstrual cramps; children with coughs might be given a sip from a bottle of Heroin, a product made by Bayer. Besides the druggy patent medicines, pharmacists in 1907 were still making their own medicines in the back of the drug store. A druggist recipe book from that period shows that a pill to ease the discomfort of "grip" (flu) might contain as much as 1,500 milligrams of opium. Other common ingredients in those flu pills were quinine, ipecac, belladonna, and sodium salicylate (a base component in aspirin, and which we now know can trigger fatal Reye's Syndrome in children).
The dangers of that easy availability of "dope" is underscored in the second story, where a local toddler finds a box of opium-laced tablets and almost dies of an overdose. Apparently no parenting book of the era warned about the dangers of leaving candy-coated morphine within reach a two-year-old.
NOT SO EASY TO BUY "DOPE" NOW
Only on Prescription Can Morphine, Cocaine, Etc., Be Sold by Druggists Under New Law
Another of the new laws that has gone into effect will work something of "a hardship" upon those unfortunate persons who have become addicted to a use of morphine, cocaine, and other "dope."
A copy of the law was seen in the office of District Attorney Lea yesterday, and it provides that druggists can no longer sell morphine, cocaine, etc., to persons unless they present a prescription regularly made out by either a practicing physician, dentist, or veterinary surgeon. A heavy penalty will be imposed for infraction of the law.- Press Democrat, April 20, 1907
EAT TABLETS AND DEATH WAS NEAR
Little Son of Mr. and Mrs. John L. Peterson Has a Narrow Escape From Death
The two-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. John L. Peterson, who reside near this city, when he grows older will learn that whether it was his childish instinct or not that made him on Wednesday morning toddle over to his mother and prattle to her something about "tandy," thus saving his life. The child had a miraculous escape from death, and only after the most strenuous efforts on the part of the attending physician that he was saved.
While his mother's back was turned John L. Jr., walked into his brother's bedroom climbed up onto a chair and in the course of his investigation of the bureau found some nice looking sugar-coated things in a box that were to him "tandy." He eat [sic] about a dozen of them and then toddled off to find his mother and inform her in baby talk of his discovery. Mrs. Peterson at once investigated and discovered that the child had eaten about a dozen grip capsules.
A short time afterwards she saw that the child was becoming very drowsy and this aroused her suspicions that all was not as it should be, When he came in to lunch Mr. Peterson confirmed his wife's fears, and Dr. Bogle was sent for. When he arrived the physician saw that there was no time to lose. He set to work on the child at once, and kept it up for nearly five hours before he was pronounced out of danger. The tablets the child had eaten contained some opium. It is quite certain but for the child's remark regarding candy the eating of the tablets would have cost him his life. Seeing that he always takes a nap for two or three hours in the afternoon Mrs. Peterson noticing his drowsiness, would have put him in bed and then the effects of the drug would have completed their deadly work. On Wednesday the child was reported to be considerably improved.- Press Democrat, April 25, 1907
The old Santa Rosa papers apparently reported every incident of juvenile crime on the police blotter (and 1907 was a banner year for our hometown hoodlums), but articles about domestic abuse were few, and rarer still were accounts of child neglect. For both newspapers to write about the tragic Cline family was unprecedented.
Although the four little Clines were allegedly reduced to begging for food, it's interesting that the most serious charge made against the parents was using "profane and vulgar language in the presence of children." And given the seriousness of the neglect, it's absolutely amazing that the court released the parents on just thirty days probation.
UNKIND PARENTS REBUKED
Officers Boyes and Lindley were called to Madison street Wednesday night to quell a family disturbance. They found a man and woman drunk, with several children, living in filth and poverty seldom seen in this city. There was nothing but bread and wine on the table for supper and the neighbors declare that the children have had to beg food to keep from starvation. Both husband and wife were using the coarsest and most vulgar language toward one another in the presence of the young children. The man was given a stern rebuke and warning that unless he provided for the children and maintained a more respectable place both he and his wife would be locked up as common vagrants.- Press Democrat, June 13, 1907
MOTHER IS UNDER ARREST
She And Husband Used Too Much Intoxicants
Mrs. Frances Cline was arrested by Officer John M. Boyes and Deputy Sheriff Don McIntosh Friday afternoon. She and her husband are jointly charged with being drunk and using profane and vulgar language in the presence of children under their control. The husband was not captured and the woman and her daughter made an ineffectual attempt to hide from the officers.
The parents were given a warning by the police several nights since, when they were carousing and there was nothing for their four children to eat except dry bread, while an abundance of wine was being consumed by the parents. The neighbors complain bitterly of the treatment accorded the children. The family live down on Boyce street.
When the officers called Friday they were not given admission, and Officer Boyes finally crawled in through a window and then admitted McIntosh. A search of the premises failed to reveal them until McIntosh struck a match and looked beneath a rude bed standing on boxes. There he saw a piece of a calico wrapper and called Boyes' attention to the same. Boyes took hold of the woman and shook her, commanding her to come from beneath the bed, which she did. Following her was her daughter, who was taken in charge by a neighbor, while the mother was carted off to jail in the patrol wagon. The woman shed bitter tears en route to the jail and after her arrival there. She showed she had been imbibing. When the husband is taken into custody the pair will be given a hearing before Justice A. J. Atchinson.- Santa Rosa Republican, June 21, 1907
PARENTS ARE GIVEN LIBERTY
Pleas Of Children Save Them From The Jail
Mr. and Mrs. Cline, who reside in the northwestern portion of the city. and who were arrested Friday for neglecting their children and using profane language in their presence, entered please of guilty to the charge before Justice Atchinson. The pleas of the children saved the parents from incarceration and the sentence was suspended for thirty days and they were permitted to go on probation.- Santa Rosa Republican, June 22, 1907
Early 20th century Santa Rosa had plenty of rules and regs on water use, and gave city workers broad powers to enforce them. As noted earlier, a policeman who heard water running overnight could wake up homeowners and require them to shut off the faucet; a city inspector could come into your home and write a $2.50 citation for every leaky fixture, and as shown below, firemen could enforce a city ordinance requiring all lawn and garden watering to cease when the fire bell rang. The "irrigation hours" mentioned here was another water regulation holdover from the last century; depending upon your address, homeowners could only water at certain hours in either the afternoon or evening, the starting and ending times announced by the tooting of the town's steam whistle, not to be confused with the fire bell, which signaled that all water should be shut off . It wasn't the Edwardian Era in America - it was the Pavlovian Era.
TURN OFF WATER AT FIRE ALARM
Ordinance Will Be Strictly Enforced--Meeting of the Fire Commissioners Last Night
There is a city ordinance that provided when a fire alarm is sounded persons who are irrigating their lawns shall immediately shut off the water.
At a meeting of the Fire Commissioners last night, Fire Chief Muther in ____ [illegible microfilm] to have his his men keep a sharp lookout to see that the ordinance is strictly obeyed.
There were four alarms of fire during the month. The most serious conflagration being at the old Ladies' College building on McDonald avenue. The Chief called attention to the lack of water to combat this fire, explaining that the hydrant is on a "dead end" and the fire occurring during "irrigation hours" sufficient water could only be obtained for one stream.- Press Democrat, May 22, 1907