A True Son of Anarchy by Justin Wadland
As he walked the sodden planks of the Municipal Dock, his eyes wandered from overcoats to leather shoes, across roped bollards to steam rising off the mills. He sighed a lungful of cigarette smoke. Tacoma’s dreary, wet weather could not compare to the glorious blue skies of Los Angeles. Drizzle saturated everything here, but in California the wind rustling the palms reminded a man of the nearby ocean, even when the views were framed by hotel and automobile windows, or caught in the short walks to and from a courthouse. It felt good to be alone, though, not shadowed by a bodyguard: protection is another word for confinement. Soon enough, he would be on the familiar slope above Joe’s Bay and tucked into his mother’s cabin.
Donald Vose may have looked like a well-heeled sport, in a dark suit and tie, with his hair trim on the sides and parted on top, but the bags beneath his eyes betrayed the things that he had witnessed. There were the late nights drinking cheap whiskey with anarchists and dynamiters. The agony of sitting on hard seats in cramped courtrooms that didn’t permit smoking. Matthew A. Schmidt upon the stand, jabbing a thick finger in his direction and accusing him, the star witness, of lying. Well, Schmidty got life in prison, so no need to worry about seeing him again.
Approaching the steamer to Home, he encountered a group of men who had just arrived from that place. Last year, the guys would have smiled at his familiar face, perhaps teased him for his fancy suit and tie, but on this day, January 26, 1916, they beset him in “a murderous attack,” “a bitter fight,” according to the newspapers. Fists collided with flesh. A cigarette tumbled and fizzed against the damp boards. Vose fled the barrage and leapt aboard the steamer he had just left. The officers on the ship refused to let his attackers onboard.
They stood just beyond the rails, probably hurling the invectives with which he would be branded for the rest of his life: Rat! Stool pigeon! Cur! Traitor! Liar! Judas Iscariot!
Vose retreated farther onto the boat, which took him back to Seattle, back to the office of the Burns Detective Agency, back to the safety of bodyguards and undisclosed locations.
In the 1910s and 1920s, the children raised in the anarchist colony of Home, Washington, began to come of age, but they seemed uninterested in staying or taking over their parents’ utopian experiment. Three families had established the settlement in 1896 on a remote peninsula in Puget Sound. According to one founder, the colony offered its members the personal liberty “to follow their own line of action, no matter how much it may differ from the custom of the past or present, without censure or ostracism from their neighbors.” Practically speaking, this meant that not just anarchism but a heterogeneous assortment of
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