Bizarre History

Fortune Telling Is A Luxury

Chad Lewis |

Fortune Telling Is A Luxury
– Eau Claire Leader | August 24, 1907

A palmist, who is holding forth at a hotel in Chippewa Falls, yesterday came to Eau Claire for the purpose of opening a parlor for “readings” in the city. She visited police headquarters during the early morning to enquire about the license charged for such vocations in the city. The police officers were not sure what the license was, as few palmists have considered Eau Claire a fertile field for the reading of palms. Mayor Frawley was still dreaming at that early hour and city Clerk Fennessey was just eating his morning meal. The woman was disappointed. Later in the day she obtained the desired information. When informed that the license was only $10 a day, she nearly fainted. It is not known whether she will come down from Chippewa or not.


Chad's Take: Keep Out The Strange!

You might be thinking “What is the big deal about paying $10 a day for a license?” Well you have to remember that this was 1907 and the average family income was approximately $300 a year. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, paying $10 a day in 1907 would be like paying $250 a day in 2008. By making the license an extremely expensive $10 a day, the city insured that the palm reader could not afford to set up shop in Eau Claire.

I have to admit that I agree with the city on this one. What kind of upstanding citizen would have wanted a palm reader doing business in their great city? If the woman had picked a more respectable occupation she would have had no problem obtaining a job in Eau Claire. For instance if she wanted to be “lady of the night” she would have found plenty of bordellos filled with men that were hiring. If she wanted to be a gambler she would not have to look far to find an overcrowded card game in Eau Claire. Hell, for real financial security she could have been a server at one of the literally dozens of saloons that kept the Chippewa Valley from ever getting thirsty. Currently no license is needed to operate as a paranormal investigator in Eau Claire, which is fortunate for me because the outrageous price might certainly decrease my patronage at Eau Claire’s present day saloons.