A Look Back in Time: Centralia Police Department Report Details Crimes and Accidents During 1952


The Centralia Police Department’s annual report showed it had made 1,283 arrests during 1952. The report was accepted at a meeting of the Centralia City Commission on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 1953, The Chronicle reported. 

Arrests for drunkenness led the list of arrests “as usual,” according to The Chronicle, with 283 arrests. Speeding citations ranked second with 251 arrests while driving through stop signs came in third with 117 arrests. The Chronicle reported disorderly conduct and negligent driving tied for fourth place with 56 arrests each. Additionally, 55 arrests were made for drunk driving while 53 were made for driving without a license. 

According to The Chronicle’s story on the police report, there was an average of just over 3.5 arrests made per day in Centralia. The police had also produced thousands of dollars in revenue for the city.

“A total of $20,931.50 was turned over to the city treasurer from the department, $18,313.50 coming from fines paid and bail amounts forfeited, $2,598.50 from meter and parking violations and $19.50 from pound fees,” The Chronicle reported. 

A total of 31 cars had been reported stolen in Centralia during 1952, with six of the reports being false alarms, 10 of the cars being recovered in the city, 14 being recovered outside of the city and one car still missing. 

Throughout 1952, 630 cars were involved in 325 car accidents. During those accidents, 49 people were injured and one rural Centralia man was killed in an accident that involved a train. The car accidents caused an estimated collective cost of $56,010 in damages, for an average of about $89 per car.   


Saturday, Jan. 28, 1933

• Art Lyda, a 22-year-old Centralia resident was taken into custody on Jan. 28 after escaping from the Centralia Jail the day before. He had been arrested on drunk driving charges. Lyda pleaded not guilty to his charges and his trial was set for the night of Monday, Jan. 30. 

• Olive O. Light had reportedly passed away at the age of 58 in a local hospital. Light, a Centralia resident, was survived by her husband, a son and five daughters. Light’s family had moved to Centralia from Montesano four years earlier. 

• Ralph Miller, a 22-year-old Spokane resident, was being held in the Lewis County Jail on shoplifting charges, The Chronicle reported. Miller was alleged to have stolen a suede packet from Chehalis’ J.C. Penney store on the afternoon of Friday, Jan. 27. Store employees had reportedly caught Miller and held him until Floyd Peasley, the Chehalis police chief, arrived.

• During a meeting on the night of Friday, Jan. 27, the Centralia School Board passed a resolution supporting Senate Bill 80, also known as the “barefoot schoolboy law.” It was unclear what the bill did from The Chronicle’s reporting, but it appeared to benefit school districts with low assessed property values. 

• Lloyd Crosby’s efforts to rush preparations for the opening of his new logging camp near Pe Ell were apparently being hampered by snow. The area around Pe Ell was covered in 24 inches of snow, causing problems for Crosby's planned opening of his camp. “Mr. Crosby expected to begin shipping logs Feb. 1, but it now appears he will be lucky if delivery is started before the 15th,” The Chronicle reported. 

• A “near-serious” accident occurred at the intersection of First and Pearl streets in Centralia, The Chronicle reported. The accident occurred on the evening of Friday, Jan. 27 when a bus was hit by a car. The car was reported by the bus driver to have been driving at an “excessive rate of speed and the driver failed (to) observe the ‘stop’ sign at the street intersection.” The driver of the car said he hadn’t seen the stop sign until too late but said he hadn’t been driving over 25 miles per hour. 

• Sarah Frost, 95, had died on Wednesday, Jan. 25 in Tacoma, The Chronicle reported. Frost was the widow of a Civil War veteran and had lived in the Napavine area for 42 years before moving to Tacoma in 1928 to be closer to her daughter. The aunt of Marvin Griffith, who The Chronicle referred to as a “well known Chehalis business man,” Forest was survived by her daughter, a son and a brother. A funeral service was held for her at Napavine Methodist Church on Thursday, Jan. 26.


Thursday, Jan. 28, 1943

• A fire was threatening a state prison camp in Onalaska, The Chronicle reported. The fire was supposedly caused by defective wiring in an ice compressing machine. “The blaze quickly enveloped the entire structure, but through the cooperation of the inmates, the machinery was removed,” The Chronicle reported. 

• Luther Barnes, an 87-year-old who had lived in Centralia since 1903, had died in his home after two weeks of illness. Barnes was born on March 31, 1856 in Toledo, Ohio and was survived by his wife, two daughters, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. 

• Tommy Matthews, a 13-year-old Tenino boy, died after falling out of the back of a truck on Bucoda Road two miles north of Centralia. The driver of the truck had been asked by his grandfather, a Tenino feed dealer, to go to Centralia for a load of feed and Matthews asked to go with at the last minute. While sitting with two others in the back of the truck with bags of feed, the vehicle bounced as it left the pavement at the Thurston County line, causing Matthews and several of the bags to fall out. An ambulance was called but Matthews had died by the time he reached the hospital. 

• Capt. Reginald Clizbe, a 28-year-old Centralian, was mentioned in an Associated Press dispatch from a base in North Africa as having “played a major role in what was described as ‘the greatest aerial blow ever struck at the axis on the Tunisian battlefield,” The Chronicle reported. Clizbe graduated from Centralia High School in 1934 and from Centralia College in 1936, at which point he began attending West Point where he earned his commission in 1940. He then joined the Air Force, then part of the Army, earning his “wings” at Stockton Field in California in early 1941. 

• Centralia firemen were forced to “sprint” in response to four alarms in a span of two hours, The Chronicle reported. The first alarm came at 3:30 p.m. while the fourth alarm came at 5:40. Three of the alarms were caused by grass fires while a fourth one was a false alarm “turned in by youngsters, who fled when firemen arrived.”

• A five room “modern” house just outside Centralia was listed in The Chronicle for $2,000. The house was described as sitting on property with good soil and a “place for cow(s) and chickens.”

• A note was included in The Chronicle, possibly placed by The Chronicle’s editorial staff, urging readers to send their enlisted sons copies of The Chronicle to read. “IF YOUR SON is in the army, mail him the Daily Chronicle — all the news from his hometown,” the note stated.


Wednesday, Jan. 28, 1953

• A weed control bill, described by The Chronicle as potentially being one of the agricultural  industry’s most important bills of the 1953 legislative session, was reportedly being sponsored by Lewis County legislators. The bill, House Bill 136, was sponsored by Reps. Harry Siler of Randle and Joe Chytil of Chehalis. Siler told The Chronicle on Tuesday, Jan. 27 there was “assurance” the bill would reach the House floor. The bill was described as being “highly technical” because it had to serve a variety of agricultural areas across the state.  

• A “powder man” was injured at Camp McDonald, presumably some sort of mining or timber camp, after he slipped on a muddy bank after laying a charge for an explosion. The man, Ray Mustoe of Pe Ell, was taken to St. Helen Hospital in Chehalis for a possible chest injury. He had fallen about eight feet over a bank, after which other workers carried him to a company road where an ambulance met him. 

• The newly built Oakview School formally became part of the Centralia School District in a ceremony held on the night of Tuesday, Jan. 27. The ceremony drew a crowd of nearly 200 who heard addresses from the featured speaker, Dr. Joyce Cooper, an aide with the state department of education, and Centralia superintendent William Bloom. The school, described by The Chronicle as a “badly-needed addition,” cost $204,635 to build. 

• Mort Frayn, the Speaker of the Washington state House of Representative, would be the featured speaker for the Lewis County Republicans’ Lincoln Day dinner on Saturday, Feb. 14. The announcement came from Lloyd Owen, a Chehalis resident and the chair of the Lewis County Republicans. 

• January 1953 appeared on track to be the rainiest January in the history of the Twin Cities “January was still on the ‘water wagon’ Wednesday morning,” The Chronicle reported. There had already been 12.19 inches of rain, with only about half an inch to go to break the January record. With weather forecasts calling for more rain, The Chronicle expected the record to be broken. 

• Slim Brough, who The Chronicle described as a “widely known square dance caller from Los Angeles,” was expected to be at the Centralia Armory the next week for two dance sessions for residents of the Twin Cities and Lewis County. Brough, who spent some of his early life in the Napavine area, apparently went on a tour of square dance calling each year. His tour for 1953, included visits to Seattle and Vancouver, in addition to his visit to the Twin Cities. 

• Joy Palmer, a Centralia resident, was given the Silver Beaver Award, one of the most prestigious awards given by the Boy Scouts. The award is given “for long and outstanding service in Scouting work,” The Chronicle reported. At the time, only two awards could be given by a local Boy Scout Council each year. 


Monday, Jan. 28, 1963

• Lewis County farm foresters were expected to gather on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 31 to review their work during the past year and discuss the “costly aftermath” of the October 1962 storm that had affected the Lewis County area. The meeting was to take place at the community building of Chehalis’ Recreation Park. The featured speaker was to be Norman Johnson, an entomologist at the Weyerhaeuser Forest Research Center in Centralia. Johnson was to discuss disease and insect problems related to the “blowdown” the previous October. 

• Snow caused at least two car crashes on the morning of Jan. 28. According to the state patrol, a driver from Dryad skidded off the highway eight miles west of Chehalis at 3 a.m. The driver was unhurt but his car was totaled. The second crash occurred at 8:45 a.m. at a bridge crossing the Cowlitz River when the car drove into a bridge railing. The driver of that crash was also unharmed but reported $400 in damages.

• Plans for a Lewis County boating ordinance were delayed several months while local authorities waited to see what would happen to a proposed state boating safety law, The Chronicle reported. Curt Back, a Lewis County Commissioner, said on Jan. 28 the county was waiting to see what happened to a bill that had been proposed in the state House the same day. 

• The Chronicle told readers to fill out a questionnaire from state Reps. Morrill Folsom of Centralia and Harry Siler of Randle to let them know the readers’ opinions. “Tell your legislators what YOU think!” The Chronicle stated. The Chronicle listed a series of questions readers could give their opinions on when responding to the questionnaire, such as “If we have to have more taxes, should they be for schools, welfare, highways? Or do we want no more taxes at all - irrespective of any needs?”

• According to an Associated Press story featured in The Chronicle, Democratic Party leaders from Southwest Washington recommended censuring the seven Democrats who had joined with the Republicans in the state House to elect a moderate Democrat, William Day of Spokane, as state House Speaker over the incumbent Democratic Speaker, John O’Brien of Seattle. The members of the Democratic Nine-County League, an organization of Democratic Party leaders from the nine counties that made up Washington’s Third Congressional District, passed the resolution, which removed state Rep. Chet King of Raymond from the League, presumably for supporting Day, called the seven Democrats who backed Day “renegade Democrats” and called for them to be excluded from all Democratic organizations in the state. 

• In a story from the Associated Press featured in The Chronicle, it was reported state House Speaker William Day of Spokane had urged Democrats to accept their committee chairmanships after the state House Democratic Caucus had directed its members to reject such appointments. The Caucus’ action was a response to Day’s election as Speaker after a coalition of moderate Democrats joined Republicans in electing him. “I told them then and I tell them again now that the appointments will stand,” Day said on Jan. 28. “If any Democratic House committee chairman continues to refuse to function in that capacity I intend to replace him with another Democrat.” At least one Demorat, Marian Gleason of Tacoma, had already defied her party and accepted the chairmanship of the state House Commerce and Economic Development Committee. 

• The Packwood Community Club was expected to present Don and June Mulford as guests on Thursday, Jan 31 at 8 p.m. at the Packwood community building. The couple, who The Chronicle reported were “well known travelers who made a trek on horseback from Mexico to Canada,” were expected to show their films taken while in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. The public was invited to attend.