A shooting at the fashion saloon, July 5, 1911

‘Nothing New’ By Roy Vataja

The old Pioneer Paper building, a longtime fixture on east Heron Street and one of the first brick and mortar buildings erected following the Great Fire that gutted Aberdeen’s wood-built central district in October, 1903, will soon be demolished, and with it goes another link to Aberdeen’s rambunctious history. Built in early 1904, the first tenant was the Fashion Saloon where the Bowes Brothers dealt drinks and cards — with crib rooms available on the second floor.

Twenty-four hours earlier, Aberdeen had wrapped up a successful Fourth of July Splash celebration attended by “loggers and farmers, pioneers and the tenderfoot, capitalists and jackies, sedate matrons and balmy summer girls.” As dusk turned to dark on the evening of July 5, 1911, a large crowd of card players and carousers were gathered at the Fashion. Then shots rang out.

Man shot last night — The Fashion Saloon was the scene of a bad shooting affair about 9:30 last night when Tommy Rice, a laborer about sixty years old, was shot and dangerously, if not mortally wounded, by a Greek named Calestro. Rice was removed at once to the Aberdeen General Hospital and at last reports seemed to be holding his own with some chance for recovery. His assailant made his escape through the back door of the saloon and is still at large. This morning bloodhounds were put on his trail, and as they took the scent readily it is hoped that the fugitive may be apprehended by night.

The shooting grew out of some trouble which the men seem to have had. The whites have had trouble with the “dagos” and last night Rice and Calestro got into a little scuffle at one of the card tables. Calestro drew a gun and fired two shots, one of which struck Rice close to the heart, passing up through the breast and out the point of the shoulder. While weak from loss of blood the victim did not lose consciousness. At the hospital this morning about three o’clock, officer Church and Dean and Dr. Paul Smits secured a statement from him that he had had trouble with the Greek about two weeks ago. Later he said that he had “known the man about three or four days.” He was not inclined to talk about the affair and persistently asked not to be questioned.

While the reports of the shooting seem to agree, the strange thing is that the man made his escape. After firing the shots, he was seized by Billy Boyle, a one-armed man, who threw him down. Calestro, however, broke away and made his exit through the rear door. At the time there was a large crowd of men in the saloon, about the bar and around the tables. None of them, however, lent a hand to Boyle, probably through fear.

Calestro is a man about 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing about 145 pounds. His build is rather slender, his face not full, and he wore a thin mustache. His suit was light in color. He had on a soft shirt. His hat, which was a gray one of good quality, he left behind in the fracas.

To a Herald reporter Si Stapleford, who was one of the witnesses of the shooting, gave a full account shortly after the incident.

“There were a half dozen of us sitting at one of the card tables,” said Stapleford, “including Bob Hamilton, and his cousin, Frank Stafford, Miles Lammi, a fellow whose first name is Joe, and myself. Four were playing cards and the rest looking on. At the other table sat Tommy Rice talking with another fellow we call Charley. They were not playing cards but talking. The Greek was sitting near the same table apparently sleeping. Rousing himself, the Greek and Tommy got into a short argument and then got to scuffling. The first thing we knew we heard the shots.”

A crowd quickly gathered at the saloon and grew very noisy and turbulent. The officers came quickly and quieted the mob, however, and took the witnesses to the police station. Chief Templeman and his men worked the most of the night on the case. Officers guarded Calestro’s house near the Federal Mill all night, but the man did not appear after their arrival. Calestro is unmarried and lives with a brother and married sister.

Sheriff Payette was notified and came down at once to assist in the chase. About nine o’clock this morning the bloodhounds that were summoned from Seattle arrived on the scene. Taking the scent they chased across the vacant lot in the rear of the saloon and then west along the tracks to his home and then out past the oil works and though the western part of town. At the latest report they were still on the trail, and had reached as far as the Polson camp, about fourteen miles away.

Sheriff Payette, who drove up in his car from Montesano, had his car damaged on G Street, this morning. The car slid on the slippery pavement and crashing against the curb, the rear wheel was smashed. — Aberdeen Herald, July 6, 1911

A follow-up story in the next issue made some adjustments to the spelling of the assailant’s name and his country of origin.

In pursuit of Callesto — Lazzereschi Callesto, who has been sought by the city and county officers for the past four days, seems to have made good his escape. Tom Rice, whom Callesto shot in the rear of the Fashion Saloon last Wednesday night, continues to improve at the local hospital and it is now felt that he will recover. The officers started out again this morning, taking an automobile for Moclips and the country intervening. Those in the posse were Sheriff Payette and Deputies McKenzie and Schwartz. They will scour that section in the hopes of finally locating the Italian who has given them such a chase.

As stated in Thursday’s paper, blood hounds from Seattle were put on Callesto’s trail. They followed the scent from his house near the Federal Mill clear to the Hoquiam River. Crossing that, they again took up the trail, but lost it before they had gone very far up the south side of the stream. There had been some rain and considerable traffic so that the dogs were completely baffled. The dogs were taken back to Seattle Friday.

The search was continued however, by a posse directed by Sheriff Payette. All Friday afternoon and night and up to Saturday afternoon, the officers scoured the Humptulips river country and on into the Quiniault reservation. No trace of the Italian could they find. Sheriff Payette and his deputies, McKenzie and Schwartz, and Police Chief George Dean, returned Saturday afternoon.

If Callesto is not located today, it is probable that the active search will be given up. If he is hiding in the Harbor country, he is almost certain to apprehended sooner or later. If, however, he was made his way to the Sound, his chances of complete escape are good. — Aberdeen Herald, July 10, 1911

Despite an extensive search by city and county authorities, Callesto was never captured nor seen in these parts again.

The victim, Tom Rice, recovered from the shooting and worked as a pipe fitter in logging camps before retiring in 1927. He passed away at the age of 84 of cardiac failure on Aug. 18, 1936, in his room at 100 South E Street (now the Q-Mart drive-through) and is buried at Fern Hill.

Roy Vataja is the son of Finnish immigrants and wishes everyone a fire-free Fourth of July.