Friday, November 3, 2017

Wylog “Ernest” Fong and Mahlon Blaine, 1918

The Oregon Daily Journal
(Portland, Oregon)
January 19, 1918
Artists Too Near Waterfront for Their Own Safety
Mahlon Blaine, an artist, whose home is in Dilley, Or., and Ernest Fong, a Chinese, also an artist, set out this morning to sketch riverfront pictures, contrary to a war law of Uncle Sam, and were taken before United States Marshal Alexander for investigation.

When Marshal Alexander told them the making of pictures of waterfronts might result in aiding the enemy, they declared they would confine their art to scenes which would less likely be of interest to the kaiser.

“I wan’t aware that the law was so strict,” said Blaine. “I didn’t mind being arrested, but would rather jump into the river than have it thought I was making sketches for the kaiser.”

Both were released.

The Oregonian
(Portland, Oregon)
January 20, 1918
“Spy” Artists Halted
Policeman Does his Duty, Medal or No Medal
Mahlon Blaine and Ernest Fong Promise to Make No More Pictures of Portland Waterfront

Visions of German spies, craftily plying their trade in making war sketches of the waterfront of a Pacific port, came before a detective of the police force as he caught sight of a couple busily sketching the Portland skyline near the Steel bridge. With a duty to be performed in sight he stepped forward and accosted the “spies.”

“You’re arrested,” he declared.

“You’re kidding us,” scoffed Mahlon Blaine, artist. Ernest Fong, his associate, grinned his belief in the detective’s attempt at humor.

“Not so you’d notice it,” replied the arm of the law. “Don’t you know its against the law to sketch the waterfront. How do we know you’re not going to send those pictures to Kaiser Bill, so he can see how the Portland harbor looks?’

The two artists looked at one another.

“Hadn’t thought of that,” admitted Blaine.

“Well, that’s the way it might look to Uncle Sam. You’s better come up to see the United States Marshal.”

Marshal Alexander was soon convinced of the innocence of the devotees of art. And the artists promised to seek further for their subjects. So everything turned out satisfactorily except for the detective, who will probably not get a medal for capturing “dangerous German spies.”

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