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Monday, July 7, 2008

Raise a glass to Soapy...

July 8 is Soapy Smith Wake Day in Skagway Alaska.

Jefferson Randolph ("Soapy") Smith II was a great American con artist long before carbon credits were even invented. He gained his nickname - and a great deal of money - from a soap-selling scam.

Smith would open his display case on a busy street corner and begin expounding on the wonders of the soap. As he spoke to the growing crowd of onlookers, he would pull out his wallet and begin wrapping paper money ranging from one dollar up to one hundred dollars, around a few of the bars. He then finished each bar by wrapping plain paper around it to hide the money before selling the soap to the crowd for one dollar a cake. Someone planted in the crowd would buy a bar, tear it open, and loudly proclaim that he had won some get the drift...

Fittingly enough, Soapy was killed in a gun-fight with the Skagway city surveyor, and his last words were "My god, don't shoot!"

More on the extraordinary life and times of Soapy here.

PS Does anyone else think there is a physical resemblance here? Just sayin' is all.

1 comment:

Jeff Smith said...

Sorry it took so long for me to find this. Thank you for honoring my g-grandfather. I have attended the wakes in Skagway, Alaska and the one at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, Ca. They are a lot of fun.

You might enjoy my families website on Soapy Smith.