May 4, 1927
Facing a sixty day sentence for bootlegging before Municipal Judge Tunney, Euell Thomasson appealed to the court’s mercy in light of his rather unusual personal history.
He had, Thomasson swore, been gainfully employed by a creamery company which sent a troupe of live, chained bears around town in its wagons as an advertising gimmick. Naturally, being bears, they were inclined to get cranky on the road, and one day one lunged at Thomasson and took a healthy bite out of his thumb.
This left him unable to work, and his employers refused to pay any compensation. So he began selling alcohol, a trade which apparently calls for but one working thumb.
It is a judge’s job to weigh the facts and mitigating circumstances in cases complex and peculiar. Judge Tunney determined the value of a bear-bitten thumb to be ten days, and sentenced the prisoner to fifty days in stir.