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As It Was: Jackson County ‘omelet riots’ made headlines

Intense sports rivalry between Ashland and Medford high schools brought calls in 1928 for school and county authorities to stop so-called “omelet riots” and “hoodlum-ism” that followed athletic competition.

Things began to spin out of control when fights broke out between several students during the final minutes of a basketball game.

The following Saturday night, the Medford high school students decided to arm themselves for action, traveling to Ashland with an arsenal of eggs. Their foes were ready for them. As expected, the rivals clashed at game’s end.

They faced off in front of the Methodist Church, eggs became gooey missiles — and the omelet riots were underway. No one was seriously hurt in the crossfire, but the eggs splattered the church building. Another group clashed near the Southern Pacific overhead crossing on the Pacific Highway, where eggs bombarded passing cars.

When the student mischief became front page news as far away as Portland, the Ashland and Medford school boards and Jackson County authorities demanded that the hooliganism stop.

Most likely, it was the end of the 1928 athletic season that brought an end to Jackson County’s omelet riots.

Source: “Battling Students Say It With Eggs: Omelet Riots Staged in Medford and Ashland,” Oregonian, Portland, Ore., Feb. 22, 1928. As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.

Between 1920 and 1930, Medford's population doubled. Existing schools were overflowing at all levels and the school board found it necessary to rent outside rooms in two churches and the armory. In January 1931, by a vote of 12 to 1, a $265,000 bond issue was approved for the construction of two new schools and an addition to an existing school. Begun in March, the new schools were ready for occupancy in September. (Photo courtesy of Southern Oregon Historical Society, image No. 05589)