Newspaper Reporter Recounts His Motel Misdemeanor

It happened in 1981, to the guy on the left.

Curt Brown retired from full-time duty at the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2014. He still writes a weekly history column and this frame, he has also shared some highly entertaining personal history.


Back in 1981, Brown and his girlfriend stayed at the Lakeland Motel in Fergus Falls, Minn., during Memorial Day Weekend as he made his way to a summer job at newspaper the Fergus Falls Journal. On his way out of the establishment, the Macalester College student instructed Adele to grab a pillow from the room as a souvenir. A week later, this happened:

I opened the door to a uniformed Otter Tail County deputy and a plain-clothed detective who reminded me of Columbo.

“What can I do for you, fellows?” I asked, wondering what they might have spied me doing through the window.

“You have the right to remain silent,” the deputy said, reading my Miranda rights, all the while looking like Dudley Do-Right with his big hat and gun.

The detective, glancing at his small notebook, asked if I had a pillow, a pillow case and a towel removed from the Lakeland Motel. I fessed up and returned the bedding.

I was charged with misdemeanor theft and ordered to appear in Otter Tail County court before the honorable Judge Elliott Boe. I panicked and decided on a no-cover-up strategy. Watergate was less than a decade old. Lesson learned.

The rest of the column is a must-bookmark. We suggest reading it later tonight or one other evening, when you are safely resting in your bedroom, with head atop a pillow that is rightfully owned.

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@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.
Publish date: June 9, 2016 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT