That's was a pretty disgusting story out of Fortuna in this morning's Times-Standard. According to reporter Sean Garmire, the district attorney's office has filed charges against Robert Newell, former curator of the Fortuna Depot Museum, for allegedly swiping museum exhibits and hawking them on eBay. Garmire writes that Newell fessed up to the Fortuna Police Department, which found several missing items and sales receipts totaling in the thousands of dollars. The thefts allegedly took place between February and April of this year.
So it is with some amazement that we turn back to Jessie Faulkner's glowing profile of Newell in the March 8 Times-Standard. The profile itself is fine -- even better than fine, in retrospect. Because with hindsight we can see that Faulkner the kind of innate, subconscious reportorial instinct that we hacks kill for.
Take the lead paragraph:
If anyone has a grasp of Fortuna's early history, it's likely to be new Fortuna Depot Museum Curator Bob Newell, whose family first came to the area in the 1850s.
Yes indeed! His grasp on Fortuna's early history was stronger than anyone could have imagined.
Newell is also addressing the needs of the museum's youngest visitors. Realizing that a shelf full of antique typewriters whose hard-to-push keys are within reach is just too much temptation, Newell set up a hands-on site.
Can this be coincidence? I maintain that there was some tiny voice whispering inside Faulkner's head that led her to this particular anecdote and phraseology. Bravo! Trust your gut, Jessie!
Now imagine Newell reading this story on the day it came out. Did he see it as a sign that the world was onto him? Did he start looking over his shoulder?