Ok, more on the Piper kidnapping. Mike Bakalars, reader of this book, tells me that the seedy bar in question was known as Sportsman's Retreat. It was in north Minneapolis, in the vicinity of Lyndale and Plymouth Avenues, and I'm pretty sure the retreating sportsmen slaking their thirsts were neither hunters nor anglers. I was never there, though I do remember being at some disreputable establishments a half mile or so up the road. One, now closed, was called Stand Up Frank's, and the joke was, after two or at the most three, no customer could remain standing. On one occasion a female friend, after taking a sip of her "7 and 7," asked me to go to the bar for a glass of pop so that she could dilute her drink after choking some of it down. I obediently complied, and was told by the bartender, "Tell her if she likes pop there is a machine next door." When I told that story to a friend, he told me he was there once, in the winter, and some very dressed up lady--which would have been very unusual, like maybe there had been an article in one of the weeklies--asked the bartender whether he'd make her a hot toddy. He was washing glasses and didn't even look up while answering, "Lady, these drinks are hot enough." Someone else told me that for a period of time Frank's would, for the entertainment of their clientele, project pornographic movies on the undecorated walls of the bar. Hard to understand why, if that's true, anyone ever went to the Sportsman's Retreat.
Anyway, thanks to Mike's information, I googled something like "Piper kidnapping sportsman's" and was soon sunk in this long specimen of unusually interesting legal prose. It's the decision of the appellate court ordering a new trial for the two men, Callahan and Larson, who had been convicted of the kidnapping in the fall of 1977. It seems I got at least one detail wrong in yesterday's exposition: I said that Mrs Piper spent two nights alone in the woods, handcuffed and chained to a tree, when actually the first night one of the kidnappers stayed with her and even gave her some trousers and a St Olaf sweatshirt to keep her warm. As a St Olaf alum, I probably should not have suggested that Callahan and Larson lacked the sophistication necessary to have pulled off such a complex crime. They--if it was them--made at least one amateurish error, however: at some point on his ransom odyssey, the kidnappers made Mr Piper leave his own car and get into the same stolen Chevy Monte Carlo that they had used to transport Mrs Piper to Jay Kent State Park. Thus when he later abandoned it at a suburban Holiday store, the authorities were able to subject it to a rigorous forensic examination that turned up a hair very like Callahan's and, from a scrap of a bag, a fingerprint very like Larson's.
But the kidnappers, if there indeed were only two of them, were not by any means hopeless bumblers, either. It's hard to disagree with the following from the decision ordering a new trial:
Finally, we offer the following observation. The complicated manner of the ransom delivery involving several automobiles, possible monitoring by radio transmission, frequent stops, and the removal of the ransom money at the very point timed telephone signals were being relayed together with the fact that at least one kidnapper remained with Mrs Piper in the park until Friday night suggests the participation of more than two individuals in the crime . . . .
Yet the government only ever tried two people, and they were eventually acquitted.