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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: Two Danish nobles were deported after ‘flim-flam’ scheme against businesses around town

UPDATED: Wed., Jan. 13, 2021

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives )
(Spokane Daily Chronicle archives )
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

Two members of the Danish nobility, Count and Countess Von Holstein-Rathlou, living in Spokane, were being deported back to Denmark on various charges.

A number of Spokane merchants and welfare agencies said the couple tried to “film-flam” them. They owed the Culbertson’s department store at least $1,200.

“Count Rathlou has a mighty smooth tongue,” the head of Spokane’s social service bureau said. “That is the reason why he was able to secure so much credit around town.”

The social services bureau even helped the couple out with groceries, until the bureau learned “the couple was unworthy of such help.”

As it turned out, the count and countess “were known to the police of many cities” before they arrived in Spokane in 1919. The countess, in an interview, said, “We have done wrong, I admit, but nothing like we are said to have done.” She said their Danish fortune evaporated due to inflation, and they had just been trying to live honestly. Her husband even worked as a laborer on the Culbertson’s building, she said, “but because he was a count, everyone was after his money.” She admitted her husband had “no business judgment.”

The Culbertson’s department store sent a man out to the Rathlou home on North Division in an attempt to “bring back as much of our goods as can be obtained.”

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1963: George C. Wallace was sworn in as governor of Alabama with the pledge, “Segregation forever!” — a view Wallace later repudiated.

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