Monday, November 29, 2010

recollections about myself: police cadets

* a collection of stories and memories, in no particular order, from the life and times of John Clarke, who served as a policeman in the Australian Police Force, a great practical joker, he also had a great affinity with people and wildlife, was a champion swimmer, snooker player, loved golf, still loves fishing and is also an artist. I hope you enjoy his recollections - cheers, karin (his daughter)

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  • After I completed the Leaving Certificate, I hung 'round not knowing what I wanted to do.  We went to Austinmer for a holiday dn Neville Carr and his wife Pat suggested I join the Police Cadets.  I thought that sounded okay but was not really enthusiastic.  Neville arranged for me to have a talk with a detective sergeant he knew at Wollongong and I applied to join at the Police Training Centre at Redfern on 29 February 1958 (Mum and Dad now living at Kandos).  I went back to Kandos and on getting there, received a telegram to report for duty at the Police Training Centre on 3 March 1958.  So in a big panic I packed and caught the train to Sydney and went to stay with Norman and Laurie Carter at Mosman.

  • On Monday 3 March 1958 I caught the ferry and walked to the PTC.  I had forgotten to  pack hair oil and by the time I got to the PTC my hair was standing up and in a mess.  I was marched into the Cadet Sergeant's office - Sergeant Garnett Brickell who looked liked a bulldog.  He screamed and yelled at me, gave me a comb and sent me to the washroom (he really had a heart of gold).  He gave me a talk and then sent me to work at the Fingerprints Section where I worked for 6 months. On my firtst day there, Stan Owen (later a Detective Sergeant at Newcastle) one of the other cadts, sent me out to the Sergeant for a long weight (wait) for a typewriter - I must have waited a couple of hours before I woke up!

  • Sergeant Brickell( 'Bricky') arranged for me to stay at Miss Amelia Jones' Boarding House at 296 Campbell Parade, Bondi.  This was pretty well a place for Police Cadets to stay and there were four or five of us there.  Miss Jones was a food demonstrator and lived there with her old mother and two dogs 'Patch', a very fat black and white terrier and 'Trixie', a mean little Australian terrier.  she used to feed us the results of her demonstrations which was quite interesting.

  • The boarding house was right at North Bondi opposite the tram terminus and we used to catch the tram every day into Taylor Square and walk from their to the PTC at Redfern, about a half hour walk.  On long weekends, us cadets would take out suitcases to work on the tram and head for our families in the country  after work on the Friday.

  • One of the Cadet Sergeants was Sgt Stuart - when he talked, he spat.  We were on Parade for Roll Call one day and Sgt Stuart was calling the Roll, there was another 'Clarke' in the Cadets and he was always called first.  This day Sgt Stuart must have had the Roll sheets reversed and he called "Clarke JA" and I never answered, thinking he was calling the other Clarke.  He called me several times - no ansewr - he then walked up tome real closed and screamed "CLARKE JA" and sprayed me with spit.  I then had to run 'round the training centre (a long way) 20 times carrying my bag!

  • The way the Cadet system worked - we would spend a couple of hours a the PTC every morning and then go to our various stations where we did all sorts of minor jobs - telephone, filing, etc.  We usually spent 6 months at each place.  I was at Fingerprints, Regent Street Station, Bondi, Ruse Bay and the CIB.  I was at Rose Bay when Graeme Thorne was kidnapped and murdered and also when Dr Yeates was found dead in his garage with an injection to his heart - the two biggest cases in that period

  • I didn't have a watch and used to go down the beach some afternoons and Miss Jones had a thing about being home at 6pm sharp for tea, so I used to carry a set alarm clock in my pocket with would go off in the strangest places.

  • We used to go to an illegal gaming club called The Egyptian, above some shops at Bondi to play snooker.  One day, there was a raid led by Bumper Farrell of 21 Division and as the Police came in the doors, we jumped out the first flooor windows onto cars parked underneath and go away, we would be in awful trouble if we were caught in such a place.  Bumper Farrell was famous as the toughtest cop of the time.  He played League for Australia and bit off a Frenchman's ear during a test match!!

  • We had to larn typing up to 100 words a minute and we learned Pittman's shorthand at the PTC, we all went to different colleges.  Some of us went to Mr Hornblowers  college at Redfern.  I was there one night with Carl Hermanson and Frank Clare - frank boarded with me at Miss Jones.  It was a Friday and we had the weekend off.  Frank suggested he and I hire a boat fromMessengers at Rushcutters Bay, but I had no money.  He said he had received money for his birthday from his grandmother and that he would pay.  Messengers Boat Hire at Rushcutters Bay was quite famous. They were descendants of Daily Messenger the great footballer.   Saturday morning, we hired out a put-put boat from Messengers, not allowed to go past a certain poiknt in Sydney Harbour.  However, we took the boat oustide Sydney Heads and went fishing well out to sea.  During our fishing, Frank dropped an oar on the spark plug of the motor and smashed it.  We were stuck and drifting well out to sea - we could only just see land.  Eventually, an Italian fishing trawler came along and rescued us.  They towed us back into the harbour to Rushcutters Bay.  

  • My Police Cadet phase ended on 29/4/60 on my 19th birthday when I was sworn in as a Probationery Constrable and stationed at Rose Bay, which was a good station and where I had been as a Cadet for 6 months.  There was a big hitch on the day I was sworn in.  I had been christened 'Jack', but after that Mum had a change of mind and called me "John Alexander" so when they checked my birth certificate, they reckoned I couldn't be sworn in til my name was officially changed to "John Alexander".  So I was raced in a Poice Car to Dept of Births, Deaths and Marriages to have my name changed before I could be sworn in - a big panic - great start to a career!

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