* 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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Back in about 1974 I think it was when I was at Port Macquarie as the lockup keeper, I was doing some gardening in the front yard of the lockup where the new Police Station now stands. It was late afternoon.
This tall, rather fine looking Japanese type walked past me in the street and nodded at me over the fence. I say "Gooday". A few minutes later he came back again and spoke to me. He asked me if I knew a lady bus driver in the Port Macquarie area. I said, "no". He told me that some years back, a lady had visited Japan and met him there and that she told him she was a bus driver from Port Macquarie. We then got into more conversation and he told me that his name was Joe Mitsubishi and that he was the thirteenth son of the Mitsubishi that owned the biggest private company in the world. He told me that he was the company's electronics ideas man and that he had been attending universities over the part twenty years. He told me that he had tropical fish farms in Japan and that he was an expert in marine aquarium fish. I invited him inside to see my marine taknks. He had a look and knew all the fish I had by their correct scientific names. I was very impressed!
Sally came home from church, it was a Sunday afternoon and I introduced him to her. More conversation followed while Sally got tea. It turned out that he owned an Arab horse stud in Japan and was an expert on Arab horses. He eventually told me that he was in Port Macquarie to check the area out for a huge Japanese colour TV set factory and was looking for about 30 acres of land to build on. He told me that when his company built a factory in the area they also built homes for all their employees. I could see that this was something really big that I would like to be associated with.
John Sweeney was working that night. He had an arab horse stud of 32 acres. I knew he wanted to sell it. I rang him up and told him to come down to the lockup. He came down and met Joe. Joe proceeded to come down to the lockup. He came down and met Joe. Joe proceeded to tell him about arab horses and it turned out that Joe had the half brother stallion to John's Stallion and that the other half brother belonged to Wayne Newton the singer, this was all true and John Sweeney was very impressed too and you could see the $ signs in his eyes.
John Hamil\lton was a friend of mine that had business dealings in Port Macquarie and I thought it desirable that John meet Joe. I invited joe for tea the next night and rang up John Hamilton and asked him to come as "it was in his interests". John had a meeting the next night - some church committee and had to tell Father Donnelly that he couldn't make it as something important had come up. Joe also told me that his father was coming over in a couple of days from Japan to have a look at Port, he was coming over in his private 727 and bringing his 12 cylinder Toyota with him in the plane. About this time Alice Hamilton, John's wife popped in and she was introduced to Joe. Joe had a look at her new Toyota and asked her if it was ok etc. He said his company made them - Alice was very impressed. Joe finally went - he was staying at the Macquarie Hotel. After he went Sally told me she had doubts about him but I 'ppp-poohed' the idea - he was fair dinkum as far as I was concerned. I could see a new colour TV set in our loungeroom!!!
He also told me that he would take me for a trip 'round the Barrier Reef out from Heron Island in his 65 foot yacht in my next holidays ... wow! He also was telling me about these pills that can be obtained, then if you have one and then drink lots of beer you don't get drunk.
Next day Sally was down the street shopping and putting a load of groceries (for the big tea that night) into the car when Joe came up behind her very quietly and helped her put the stuff in the care - she said he gave her the creeps.
Apparently Joe went into the Chemist Shop of Ken Baker's and asked about these pills just before he helped Sally with the groceries. He told Baker that he was thinking of buying Sweeney's farm. Ken was a friend of Sweeney and thought Joe suspicious. Ken range the Mitsubishi corporation in Sydney and asked about him. They said "Oh no, not Joe again - he is a con man." Ken rang Trish Sweeney and she range me at work. I range fingerprints and found out that Joe was indeed a con man and that he had numerous convictions for false pretences. Not only that but he was currently wanted for numerous offences.
I rang Alex McIlree, Detective at Kempsey and told him the story. He said to grab Joe when I next saw him and hold him until the Detectives came down from Kempsey.
I went home for lunch and told Sally all about it. The next thing...there is a knock on the back door and Sally said, 'I bet it's HIM'. I went to the door and it was him alright. He had two dozen cans of beer and a big parcel of rump steak. I asked him in and he told me that it was the Japanese custom to bring things like that when asked to tea. I thanked him very much and sat him down in the kitchen where he talked to Sally while I excused myself and went to the bedroom and rang Kempsey Detectives. They said, 'keep him talking and we will come down'.
Sally and I kept him talking, we opened a couple of bottles of beer and settled down for a good yarn, the longest lunch hour I ever had. In the middle of all this some friends of ours arrived from Tottenham to see us and I introduced Joe to them as 'Joe Mitsubishi of the Mitsubishi Corporation' - they were very impressed! During this conversation Joe promised me that he would send me the prototype of his new invention to try out - a small TV camera which you use by throwing a small electronic device attached to fishing line into the water when fishing and you have a TV set beside you and you can see what's going on undert eh water...I thought 'you so and so'. Anyhow, after a couple of hours of this the phone rang and it was Alex McIlree who was up at the Police Station. Alex told me to 'bring Joe up to the Station'. I went back to the kitchen and told Joe that I had told all the boys at work about him and that they would love to meet him. He then came with me to the Police Stateion where I introduced him to the Detectives who took him by an elbow each and marched him into the Police Station. He was charged and served time.
Tea time came and Joe at least, had tea with us under the same roof - in the cells (prison cells at the lockup adjoined to our home) We enjoyed his steak and beer! We had a funny tea that night with Alice and John Hamilton and us all in hysterics and visited later by Father Donnelly who was intrigued by what was going on and we all had a great laugh even though I had been the bunny (Sweeney too).
After that I used to get lots of anonymous phone calls asking if I could get hold of colour TV sets etc, due to my connections.
It turned out that Joe was not Japanese but a Thursday Islander with some Japanese blood.