After receiving many requests; three, or maybe it’s been four; one of which bordered on the bullying, but I won’t mention who that was from, because Yvonne mightn’t agree, regarding an incident in Hawai’i a few years back, which seemed to arouse some curiosity.
What surprised me most, was the not so gentle hint that I’d dropped in another post, being completely ignored, or overlooked, and to save you from scratching your heads wondering what on earth I’m babbling on about this time, I’ll copy and paste the bit and scratch my head instead!
Since then, whilst flopped out, doing precious little, I’ve been toying with all the little episodes to regale the faithful, some funny, some not so funny, all true. Like the time I aided an escaper from jail get clean away, and got paid $40.00 for my effort,
The Hawaiian episode I can probably knock off in a couple of paragraphs, which I’ll tack on at the end, so if you don’t want to be bored with the escaper story just skip to the end.
Back in 1980 I was pushing a cab round Sydney and one of T.W.O. relatives who lived up in the country told of a cab for sale in town, that might suit me/us and our now growing family, a life in the country, In 1980 we had two girls aged 2 years and 3 years. The War Office, who at the time had not been dignified with, or earned her title, was a bit sceptical, but I liking the country she agreed to give it a go.
So off to Cessnock we went!
Cessnock is/was a coal mining town; it also has a rather large jail masquerading as a “Correctional Institute’. There is also a fairly large hospital. which at the time had Kerry’s Aunt Kath, as Matron. and Uncle Bill was the Chief M.O. The hospital catered for much of the Hunter Region of N.S.W. The Hunter Region is a renowned wine district in Australia; producing some of the best wines in the country. and for someone like me that hates adverts and advertising, that’s really saying something. Damned if I know what!
It was certainly not what I was used to. Cab driving in the big smoke was a highly regulated and governed business; up here in the bush it was Rafferty’s Rules; the drivers did not need a ‘Taxi-cab Drivers Licence”, so I was the only one at Cessnock Cab’s who actually was a real cabbie, all the other blokes, and their wives who’d relieve, them had just the ordinary every day licence. My wife couldn’t relieve me, she didn’t get her licence until the girls started high school.
Sunday mornings in Cessnock were very quite, so much so that we only had 3 or 4 cabs rostered on to handle the rush, to the pubs and clubs at opening time, It’s a coal mining town, they’re not off to church!
I can’t recall the date; which we’ll all agree is pretty unusual for me. it was very early one Sunday morning around 8 or 8.30 and the base sent me to do a pick up in Aberdare, one of it’s suburbs, no details of who or where I was going; just to pick up some bloke on a corner.
So off I went. Got to the pick up spot and there was this bloke in a blue tracksuit, kind of jogging up and down on the spot. ” You the bloke called a cab? ” I call out, “Yes” says he and comes on over and doesn’t get in, “How much to go to Newcastle?” he asks, “$45” says me; “I’ll give you $35″ says he ” I’ve only got $50 on me and I need to get down to town”; ‘I’ll do it for 40″ says me; “Done” says he and climbs in next to me.
“Out for an bit of a run were we?” I ask, ” Yes’ says he ” I usually come up here for a bit of training for the marathon, good clean fresh air”; don’t ask me what marathon I never asked, do we even have one? He told me one of his mates dropped him off at Maitland, and he’d run across from there, but the mate had car trouble, and couldn’t get to him to pick him up and take him back to Sydney.
After about five or ten minutes he asked if I minded if he had a smoke; I said no go for your life; I’d been puffing away, I used to smoke like a chimney until September 1991, gave it up one day not smoked since. I said to him something along the lines. ‘How come you’re smoking when in training for a marathon?” to which he replied, “I don’t smoke much and all the clear air and deep breathing gets rid of the stuff” ‘ Fair enough” says I. Who am I to argue with a paying customer?, When he’d finished smoking he asked if I’d mind he had a bit of a snooze ’til we got to Newcastle. No worries” says me, (getting a bit sick of says I).
Coming into Newcastle I gave him a nudge and told him where we were and he was wide awake ready to go. It isn’t that far from Cessnock to Newcastle, a bit over 50 km, but it’s a slow trip in places as you climb up and go through the dense forests and hills, takes a bit over an hour, or did back in the 80’s.
I dropped him off at the railway station; note I say railway station! On sweeping my way back I noticed him wandering along beside the station having a puff on a ciggy, thought no more of it, and high tailed it back to Cessnock, even though I was a registered country cab I could not operate outside the Cessnock city and suburbs, such as they are.
Around noon, note I say noon (not 12 pm cos it ain’t 12 pm, there’s no such time, something else that bugs me like train stations, be quiet Yvonne!) sitting around the rank chatting to a couple of the other blokes and the news comes over the radio, seems there’s been a break out from the jail. This is followed by a description of said escaper, “5’9″ slim build swarthy, possibly wearing a blue track suit, not seen since previous nights roll call”; or whatever it is they have. “Hello sounds like that bloke I took into Newcastle this morning” says YKW; “You better go round to the cop shop and let them know” says one of my fellow cabbies, stating the obvious.
So off I go to the local cop shop.
“G’day Sarge” says me to the bloke in charge, “that bloke that escaped from the jail; I think I drove him into Newcastle this morning!”
“What bloke escaped from the jail?” asks Sarge.
“I don’t know his name, but it’s just come over the radio, someone escaped last night, or early this morning and the description sounds like some bloke I picked up in Aberdare and took to Newcastle Station first thing”
“Hey any you blokes heard anything about someone busting out the jail?” the Sarge calls out to the other cops out back, “No” came back,
“Well it’s just come over the radio, and I thought I’d better let you know” says me, doing my civic duty and feeling a bit stupid.
“Don’t worry about it” says Sarge, “those clowns up at the jail never bother telling us if they have a breakout, they reckon they can handle it themselves; if we hear of anything and they call on us will catch up with you”. That was the last that I heard about the jailbreak. For a few months.
All true, would you believe it?
Another Sunday, a few months later, sitting on the rank, having a read of the Sunday paper,s and I picked up one and there he was. My passenger to Newcastle front page, telling of his escape from Cessnock Correctional Centre, the full story; how he negotiated a fare of $40, his nap on the way in to Newcastle.
His name was Raymond John Denning, and he was listed as one of “Australia’s Ten Most Wanted”, note I use the past tense he is no longer with us, I may well fill you in on that at the end of my ramble.
Mr Denning apparently had made an habit of escaping from prison, I seem to recall he busted out of Long Bay at one stage, which is supposed to be bust proof and here he was giving an interview to one of the Sunday Mirrors reporters the full story, I seem to recall that he was pushing his book/let on how to escape from prison, what to do, and what not to do.
His advice to fellow guests of Her Majesty was; always take a taxi. always pay the fare. always ask permission to smoke, always be polite. He was all of / did those things.
He told how when he got to Newcastle he bought a ticket for the ride to Sydney, how on the way he met a nice young lady, who invited him home, she lived in Hornsby, on the outskirts of Sydney and on the Newcastle line. He stayed with her a couple of months before deciding to move on; obviously biding his time waiting for any heat to cool off, I assume the police knew of his escape by this time. He was one smart fellow, must admit I had a sneaking admiration for him.
I did get to thinking, after reading this article in the paper that Sunday, that he could, had he have wanted to, got me to stop out in the bush to take a nature break, walloped me over the head, cut my throat, dumped my carcass into the bush, never to be found; it’s pretty rugged up there; driven off in my cab, wearing my clothes, I stood 5’9” same as he did, back then, and was of similar build, he have got away with it, no worries. But he was much too smart. Too smart.
Here endeth the first ramble; now to knock off the bit that seems to have aroused more curiosity, I’ll drag it out as long as I can.
Back in 2008 our youngest daughter, Emma, turned 30, and wanted to go to New York to celebrate her birthday at some restaurant frequented by those ladies in a TV series aptly named ‘Sex and the city”; a complete load of rubbish but there you go, Emma liked the show and wanted to go. so off we all went and I mean all.
To break the travel time down, I do believe out of deference to me it was decided that we’d break the journey over, with a stop off in Hawai’i; I thought it a bit stupid but I do as I’m told, and I was rather keen to go to Pearl Harbor; I was in ’08 actively engaged as a Volunteer Guide at the Australian National Maritime Museum, which you all know anyway, and if you don’t then you haven’t been paying proper attention to the codswallop I serve up!
It was decided that we’d do the same on the way home after said birthday party, which went on for several enjoyable days doing many different things.
The trip over occurred without any problems, I went to Pearl Harbor with the War Office and wandered around mostly by myself, it doesn’t interest her one bit.
On the return trip, however my son Nathan expressed an interest in going to pearl Harbor and having a look over the Big Mo. He had watched the USS Missouri sail out of Sydney through the Heads many years ago as a very young boy, and now he had a chance to actually go walk over the ship he grabbed it, a family friend, Candace, who had come over to joint the party for Emma, also expressed interest in going over the ship, of course I was tickled pink, I now had two souls, willing to put up with my incessant talking and attempts at educating them.
On the journey back from the naval Base, the bus on which we were travelling, was somewhat packed. I was seated on the side fitted seat behind the driver and Candace and Nathan were sitting on the first seat, beside me which was an ideal position for me to continue my lecture. I noticed that a young man with a very large Afro hairstyle had seated himself beside me. It was a rather slow journey back into the city, and after a while I decided to finish the lecture take off my glasses and just sit there.
I removed my specs, put them into their case, and shoved it into my shorts pocket;
Just a few minutes later the bus came to a sudden/roaring stop, I leaned forward and there in front of the bus was an Hawaiian Police Car blocking the bus; the police vehicle had come across the onto the wrong side of the road to stop/block the bus.
The bus door was opened, and the young man with the bid Afro hair style jumped up and off of the bus quick smart, I suppose those in back thought the police were after him. However that was not the case. He had called them on his cell phone.
Two police officers boarded the bus, approached me and very politely asked me to step off the bus, one does not argue with police officers who carry guns so I just as poliyely said certainly officer. Naturally Nathan and Candace alighted too, somewhat amused and sending text messages off furiously.
I am then informed by the police that I am to be charged with sexual assault; “I beg you pardon” says I (here I go again) He repeats so I ask what am I supposed to have done? I am informed that I’d touched the young man with the big Afro hairstyle, inappropriately and he was pressing charges of sexual assault.
I told the police officers that I had not touched this young man as far as I knew, I may have accidentally brushed against him when putting my glasses case into my pocket but otherwise there was no contact at all, my attention had been given to lecturing my son and Candace; both standing there grinning from ear to ear.
To emphasise the point that I’d put my glass case into my left hand pocket, I reached down with my left hand and produced them. Candace and Nathan now butted in to confirm what I said, and about this time Emma and Luke (they weren’t married at this time) came rushing up, somehow Nathan had sent them a text message, to join the festivities.
One of the policemen then went and started questioning the young man with the you know what, after several minutes he came back and spoke quietly to his partner, they then apologized to me, and said that this young man had confirmed what I had done, that is shove my glasses into the pocket and that they would be charging him for something or other instead.
The bus had long since departed, but as it was just a short walk, to the bar, where we three were supposed to meet up with the WO and Emma and Luke we just strolled around where I was greeted with much merriment, seems the word had got around, this rather crowded bar that some silly old Pommy/Australian had got himself picked up by Hawai’i 50.
I did wonder; did this young man, with the big Afro hairstyle, imagine that I was a rich English traveller and he could sue me for million?
To finish I’ll go back to my escaper friend Raymond John Denning.
After either getting caught or giving himself up Ray decided to start squeezing, not it appears on fellow crims like himself but on what he claimed was corrupt police officers. back in the 80’s there was quite a lot of problems with some members of the constabulary, There are some still in jail for murder, and Ray wanted to blow the whistle.
Trouble was he was found dead up at the Cross, an overdose of heroin apparently.
Raymond John Denning, never dealt in drugs, would not have a bar of drugs and had never used drugs. He knew who did.
I haven’t been over this lot to check for mistakes, so I don’t want any nit picking from Yackandandah or Wangaratta or anywhere else in Victoria come to that. I might check it tomorrow or the next day.