Location: New South Wales, Australia
Date: 1973-1974

Date posted November 2010.

After my Saturday breakfast shift at 2GO, I drove home to my parents' house in Terrigal. The phone rang and it was the Gosford police. They wanted to speak to me about something, so I said I was gonna take a nap and I'd see them early afternoon. No worries. I figured they wanted to organize some sort of Police public relations promo or something like that. As I drove into Gosford, I wondered if the cops wanted to speak to me about my best friend at the time, a young surfer who smoked dope, so I prepared myself for that. I arrived at the station and was led into an interview room attended by two officers - plain clothes detectives. They gave me a statement to read. I'd been accused of "indecent assault upon a male person". I was crushed, not because the allegation was true, but because I'd been outed as gay and shamed. I went as white as a sheet.

"Assault" was legal terminology used to define sexual contact between persons of the same sex. Homosexuality at the time was against the law. Anyway, I was charged and placed in a cell. I paced up and down for 3 and a half hours, refusing to sit down on the wooden bed, the only furniture in the dark sandstone room. Occasionally, I looked at the graffiti on the walls and wondered what kind of people had been in that same cell. Criminals.

A cop arrived at the iron cell door after sundown and peered through the small, barred opening to ask if I wanted a sandwich. I refused and told him to give it to someone else. Shortly afterwards, I was taken back to the reception area of the police station and told to contact a friend or relative to organize bail. Friend or relative? Who? I'd been shamed. I couldn't think of a single person who might want to help me, or who wouldn't be shattered by the news. Actually, I did think of someone but they rejected me. So the cop phoned one of the 2GO board members. He arrived at the station and arranged bail, then he walked with me out into the street where my car was still parked. He said something about going back on air on Monday morning as if everything was normal. Then he grabbed my arm as I was about to cross the road and walk straight into the path of an oncoming car. I was in shock, still dazed by what had taken place that afternoon. I had no idea a car was approaching as I almost stepped into its path. "Are you alright?" he asked.

I'd previously made a date with my "girlfriend" to attend an art show that night. I drove to her house and knocked on the door. She was all dolled up, ready for a big night out, and there I was in jeans and a T. "I've been in jail," was all I could say. She dragged me through the house, sat me down, and immediately phoned a friend who put her in touch with a Sydney lawyer who apparently specialized in such cases.

I don't remember much about that night, except that I woke on her sofa next morning wondering if I'd experienced a nightmare. No. It wasn't a nightmare. It was all true.

I drove home to Terrigal and my mother said, "Is it true?" I said yes, it was. I thought she meant was it true that I'd been in jail. It would be 20 years before I realized that her question had meant was it true that I was guilty of indecent assault. It was only then, all those years later, that she knew she had misinterpreted my answer.

I turned up for work as usual on Monday morning and did the most difficult shift of my radio career. The head tech in the control room next door pressed the intercom button and yelled something insulting but I didn't absorb it. I was in robot mode. After the shift, I went to the boss's office and he told me I was dismissed. Word had spread throughout the station like wildfire, and all the staff avoided my eyes. I drove home, disgraced and confused.

I realized then why the 2GO board member had come to the police station to organize bail and ask me to resume my normal duties as if nothing had changed. The management needed time to organize a plan, which was to convince the local press not to publish the story. There was not a word printed in the local paper, and nothing mentioned on the radio station news. Nonetheless, in a relatively small community like the Central Coast, word of mouth quickly spread the news within hours of my dismissal.

When the case was due for a court hearing, a local solicitor represented me and explained that my lawyer from Sydney couldn't make it to Gosford for a few days at such short notice. I do remember the magistrate studying me, glaring at me as if I were some weird alien. Meanwhile, I had gone to Sydney to speak to the lawyer there, a craggy-faced Jewish gentleman aged about 60. He was wonderful. I spent almost the entire interview telling him I was desperately worried about my best friend who had vanished. I discovered later that my friend had left town for a month to avoid scrutiny and local gossip.

After my Sydney lawyer appeared in Gosford court (he traveled by train to Gosford for the hearing), the local magistrate freaked and referred the case to a court at Taylor's Square, Darlinghurst, Sydney. My lawyer was a smart man, and made it clear to the local court that this was not gonna be a quick and easy small-town lynching.

Yes, Darlinghurst Courthouse is a pretty imposing place, with a long and colorful history of Australia's most notorious and infamous criminal cases going back to the early colonial days. And there was little ol' me about to be tried for the heinous crime of masturbation. However, after my second appearance at Gosford court, the prosecution's evidence mysteriously - one might say conveniently - disappeared and it would be a couple of years before the case was accidentally re-discovered. More about that later. Meanwhile, the boss of 2GO Keith Graham had the guilts about sacking me, so he organized an interview with the manager of 2HD in Newcastle.

I hated 2HD, and lasted 6 months. My mother, worried that I'd trashed the family name, convinced me to call myself Gary Patrick on air. It was a lie and made me feel even more embarrassed about my true identity. The boss was an alcoholic and the station was run by his wife Twink. She always had two German Shepherds in her office in case anyone might be tempted to tell her what they really thought of her. Our dislike for each other was as intense as it was mutual.

2HD was run by either the Jehovah's Witnesses or the Seventh Day Adventists (can't remember which) during the war years, and there was speculation that they were sending secret messages to the Germans. Hehe. When I arrived, the station was owned by the Trades and Labor Council (trade unions). The building was a sort of temple design, and looked nothing like a radio station should. It was situated a fair way out of the main Newcastle area, across the road from a huge old cemetery in a suburb called Sandgate.

While I was working in Newcastle, I would often travel to Gosford to see my best friend, and sometimes to Sydney. On one trip to Sydney, I drove past a Toyota-Mercedes dealership near Hornsby and saw my dream car. Right away, I dashed into the sales office and traded my Superbug.

A Mercedes Benz! Wow! It was a 1967 model, 200 (2 liter), 4-speed column shift (manual). It was 6 years old at the time and $2500, which was a few hundred dollars more than the Superbug cost brand new. I used to call it the Merka-deez Beans hehe. But I'm not a well person ya know. She was a brute to drive around town but out on the highway, whoa! She could really fly. Point to point she was amazing, and could handle the curves and corners with ease at high speed. (Web pictures but exactly the same model and color).

So, when I was fired from 2HD by Twink, I drove my Merkadeez Beans to the real estate office to quit my flat and a young bloke introduced himself. I was stationery at traffic lights waiting to turn right when he ploughed into the rear of the Merc. I caught a brief glimpse of his face in the rear-view mirror just before he hit. His eyes were as big as plates as he realized he was about to rearrange his front end and my rear end. The force knocked me into the middle of the intersection and almost into the path of oncoming traffic.

My immediate reaction was to leave my car and check on the kid. All he could say was, "This is my mother's car." When the cop arrived, he thought I was too young to be driving a Merkadeez Beans and questioned me about ownership. Sheesh. Anyway, my insurance company provided me with a little Holden Torana that was terrible by comparison to the Merc. But it did the job while the Merc was being repaired. Fortunately for the kid, the Merc was one of the first to have front and rear "crumple zones" which absorbed much of the impact.

So there I was once again without a job. My best friend was in Gosford so I gravitated back to my old town despite being apprehensive about the reaction of the locals. I met up with Daryl, my former 2GO colleague who explained that he and a few friends had started an advertising agency. He offered me a job as an account executive... IPR's first employee.

Morisset? That was a local funny farm. But I was back in biz! Well, sort of. As IPR's first employee I was everything... account executive, creative director, voice-over dude and whatever else. I was also pleasantly surprised that I was accepted by the locals in Gosford who never mentioned the court case. But either resigning or being fired had gotten to be a habit.

With a friend, I opened a little shop on the main drag in Terrigal opposite the beach. This is the way it looks now but back then it was just a little seaside village. We filled the shop with stuff obtained on a regular basis from a Hare Krishna warehouse in Sydney, together with arts and crafts from local artisans - pottery, paintings, etc. It was the epitome of true flower power with lots of incense, candles and Eastern mysticism. Hehe. I was kinda involved with all that Indian guru stuff back then. My friend wore an Indian wrap-around skirt thingy, and was always shirtless and barefoot. He spent most of each day eating vegetarian pies from the health food place next door or surfing.

However, it wasn't long before I was bored again, so I contacted my former boss at 2GO and asked him if he could help me find another job in radio.


Scrapbook Part 7
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