Thursday, January 30, 2014

THE GLADYS AND MICK LOVE STORY - Continuing biog of Crusading Editor," Big Jim" Bowditch.

Gladys  Namagu   at  entrance  to  reporters' room, NT News, when  she  was  residing  with  the  Bowditch  family . The  hole  in the   door was  caused by  the  editor  finding  himself locked   out  one night,  so   he  used  a  commando  blow  to   gain entry .  Photo by Peter  Simon.
His  widespread   reputation in the Northern Territory as  a  man who would help  anybody  in  trouble  saw Bowditch   deeply involved  in the long battle  involving  two “little people”- rawboned white drover Mick Daly,  36,  of Top Springs, NT,  and   slight  Aboriginal girl , Gladys Namagu , 22,  of  Hall’s Creek, W.A.  Daly a  burly six footer ,with little education , had been living  with  Namagu, who had been born a spastic  and speyed by her  tribe so as  not to  have children.
By  Peter  Simon
She  travelled  with Mick  as  his droving  team moved  stock about the North  .  He was arrested  and appeared in the Katherine court in August 1959  for  cohabitating  with  Namagu , who  in  the Territory was regarded  as  a  ward   under the protection of  the  Director  of  Aboriginal  Affairs,  Harry Giese.

In court ,  Daly  declared his  love  for Gladys and said he wanted to marry her .  Mr Dodds  SM  adjourned the case and asked for  an (Aboriginal) Welfare Department  report . The report  did not consider   Daly  a suitable person  to marry  Namagu  and  he was  convicted  and  placed on a 12 months’ good behaviour  bond.  He  still maintained  he   wanted to  marry  Gladys.

A  police officer  advised Daly  to contact the editor of the  Darwin  newspaper, Jim Bowditch , as he helped  people in trouble. The  Welfare Department   moved  Gladys to the Warrabri settlement. Daly rang Bowditch and  explained his  plight. 

This set the wheels in  motion  in  what became another major national story in which  the editor  became  deeply  and personally involved.  After checking Daly’s  account ,  Bowditch raised  the matter  in  the  paper . As  often  happened,  Bowditch consulted  his  lawyer  friend  Dick Ward , described as the Clarence Darrow of the Territory , the  Member  for  Port Darwin  in the NT Legislative Council ,   who   became  a  key  player  in  the  saga .

On  Daly’s behalf,  Ward made   an  official application for  permission to marry Gladys.   Giese  refused , without   meeting Daly, and said he relied on reports from  field officers.  In an editorial, Bowditch asked : Could it be that the department  believes  men who sleep with  Aboriginal women  are not the right type to marry them ? If that principle were  applied, a great many of the marriages between whites  would  never take place . 
The  fact that  Daly  could hardly  read or write, drank a lot  and  was a  drover, no doubt  coloured  Giese’s attitude.  Bowditch said the reports had  probably been “ totally unfavourable .” On the other hand , Gladys and  Mick  got along  very well .  There  were few , if any , white women who  would  put  up  with his  way of  life . had
While  she  had  led  a  tough life in Western Australia and  her  twisted  body carried  a number   of  scars  , her eyes  were full of life .  As the case gained momentum,  wide media coverage , with  questions  in  Federal parliament  and  the  Legislative  Council , Namagu  was  brought  to  Darwin and  sent  to Bagot compound.
According  to  Bowditch,   journalist  Doug Lockwoood , at first , had  not agreed with  Bowditch’s stand  on the  matter .  Lockwood  felt    Giese had  been correct   in refusing  permission for  Daly to marry  Namagu as  he  was  a      "rough  egg ".  Bowditch  invited  Lockwood  to come with him  to Bagot and  check on the  departmental claim that  she could not  marry Mick  because  she  was already  tribally married  to a man in W.A.   Namagu stated  over and  over  that s he wanted  to  marry  Mick.

It was suggested by  a  senior government   officer  that she  was simply  saying  what the questioners  wanted  when she stated that she  wished to  marry  Mick.  She  admitted living with a  man in her tribe  for a while  but said she  could not be tribally married because she  was unable to have children.  Tribal  elders had operated on her  to prevent  her  having  children .
Bowditch said that  as a result of that questioning of Gladys, Lockwood became convinced  that  she wanted  to  marry  the drover.  The way officials   had  acted at  the  questioning , refusing to  accept her  answers,  angered  Bowditch so much  that  he  went   away  fuming .


Daly was  in  town at  the time  and anxious to see  Gladys .  Bowditch devised    a   daring  plan . Early the next day ,  he  got  reporter  Keith Willey to  drive him to  Bagot  compound which was  “off  limits” to all whites  except those  with passes  or  employed  there.   Before he clambered over the  fence,  he told  Willey to ring the  police station if he  did not see him in  an hour’s time . Willey  laughed.   Bowditch entered  the compound and  Aborigines directed him to  Gladys . He  then “ kidnapped ” her - told her to come to his place  and she  would  see  Mick . 
She gladly gathered her meagre  belongings  and followed  .  They climbed over the  fence to  the  waiting " get away car ".   Taken to  the Bowditch residence ,  she and  Mick  sat  and  hugged under a  banana tree.  Bowditch then  dashed off  and obtained a permit for  five shillings  to   employ an Aborigine, Namagu , before  the  hue and  cry  began .

The   audacious  act by  Bowditch  rocked Giese  and  the  department  . Bowditch insisted  he had  a  permit to  employ Namagu  and  that she  would reside in  his  home . And  there  she   remained ,

Ward carried on  the legal  battle and received  numerous letters from  Giese  refusing to budge.  The letters were   legalistic .  Ward suggested  that  Bowditch  should  run the letters  to reveal the  cold official line.   Bowditch thought this was a brilliant idea .  In fairness, he rang  Giese  and told him  what was about to happen  and  asked  him  for   comment.   
What  transpired  went something like this : Giese  said he would have to  get legal  advice about the paper  intending to run  his letters  and  rang off ; Giese rang back  and said he was claiming copyright to the letters  and refused  permission  for them  to be published ;  Bowditch rang off  and  contacted  Ward for  advice , informing   him  that   Harry was  claiming  copyright ; after  listening to  Ward ,  Bowditch began to  laugh  and rang off ; then Bowditch rang  Giese  and  informed  him  that, acting on legal advice, the  paper  was  still going to run the letters because it was thought that  his (Giese’s ) letters   had no commercial value  and copyright   did  not  apply ;  end of conversation .

Bowditch then  gleefully narrated  the  episode  to  office staff.  The  letters  were  run  and  readers  were  told  that  Giese’s  claim to  copyright  had  been  rejected.



In the Legislative Council where  Ward was  the leader of the minority elected members , the Daly-Namagu case   was aired.  In a no confidence motion launched by  Ward  against  Harry Giese , the lawyer   delivered a brilliant speech without  notes  for one hour .  A Hansard reporter subsequently  said  Ward  had  been a  pleasure to record , being  concise  and  using  perfect English.  Ward, he  added ,  could hold  his own  in  the  British  parliament.  By  contrast , the Hansard man   said  the Minister for  Foreign Affairs  in   the  federal  House  of  Representatives , Sir Garfield  Barwick , who stopped in  mid sentence and  lost  his train of  thought , had  been terrible to  record.  [ As Chief Justice of  Australia, Sir Garfield  would  later  advise  the  Governor-General , Sir John Kerr , that  he  was  entitled  to  dismiss the  Whitlam government .]

During  the debate  a  letter  from  Daly to  Bowditch was read  which gave an insight  into  the  mind of  the man  the authorities  would not let  marry  Gladys.  With  an  Eva  Downs(cattle station )  , 22-9-59 dateline , it read:-

Dear Jim ,  I just got your letter yesterday & I was verry pleased to  hear from you   that Gladys is well, I miss  her  verry much  too  I hope I can  get married to her  after I am finished  with these bullocks,  we will be at Anthony’s Lagoon  dip next Friday and  it will be nearly  the  end of november  before we are finished .  I hope Gladys dos’nt change her mind in that time  because I love  her verry much &; I’m sure that  I wont  chang my  mind about  her.  I would like Gladys  to stay  with you  Jim .   I   think she would be more happier  & in good company  with you  people . Your wife  and Zenie ( this was Zena, Betty’s sister )  treat her verry well  & I appreaciate it. 
You might be gone away for your hollyday before I  can  get back  therefor you  may have to send  Gladys over to  the Bathurst Isd (Island )  later  on if necessary.   How is Gladys  getting on  with Sister Augustens lessons . I’d  love  her to learn  about religion  & allso  to read and write  a little . If  she  likes her lessons & gets  intrest  in it she will learn  a bit  but if  they don’t like it  there verry hard to teach  so you tell  her that  I would like her to learn  all she can  that Sister  tries to teach her. 

Well Jim  I will be looking  forward to your letter aggain  I think  the best place to addres the next one letter Brunet Downs . Im not sure  if that spelt right  you had better  look at the map.

Gladys told me  on the  phone She went swimming. I enjoyed  that little chat  with her, how did she like the circus . Tell  her  we seen the elephants  when we were  going to Katherine in the Taxi we  were patting them on the Trunk .  I gave Johnny Wyndham (pound sign )  10 ($20)   for Gladys  &I sent (pound ) 4 ($8) for Gladys last letter  did you get them .

If  you get  a chance  you want  to take Gladys out fishing  I can garentee she is a verry good  fisherman.  Well Jim I will say Cheerio for now & I hope  to hear  from  you soon please  let me know how things are  progresssing , allso exstend  my thanks  to Dick Ward I’m  very grateful  for his help , only for him  Gladys  would be in W.A.  eating dry bread  & beef  & sleeping  in the ashers  with  dogs  and  blackfellows.

Give my regards to Betty and  Zena  & the children.  I hope you are all  well . The  letter  had  a  postscript : Sending  a  few bob  for Glady.

The Member  for Elsey, Harold “ Tiger “ Brennan  , asked  Giese  if  this was the letter  of  an insincere  man . Brennan said he had accompanied Ward to Giese’s office  and the Director of Welfare  had not   wanted to   see Daly  or Gladys.  When Giese had been asked if he would like to  ask Gladys any  question he  had none to  ask .  Members  could see from the letter  that  Daly was “absolutely honest ” and sincere in his  affection for his girl .  He went on to say he did not know  if the nominated government  representatives, who always had the balance of power,  had been instructed which way to vote .  But if  Daly’s letter did not  change their  views  then they  would  fall low in  Brennan’s  estimation .


While Gladys was living at the Bowditch house she  suddenly became rotund  about the  stomach region and Jim feared that she was  pregnant .  She was induced  to  undergo  a medical examination and  it was  discovered that she  had developed a  layer of fat, no doubt due to the changed  diet and  better life she was living .  In particular, she  loved   powdered milk , and eagerly mixed up  jugs of  milk  and  drank  them quickly. She  would use a tin of  powdered  milk a day .   At  times she  came to the News office  with Betty  Bowditch , usually wearing   one of  Betty's hats  , and  stood about , shyly  listening . When she  spoke  she  had a  high  pitched voice .   Keith Willey , who  had  helped Bowditch  “kidnap”  Gladys from  Bagot ,  usually received a  big smile  and a toothy  hello  from  her.  

Daly came  to Darwin  after  some droving   and made a bee-line   for  the Bowditch  residence , hoping to find  his  love  there .  Bowditch  had  cause to  go  home and found  Mick and  Gladys  sitting under the banana trees ,  drinking ... and it was not  powdered milk  .  Knowing  that  Mick  could  be charged with supplying   liquor to  an  Aborigine,  Jim  hastily  bundled  them   inside.
 As  Gladys  had  lived  a rough life ,   which   Mick  had  aptly  described    as  being  in   the ashes with  dogs ,  living in  a house  was a  real experience.  Jim said Betty had  a  tough time  looking  after  Gladys.  Gladys  had  to be  taught  not  to  blow her  nose  on   her  dress .

Daly   declared  that if  approval  were  given   for him to marry  they would  wed in the Catholic church.  As the church recognised tribal  marriage and  Gladys  was  said to be tribally married to a man in WA , Darwin’s  Catholic   head , Bishop  J. P. O’Loughlin  said he could not approve of  their marriage. However, he  eventually set up a  committee  consisting of two missionaries , two  Welfare  Department   officers   and  Catholic lawyer , John"Tiger " Lyons , Bowditch’s  wrestling  partner  ,  to  investigate  the  case .
The man said to be Namagu’s tribal husband was brought to Darwin  from WA  and questioned by the Bishop’s committee.  He stated  that while  he and Gladys  had lived together  for some time, they were not tribally  married  because she was childless.   Bishop  O’Loughlin   announced there  was no impediment for  Daly and Namagu to be married in a Catholic church . The NT News  headlined  GLADYS TO WED.

Mick and  Gladys at church Kim Lockwood Photograph
The  breakthrough  came  while the  Bowditches were south on  holidays  and Gladys  was living  with Dick Ward and his wife . Cupid was busy  at the time .  Jim and  Betty  married  in  Sydney  and  Mick  and  Gladys wed  in the  Darwin  Catholic  Cathedral .   At  the  Darwin wedding  reporter  Keith  Willey , standing in  for Bowditch, was best man  .  Dick  Ward  gave her away  .  Gladys  wore a plain  wedding dress  and a hat  with white shoes. She carried a  bouquet of artificial flowers. Mick,  decked out  in brand new  gear ,  carried a 10 gallon  cowboy hat .  The wedding ceremony was  performed by Father Copas  who went on to  become a bishop in New Guinea.  Harry Giese  and his wife  attended the  wedding  and congratulated the couple.  The reception was held in  the  Ward residence.  
When the  Daly- Namagu   marriage  ended  after seven years   some people  went to Bowditch   with  a “we told you so attitude” . He responded by  saying  many white marriages   did not last  so long.  Bowditch said  that Harry  Giese  remained a good friend  to Gladys  after the  marriage  break up .
Gladys  formed a relationship with a white  pensioner   who loved her dearly , but at times she  caused  him  great distress when she succumbed to  wanderlust . At  times,   beside himself with  worry, the man   would call  on   waterside union  fix-it  man , the  late   Brian  Manning  and ask   him  to  speak to Gladys  and get  her  to  come  home . NEXT: The  Murdoch  interest  in  Darwin .