Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Anyone for Billiards?

Maitland Mercury, Monday 30 November, 2009

WILLIAM JOHN FULLER (better known as JACK or BIG JOHN) first began service with the NSW Department of Prisons in 1947. In an interview recorded for the Maitland Gaol Oral History Project in January 2000, Jack recalls some of the highlights of his 30 plus years in the service including dodging missiles thrown by inmates during the 1975 riot, Ray Denning’s daring escape attempt, an inspirational visit to the gaol by Evangelist Billy Graham and being “flashed” by female prisoners. He doesn’t however mention his alter-ego “Maitman”.

As “Maitman” Jack wrote articles for The New South Wales Prison Officers Journal reporting, generally, on the lighter side of gaol life. In the Christmas 1969 edition he wrote: “On the sporting scene…all the fit members are still playing table tennis during their lunch break but the old crocks are still awaiting the much needed billiard table which was promised some time back to this establishment.”

While researching this article gaol staff came across a photograph featuring the aforementioned billiard table. The young man standing holding the cue has been identified as Graeme “Percy” Greenaway. Graeme was employed as a cleaner at the gaol from March 1980 (when he took over from his mother Shirley) until March 1996. Graeme and Shirley recall the many changes that took place even during the years they worked at the gaol with visits to inmates first taking place in boxes near the gate house, then being moved to the Lt. Governors office before a purpose built Visits Centre being installed in 1993. Another lasting memory is of the media throng at the front gates the day Darcy Dugan was scheduled for release. If on viewing the photo you can shed some light on who the “old crock” potting a small ball in the corner pocket is, please contact gaol staff on (02) 4936 6482 or by email at: info@maitlandgaol.com.au

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