My first job in Melbourne in 1972 was as a sales assistant at Ball and Welsh, a large department store in the centre of the city. My job was to sell very expensive leather handbags to “ladies” who could afford such luxuries. It was a bit of a learning curve for a girl from the bush!
My boss, Mary, was quite good to me and didn’t give me a hard time. In fact, she learnt that my partner and I were looking for somewhere to rent and she approached me with an offer. She and her partner were living in a two storey terraced house in East Melbourne. They were looking to tenants to share the space with them.
The house was very old and not in very good condition however the location was great and so we decided to make the move. I was 17 at the time and only recently left my home and family in country Victoria. It seemed like a good arrangement.
Mary and her partner Greg were quite unusual people but hey, it was the 1970’s and that was cool! We were right into the hippie lifestyle and loved the excitement of it all.
We soon learnt that all was not as it first seemed. Mary and Greg were both gay and having a heterosexual relationship! Mary was also pregnant with Greg’s baby. That didn’t bother us at all but I didn’t really understand these things very well. The arrangement was working well for us all.
A friend of mine, Trish, came to stay with us as she found work in Melbourne as well. Mary and Greg invited us to a “dinner party” with them upstairs in their dining room. It was a lovely evening, the conversation was stimulating and the food and wine was perfect.
That night I slept like a baby – a very deep sleep. When I got up the next morning I found that some things were missing. Items like my tin money-box, my shoes and other insignificant items. After we were all up and awake it became clear that we were burgled during the night. Mary and Greg had some valuable jewellery stolen.
The thing that freaked me out the most was to think that a burglar was in the room where I was sleeping! That was a scary thought.
The police were called and started their investigations. They took prints from around the doors and windows, looking for evidence. We received a call from the police that they found Trish’s prints on one of the windows. We couldn’t work out how that could possibly be but remembered she had left for work that morning and forgotten to take her key, so climbed through the window to get it!
Life went on as normal for a little while as the police continued to carry out their enquiries. We weren’t insured so weren’t able to claim insurance however Greg and Mary were and put in a claim for a substantial amount for the missing jewellery.
I moved on to another job but we stayed at the same residence for a while longer. In time the truth came to light! We were NOT robbed at all by a burglar but it was our housemates who had a scheme to acquire a sizable insurance payout through fraudulently claiming their jewellery was stolen!
They were CAUGHT OUT and then I MOVED OUT! Too much excitement for a young girl from the bush!
PS Names changed to protect the guilty!