Remember A Day

John Wayne’s yacht woes, London casino bosses and a magazine cheque scam: headlines from four decades ago

  • A journey back through time to look at significant news and events reported by the South China Morning Post from this week in history

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2018, 1:43pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 November, 2018, 10:48pm

An Englishman who was able to fool banks with travellers’ cheques cut out from old magazines, and London casino bosses in town to entice Chinese high rollers to their club were some of the quirky news that made the headlines four decades ago this week.

October 29, 1978

A ruling by a High Court judge a few days before, in a dispute among clansmen of an indigenous family over the sale of their ancestors’ land, had blocked Cheung Kong Holdings from acquiring the plot for development. The court action was initiated by businessman Chiu Butt-york – and the owner of the land in question – against a subsidiary of Cheung Kong and six other members of his clan. The dispute centred on a plot of agricultural land spanning more than 2 million sq ft in Tin Shiu Wai that Cheung Kong wanted to acquire for HK$46.8 million.

Charles Ward, who appeared to be an eccentric Englishman with a penchant for mixing Scotch whisky with his coffee, managed to cash exact copies of travellers’ cheques that he had cut out of old National Geographic magazines on numerous occasions. He deceived bank staff in Washington because they never thought of checking his identification, assuming he was wealthy.

Smelly debt collectors and a botched salmon heist: headlines from four decades ago

October 30, 1978

Local student and educational organisations reacted strongly to a recent decision by the Examinations Authority stating that candidates sitting for the Higher Level Examination to get into universities only needed to pass six subjects. Among these, one had to be a pass in either Chinese or English-language subjects. Critics said it should be compulsory to pass the Chinese language subject.

October 31, 1978

Police were hunting for a gang of seven masked robbers who escaped with HK$120,000 from an illegal casino in Mei Foo Sun Chuen. Five people were injured, two of whom suffered serious wounds, when the victims realised they were being held up by toy guns and retaliated against the robbers.

Hongkong Land and STDM – the Macau Travel and Amusement Corporation – were deeply involved in talks concerning building a luxury hotel in Macau. The proposed 400-room hotel could be called Macau Mandarin, according to sources.

November 1, 1978

A nine-year-old girl, apparently upset after being scolded by a teacher for eating her friend’s lunch without permission, hanged herself in her classroom while other pupils were studying in the school library, Tokyo police reported.

More than 400 local police interpreters staged a two-hour work stoppage in protest against the government’s apparent reluctance to further consider the state of their working conditions and a pay rise.

November 2, 1978

A man and his year-old daughter were killed when they were buried by several tonnes of bacon that fell from the trailer of a truck in the German city of Bonn. Five others were also injured when the trailer overturned and the cargo of bacon hit a group of pedestrians.

Police wrestled with a group of protesters in a London street during a torchlight rally over the control of sex shops. The fight broke out among 200 banner-waving women who took part in the procession through London’s seedy Soho district.

November 3, 1978

A survey on government mental health services, which would reveal that one nurse had to cater to 40 mental patients, was expected to build a convincing case to support nurses’ fight for better pay and conditions.

November 4, 1978

A high-powered delegation of London casino owners was in Hong Kong on a mission to lure 80 to 90 top Chinese gamblers to their exclusive Piccadilly Club. It had already visited Macau and attended a Jockey Club race meeting. It was believed to be the first of many trips to the city to entice Chinese high rollers onto their gambling floors.

Canadian police had upset Hollywood legend John Wayne by raiding his private yacht and pouring US$2,000 (about HK$9,000) worth of liquor down the sink. The film star was not on board his boat when the operation took place in Vancouver. The vessel, Wild Goose, arrived in Canadian waters carrying more than the permitted quantity of food and liquor, police said. Wayne was fined the equivalent of HK$3,600 in lieu of the ship’s seizure.

An 18-month-old girl who went for an accidental whirl in the family washing machine while watching the bubbles, escaped unhurt with only a mouthful of soapy water. The toddler from Brunei accidentally fell in while standing on a stool near the machine.