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Time Bomber Book Videos, with other odds and ends

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Book Chapter: THOMAS ROY GIFFORD

- Preview Opening of "Thomas Roy Gifford" chapter -

I
n 1978 the fifth season of Barney Miller aired on the ABC television network.  I was a huge fan of that show, and I remember a December episode (Season 5, Episode 11) that faintly reminded me of the safety deposit box bomber case.  In the episode titled “The Radical,”[1] a 1960s agitator hid out for about a decade in his apartment.  The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) entry describes the plot as follows:
A shoplifting suspect turns out to be a wanted 1960s-era radical, whose raging about the Vietnam War stirs up passions and polarizes the precinct. An overweight burglar becomes the butt of jokes.
Other online archives[2] describe the episode as:
The squad arrests a man who turns out to be a famous radical who disappeared in the 1960s. He's disappointed that his arrest has not generated more controversy. Inspector Lugar argues himself into a possible heart attack debating the man. Harris collars a rotund burglar.
And then there is this, from Paul Krassner:
And an episode of Barney Miller would show a police officer looking at an arrestee’s record muttering, “A Yippie huh?”  He then read from the rap sheet: “Making bombs, inciting to riot . . .” That’s disinfotainment.[3]
See all of the scenes with Corey Fischer portraying Jonathan Dodd from this episode here
Mr. Krassner gets a bit annoyed when Yippies and Weathermen are lumped together, as he told me in an email about that passage.  He was the guy who coined the term Yippie, and if anybody is an expert on YIP, it is he. 
From my memory, Detective Arthur P. Deitrich (played by Steve Landesberg) dug out an unsolved case file, a hobby of his he would do every year or so, and went looking for the fugitive.  In a day or two, he found Jonathan Dodd / Gerald Morris (played by Corey Fischer)[4] and I suppose shoplifting was part that.  
(My memory merged two different episodes.  In "The Radical" Dodd was pinched by Detective Sergeant Wojohowitz, after a shoplifting incident at Cotterman's Market.  He spontaneously confessed to being wanted Yippie Jonathan Dodd.)
(The next season, season 6, episode 17, "Uniform Day" was the episode where Detective Lieutenant Dietrich captured a different criminal, who robbed Cotterman's almost seven years earlier.  He stayed in his apartment waiting out the statute of limitations and thought every cop in the city was after him the whole time.  Dietrich had only recently started looking.)
Captain Barney Miller (played by Hal Linden) and his staff of detectives checked around with various federal agencies to see if any of them wanted to pick up the nabbed radical, and nobody was interested.  He was given at least the requisite “one phone call” and asked someone about Abbie Hoffman, but Hoffman was still in hiding at the time so he was not able to get in touch. 
In one scene, he launched what he thought was a stinging verbal attack at Det. Wojciehowicz about being an authoritarian "maco crewcut shooting off guns."  Wojo responded, “Yea, maybe so.”  The character had that “aging radical” persona that I would become familiar with a few years later when I went to college.  More like the second trip to college a decade after “The Radical” aired, when I showed up more often and actually hung around the campus all day.  It foresaw the “professional students” who “hid out” in college for decades and were upset younger students were not expressing their own individuality, or the same concerns, that they approved of.  That aspect was brought out when a college friend of Dodd, now working as a life insurance salesman, comes to visit him in his cell.
By the end of the episode, Captain Miller released the disappointed radical because “nobody cares anymore.”
Oddly, the 12th Precinct station of “Barney Miller” was in Manhattan’s West Side neighborhood of Greenwich Village, where numerous fugitives, from Weatherman members[5] to others liked to hide out.  The December 1978 episode aired just a bit over one year before the baby store Bernadine Dohrn was managing in the area became involved in an investigation a pair of armored truck robberies. 
And in two of the armored car robberies, in early 1980, the police are studying an apparent connection between the rental of the vehicles and personal identification supplied several months earlier by unsuspecting customers at Broadway Baby, an Upper West Side children's wear shop that was managed by Bernadine Dohrn, a former Weather Underground leader. Miss Dohrn has not been publicly linked to the Brink's case or any of the other robberies.[6]
The attempted robberies resulted in the deaths and injuries of several people.  The driver’s licenses of some of the Weatherman and Black Panther members who attacked the trucks were linked to identity theft of customers from the baby store Dohrn managed. 
Another interesting oddity is that the show was filmed at the ABC Television Center, in Los Angeles, California.  The show began filming in 1974, around the same time that Thomas Roy Gifford showed up in LA.  Born around 1943, Mr. Gifford found work as a maintenance man at a convalescent home, and continued with them until a little while after meeting Martha Leicester in the mid-1980s.  They were married in February 1984. 
Martha was with the United States Parks Service, working in the Santa Monica Mountains, until she was transferred to the Golden Gate National Recreational Area and the couple relocated to the Marina District of San Francisco.  Thomas was hired by the World Affairs Council and became their building manager in San Francisco.

[1] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0519134/ Accessed July 9, 2013.
[2] http://sharetv.org/shows/barney_miller/episodes/126611 Accessed July 9, 2013.
[3] Paul Krassner, Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counterculture, p. 176 (Berkeley, CA : Soft Skull Press : Distributed by Publishers Group West, 2012)
[4] http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0278862/?ref_=rvi_nm Accessed July 9, 2013
[5] http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2008-04-23/news/0804221098_1_bernardine-dohrn-william-ayers-ayers-and-dohrn Accessed July 9, 2013
[6]http://nyti.ms/141bfMU “BEHIND THE BRINK'S CASE: RETURN OF THE RADICAL LEFT,” New York Times, February 16, 1982.  Accessed July 14, 2013. 
Note: The footnotes here start at 1, but in the book they are sequential from the beginning.

Side notes:  1) Of course it is a cliffhanger!  This is the chapter that reveals the capture of the bomber.

2) http://nyti.ms/141bfMU “BEHIND THE BRINK'S CASE: RETURN OF THE RADICAL LEFT,” New York Times, February 16, 1982.  Accessed July 14, 2013. was referenced in numerous articles in  2008, but not a one of them that I found bothered to give the whole date, or even enough information to find the five page article.  It may have been behind the pay-wall in 2008, but it is online for anybody to read free as I type.  Those references are to a story that has nothing to do with this one.

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