Gus & June

While the personal ads in newspapers were most often utilised as a tool for people to seek love and make connections, they also appeared to have been used as a way to communicate clandestinely.

This is the story of Gus and June. From 1950 until 1951 messages between the couple were placed on an almost monthly basis in the personal column of The West Australian.

31 March 1950

Aside from the first, June wrote the majority of the messages to Gus. Not much is given away but the second one indicates that their relationship may have been hidden. June wrongly assumed how the neighbours would react but found them “sympathetic, understanding” and that they would “accept us any circumstances.

11 July 1950

Plans were made and then confirmed through the paper. Outside of the personal ads, they also wrote letters and sent photos. Gus however may have been moving around as the message below indicates that there was uncertainty over whether the address was permanent.

1 August 1950

Notes were sent but they were not always timely. A meeting was missed; apologies given.

7 September 1950

In October 1950 an additional name, Charles, was included in June’s message. A strong feeling of anxiety permeates the words when an expected Monday meeting did not occur. The same anxiousness was also present in November.

3 October 1950
22 November 1950

Anxiety gave way to relief when June finally heard from Gus (who was on a holiday) and accepted the explanations given.

4 January 1951

The last message was printed five days later on 9 January 1951. Once again June requested Gus’s address.

9 January 1951

From that point on no other messages appeared in the paper addressed to either Gus or June. Their connection and their correspondence in the newspaper (fleeting as it was) came to an end. We however are left with a great deal of questions. Who was Gus and June? What were their stories? Why were they leaving messages in the newspaper?

The most obvious explanation was that they may have been having an affair and were using the personal ads to talk secretly and arrange meetings. On the other hand, perhaps they were a couple in a relationship that was frowned upon. Perhaps they weren’t a couple at all. Gus and June could have been code names for criminals or spies who were organising meetings; keeping their correspondence secret but in plain sight. Did the messages stop because they were caught?

Historical snippets such as this allow the imagination to run wild. Ultimately, we have no way of knowing who they were, what their story was, why they were sending messages to each other or even if their names were actually Gus and June. Regardless, their communication offers an interesting glimpse into the past and the lives of two people in the 1950s who (for whatever reason) chose to correspond through the columns of a newspaper.

Sources:

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