5/18/1859 – 9/29/1943
Amy was born in Hobart, Tasmania as the first child of Mary Ann Parkinson and Alfred Bock. At the time of Amy’s birth, she hadn’t broken any laws or hearts, but it was still early in the day. Even though she was born in Tasmania, I restrained the urge for cheesy Devil jokes. Her father was an itinerant artist and photographer; her mother was a mentally delicate flower who ended her existence in an insane asylum. Then again being pregnant by an “itinerant” artist in 1859, may have added to the delicate flower situation.
It is clear that Amy inherited qualities from both parents then she built on that base to give her existence a truly unique spin. Even though the Bock’s moved frequently, Amy was well educated, and able to work as a teacher in Gippsland, Australia prior to starting her career.
Around 1885 to 1886 she made her first appearance in the legal system. Ms Bock was summoned to court for acquiring goods on false credit, this was more than over charging her Visa limit. After her mother’s death, Daddy moved to Auckland, New Zealand and secured a second wife. He asked Amy to join them, and she followed. Entering into her new life Amy quickly found a position as a governess and within a few weeks Amy was in a New Zealand court. She was charged with defrauding her employer, now to be fair who among us haven’t done that to some degree? Since Perry Mason wasn’t a member of the New Zealand bar yet, she cried, moaned, wailed and howled admitting what she had done wrong. The judge felt sympathy and Amy was released, with a stern look, and a brand new defense of choice saving on attorney bills.
She continued to find employment in care-taking with the accent on taking. She cooked and occasionally worked as a housekeeper. Ms. Amy would dazzle the employers with her charm and hard work; run a quick scam with a variety of stories and then move on. Amy never made much money in this endeavor, but she was diligent. It must have been more lucrative than working the menial jobs. She just wasn’t one to play within the rules. From time to time she was caught in a pawn shop with an employer’s belongings; but usually the plan was more complex. Amy often set up scenario, followed with a well embroidered yarn. That practice guaranteed short employment and a long resume. She would pull her scheme-lie -and disappear, but she never tried to hide her trail. True to pattern, Amy would be arrested and back in court, over and over. She would weep – wail and ask God for forgiveness and the magistrate would take pity on the daughter of the insane kleptomaniac woman. She was often sentenced and served months of detention, and upon her release Amy would be back on the hustle.
During one of her time away at “girls school” the superintendent was so impressed he offered her a teaching position. This came to a screeching halt, well before she was awarded tenure because she was busted for forging letters to aid in her escape. Amy finally found a position as a housekeeper and stayed until the mid 1890, when she was caught converting her employer’s furniture into ready cash. This time she was sentenced to the maximum penalty: three years of hard labor with no shopping privileges.
She was released in 1892 with the stipulation that she live with the Salvation Army; we must assume they didn’t have their own thrift store yet. By Easter of 1893 she caught selling her landlady’s watch, and then back in the hoosegow. Amy disappeared for a while after that, and it is possible that she was in an asylum for “fallen women”. Upon her reappearance she assumed the identity of Molly Shannon and began to borrow money to buy a poultry farm, and then back to prison. She next became Agnes Vallance and history proves she was still pawning and hustling.
Around this time she finds her ultimate guise, Percival Leonard Carol Redwood, son of a wealthy widow and nephew to an archbishop. She holidayed at the coast and started to pay court to another landlady’s daughter. They were engaged within weeks. Percival/Amy maintained the appearance of wealth by a series of deceptions, lawyers, money orders and loans. The wedding took place on April 12, 1909. Four days later Bock was degroomed and arrested. Finally the court declared her a habitual criminal. The marriage was annulled on June 17, 1909, there were no children.
This followed with a spectacular trial worthy of the National Enquirer. Her names and crimes were exposed. It didn’t go well for Percy/Amy; she was locked away until 1911. When released she snagged a position as an entertainment director for a retirement home. (Wait while I wrap my mind around that). There is no record of any field trips to pawn shop. Three years later in 1914, she married Charles Edward Christofferson. It only lasted a year due to Amy’s debts. (Chuck was it only the debts that you couldn’t tolerate?) So she picked up her career with several more misadventures, and in 1931 she had her last court date she was placed on probation and ensconced at the Salvation Army home, thanking her lucky stars that the US three strike laws had not been put on the books in New Zealand.
Amy Bock died August 29, 1943. She was a complex character, who made an unconventional life for herself, with the fear of insanity constantly lurking, she was still able to assume identities, forge signatures and creates stories. She is considered an eccentric, a crook, a liar, a thief, but at the very least she was a true original, and we will cook for her this week.