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- November 06, 1978
- Vol. 10
- No. 19
Patty Hearst In Love
Patty and Fiancé Bernard Shaw Share Their Love Story, Wedding Ideas, and Plans for the Future
The son of a fireman at the Presidio, an Army base in San Francisco, Shaw spent 31 months as a GI radio operator in Germany, then worked as a shipping clerk and a longshoreman. He has completed two years of college. In 1969 he joined the San Francisco police force and has earned three awards for valor. Four times a week he drives the 60 miles from his home near San Francisco to visit his bride-to-be in confinement at Pleasanton.
Patty's intention to marry is only one reason she is back in the news again. Another is a growing campaign for her release from prison. Ten thousand people have signed petitions asking President Carter to commute her sentence to the 20 months she has already served. The White House and the Justice Department have received nearly 2,000 letters pleading for clemency. Among those calling for release are 48 members of the House of Representatives, five of the jurors who voted to convict her and former FBI agent Charles Bates, who headed the search that led to her capture.
Patty's prison room is a scant 30 miles from the Berkeley apartment she was sharing with former fiancé Steven Weed when she was violently abducted in February 1974 by the Symbionese Liberation Army. Two and a half years ago she was convicted of robbing a bank with her kidnappers and later sentenced to seven years. She was released from prison during her appeal, which was denied, and sent to Pleasanton in May 1978. PEOPLE correspondent Nancy Faber, who covered Patty's trial, recently met with her and Bernard Shaw inside the barbed wire at Pleasanton and talked with them about their courtship and plans for the future.
How did you meet?
Hearst: It was the second night after I got out on bail, Nov. 20, 1976. My friend Janey Jimenez [a former U.S. marshal] and I went to the Top of the Mark in San Francisco to celebrate, and Bernie was one of the bodyguards sitting at the next table.
Shaw: There were 15 or 20 guys who guarded Patty, and in the beginning all of us were San Francisco police officers. Someone had called my partner and asked if he wanted to work an extra job. He was busy, so he gave me the phone. I said, 'Sure—what is it?' No one would tell me until later.
How did you happen to join the police force?
Shaw: Originally I was going into the fire department. But one evening in 1969 my younger brother Paul had some friends over to his house, and later he drove one to a bus stop. By the time he got back, two guys had forced their way into the house at gunpoint and were ransacking the place. They made him lie down on the floor. My brother asked them not to hurt his wife or their two-week-old baby. The guys took the stereo and the tape decks and all the money there was—about $7.50—and then one turned to the other and said, "Shoot him." He did. Some of my friends persuaded me to go into the police department after that. But Paul's killers have never been caught.
When you met Patty, had you formed any strong opinions about her?
Shaw: No. I read about her case in the papers because it was always there, but I didn't follow it closely. We were having our own problems at the police station, and I wasn't worried about Patty's problems.
What were your first impressions of each other?
Shaw: I remember I thought she was awfully small. And I thought she was cute. She had a real nice smile.
Hearst: I had a lot to smile about that night. Janey and I were up there enjoying ourselves, and the maître d' sent over a magnum of champagne. But then there was a bomb threat and we had to leave. There were police all over the place.
Patty, when did you begin to notice Bernie?
Hearst: By Christmas for sure. I was with the guards 24 hours a day, and Bernie worked the 4-to-midnight shift. Those were the hours I'd go out to a friend's house or to dinner or a movie. That was the shift I was with the most, and if you are with people constantly, eight hours a day, you get to know them well. Any mask you might wear gets peeled off. There's no time for phoniness.
Shaw: The guards used to be stationed outside the door of the Hearst family's apartment. Patty and I would sit there and talk for hours. Then her sisters would come out and talk. Sometimes it seemed as if the whole family was out on the stairway. I think it bothered the owner of the building, because we'd bring in food and the aroma would drift upstairs.
Hearst: We'd picnic out there. I'd make a pie and give the men on duty dinner. It got to be like they were part of the family.
But it wasn't love at first sight?
Hearst: No. In fact, I was dating some other guys when I was first released, and Bernie had to take me out and guard me when I went on my dates.
When did you realize you were interested in each other?
Hearst: By the end of the summer of 1977 we were positive. When I was going out—after everything I had been through—I had a hard time getting along with my dates. They didn't understand what had happened. Bernie did. So did the other policemen on duty. A real camaraderie developed with the guards. At first some of them hated my guts and thought I was the worst thing on the face of the earth. But then they got to know my family, who are so nice and normal, and they knew things weren't the way they had thought. Now it turns out some of my closest friends are from that detail—as well as Bernie, the man I love and am going to marry.
Why do you think your friendship turned into love?
Hearst: It seems like it just happened in a pretty natural way. I remember Bernie liked my dog a lot, and that's very important to me. Arrow is a companion-guard dog trained to protect me, and he was with me 24 hours a day. If anyone didn't love my dog, I would know he didn't love me.
Shaw: I think I liked the way Patty was so giving of herself to people. She always went out of her way to remember and celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.
How did you spend your time together?
Shaw: We liked to go jogging together, and we enjoy football. Not watching it on TV—playing it. We were on the same team down at San Simeon and made some great plays. It was supposed to be touch football, but the other team was losing, so it got a little rough.
Patty, how has your family reacted to Bernie?
Hearst: My parents like him a lot and so do my sisters. They'll come here to the prison with him and go out for dinner with him after visiting hours. When my sisters come in from Los Angeles, he picks them up at the airport. It turns out everyone in my family disliked Steven Weed. I was the only one who didn't know. But they all love Bernie.
Shaw: They go out of their way to make you feel welcome. Patty's mother comes from Georgia, and she believes in Southern hospitality. She knows so much about history, particularly British history, it's just great to sit down and listen to her. And Mr. Hearst is a lot of fun to be with. He's always cracking jokes and he likes to tinker around in the kitchen. He's a good cook—not as great as Patty, but good. And he loves trivia quizzes.
When will you get married?
Hearst: We haven't really made a definite date yet. I thought of Valentine's Day, because that's when Bernie and I got engaged this year—when our family and friends knew about it. But that's only if I'm in prison. I still have motions before the court. We don't mind waiting for a while, but we don't want to wait forever.
Shaw: I want to get married as soon as possible, but I'd rather have a nice wedding and not get married in prison, especially after all Patty's been through.
Where would you like to be married?
Hearst: Either in Grace Cathedral in San Francisco or St. Matthew in San Mateo.
Those are Episcopal churches. Aren't you Catholic, Patty?
Hearst: My parents are Catholic, but I've been Episcopalian since the summer of 1976. I had been planning on converting before I was kidnapped, and I finally went through with it when I was at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego. Father Ted Dumke [a long-time friend and one of the leaders of the Free Patty campaign] and Bishop Robert Wolterstorff of San Diego received me into the church.
Were your parents upset by your conversion?
Hearst: At first I think my mother was a little disappointed, but she's happier now that I'm a good Episcopalian rather than a lax Catholic. She's glad I'm going to church.
Do you want children?
Hearst: Oh, yes. Bernie wants twins, but I'm the one who has to have them. Twins run in both our families. My father is a twin.
Shaw: And I have a lot of cousins who are twins.
Do you think the Free Patty campaign will succeed?
Hearst: I hope it will. I think the only thing that will get me released is a change in public opinion, and the campaign has been doing that. I get letters from all across the country from people I don't know and will probably never meet. I never thought I'd have congressmen signing a petition for me. Of course, I never thought I'd need a petition signed for me, either.
What are your days in prison like?
Hearst: I work in the kitchen from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. preparing dinner. I cook things like beef stew or 100 ways to make a hamburger. I usually take a book with me, so I can sit down and read if I have a break. But I don't take my embroidery because it would get dirty. I do samplers.
Have you made one for Bernie?
Hearst: I have one for when we get married—to put our names on.
On the day Bill and Emily Harris pleaded guilty to your kidnapping, you found a dead rat on your bed. Are you having a rough time with your fellow prisoners?
Hearst: I get a mixed response. Some hate me, some are completely indifferent and some feel very sorry for me. Those that hate me, I try to stay away from. I try, but sometimes I can't. Then I just confront them. But mostly I tend to keep to myself.
What are your plans if you are released?
Hearst: Well, first I'd like to get my health back. It started deteriorating when my lung collapsed in April 1976. I've had minor surgery since then for female problems plus a number of illnesses. I suspect most of them are stress-related. Did you read in the newspapers when I was on bail that I was partying it up in Palm Springs? Well, I was so sick with pleurisy and pneumonia that my father sent me to his sister's for the dry air. I even broke a rib from coughing. That was my fun time in Palm Springs.
What do you weigh now?
Hearst: About 100 pounds.
Shaw: She weighed 115 when she was at home and in perfect shape. She should be a little heavier. It worries me.
What about your plans, Bernie?
Shaw: I enjoy my work, and I'll continue in it for the present. But I guess right now my basic concern is to get Patty home. It's hard to go beyond that point. If she were to serve her full time, she could actually be in here another five years. It's difficult to make definite plans, except that we will get married, no matter what. And if you want to put in that I love her very much, tell everyone that I do.
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