In the Alan Dale post I mentioned that I had a story about the French's who lived next door to us. Us kids all got on well together and we loved Mr and Mrs French. Mr French was the local copper but we never thought of him as that...he was just our neighbour (although he could roar at us kids if we needed it!). They were very good to mum who was on her own bringing up us kids...Mr French would always check to make sure we were all safe.
They had three kids, Kevin, Chrissie and Robbie. Kevin and I were the same age, Chrissie was a year younger and Robbie a year younger still. He and my younger brothers used to knock around together.
One day, we read in the paper that our Mr French had foiled a robbery and had chased the robber but unfortunately didn't catch him. He was a hero in our neck of the woods and the paper called him "brave Constable French". To know a hero was a real boost to us and we could boast that we lived next door to him.
As I said in my previous post, we would go up to the Youth Club every Friday night and there was never any trouble, because Mr French would pop his head in...in plain clothes...but everyone knew who he was. There was no sneaky drinking by the boys, because they knew they would get their butts kicked all the way home and then their parents would be told what they were up. Policing in the very effective, old-fashioned way...this was the early 60s.
As I said in my previous post, we eventually moved away and lost touch with our friends. However, we were terribly upset to read in the paper about a year after we moved that Mr French had been arrested for breaking and entering. The incident I mentioned above had been orchestrated by him. Apparently, he had a gambling habit and needed money so knocked off that particular business and said that he disturbed the thief...but it was him all the time.
Then about four or five years after that, we read that Robbie French was on the run. Apparently he had murdered someone, was jailed and managed to escape. It was awful to hear our childhood friend being described as "armed and dangerous" and if anyone saw him they were advised not to approach him.
Robbie was a lovely kid as a boy and I have always wondered what went so wrong that he should be jailed for murder. I just felt so sorry for the whole family, especially Mrs French. Imagine, her husband and son in jail. I have often wondered what happened to her, Kevin and Chrissie.
It just goes to show, we never know how our lives will turn out.