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The Bad-Luck Bandit

Feb 20th 2024

If you’re lucky and able, you should get into some of the drawers and cupboards that have been neglected for many years. Everyone has treasure that are in unopened moving boxes in the garage or attic or a dusty corner in the basement.  I was rummaging through a large unused desk today, looking for, - I don’t even remember when so many files and papers on that desk had not been opened for years appeared. I recognized a number of newspapers and magazines with articles and pictures that my wife and I were featured in from years past. Some I remembered and many that seemed as if I had never seen them before, what a glorious find.  Hidden away and almost so insignificant that it could have been discarded was a faded piece of folded newspaper the size of a business card. I opened it to find a short story by the famous Toronto Star staff writer Gwyn (Jocko) Thomas. The headline was a page-turner – “Bad-Luck Bandit beats rap – by dying”. Why would I have this paper tucked away in my files?  I began to read the first words and I knew at once, why? It wasn’t because it was a tragic story or that it was very humorous, it had another special connection that I will reveal later.

The story reads as follows,

The man known to Metro police as the bad luck lawbreaker is dead at 60. During his lifetime he was arrested 40 times. George Joseph Franklin of Bristol Street died of a heart attack. He was due in court yesterday to face a bank robbery charge. The bank robbery was a fizzle. Franklin was caught with a plastic gun and $4,200 outside the Bank of Nova Scotia at King and York Streets. The bank said it lost only $3,900 so police credited $300 back to his estate. Among his other escapades, police said, was an attempt to escape from a cell in the now-demolished police station  at Bay and Dundas Sts. The trouble was that the tunnel he dug led into another cell.

Another time he escaped from a courtroom and threatened to leap from a window sill. But then he discovered it was three floors up and chickened out. While firemen held a life net at ground level and a crowd of thousands watched, police talked him into surrendering. In 1955 Sergeant Don Brooks—the same policeman preparing the prosecution against Franklin on a bank robbery – had his first encounter with the man. A car driven by Franklin in a car chase, pinned Brooks against a wall and he was charged with assaulting police.

This is the kind of true story we see in comedy movies. However, the family are devastated when it is one of their own. My mother did what she could for my Uncle George but the demon booze takes control of some of us and when it does, awful things happen.  Uncle George was basically a good guy when he was sober and he tried to use his background to help himself go straight. He would buy quite legitimately name-brand watches from a customer of mine and sell them as if they were stolen in the bars of downtown Toronto. He made quite a good and honest living from that venture for some time.


Paul D. Scott                   

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