Sunday, May 14, 2017
I was saddened to discover in March that former Springfield Police Captain Robert Meffen had died at the age of 94. I was also surprised, since I hadn't thought of him in ages and if asked would have assumed that he must've died long ago. Meffen was a Pine Pointer and very active in the Boy Scouts, which is how I got to know him. As hectic as his life must have been with the endless list of personal, professional and civic obligations he had (see his obituary) he still managed to put aside Saturday mornings to help us with our advancement in scouting.
I was a terrible Boy Scout who only joined so I could go on camping trips. I belonged to Troop 53, best remembered today as the scout troop that unsolved murder victim Danny Crouteau belonged to. In fact, one of the leaders of Troop 53 was at one point a suspect in the investigation. I wonder if Captain Meffen played any role in investigating the Crouteau murder. Meffen was the head of what in those days was called "The Vice Squad" and would have been an obvious person to consult for information on the region's potentially dangerous perverts.
On at least a couple of Saturday mornings I reluctantly and even somewhat resentfully (as a schoolboy I preferred to sleep in on Saturdays) went to Captain Meffen's gatherings of scouts, just two or three of us at a time, and he would go over something to do with merit badges, tying knots and other scoutly interests. I remember him as being endlessly patient with us, in sharp contrast with how he spoke to his own sons, which was often in the tone of a drill sergeant speaking to a lazy recruit. His sons used to sass him right back, which sometimes resulted in a small hint of a grin on his face, suggesting that he wasn't quite as stern as he attempted to appear and his sons knew it.
Despite Robert Meffen's best efforts, I never earned any merit badges. However, that was all my fault and none of his, as I do recall how earnest he was in his desire that we boys of Troop 53 get something positive out of scouting. He never realized that the best thing I got out of scouting was the positive experience of spending a little time with him. Rest easy Captain, you were one of the good ones, in a landscape in which monsters roamed.