Despite his penchant for comedy, Al Pleau’s life was not always filled with laughter. I’ve found at least three items that have added some darkness to his profile, which I’ve touched on here.
First is his arrest in 1897 at the age of 18. For some reason, he and a younger friend (16 year old Frank Bintz) were in Syracuse, New York. The police arrested them on March 10 under the charges of being tramps. The next day, they were arraigned in Police Court and plead guilty to being tramps, though claiming that their parents knew where they were. The judge gave Al a suspsended sentence, but I don’t know exactly what that entailed. (Frank was sent to an “industrial school” in Rochester.) Al’s stay in Syracuse seems to have been short-lived, as he was listed in the Rochester City Directory during this time.
I might add that this was not the only arrest in the Pleau family, but one of the earliest ones that I am aware of. It makes me wonder what about the family may have led to this aberration.
The second item in question was Al’s separation and divorce from his first wife, May. As far as I know, they were together at least two years, having married in 1902. The last newspaper date that reported them as performing together was in 1904, and the 1910 census shows them as separated. He was living in Rochester and May was in Cincinnati. I recently found a January 1911 Cincinnati newspaper article that states that May had filed divorce due to Al abandoning her on January 1 and being “willfully absent”. What strikes me as strange is that she claimed this in 1911, but they were obviously separated a year before. It makes me wonder: who abandoned who?
Of course, a simple solitary divorce does not necessarily cast dispersion on one’s character. His divorce from his second wife, however, is another story!
According to a February 11, 1922 brief in the Sausalito News:
Does all this tell me that Al was irresponsible? That he didn’t take anything seriously? Or perhaps he could not commit to sticking to one place or one person. All of this, of course, is just conjecture.