Friday, May 23, 2014

MAY 23 = Bonnie & Clyde Are Killed

"If they try to act like citizens
And rent them a nice little flat,
About the third night
They're invited to fight By a sub-gun's rat-tat-tat.

They don't think they're too tough or desperate,_
They know that the law always wins;_
They've been shot at before,_
But they do not ignore_
That death is the wages of sin.

Some day they'll go down together;_
And they'll bury them side by side;_
To few it'll be grief_ To the law a relief_ But it's death for Bonnie and Clyde."

These are the final stanzas of a poem written by Bonnie Parker, likely in April of 1934. It could be called prophetic, for on today’s date, May 23 in 1934, the famous fugitive outlaw team of “Bonnie and Clyde” – Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were gunned own and killed in a police ambush outside of Arcadia, Louisiana.

Bonnie and Clyde Meet, and Mate

Bonnie Parker was just 19 years old and was (Above: Bonnie & Clyde/Beatty & Dunaway) visiting her husband in a jail in Texas, when she met Clyde Barrrow, 21 who was serving time in the same jail for burglary. Bonnie’s husband had been her high school sweetheart, but by 1932, the marriage was over in all but name. Neither criminal has left a record of what passed between them at this initial meeting, but it must have made a significant impression on Bonnie. Because forgetting about her husband altogether, she soon after taped a gun to her shapely thigh, and smuggled it into the prison to help him escape. Barrow did indeed make his getaway, but was soon caught in Ohio and returned to prison in Texas. However, a personal appeal to the Governor of Texas from Clyde’s mother got him out of the can in 1932. And he disliked incarceration enough that he vowed never to return to it again.

The Crime Spree of Bonnie and Clyde

It was a short time later that the two reunited and went on to their crime partnership. Clyde went on a spree of robbery, while Bonnie was apprehended in an auto theft, for which she was sentenced to a three-month stint in jail. But Clyde couldn’t keep still and wound
up fatally shooting Sheriff Eugene C. Moore and his deputy while attending a barn dance in Stringtown, Oklahoma on August 5.      Throughout the autumn of 1932, the crime duo whiled away their time in a string of nickel and dime robberies covering both Texas and Oklahoma, and it was during the commission of one these penny-ante felonies that they picked up one W.D. Jones (left), a gas station attendant, and incorporated him into their felonious spree. And soon after this, they recruited Clyde’s brother Buck, who had recently been pardoned by the Texas Governor, Ma Ferguson.

"Robin Hood"? Well, Not Exactly....

For reasons likely having to do with the odd pairing of this boy/girl team, and the “Robin Hood” image that they, and many such outlaws as John Dillinger cultivated, the newspapers and magazines of that time took a kind of liking to the pair. And Arthur Penn’s 1967 film “Bonnie and Clyde” gave the two a sort of youth rebellion feel. But
Robin Hood they were not. Nor were they equals. Clyde Barrow was in fact a confirmed criminal long before he met Bonnie, and far from being so careful not to harm bystanders, which Dillinger was, the two sprayed bullets in every direction carelessly killing anyone who stood nearby in pursuit of mostly small-time loot. And he clearly called the shots (so to speak). And far from being so tall and statuesque as Faye Dunaway, the real Bonnie Parker, while certainly more appealing than say, Baby Face Nelson, was barely four foot ten,
and weighed about 90 pounds. Miley Cyrus, who was reportedly up for the role of Bonnie Parker in an upcoming mini-series based on the famous crime duo looks much closer to the size, height and weight of the actual Bonnie (see photos below), but it was (very sadly) not to be. I don't know why it didn't happen... perhaps you Miley fans out there can write in and fill us all in on that.. I would certainly like to know.  That would have been an interesting bit of casting wouldn't it?  Oh, well....

The Law Catches Up With Bonnie and Clyde

But time and luck were running out on these bandits. Early in 1934, they just managed to escape death in a trap that had been set for them in Missouri, which left two policemen dead. Worse was the loss of Clyde’s brother Buck who was fatally wounded, and Buck's wife
Blanche who was also wounded and captured as well. This culminated in today’s ending for the two in which Texas Ranger Frank Hamer (left) successfully caught up with them after having been on their trail for over three months. Hamer, along with a posse of lawmen from Texas and Louisiana lay in wait for Bonnie and Clyde to drive by, concealed in the bushes. and when they did, the group unloosed a two minute hail of bullets. A total of 167 of these bullets managed to find the auto in which the robbers had been driving, and put a violent end to their short, but violent career. And contrary to the poem’s ending, while both were buried in Dallas, Bonnie’s mother would not allow them to be buried side by side. Bonnie was buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, and Clyde was interred next to his late brother, Buck at Western Heights Cemetary.

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by Mark C. Carnes, Henry Holt & Co. Inc. New York, 1998.

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