Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bonnie & Clyde History Notes

The history of Bonnie & Clyde inspires impassioned comment & investigation worldwide-- as evidenced by those who've visited this blog, now from 179 countries and growing.  As such, Madagascar, The Faroe Islands, Rwanda and The FYR of Macedonia are the latest to join the The Bonnie & Clyde History League of Nations.  "Welcome" to all.

Here you can explore a myriad of historical posts, research, photos, comments and media applications of Bonnie and Clyde History-- as told with "the truth" as the guiding principle concerning all that appears on this site.

What's New on the Blog?? It's finally here!!-- a new post aimed at the social implication of Bonnie and Clyde History, since that fateful day in 1934-- when martyrdom helped define these outlaws for future generations.  Having been asked so often about the social meaning of this history-- I've tried to address that question within this post.  Also please enjoy a variety of recent and archived posts-- with more posts coming soon.  Recent posts include a look at Frank Hamer lore in Bonnie & Clyde History.  Please also view the revisited look at Joe Bill Francis and the Sowers' Ambush attempt.  Use search engine << blog left, to find additional topics you desire.
      
For those less familiar with me-- among my Bonnie & Clyde expressions, I've provided talks and historical programs for a variety of Bonnie and Clyde forums-- including The Authentic Bonnie and Clyde Festival Gibsland, Louisiana-- The Dallas Historical Society and The National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington D.C.  I've contributed to Bonnie & Clyde's Hideout and authored a slew of historical articles here on The B&CHB.  More complete bio << blog left. 

Many of my authentic Bonnie & Clyde historical pieces,
including The Bonnie & Clyde Signatures, Bonnie's poem "The Saga of Bonnie and Desperate Clyde", Billie Parker's manuscript and numerous items owned by Blanche Barrow-- can be viewed at The National Museum of Crime and Punishment. 
 

Feel free to sign up to exchange your views with myself and others concerning this history.  Thoughtful and polite comment will gladly be posted.  However, as protections are in place to discourage impolite, crass, insulting and scurrilous banter-- comments are reviewed prior to appearing.  **Note-- anonymous comments are not allowed, nor will they be posted.

Please view a large selection of posts here concerning this history-- along with my thanks for visiting The Bonnie & Clyde History Blog.

Always keep Frank Ballinger in your prayers as he progresses in breaking the grip of cancer.  Visit Frank's wonderful Bonnie & Clyde's Hideout whenever you can.  Link << blog left. 

Questions, Suggestions, Insights and Discoveries to Investigate or Share-- Historical talks and bookings-- Research requests-- bchistory@optonline.net 

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bonnieandclydehistory.blogspot.com--
aka Bonnie and (&) Clyde History and The Bonnie and (&) Clyde History Blog-- it's content, expressions, images and opinions are © 2009-2014 by A. Winston Woodward with all rights reserved.
 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

80 Years Later, Perhaps We Are All the Law-- and We Are All Bonnie & Clyde

At every significant milestone concerning the history of Bonnie & Clyde, invariably much is written regarding this history's importance, non-importance or affect on society.  But in reality, what does Bonnie & Clyde History mean and to whom??  Is there in fact some societal lesson to be learned-- or were these events from the early '30's just a snapshot in time??  Seemingly, some search for "deep meanings"-- while others stick to "matter of fact" and curt analysis.  Then with this history, there's that all-consuming polarization-- with battle lines drawn as if preparing for armed combat, between proponents with sympathy for these likable outlaws--  measured squarely against the saintlike aggrandizement bestowed on Peace Officers from this saga.  "Right is right" and "wrong is wrong"-- right?? 

Many support Bonnie & Clyde, as if they were God's supreme gift to passion and criminal endeavor rolled into one-- and then there are those, who without reservation-- defend the law against such a brazen form of 1930's lawlessness.  I wonder though, when the dust clears-- whether some aren't missing a glaring human element easily lost within the bullets, heartache and toil exhibited by competing foes within this saga??  Without doubt and unfortunately-- many were killed as a result of Bonnie & Clyde's crime spree and devotion to their families.  And logically, when law enforcement tracks and corners outlaws-- it seems clear someone may die.  But that is the nature of such valiant action, and for lawmen-- a sometimes necessary consequence and just reward historically, concerning the challenge and most dangerous experience of man-hunting. 

To me-- there are key elements of humanity to keep in mind while wading through this storied and fascinating history of "good vs evil".  One is that when confronted with desperation and hardship-- human beings will resort to remarkable means to survive and deprive others of all, including if deemed necessary their lives.  The next is that for good to triumph over evil-- sometimes good is transformed into it's own form of evil-- with lines easily blurred between the 2.   

Perhaps the best way to look at Bonnie & Clyde History is via a mirror in examining ourselves.  There's a line from the film "Chinatown"-- where Noah Cross exclaims "Most people never have to face the fact, that at the right time and the right place-- they're capable of anything".  Perhaps that's the lesson of Bonnie & Clyde History-- that within us, we all have the capacity for good and bad-- respect and disrespect-- love and hate-- morality and immorality.  For "people are people"-- with all our admirable traits and pitiful faults.  And that's not likely to change in 80 years-- or a million and 80 years.  For when you get right down to it-- perhaps we are all the law-- we are all Bonnie & Clyde-- we always have been-- and always will be.          

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Is Frank Hamer's Role in Bonnie & Clyde History Overblown??

Bonnie & Clyde History is ripe with lore, and from virtually every angle.  For it's villains and heroes have their documented truths-- as well as truths deemed unsubstantiated.  Recently, while reading an article published concerning the 80th anniversary of the ambush of Bonnie & Clyde-- I noted a reference often attributed to Frank Hamer-- in having discerned the travel patterns of Bonnie & Clyde, which according to some-- became a key element in their capture.  For those who revel in the aggrandizing postmortem memoir "I'm Frank Hamer"-- Captain Hamer was instrumental in the capture of Bonnie & Clyde.  So much so, with just his presence on the case-- Bonnie & Clyde and all the world surely knew the "jig was up" for them. 

And then there's that mental image of Hamer pouring over Bonnie & Clyde sightings, to "finally" do what others couldn't-- crack the code of Bonnie & Clyde travel, to exploit some pattern of predictability in tracking down the pair-- like bloodhounds released into the woods after a wounded animal.


However, objectively-- I'm not so sure that case can be made.  The Dallas FBI file on Bonnie & Clyde (26-4114) is a most interesting collection of law enforcement records, which reveals a plethora of realities concerning the hunt for Bonnie & Clyde, not known to the public prior to their release.  Within this file-- the sell-out of Bonnie & Clyde by the Methvin family along with the help of a couple of others, is finally documented without reservation.  Also, the presence and diligence of the U.S. Bureau of Investigation within Louisiana, in helping take down Bonnie & Clyde-- is noted to have commenced as much as a year prior to the ambush.  In fact-- the level of involvement by J. Edgar Hoover and the Bureau, in helping to flush out Bonnie & Clyde-- was surely not realized prior to release of this file.    
 
BTW-- within notation of Louisiana happenings concerning Bienville Parish Sheriff Henderson Jordan and associates-- it's quite clear, it was "their" contacts-- "their" informants who sought out Bienville Parish lawmen, which ultimately led to the capture of Bonnie & Clyde.  Hamer was of course shown in photos next to Sheriff Jordan after the ambush-- however, many miss the point of jurisdiction regarding the waylay of Clyde & Bonnie.  For that was Henderson Jordan's posse-- not Hamer's.     


Within the Dallas files, it "is" noted, that Hamer hit the road with Bob Alcorn to conduct "boots on the ground" research in tracking Bonnie & Clyde.  This includes an interview with store employees, concerning a dress sold to a Parker relative-- who apparently was shopping for Bonnie.  Thus the green dress with flourishes, hand-drawn by Hamer as found in the Joplin, MO P.D. file on Bonnie & Clyde, sent to Joplin Chief of Detectives Ed Portley on March 15th, 1934-- became a dress to be "on the lookout for" within the hunt.  A copy of the letter from Hamer to Portley appears in the Joplin file-- while the corroboration of the search, which led to Hamer's artwork and letter to Portley-- appears in the Dallas file. 

In my opinion, that dress could've been worn by Blanche within a quite flattering photo taken of her (see below).  Of course Bonnie in being quite petite, could've worn that dress as well-- as she and Blanche were known to be about the same size.  The dress worn by Blanche, although not exactly matching Hamer's drawing-- is close to his artwork.  



So there is documentation concerning Hamer tracking down a unique dress, he thought could be used to help ID Bonnie.  But does documentation exist concerning Capt. Hamer's ability to crack the "Barrow travel code"??  L.J. "Boots" Hinton tells of his father Ted's recollection, of Dallas Sheriff "Smoot" Schmid, scouring news accounts from the freshest newspapers available-- attempting to anticipate Barrow's next move.  And that Northwestern section of Louisiana, did hold an advantage for the law, in that once there-- the selection of roads to travel were few.  However-- there "is" an eyewitness account-- to tell of the lengths Clyde went to, in covering his tracks.   

Within an interview conducted with Hilton Bybee, made after his capture from being on the run with an expanded Barrow Gang after the Eastham Prison break-- Bybee tells of the extraordinary journey Clyde and the gang traversed, which defied logic in tracking him.  To illustrate this-- I borrow from a prior post here concerning Bybee's revelations concerning his Barrow Gang exploits.  

Beginning on Tuesday January 16th, The Barrow Gang visited Hillsboro, traveling country roads-- then onto Rhome via Grapevine. While in Rhome, Clyde, Raymond and Bonnie went into Dallas. The gang spent the night on a country road near Wichita Falls. Next, traveled into Oklahoma. Then turned back and got a car that night (Wednesday)-- at Vernon. Drove all day (Thursday) in Oklahoma and decided to come back to Texas and rob a bank. Then returned on Thursday night, staying near a river. It was onto Frisco on Friday. Next they visited McKinney for groceries. Friday night Palmer and Methvin went to Hugo to case stores and rob a filling station. Clyde was upset about the small haul ($7.00)-- and drove country roads to DeQueen, Arkansas on Saturday. Then the gang hit Fort Smith. Got a paper at a Fort Smith drug store Sunday morning, and headed back to Oklahoma.
'Stayed Monday night on country roads in Oklahoma.

Next reportedly they went up into Joplin, Missouri-- staying around Joplin and that country due to the good gravel roads. 'Got $400. in a small town nearby. Bonnie cut the money. Then it was onto Texarkana Tuesday night-- and Shreveport on Wednesday. 'Came through Fulton-- then to Caddo Lake, Oil City, Marshall and Terrall. Clyde, Bonnie and Hamilton then went back to Dallas. Next it was onto Decatur and Alvarado-- McQueen, Wichita Falls and Electra-- then to Vernon and headed for Lubbock but changed their minds. Thank goodness a break-- where were we??

Terrall, Vernon, Spring Lake-- Joplin, Lubbock, Amarillo, Wichita Falls-- Vinita, and Vega-- WOW!! Now imagine being the law, and trying to figure out a pattern to The Barrow Gang's speedy meanderings-- based solely on reported sightings. People have asked me many times-- whether there's a map which shows Bonnie  & Clyde's travels??  Based on Hilton Bybee's recollections-- I'm not sure one could accurately be created. 

So did Frank Hamer really figure out a travel pattern for Barrow Gang conveyance??  If so, I hope he had "lot's" of multicolored pushpins with  which to dot the landscape in explosive clusters-- to help fill a map with Barrow Gang movements.  To me-- this Frank Hamer aggrandizement, is one of many within Bonnie & Clyde History.  Was Capt. Hamer's reputation alone, enough to move the ball in this case-- or was he the "ultimate hero", for almost single-highhandedly capturing Bonnie & Clyde??  My thought is-- beyond some posthumously assigning credit where less credit may be due-- don't forget about all the other dedicated souls, who contributed to the capture of Bonnie & Clyde.  For although their reputations are less imposing than the ex-Texas Ranger Icon-- in a number of cases, their diligence can be proven.          

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

"Hiding in Plain Sight" Within Bonnie & Clyde History, the Case For and Against Joe Bill Francis


Within Bonnie & Clyde History, the story of the Sowers ambush attempt captivates Bonnie & Clyde Historians and aficionados alike.  And for good reason-- as this tale embodies all the elements of a great mystery novel-- heroes, evident regardless of which side of the law you were on-- villains, secret meetings, spying-- even a healthy competition amongst the law, for bragging rights in trying to "take down" the notorious Bonnie & Clyde.

For Dallas Sheriff Richard Allen "Smoot" Schmid-- the release of Dallas FBI file 26-4114, revealed both amusing and perhaps damning revelations.  Was this a man so obsessed with fame for himself and recognition for his Sheriff's Dept-- that he refused to work with other law enforcement agencies in a cooperative effort to catch Bonnie & Clyde??  Apparently so.  But undaunted by this seemingly self-centered effort on "Smoot's" part-- the Feds responded to the Sheriff's lack of cooperation in a most creative way, by garnering intelligence of their own-- through undercover surveillance of the Dallas Sheriff and his right-hand men, reminiscent of the "Spy Vs Spy" adventures from MAD Magazine fame. 

Within file 26-4114, it's documented that based on a well-placed informant who was "closely connected to the Barrows or Parkers"-- the Dallas Sheriff's Dept had spied on 2 clandestine Bonnie & Clyde family get-togethers, in preparation for the Sowers ambush attempt.  Meanwhile-- Federal agents armed with their own informant ("Smoots" friend Red Webster)-- well, they were busy spying on the Dallas Sheriff's Dept spying on Bonnie & Clyde.  Remarkable.  To me-- documentation of family informants including the Sowers informant and Bailey Tynes, who were able to report to the law from within the Barrow household-- is a "fascinating" aspect of the Dallas files.  What a fortunate thing those files (unlike others)-- weren't destroyed as somehow being "useless".

This leads us to that Sheriff's Dept informant-- for like many good mysteries, "betrayal" can become a deadly element of heartache.  For decades, and well before the release of the Dallas FBI files' invaluable & previously unknown law enforcement info-- many realized Sowers must've involved a tip-off-- since the law were laying in wait for Bonnie & Clyde to arrive within their crosshairs, on the evening of November 22nd, 1933.  Someone surely spilled the beans-- but who?? 

MUST'VE BEEN CHARLIE STOVALL??

Some have reasoned, that since the families seemingly made the "critical error" of meeting 2 nights in a row near the same location-- that dairy farmer Charlie Stovall, must've viewed them near his land the previous night, and notified authorities (namely Dallas Sheriff's Deputy Ed Castor)-- who responded with the speed of a Jackrabbit, thus allowing "Smoot" and the boys to quickly assemble a posse for Bonnie & Clyde's return the following evening.  That was the story Ted Hinton told decades later-- in crediting "good police work". But one would ask-- how would Charlie Stovall, Ed Castor, "Smoot" or anyone else, know Bonnie & Clyde and their families would return to the same spot the night after Cumie's birthday celebration-- when according to the families-- they had been careful not to meet at the same location like that, twice in a row before??

Must've been a stroke of incredible luck-- or a keenly instinctive guess??  In reality it was neither-- for the Dallas FBI Files spell it out in tintype, black & white.  There was a informant close to the families-- and that informant provided useful info to the law well in advance of Sowers-- which allowed for a calculated waylay which almost worked.  So let's give credit where credit is due.  There "was" a stellar effort made by the Dallas Sheriff's office, as witnessed by the Bureau of Investigation-- to end the reign of The Barrow Gang in November of '33.  An effort which nearly paid off.  Beside the files-- thanks are due also to Billie Parker, in describing both her eyewitness account from within the family car being shot at-- and the bloody aftermath for a wounded Bonnie & Clyde, in having escaped-- and then reaching safe harbor and medical attention.  According to Billie-- Bonnie's comment concerning Sowers was-- it was "the closest we ever came to dying."

On a personal note, I often wonder why Ted Hinton told some of the stories he did concerning Bonnie & Clyde happenings.  For as the junior officer present, it seems he may have been kept "out of the loop" regarding certain Bonnie & Clyde events.  Such was the case with the Methvin family meetings in Louisiana-- as neither he nor Manny Gault were noted to have been present. Was Ted off performing his duties elsewhere, and thus unaware of certain realities??-- or did the law exercise some secretive protocol, in protecting their most sensitive info even from one of their own-- when not involving senior officers??  In having a great respect for the Hinton family-- this has been a curiosity of mine.             

IF NOT CHARLIE, THEN WHO??

With Charlie Stovall surely eliminated from consideration-- then, just who "was" the Sowers informant??  Although we may never know for sure-- 2 possibilities have been floated over the years.  Floyd Hamilton (brother of Raymond)-- thought to have accompanied the families to a number of  Bonnie & Clyde rendezvous-- and Joe Bill Francis, at that point an "almost member" of the Barrow family (reportedly engaged to Marie at the time)-- and who did accompany the families to Sowers that fateful night.  The issue in considering Floyd Hamilton-- is that to my knowledge, no one ever accused Floyd of betrayal concerning Bonnie & Clyde or their families.  However, this was not the case regarding Joe Bill Francis. 

"And" I'll throw one "wild card" into the mix-- the mysterious "Informant B" as mentioned in the Dallas Files, who was said to have met with Bill Decker of the Dallas P.D.  Little seems known about this shadowy figure, who reportedly lived within view of the Barrow filling station and residence.  I do wonder-- with the Barrow place being so small-- whether Joe Bill may have lived in that apartment at the back of the property, and been "Informant B" which could've stood for Bill??  It would be good to know where Joe Bill lived while engaged to Marie.
      
In sorting this out, 1st things 1st.  There's little doubt, that when info was needed-- lawmen of the 1930's in Texas "could and likely did" resort to harsh techniques to obtain it. Anyone familiar with the "Trinity Valley Confessional" as it was known perhaps even through the 1960's-- knows of what I speak.  There are living former law enforcement officers, who can verify the existence of these techniques-- which included having those from whom they wanted info, stand in the Trinity River while electrodes were attached to their testicles and then to a car battery.  Well, you can imagine the rest.  "Talk or else".  Plus of course, there could've been threats made involving jail time or bodily harm involving loved ones etc.-- or simply the promise of reward, either monetary or goods related in return for information.  But when the law wants info from a "criminal about a criminal", the game changes-- for the law has a unique form of leverage then.  With that established, it's here-- we begin scrutiny of Joe Bill Francis.

Some initial thoughts.  Joe Bill Francis was young, had previous dealings with the law and was involved to the point of engagement with Clyde Barrow's sister Marie.  Did that make him a good candidate for the law to "squeeze" for info??  I would think for most lawmen, he might be the 1st and best choice.  Joe Bill had the trust of the Barrow family-- and was in position to know the upcoming whereabouts of Bonnie & Clyde, when secret family meetings were planned.

FAMILY FEELINGS-- ODD BEDFELLOWS

Let's 1st lay out the personal accusations made by Barrow and Parker family members who were closest to the betrayal at Sowers.  Quite candidly, Marie Barrow had 2 suspects-- Bonnie's sister Billie and Joe Bill Francis, whom she had been engaged to at the time of Sowers.  Marie later married Joe Bill-- and placed the onus of suspicion on both Joe Bill and Billie in "Marie style" later in life.  Billie Jean on the other hand made no bones of having just one suspect.  Within her unpublished manuscript-- Clint Kelly who wrote the forward for her never published book, said the only man Billie really hates-- is the former friend who drove the car on that windy night near Sowers.  Billie's quote concerning this individual was "that man sold them out for a used car and a few dollars.  His only motive was profit.  He didn't have a son to save like Mr. Methvin did." 
 
Although Billie doesn't identify this man by name-- in knowing from family members that Joe Bill drove the families that night-- it's clear Billie was referring to Joe Bill Francis.  So although some misgivings between Marie and Billie, may have contributed to Marie's mistrust of Billie-- from the family's viewpoint, both Marie (who knew Joe Bill intimately)-- and Billie who knew Joe Bill as more than just an acquaintance, but as a Barrow family member as well-- finger Joe Bill.  Damning enough evidence??  Perhaps not iron-clad, but quite telling-- in that those who knew Joe Bill "at the time" (very important vs knowing him decades later)-- both accuse him of betrayal.

Concerning Billie-- I don't know anyone connected to the families or who knew Billie personally, who would think Billie could deliberately setup her beloved sister Bonnie for death, as well as place her own mother and the Barrows at risk.  I believe that too long a stretch-- to find Billie a credible suspect as the Sowers Informant.  There seems no logic or objective evidence within this history-- to support Billie being anything other than than "true-blue" to her sister Bonnie and to Clyde.  For she was uniquely trusted by both.  This trust was perhaps never more evident, than concerning Bonnie after Wellington.  There would've been a myriad of chances for Billie to betray Bonnie & Clyde (especially at that most vulnerable moment)-- in having run with them, "and" having participated in numerous joint meetings with them clandestinely.  Marie may not have always seen eye to eye with Billie-- but I don't buy her accusation of Billie Jean.  Thus to me-- that leaves Joe Bill as the prime suspect from the families' perspective.

As an aside-- to me, Billie's recollection of the Sowers Ambush was quite telling-- in also revealing a contradictory assessment of the lawman's firepower and number of officers present that night.  Billie's quote was "The newspapers said the next day that six officers were involved in the ambush.  But when the air cleared, I counted at least 25 cops-- city, county and state.  There never was a time when six cops would attempt to capture Bonnie & Clyde, even from ambush." 

BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION EVIDENCE

A careful read of Dallas file 26-4114, reveals a wealth of former unknowns concerning this history-- including important revelations concerning Sowers.  But is there a "smoking gun" concerning Joe Bill and the Sowers Ambush??  
I think there is-- so let's take a look.





Although at least one Francis family member feels I invented this-- perhaps they might choose to thank or blame the FBI for preserving this document.  This internal Bureau of Investigation memo dated February 6th, 1934 is from Acting Dallas Special Agent in Charge D. L. McCormack to Bureau Director J. Edgar Hoover in Washington.  It concerns the fingerprints of Joe Bill Francis.  My questions, concerning this most remarkable piece of correspondence have always been simple ones.  "Why" all the secrecy concerning Joe Bill Francis"??  "Why" is Hoover himself asked to assure Bureau confidentiality concerning Joe Bill??  To my knowledge-- this element of stealth wasn't employed for "any" other Bonnie & Clyde related person, gang member or associate.  So "why" Joe Bill??  What made him so special in the eyes of the Feds, that he warranted secrecy supported by Hoover himself?? 

I caught flack from some the 1st time I made this point-- but I wholeheartedly make it again.  In terms of Bonnie & Clyde History-- Joe Bill Francis was "not" an important criminal.  His thing was petty crime-- not murder, not extortion, not kidnapping-- none of that.  He was a small-time criminal of little consequence to the law-- especially when the apprehension of Bonnie & Clyde dominated much of the focus of Dallas authorities.  Or was that "exactly" the point concerning him??  If Joe Bill was the family informant situated within the Barrow family circle-- law enforcement would go to extraordinary lengths to protect that knowledge.  "Eureka!!  "That's" why I feel this particular piece of correspondence deserves special scrutiny.  I can think of no other explanation, to justify Hoover's help in assuring confidentiality concerning Joe Bill-- than to protect perhaps law enforcement's best asset, in trying to capture Bonnie & Clyde.  If someone has a better explanation for the law's protection of Joe Bill based on this memo-- let's hear it.  "Why" is the Bureau of Investigation protecting him??-- and even from the Dallas Police??  Why indeed??

IN DEFENSE OF JOE BILL-- "IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR"

Through my research into Bonnie & Clyde History-- I've worked with many family members related to numerous Bonnie & Clyde events.  In most every instance-- these fine folks have been helpful, courteous, generous and wonderfully giving of themselves, their knowledge and family resources-- to aid this challenging history.  Concerning Joe Bill Francis and Sowers, I have been approached by members of the Francis family.  One in particular, David Hale (Joe's grandson)-- was quite kind, in sharing info he knew concerning Joe Bill-- which showed him to be an exemplary father, soldier and grandfather.  More recently, a Francis family member has done her best to curse and fuss her way about the Internet-- badmouthing me and trying without defense, to defend Joe Bill from my "outlandish" accusations. 

But alas, Joe Bill having been the Sowers Informant wasn't my idea.  He's been thought by most knowledgeable Bonnie & Clyde Historians, authors and those closest to Bonnie & Clyde-- to have been the informant for decades.  Fortunately, what people do in their early lives-- doesn't always resemble their seasoned character in later life.  This may have been the case with Joe Bill.  For the record-- in having asked respected Bonnie & Clyde authors who knew and interviewed Marie, Billie and Floyd Hamilton within their Bonnie & Clyde research-- there's little doubt who the Sowers Informant was. 

Also for the record-- I have invited this latest Francis relative (despite her displeasure with me)-- to contact me via e-mail, to please explain her staunch defense of Joe Bill.  I have offered her a forum to do so.  I only ask  that "evidence" not just family pride be presented please-- including any statements known to have been made by Joe Bill concerning Sowers, to help provide a meaningful and just addendum to Bonnie & Clyde History.  Also, that scurrilous trash talk be discontinued-- as a condition of providing a serious forum in Joe Bill's defense.  I'm not sure this devotee of Joe Bill's, understands that crude language without substance won't fly here-- and only hurts the credibility of she who curses with reckless abandon, as if training for the Cursing Olympics. 

A better tact in dealing with me concerning Joe Bill-- would be for polite contact, along with the revelation of previously unknown Joe Bill quotes (as close to 1st hand as possible) or better yet, Joe Bill comments concerning Sowers in written form (maybe he kept a diary??)-- or perhaps home movies or an audio tape exists of a conversation held concerning this,
or even a deathbed confession-- that sort of thing. "Something"-- to explain his position regarding Sowers.  You know, when exploring this history-- sometimes it's remarkable how revelations surface.     

No Bonnie & Clyde Historian or author I am aware of-- knows of any defense ever offered by Joe Bill concerning Sowers.  So what is the case "for" Joe Bill??  Apparently, that he would never do such a thing.  An adequate defense??  Perhaps from a family perspective, without the advantage of knowing Joe Bill as a younger man-- but hardly a viable one from an historical viewpoint. 

Funny thing about Bonnie & Clyde History-- almost no one who lived it, seemed to like recalling it.  For those were bad times, survived by many who felt trapped by The Great Depression and it's untenable consequences.  People then, did things human beings under less pressure would never do.  Some lived those uniquely "hard times" in a manner not befitting conscience.  But once away from those times-- many went on to live fulfilling lives, with some form of path-- to clear their hearts, minds and consciences of that bitter taste left by the Depression years.

The pic above, shows the Google Maps street view of the once  more desolate Sowers ambush location-- (the intersection of Esters Road and Texas Hwy 183) as it is today.  Built in 1939-- this stretch of road serves as the Southern entrance to the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.  As Sowers no longer exists-- the ambush spot is now part of Fort Worth. 

Rather than wrap up this post with any sort of recap-- I'd prefer to post the e-mail sent to me by David Hale, to tell those interested in Bonnie & Clyde History-- more about a man who apparently lived his life differently after the '30's than within them.  Differently-- than just a Sowers ambush protagonist within Bonnie & Clyde History.  My sincere thanks to David Hale, for reaching out and providing a refreshing and much needed boost-- to what little is known concerning Joe Bill Francis.  BTW-- there was never a follow-up e-mail concerning that Joe Bill, Bonnie & Clyde info.  Would love to hear from you again David-- if you're so willing.

Winston, 

I will gladly tell you of the man that I knew. He did not tell me much about B & C, I will tell you the few stories that he did relate. He kept most of that time of his life private from me and my family. He once told me that he wasn't very proud of that part of his life. The Joe Francis that I grew up with was a warm, gentle, caring, family man. My Grandmother, Burldene Pepper, was his second wife. They had one child, my mother Jeanine Francis. He later married Marine who he stayed married to untill he died. They had two sons, Michael and Jerry Francis. He has 4 grandchildren including myself. 

Joe served in the Marines in WWII in the south Pacific fighting the Japanese. He kept most of that private as most soldiers of wartime do. His favorite hangout was the VFW. After the war I know he worked as a truck driver for many years. Later in life he worked for his sisters' office and printing supply company. He lived in and around Dallas all of my life. His last residence was in Duncanville. He died of natural causes in his 70's. He is buried in the Laural Land cemetery in Dallas. My time today is short but I will be happy to write more later including what I of his times, although brief, with B&C.

Sincerely,
David
P.S. Feel free to use any info
           

Monday, February 17, 2014

For Many Into Bonnie & Clyde History-- It Seems People Will Believe Just About Anything

A quick post-- to say I went to YouTube in search of replacements for links posted here, which have been removed along YouTube way.  "Ah"-- that YouTube.  What I found was a stunning new assortment of Bonnie & Clyde hearsay, invention and gobbledegook-- posted since the last time I reorganized links here.  Everything from seminars given by 9th Cousins-- to comments expressing disappointment in artifacts on display at The Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum, by some without appreciation for what they're looking at-- to comments touting the 7th man at the ambush scenario, which I couldn't find enough traction to believe in. 

Then, there are all the links re: the latest Bonnie & Clyde TV movie-- which people seem to be taking as gospel.  Too bad-- for that hotchpotch of a train wreck, did little to aid Bonnie & Clyde History-- except it seems, to prompt a renewed interest in fictionalized Bonnie & Clyde melodrama.  "Real" history needs to be learned-- not through sensationalized theories espoused in books meant to enrich their authors-- and not through sound bites, meant to see how many views and likes can be garnered as their goal-- but rather by working to gain a sound foundation in Bonnie & Clyde History-- and paying attention to those who credibly present this history-- without agenda, and with an open mind to reasonable possibilities.  

But just as in life-- Bonnie & Clyde History has it's share of those in it for themselves-- be they right, wrong or indifferent regarding the truth.  That's human nature and that's fine, as long as in the end-- the truth as best we can figure it out is told.  Then there are those who will follow any theory off a cliff, and believe just about anything-- as long as it sounds cool and they can repeat what little they know-- via social media and outlets such as YouTube.  Then out of the woodwork come the trolls-- which only emphasizes how poor a choice social media is, for historical matters.  As I've said many times-- it's my belief the full story of Bonnie & Clyde will likely never be told, as it's been too long since the actual events-- and almost all (if not all) alive to witness this history are now gone. 

Unfortunately, that leaves room for self-serving statements-- giving apparent cover to all who abuse this history.  Such was Jeff Guinn's now famous quote "All written history is ultimately best guess"-- expressed to me within an e-mail in response to my questioning an inaccurate source used in his book.  Must've been an error in research??  "Yep"-- must've been.  And I suppose that clever statement, opens the door for any and all theory to be true without worry-- concerning just how much "truth" is even within the word.  End result-- that book too is now touted as gospel-- when in the view of many who didn't leave the Bonnie & Clyde game when the lucrative book deal was done-- it is not.

Always "seek the truth"-- for within Bonnie & Clyde History there "is" truth.  And as they say-- truth can be stranger than fiction.  Thus, truth within Bonnie & Clyde History would surely make for better movies-- should anyone have the patience and desire to make an historically accurate one.  But some would counter with the idea that "it's only a movie-- it's entertainment".  Be that as it may-- look at the impression movies have on people's perception of reality.  So for all the Bonnie & Clyde "fluff" out there, masquerading within some people's minds as truth and spread like the plague-- perhaps it's fair to say gullible is as gullible does.

My thanks to all who care, all who reason with courage and all who won't give up-- until we get as close as we can, to truth within Bonnie & Clyde History.  It appears those truly interested in history, can be found within one realm-- and those more into entertainment, fluff, rumor and magic-- can be found in another.  But if you're into Quantum Physics, with it's notion of multiple dimensions-- it seems rare for history to experience crossover between groups.  Maybe that's good-- as we seem to have enough innuendo driven explorers and head in the sand types already.  Why would we need more??      
            

Sunday, February 9, 2014

When it Comes to Hoarding Bonnie & Clyde History-- "Nothing From Nothing Leaves Nothing"









 


Those who claim remarkable revelations concerning this history and even more stupendous theories, but then go out of their way to hide them-- hold a special place of disdain within my heart and mind. It's my view, those who possess extraordinary historical knowledge-- have a personal responsibility to bring their info to the fore in a timely fashion.  To me, it's a bit like knowing you love someone, but never telling them.  So what's the point and who benefits??  As Billy Preston so aptly put it-- "Nothing From Nothing Leaves Nothing".  However for all involved-- that shouldn't be the case concerning Bonnie & Clyde historical knowledge.

Case in point.  As I often am-- I was recently approached by an individual who apparently happened onto some items purportedly related to Bonnie & Clyde History.  That in itself is not unusual-- as I am routinely asked to give historical opinion on supposed artifacts linked to this history, and answer questions related to pretty much everything Bonnie & Clyde. And let me preface further comment-- with a disclaimer that since this person fancies rattling sabres and threatening legal action seemingly at every turn-- in an effort to protect thoughts, perceived evidence, and supposition as if supposition was fact-- that my opinion here is not meant as a personal affront.  Rather, commentary on the manner and approach made-- which I find historically offensive and demeaning to Bonnie & Clyde Historians and aficionados alike.  Thus I will choose my words carefully in protecting not only myself, but also this person's identity-- while getting my points across.

Anyway-- along with these items held so close to the vest, I was asked to consider helping with an ongoing effort to support this person's view of the ambush-- a take on this history built on greed, and excluding all but it's last few minutes-- as if nothing else ever happened or mattered, including I assume all that died.  As this individual seems to think evidence possessed is irrefutable, as to the straight and skinny of what "really" happened when Bonnie and Clyde were killed, and for all these years-- the true story of the ambush has been in plain site for all to see-- perhaps the best way to proceed is the following.  An aside here in saying, perhaps what this individual didn't count on while piecing together so many published sources as gospel (although published sources "can" be flawed)-- was my knowledge of unpublished info "still" not revealed.  Frustrating but true. 

And just the fact of my and others knowing of non-shared research-- highlights the problem at hand.  But what can anyone do, when those who control valuable info-- won't reveal secrets before they're good and ready??  Not much-- if those in whom they've trusted won't tell-- and to tell, means violating that trust.  A real quagmire, for many of us who study Bonnie & Clyde History on a high level.  For the benefit of those who genuinely care about this history, and for this person who goes to such trouble to protect theories believed unique-- please consider the following. 

I would think many believe the ambush didn't happen as stated, and many believe some sort of cover up was conceived and carried out by the ambush posse.  Based on the fact that 6 experienced and well-hardened Peace Officers, couldn't come up with some consensus of a story-- it's no secret I agree with this assessment.

Some over the years, have questioned the Coroner's report of Dr. James Wade, in documenting the deaths of Bonnie & Clyde.  It's been asked, why a modern forensic follow-up based on the evidence known ie: Dr. Wade's written report, statements made by the ambush posse, those at or near the ambush site, those at Congers that day and a review of mortuary photographic evidence hasn't been performed-- and whether it might still be worthwhile??


Reward monies for all involved have been talked of for years-- including monies said received by those other than lawmen including John Joyner, for his role in helping take down Bonnie & Clyde.  I wonder if most believe Mr. Joyner received his tidy sum, as thanks for being the go-between for the law and Ivy Methvin??  I've asked why someone like John Joyner, who may have been even more ruthless than Clyde-- and who likely had knowledge of Bonnie & Clyde's whereabouts-- wasn't employed to take out at least Clyde prior to the ambush, or choose to do it himself??  John
later ended his life and the life of his wife Clara on Sept 24th, 1942 in violent fashion.  I've also asked, why with so few locations available for Bonnie & Clyde to frequent for necessities in and around Sailes (still true to this day)-- and with so many knowing the conspicuous and wanted couple were among them-- why a sniper laying in wait (civilian, local law or Federal)-- didn't neatly take out Clyde prior to the ambush??

Henry Methvin's whereabouts just prior to the ambush no matter how it was conducted-- is still a matter of debate.  Some believe Henry was indeed the guest of Sheriff Jordan in the Gibsland jail, on the morning of May 23rd, 1934.  However to my knowledge-- no definitive proof is known.

For those with more extreme solutions for this over the years, such as an altered ambush without Ivy's truck in the road--
at least 2 witnesses, young student Levohn Cole and school bus driver Dan Cole-- were noted via interview to have seen Ivy's truck in the road at the ambush site between 7:30 and 8 o'clock the morning of May 23rd.  Filmed interviews with those alive at the time, including with Buddy Goldston to tell which way the wood truck was going and Olin Jackson in recounting the sound of the gunfire-- can be seen within "Remembering Bonnie & Clyde".  For some theories to be true-- many if not all of these people would need to be wrong, or coerced, or threatened with death or some such thing-- which would affect their credibility.  

These interviews and others made over the years, carry great weight in cataloging 1st hand recollections-- of those present in and around Sailes when Bonnie & Clyde were there and later killed.  Also when you watch these clips, listen for statements putting Ivy and his truck in Gibsland at the filling station owned by Mr. Townes.  Descriptions and traits of both Bonnie & Clyde as well as other interesting aspects of this story, are told within this documentary via valuable eyewitness accounts.  Those who wish to depict a completely different ambush scenario, to me-- need to dispute these accounts as well as ones not yet made public.
          

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ciBfyPB2kQ
 


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zCw8QJeY8E
   

I could go on. 
Suffice to say it's my view when someone has information of potential importance to this or any history-- they need to step up, identify themselves and be willing to accept the scrutiny of their "revelations".  And "here" within Bonnie & Clyde History-- they need to possess a thick skin, and bring their flack jacket with them.  For this is an "impassioned" and "polarized" history-- with many less polite than me to deal with.  

And some words of advice to those who approach folks like me, who are intent on seeking truth within Bonnie & Clyde History within an ethical, civil and clear way.  Don't insist your theory is absolute, and that it must be agreed with wholeheartedly-- before sharing your Bonnie & Clyde secrets.  What kind of nonsense is that??  For I and others will just wait you out-- and hope you reveal your theories without the control and lack of scrutiny you seek??  And if you decide to just throw in the towel and shelve your effort, in being unwilling or unable to take the heat-- if you honestly have something, that would truly be a loss-- history's loss.  


For you see-- "history" is what this is all about.   
            

Monday, December 9, 2013

Yet Another Bonnie & Clyde Movie-- But How Historically Accurate, & Does It Matter??

I've been asked what I think of the new Bonnie & Clyde TV movie. To my educated Bonnie & Clyde mind-- a real mishmosh of fantasy, 1/2 truth, some truth, mixing of truths and wishful thinking. "However"-- as so little is known of the famous duo's personal interaction behind known Bonnie & Clyde historical events, it seems the screenwriters here have taken full advantage of those unknowns. As such, Bonnie is portrayed as the young mastermind of her own star-filled dreams-- as transferred to seeking fame within a crime duo instead of as a rejected Hollywood wannabe and dancer. BTW-- in real life, according to her sister Billie-- Bonnie aspired to being a singer on Broadway.

Now was the real Bonnie Parker as conniving and aggressive as her TV counterpart?? Despite some wanting to believe she was the ultimate sweetheart-- eyewitness accounts had her cursing like a sailor, being threatening, drinking to excess, resorting to powerful pain-killing drugs (after being seriously injured at Wellington), and without much doubt-- having fired weapons at the law on a number of occasions. That said-- perhaps her portrayal here isn't that far from the truth. Now whether the real Bonnie ever had an inkling to settle for fame as a criminal within a gang responsible for at least 12 killings, rather than as a performer-- I don't believe can be discerned based on what is known of the real lady.

Certainly, Bonnie (who was known to be quite intelligent)-- knew that once she and the boys were sought for murder-- most any aspirations she had of a legitimate career in show business were through. So this movie hits on an aspect of Bonnie rarely considered. Bonnie "was" though-- surely stubborn, and loyal to her man to the end. And in this version sexually promiscuous, just as rumored after her death. However, in having dealt with Bonnie & Clyde sexual rumors for years now-- my feeling is, when someone shows me concrete evidence to back claims which eclipse the dealings of a normal sexually active young couple-- I'll consider it. Until then-- objectively, claims of nymphomania in Bonnie and homosexuality in Clyde seem unfounded. However years later, Dr. James Wade revealed that when killed-- both Bonnie & Clyde had had gonorrhea.  So "go figure" the possibilities.

Some may be surprised to hear me say, that despite my being a Bonnie & Clyde purist-- and despite my choosing not to even
attempt a count of historical inaccuracies this new Bonnie & Clyde film presents-- I must admit to liking this fantasized version to a certain degree, for the "entertainment" it is.  I must say a truly different twist on Bonnie & Clyde-- much fun but historically inept.  The casting for the most part is strong.  Both the Clyde and Bonnie actors (as they "were" mostly known at the time)-- are terrific. And I especially like the Emma Parker, Cumie Barrow and Henry Barrow portrayals. I will say though, in knowing L. J. "Boots" Hinton as I do-- I wouldn't want to be in the room, when someone tells him his father Ted is seen coming on to Bonnie in asking for a kiss. But in all fairness, there are rumors concerning Ted's attraction to Bonnie-- some of which Ted caused himself. But that too you see-- is one of this history's many unknowns.

The conspicuous absence of W. D. Jones, materially changed a number of B&C occurrences.
The mixed up way events were combined and placed out of order, is surely perplexing to those of us who know the correct order of things.  For example, I didn't know Frank Hamer was hot on their trail at Dexter, Iowa and made the fatal shot which felled Buck months before the Eastham breakout.  Now "that's" some creative combining of characters and events!!   Nothing like pressing so much wrong into so little space.  I do give the writers credit for knowing of Bonnie's use of Amytal. If they had only added Morphine to the mix, they would've had a much different Bonnie prior to Eastham.  BTW-- Clyde was thought to have an effective "6th sense" which kept them out of trouble. It was Bonnie who had premonitions, as she did concerning the deaths of Billie's children.   

And no matter the B&C version-- it must be really hard to find an actress who looks roughly like Bonnie and is the same size. The Clyde Barrow portrayal here seems right, as Clyde was 5' 6". Bonnie on the other hand, was a diminutive woman-- just under 5 feet tall, and weighing in at 100 lbs or less. The Blanche Barrow character seems about right here-- as the real Blanche was 5' 1" and about 90 lbs when captured. She and Bonnie were known to be able wear each others clothes.

Now does it matter, to have an historically accurate Bonnie & Clyde movie at some point??  "Of course" it does.  To quote James Taylor, but expanded to include truth in Bonnie & Clyde History-- "That's why I'm here".  However-- can movie makers overcome the pressures of $$, with all it's greed-driven baggage and perceived need for sensationalism to produce a greater return on investment-- and instead, satisfy those of us who care about history??  Apparently not.  But "Hey movie makers!!!-- you know what"??  The real story of Bonnie & Clyde, is far more interesting than the fictionalized versions you wheel out there for a quick buck.  Concerning an ultimate Bonnie & Clyde film, I was routing for Tonya Holly's effort-- which I hope somehow will be revived.  But it seems when funding is involved (and it always is)--  creative license is retained by those expecting large returns on their investment.  An unfortunate "truth"-- for those seeking and respecting the word.


So what's the verdict??  To me, all in all-- an entertaining 4 hours of "non-history"-- which to do it right, would likely take another 4 hours within a TV format.  So e
njoy this B&C effort for what it is-- as it has no way of being anything else. 
    

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Another Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Aniversary-- But What Does It All Mean??

To many the look on Bonnie's face within this photo, likely taken just weeks before their deaths says it all-- concerning an event Bonnie surely knew was coming.  And for a woman who seemingly possessed some spiritual or psychic ability to "know"-- as she did concerning the deaths of Billies children-- Bonnie couldn't have been more right.  For 79 years ago, those both supportive and enemy alike-- were gripped by sensational headlines and prose, telling of the annihilation of Bonnie and Clyde by the most decisive and chilling of methods-- an ambush.

But why does this iconic event still captivate so many so long after the fact??  And is it fair now to question what lessons have been learned over the decades-- and what it all means??  Some may choose to over-analyze or forever-rationalize the ambush and it's importance, in ways more complicated than need be. And others may question the harshness of the law until the wee hours of the dawn-- in taking out outlaws surely as ruthless as themselves.

To me, this historic event and snapshot in time is about human nature-- and serves as a reminder, concerning both the wondrous and often hurtful traits human beings possess and level upon one another.  The ability to love to the point of blindness-- the duty to remain loyal to the end, no matter the odds-- of wanting things sometimes unattainable, and taking from others when items desired cannot be earned by honest means-- of ending lives which get in the way-- and traveling roads within life, leading to places cursed as destinations never thought possible. But most telling-- of desperation and the fight for survival. 

Yes people can be wonderful with hearts and goodness to match-- but when pressed to the wall by happenstance or choice-- can become deadly foes.  And sometimes deadly foes need to be dealt with for the common good, by those with the capacity to be just as lethal.

So whether some within their imaginations, somehow wish they'd  also been there to help pull triggers in defense of "justice" that day-- or who feel a unique camaraderie with these strangely likable outlaws, and wish within their very souls to have received the onslaught of bullets as well-- in a defiant show of "passion" and righteousness for the common man-- or for those fans, aficionados or fact checkers striving to discover the truth within this history-- the ambush of Bonnie & Clyde holds a special place.  For you see, it seems no matter the experience, pain or gain-- indeed over time, so many human traits hold true.     

And then there's perhaps the greatest and most challenging of human attributes-- forgiveness.  I'm not sure how that one fits into this oft polarizing history.  But unfortunately-- I'm pretty sure there hasn't been much progress made along that front.
                   

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bonnie Parker's Bloodied Glasses-- An Update Worth Waiting For.

A ways back now, I published an article concerning Bonnie Parker's bloodied glasses-- reportedly worn by her and recovered at the scene of the ambush.  The owner of the glasses, a gentleman named Steve from Massachusetts (who has wished his full name to remain anonymous)-- had provided clarification to the blog re: Bonnie's specs, in telling of Shreveport, LA. Sheriff Thomas Hughes having obtained Bonnie's glasses after the waylay.  And what has seemed to be quite adequate provenance, has been documented here and elsewhere concerning Bonnie's bloody spectacles. However as is usually the case within Bonnie & Clyde History-- Bonnie & Clyde "naysayers" assembled after publication of the article to criticize, scrutinize and beat about the head, any notion of Bonnie's glasses being legitimate.    

Now for those of you who've studied the U.S. Bureau of Investigation Dallas Bonnie and Clyde File (file #26-4114)-- you'll know Sheriff Hughes to be a figure steeped in controversy, who some (apparently including the Bureau at the time)-- felt to be non-trustworthy.  Also stories regarding historical accounts, are often considered just that-- without some form of corroboration.  Fast forward to the present.  With "many thanks" to Jason-- here are scans of The Shreveport Journal, dated May 24, 1934.  Within an article Titled "Barrow and Parker Woman Had Paid in Looks and Health for Months of Dodging Officers"-- now an independent account of Bonnie's glasses (including their being splattered by blood)-- as reported by Tom Ashley, Journal Staff Reporter.  Since I've never seen this article before-- as Hubert Humphrey used to say-- I'm "pleased as punch" to provide it for you.


By including scans of both the Journal front page and article-- I hope all will enjoy seeing an olden account of Bonnie's glasses, newly brought to the fore.  Along with my thanks to Jason and best to Steve-- I can't help but include a note for the naysayers, who've previously expended time and venom in attempting to dispute Bonnie's glasses.  My feeling is as always concerning uncovering historical evidence.  Just as in life-- patience is indeed a virtue.  And when it comes to those who spend what could be valuable time, attempting to dispute with such animosity damn near everything within this history-- just think of the positive energy which could be spent, if not already stoking the fires of the indefensible.       
    

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bonnie & Clyde Memorabilia-- So Often Fluff, Masquerading For the Authentic.

Reuters put it this way-- (Reuters) - "Two guns believed seized from gangsters Bonnie and Clyde in 1933 after a deadly Missouri shootout with police sold for a combined $210,000 at an auction on Saturday in Kansas City to an unnamed online bidder".  Also and of perhaps greater note, this same news outlet reported on the now famous RR auction in this way-- (Reuters) - "Two pistols found on the bodies of famed Depression-era outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow after they were killed by a posse in 1934 have sold at auction on Sunday for $504,000". 

Now did these Hamer family treasures (the Bonnie & Clyde pistols from the death car)-- possess a stronger provenance than the Thompson submachine gun and shotgun reportedly seized from Bonnie & Clyde's Joplin hideout??  In my view-- yes.  But to some Bonnie & Clyde Historians who've spoken out-- even Bonnie's supposed "squat gun" is suspect.  However in reality-- only those present at the ambush would know.  So does Hamer's description of this now storied gun, trump others recollections who never spoke of such a weapon??  Apparently it does, although logic would neatly support the opposite conclusion-- that since others didn't remember it-- it may not be so.

But having personally spoken to Joplin's Chief of Police at one point-- re: their Bonnie & Clyde files and admitted inability to retain Bonnie & Clyde physical evidence from within their own ranks-- I would bet on the Hamer weapons before the Joplin ones.  Plus as many in the know know-- Clyde didn't at all favor the unreliable nature of the Thompson, but rather in every case I am aware of-- when a machine gun was employed by The Barrow Gang, it was a BAR. 


The recent failure of the Carroll Rich .32 to bring even a reasonable bid at auction, to me illustrates a point concerning the shallow nature of Bonnie & Clyde memorabilia and within a wider realm-- of memorabilia in general these days.  Some historical pieces are quite common-- while others can be remarkably rare.  Based on realities which exist within Bonnie & Clyde History-- true artifacts from this history and most individuals associated with it, are "exceedingly" rare.

For instance, we now know the truth regarding the destruction of Bonnie's remaining personal effects.  We also know most of Clyde's belongings were retained by the Barrow family-- with a portion of them being made available by family members over the years.  Such was the case, with Marie Barrow's apparent gesture of love-- in wanting "the kids" (as they were affectionately known by those closest to them) reinterred, so they could RIP together forever. But as it turned out, even though more than an adequate amount was raised for this purpose-- other family dynamics came into play, which negated such an effort.

With many family-held Bonnie & Clyde pieces destroyed, under wraps or dispersed-- that leaves the search for authentic Bonnie & Clyde artifacts to include items from those who may have "happened upon" the famous couple, or to law enforcement who seized remnants of the West Dallas duo's adventures over the relatively short time they were on the run.  Some of these remnants have logical and strong provenance-- while others so often appear to be cases of "wishful thinking". 

As I feel fortunate to own a number of authentic Bonnie & Clyde artifacts-- I often receive e-mails from those who feel they too have real Bonnie & Clyde pieces, and ask for assistance in trying to discern their reality.  As some may know, almost all my Bonnie & Clyde pieces-- came from family members.  My Bonnie poem "The Saga of Bonnie and Desperate Clyde"-- came from Blanche's Estate. Billie's unfinished manuscript, came from the Parker family via Blanche's Executrix with permission of Bonnie's niece-- whom I made certain knew I had it, and who so graciously allowed me to retain it.  Rhea Leen's such a sweet lady.  And so many remaining personal effects of Blanche, came to me via her Estate-- with provenance beyond reproach. 

The only Bonnie & Clyde artifact I own which came from unknown waters, are my dual Bonnie & Clyde signatures-- which
with help of the best experts I could find, much time and objective effort was spent authenticating.  The signatures, are one of those someone "happened upon" Bonnie & Clyde pieces.  But even The Bonnie & Clyde Signatures may have been obtained by a Barrow relative-- a possibility still being explored.

However among many candidates I've viewed which are obvious fakes-- there are some pieces out there I and others feel could be real.  In perhaps a surprising gesture to some, but surely not to me-- I do feel another pair of Bonnie & Clyde signatures could exist-- apparently signed on some sort of Drug Store container.  I say this, because I feel it's clear-- no authentic Bonnie signatures had surfaced prior to Bonnie's script within my piece, and also on Steve Haas' Bonnie poem "The Street Girl".  Bonnie formed her signature in a most unusual way-- and the Bonnie script on the Pharmacy container is formed similarly.  However, as only an image of this possibility exists, but no evidence of this container's owner or physical whereabouts is known-- I'm not sure how to advance this idea??

T
hen there are the Coach's Corners of the world and like memorabilia houses in Las Vegas and elsewhere-- who market "rare" and for many "suspect" alleged signatures like Bonnie & Clyde's, as if they were as common as the air we breathe.  My advice is simple-- be wary of any entity that promotes memorabilia backed by "authenticators" who've been cited within exposes' on forgery. 

The photo above of an alleged Clyde signature-- is apparently one of Coach's Corner's latest forays into their sea of suspicion. They claim
"Your Son" is added as a bonus, and book value approaches 3 grand on the hard to find piece".  Well for those who obviously know so little, and sell incredibly rare pieces for a pittance (and why would anyone do that?? unless afraid of greater scrutiny)-- the true value of a legitimate Clyde Barrow as noted through previous sales, might require the leveraging of someone's house.  "Many thanks" as always  to Chris-- for the pic and head's up.  But even some of the most "reputable" and respected auction houses as I view it-- can be guilty of shoddy diligence when it comes to promoting Bonnie & Clyde artifacts.  This was evident concerning that supposed signed photo of Bonnie, as sold by Christies and profiled here some time back.

 













The photo in question, sported an alleged and incorrect Bonnie signature with salutation and signature in 2 different inks backed by an iron-cladly "wrong" provenance.  When I contacted Christies on behalf of both the buyer and individual wrongly named as proof of this item's authenticity-- Christies hedged in claiming they never promoted Bonnie's supposed signature as the focus of this item.  A tale hard to swallow-- when most of this item's provenance centered around the signature, and when a news photo without script-- would've likely fetched hundreds of dollars-- not $7400.  Seemingly not much caring for truth or what's right??  "Cha Ching"!!!  Note: Another
photo w/Bonnie signature "identical" to the one sold by Christies-- was touted by yet another memorabilia site concurrently (yep)-- and reportedly sold for $15,000.  "Aye Yi Yi".

Guns seem the easiest items to promote, as having been in the presence of Bonnie & Clyde.  However o
ne of the latest things touted as a Bonnie & Clyde piece, is a ledger of unknown origin-- passed down through a family in Texas.  At 1st, based on the location of this item and possible connection to the flight path of an expanded Barrow Gangs' escape from their Eastham Prison breakout-- it was thought by some including me, that Bonnie & Clyde signatures within this ledger could be real. 

However, what wasn't disclosed by it's initial owner, but rather the gentleman who bought it-- was alleged multiple signatures of Bonnie & Clyde within this book, among the signatures of many celebrities sans explanation.  To my way of thinking this may have signaled some fun loving people's pranks-- to sign this Hotel register or whatever it was, as Bonnie & Clyde.  Probably not an unusual possibility-- as this dangerous, romantic and paradoxical couple were both admired and hated back in '34. Anyway-- with the reality of multiple versions of Bonnie & Clyde signatures apparently present-- I and others have backed away from this reported Bonnie & Clyde relic in the name of wariness and prudence. 

Long story just a touch longer-- such a "stand up" and respected Carroll Rich deserved better, than to have someone end up with a death car gun for 12 grand-- which to me, is an injustice to Carroll and this history-- considering a suspect Thompson fetched 10 times that within the same Mayo auction house.  But I suppose consistency is the key-- as Joplin sports some of the more blatant and likely Bonnie & Clyde fakes.  These include the Bonnie Parker Highway Patrol fingerprint card, located at the Missouri Highway Patrol Museum-- and the door at the
Dorothea B. Hoover Historical Museum, supposedly from the top of the stairs at the Joplin hideout-- but with bullet holes in it??  Now a Thompson, reportedly taken from the Joplin hideout.  But how much can you say, when fighting an uphill battle??

"As much as it takes".