Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Announcing B&C History Poll Contest--
Along with Tougher Poll Questions

Based on the ebb and flow of B&C History Poll answers, it seems perhaps tougher questions are needed. And since at least one of you has asked about prizes, perhaps, there's a way to satisfy those-- with that competitive B&C spirit. How about an ongoing B&C History Poll Contest. That way, I can provide a B&C related prize at the end of each month-- for whomever has the best accuracy in answering the poll questions.

If you like the contest idea, then let's try it. For those who wish to participate in The B&C History Poll Contest-- and include the current crop of 4 poll questions-- please e-mail your name and answers for each poll question to me at-- This way, your answers remain anonymous to each other, but I can keep track.

The rules are simple: The contest is open to all who participate on this forum. To be fair and allow for some to enter the game mid stream, as well as those who may not answer all polls-- a minimum of 10 votes per contest period, are required to qualify for prizes. Ample polls will be posted each week or so, to allow for sufficient votes to be cast. Those with more votes cast than others, within a contest period-- agree that all is fair beyond a 10 vote sampling. In case of a tie, a 3 question 1 day playoff-- will decide the winner. If still tied after playoff-- multiple prizes will be awarded.

Prizes could be B&C books, photos, tee shirts, internet offerings, works from me, or whatever interesting and eclectic B&C items I can find. These may include items from Ken Holmes' Southwestern Historical Publications catalog, or gift offerings from the B&C Ambush Museum. As the Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Festival's upon us, perhaps the 1st prize offered, should be something from this year's Festival in Gibsland-- commemorating the 75th anniversary of the ambush.

Meanwhile-- it looks like I really need to buckle down are find some more challenging questions for you all. Accordingly, I am poised to post some zingers, created in conjunction with "Boots" Hinton. So get ready-- all who feel they know their B&C stuff. The bar has been raised, so lets all climb higher. The 1st contest period will end May 31st. When I return from Gibsland-- I'll award the inaugural Poll Contest prize. Please be sure to e-mail your current poll votes-- for this week's credit. You've gotta be in it to win it. So let's hear from you. Thanks for your participation. Let's see if the same people always win-- or a sense of parody will prevail, within some friendly competition??

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

B&C Poll Results Re: Dexfield Park Posse

It appears no one got the correct answer to the Dexfield Park posse B&C Poll question. I went with the Dallas FBI Files account, of the Dexter capture attempt for this question.

The correct answer was, about 15 posse members advanced on the Barrow Gang, in the near dawn attempt to capture B&C. Photos I've seen of the Dexter posse, seem to chronicle a varying number of participants. Of course it's not clear from any of the pictures, whether all posse members were noted within any of these images. What is clear, is not many uniformed lawmen participated in that group. The posse appears to be mainly a collection of locals, along with their weapons.

I found it interesting whomever led this posse, thought to advance on the Barrow Gang encampment in a V formation. This lessened the possibility of the posse members being hit by friendly fire-- and made it more difficult for B&C with their backs to the river, to escape. If not for the men who were stationed at the bridges, having abandoned their posts in hearing the firing, and mistakenly thinking B&C must have been captured-- the operation may have been a resounding success. That stroke of luck, along with Clyde's bluffing of Mr. Fellers, apparently with an empty gun-- meant Bonnie, Clyde and W. D. would live to fight another day.

I hope all will vote on new poll questions as I post them. 2 brand new ones, have replaced this one.

Thanks for participating.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

B&C Poll Results-- Bailey Tynes'
Mother's Maiden Name

3 of you took a chance on the very 1st B&C Poll. 2 were correct.

Sophronia Walker was Bailey Tynes' mother's maiden name. The Walker family is the link to Bailey Tynes. Clyde's mother Cumie Barrow was a Walker. Her father was W. B. Walker. Cumie's uncle W. E. Walker had 3 daughters. One of those daughters Sophronia married Calvin Buel Tynes-- Bailey Tynes' father.

Thus Clyde and Bailey are cousins. More on this at Gibsland.

Look for new B&C polls, to be a regular feature of this blog.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Great Moral Debate
Bonnie & Clyde-- Cold Blooded Killers
or Victims of Circumstance??

This is one of the great B&C debates which like Springtime, re-surfaces regularly-- to incite fervent passion and politely (or thereabouts), heated exchanges-- among Bonnie & Clyde historians and highly skilled aficionados. One such renewed installment of this grand query, has occurred on the Boodles Board. It seems battle lines are drawn in the sand, for this advanced exercise in historical forensics, based on 2 distinct points of view.

The first is a sympathetic view of B&C-- as being products and victims of their Depression driven, dirt poor economic surroundings in West Dallas. Thus without a steady source of legitimate income, and having been harassed by the Dallas Police after his parole from the Eastham Prison-- Clyde saw no alternative, except to revert to the life of crime he had known as a teenager. This all went terribly wrong when he participated in the robbery of John Bucher, in which Bucher was shot and killed. From then on, Clyde felt he had nothing left to lose. Thus when push came to shove, murder (mainly in self defense) was a necessary but unsavory reality, for this desperado and his paramour Bonnie Parker.

The contrarian and hard line view of B&C, is that no matter how you frame it, Clyde, Bonnie and the Gang were no good criminals-- aggrandized street thugs, who graduated from tire and turkey snatching to organized robbery and murder. Clyde had little penchant for an honest day's work. As such, crime became his easy meal ticket, and running from the law-- his harsh and bitter reality. Moreover, Clyde had little regard for those outside the realm of his family and Bonnie Parker. He took what he needed, and killed callously when cornered. A conscious and insatiable need to be near their families, resulted in B&C continuing to run both near & far, but not far enough away-- to end the confrontations which only resulted in more senseless death. B&C had to be stopped, and in the end the law did what they needed to do. Bonnie & Clyde were rightfully killed regardless of the brutality of the Sailes ambush, on May 23, 1934. Some who subscribe to this view, believe Bonnie deserved to die and others break with that view-- saying the less guilty Bonnie should have been spared such a violent and early death, if it were possible.

These 2 traditional viewpoints, have recently been joined by a new hybrid squint. As this quite unique application of logic is conspicuously weighted more toward sympathy for Bonnie & Clyde-- than for the law, and those who died at the hands of the Barrow Gang-- I view this new approach as an adaptation of the B&C sympathy thesis. However, this alternative view of B&C is an interesting tight rope walk, encompassing the combination of 3 unlikely elements. First, having admitted compassion for Bonnie & Clyde as individuals. Next, rejecting the Barrow Gang's heinous actions as criminals. And thirdly, understanding and accepting-- environmental reasoning for B&C's plight. Thus the close to dozen murders committed by the Barrow Gang though unacceptable, were understandable.

At first glance, one might think these key elements to be incompatible. However, as the reality of most situations is often a combination of more complicated circumstances-- there could be more truth within this combining of views, than with either of the 2 polar opposite viewpoints alone. Although there is little evidence, that the realities of the Great Depression caused increased crime (crime actually decreased as a whole)-- there is evidence that murder rates increased, under the strain of hard economic times. Both domestic violence and criminally related killings, increased during this period.

Could Clyde have tried harder to carve out a new law abiding life for himself and Bonnie after Eastham?? In my view yes-- but I wasn't there. None of us were, so we cannot truly know the realities as they existed then. As every person seems to have a breaking point, before more intense action is begun-- perhaps Clyde was no different. Within the harsh realities of a downtrodden West Dallas during the early Depression years, perhaps little hope could be seen for a "better" life-- at that point. I would like to think differently, but again how would I know-- without having experienced the pain and suffering then. Today's economic situation is bad. But in few ways is it comparable to the extreme conditions which existed then. Murder can be justified by morally upstanding people, in but a few selected instances. Murder to rob and pillage, is not generally regarded as one of those instances.

I feel it only right, that those who support this sympathetic but perhaps more realistic hybrid view of Bonnie & Clyde, grasp the reality of Clyde and his gang being responsible, for between 11 and 13 deaths. That much murder and mayhem, cannot easily be explained, within an environmental justification for the actions of criminals. But times were different then. Each of us in searching for an acceptable answer to this moral dilemma-- between good and bad, right and wrong-- or some personally acceptable position in between-- will like our homes, choose a place we feel comfortable being within our love for this story. Perhaps the truth is, desperate times in the '30s created a uniquely desperate reality-- which is hard to comprehend not having lived through it. For those fans of old sci fi movies, Panic in the Year Zero, is a good screen portrayal of this remote possibility-- of human desperation one would hope, rarely if ever would occur.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Gibsland or Bust

Well it's that time again. Time again for the annual mass pilgrimage, to the most hallowed of all areas-- having to do with Bonnie & Clyde. On that fateful day 75 years ago in Bienville Parish, LA, at approximately 9 AM, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow stopped for breakfast sandwiches at a little spot in Gibsland, called simply Ma Canfield's Cafe.

As it turned out, unfortunately for them-- the taste of those sandwiches-- would be the last tastes either of them would ever enjoy.

Again this year, I've been asked to talk a bit at the Festival's annual historian's meeting-- which will be held on Friday evening May 22nd. I consider this quite an honor, and thank Ken Holmes for the invitation. This year Jimmy Ray Gillman and I will discuss Dallas FBI File 26-4114-- the lost FBI file(s) on Bonnie & Clyde. This will be the first public historian's forum I know of, devoted to this hot topic-- which has been discussed and debated since the files coming to light in 2007.

For those who've felt I've spent perhaps undue time worrying about new B&C books-- I'm pleased to say, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at some info I've uncovered, regarding key aspects of the files. For those fortunate enough to read this post prior to Gibsland, and who are planning to attend this year's meeting-- be prepared for some knock your socks off revelations regarding family informant Bailey Tynes. I've located descendants of Bailey-- who know much about him. One nephew of Bailey's, heard of Bailey's experiences with the Bureau "and with B&C"-- first hand from Bailey himself.

The Tynes family never knew whether the stories Bailey told were true or not. They now know, he "was" an informant for the FBI-- and have told me of Bailey's admissions to them. There are most fascinating surprises in store-- "not" detailed in the FBI files. Everyone seems to have their own favorite revelations from the Dallas files. My favorite by far is Bailey Tynes. I feel the placing of a trusted family member within the Barrow residence among other locations as as spy-- an astounding revelation. But as Paul Harvey would say, just wait until you hear-- "the rest of the story".

I will also key on the remarkable Spy vs Spy aspects of the Sowers ambush attempt involving "Smooth Smith"-- among others. In addition, I'll discuss Buster Parker's willingness to put Clyde Barrow on the spot-- to save his beloved sister Bonnie. I do this for Rhea Leen. God knows, she could use some good news, after the recent public degrading of Bonnie Parker's reputation. I am proud to have fought against what I feel is an erroneous, characterization of Bonnie, and will continue as a protagonist for truth-- within was it likely to be an ongoing battle.

And don't be surprised if the infamous Sowers informant as well as "Informant B", get singled out for discussion as well. To me, the Sowers informant (likely a family member) and Informant B are the "deep throats" of the Dallas FBI Files-- mysterious, shrouded, interesting-- and as yet unidentified characters, within the bevy of wondrous info-- that is the Dallas B&C FBI Files. I also plan to choose some more obscure, but interesting documents to highlight from the files-- many of which show members of the B&C saga, in a more human light than has been known before.

I'll likely post more re: plans for Gibsland. Tres Amigos ride again-- hacen si'. My thanks to Tommy Methvin for aiding in the preparation for the historian's meeting. And don't worry, I feel confident JimBee will attend, and give a great talk as always. His focus will be the Louisiana aspects, regarding the "sellout" of B&C-- finally documented in the Dallas file. Also without giving too much away, look for some special folks who may attend, to commemorate the silver anniversary of the ambush of B&C. And keep your eyes peeled, for some rumored Hollywood types (did I say that??)-- who "may" show along with Tonya Holly. I said "may"-- so please don't skewer me, if this exciting possibility doesn't come to pass. But if one particular young lady shows, of whom I'll have to get an autograph for my soon to be 15 year old daughter-- I just want all to know, I may have trouble paying attention, while giving my talk.

For those who wish to attend, the following is the historian's meeting announcement-- from this year's Ambush Festival newsletter. Also for those interested, be sure to look for some special Bonnie & Clyde artifacts, being brought for this occasion by Alan Olson-- Director of Collections, from The Dallas Historical Society Museum. These wonderful artifacts will be on display for the weekend, within the B&C Ambush museum. There will also be an ample supply of B&C related materials available at the Ambush Museum, including (for those who have asked)-- both CDs I've been involved with. And for those who cannot attend Gibsland, I'll be sure to have "much" for you enjoy from this year's festival as well.

Be sure to join us for this year's Special Edition, of the Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Festival Historian's Meeting-- commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the ambush. Big doings will abound-- with Barrow and Parker family members present, as well as Tonya Holly-- Producer and Director of Cypress Moon Studio's upcoming film, The Story of Bonnie and Clyde.

Bonnie & Clyde Historians Jimmy Ray Gillman and A. Winston Woodward, will present fascinating details from the long lost Dallas FBI Files on Bonnie & Clyde-- within a public forum for the first time. Your moderator as always for this event, will be Historian Ken Holmes. The B&C Ambush Festival Historian's Meeting will take place Friday May 22nd, 2009 from 6:00 to 10:30 PM. Admission is $8.00 which includes dinner. Dinner will be served from 6 to 7 PM, with the meeting to follow. See you all there.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Jeff Guinn Experience--

Don't worry Jimi-- the above title in no way reflects, some new and inventive guitar based rock band. As many within the Bonnie & Clyde historical community know, I've spent much time lambasting author Jeff Guinn regarding his book Go Down Together: The True Story of Bonnie and Clyde. I've found Mr. Guinn to be surprisingly candid in his admissions, regarding an apparent lack of respect for historical accuracy and due diligence-- in preparation for his latest work. As I've written through other outlets, ad infinitum concerning what I view as Guinn's shortfalls, within his attempt at historical writing-- I wish only to quote again here, Jeff's "remarkable" admission which may live in infamy-- and comment briefly.

"All written history is ultimately best guess, and clearly you and I have guessed differently in some instances".

No Jeff, please don't include me within your guessing games, as it may be you alone, that touts guessing as an acceptable mindset within the written preservation of history. I'm proud to defend this unique and storied history. Knowingly or not, the effect of at least some of your contribution, I feel is to diminish this history (already fraught with lore)-- through an injection of needless innuendo and mindless sensationalism. My challenges to your bewildering suppositions, are based on supportable facts-- and the reports of "more than credible" eye witnesses to the events of May 23rd, 1934. I find your use of newly enhanced lore, along with your inclusion of unproven artifacts as the primary basis for a crucial claim-- without even knowing the correct provenance of those artifacts (yet another remarkable admission)-- as being irresponsible acts for an historical author. Some may not care too much about protecting Bonnie Parker's and Frank Hamer's reputations, from the likes of less than diligent authors like you-- but I care-- and care with enthusiasm.

In my view, facts and honesty should prevail over 1/2 truths, untruths and innuendo. Since I've never seen it agreed, that authors should get a free pass, just because they can form words into book form-- no free pass for you. I've also never seen it expressed, that what's less than honest good work and truth-- should be respected out of hand. I'm glad to see others from outside the Bonnie and Clyde historical realm, reviewing this book-- in less than glowing terms.

My thanks to those who are paying attention, instead of just following the unenlightened herd-- into the seemingly green pastures of sensationalized fodder. As Socrates said--

"Think not those faithful who praise all thy words and actions; but those who kindly reprove thy faults."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Why a blog for Winston??

In a nutshell-- control of my own creative expressions.

Having contributed extensively to 2 Bonnie & Clyde message boards, where it's said free expression reigns-- unfortunately I've found, these declarations of historical freedom to be less than genuine. With one board, which includes participation by B&C family members (whom I know)-- I found it wasn't a good thing to differ with the powers that be. I found when you peel back the false persona exhibited there-- in reality, more games are being played, than you can shake history sticks at-- and "ass kissing"-- which seems more relevant than historical content, has been elevated to the level of a fine creative art. As I didn't fit in, with the "agree not to disagree" credo practiced there-- I was asked to leave. This was fine, as I won't compromise my principles, independence or objectivity-- to tow the line of a few, apparently more interested in the lure of celebrity-- than the pure love of history. I even had an e-mail address I desired, offered to me as a bribe-- in exchange for my silence. I find even the idea of such an advance "remarkable". But as my personal and historical integrity, is not for sale or barter at any price, I of course rejected this less than gracious offer, and gladly moved on.

With the other message board, an enhanced freedom of expression seemed to border on utopia at first. However, after having a post of mine edited, my freedom of speech seemed to evaporate-- as if vanishing into thin air. Because this moderator is a friend of mine, and since apologies for some nearly unexplainable hard feelings, were exchanged within the bond of 2 friend's sincerity-- I'll still contribute freely to this message board. However the net effect of these two less than desirable experiences, have left me less likely-- to participate in Bonnie & Clyde internet forums, as prolifically as I once did. Instead I'll concentrate now-- on forming more of my expressions, within an environment where my rights of free speech are assured.

Therefore, a blog for Winston.