Thursday, May 28, 2009

Answers To Questions Re: "The Street Girl"--
And Rekindled Message Board Vindictiveness.
Most Unfortunate-- But Nothing New

Steve Haas has posted questions re: Bonnie Parker's lost poem "The Street Girl" on another message board, which were forwarded to me. As some may be aware, I do not participate on Blanche's Hangout. As such, I'll be happy to respond to Steve's questions here. Steve wanted to know, where "The Street Girl" originated-- and what significance the drug references relating to hop and poppies were within it's verses?? There is no knowledge I am aware of, as to where "The Street Girl" was penned or originated. Based on the provisions of Blanche's Last Will and Testament which are known, this rare poem may have been Blanche's, and thus passed down to Billie upon Blanche's death-- or may have been Billie's all along. Which ever circumstance was so, I can tell you-- although this poem surfaced within Blanche's estate auction-- "The Street Girl" was in Billie's possession at the time of Billie's death.

The references to hop or juice of the poppy, I can only assume are standard references in regards to hop as being opium, and juice of the poppy referring to one of the opiate drugs-- likely opium or heroin. They also could have implied a reference to Morphine which Bonnie was believed to have used. I don't feel there's much doubt, that Bonnie used drugs including Morphine and Amytal after Wellington-- likely to ease her intense pain from injuries, which left her in nearly a crippled state. With both Billie and Blanche having passed-- beyond what is known, I would think it unlikely much more can be learned about the origins of this remarkable work. I personally consider "The Street Girl" Bonnie's best poetic effort.

I've read Debbie Moss's response to you Steve. Although her comments echo some of my thoughts-- I find her approach and tone unduly cynical. In addition, there are aspects re: this poem perhaps she is unaware of, which should be known-- in order to form a more complete opinion re: it's origin and authenticity. In addressing your concerns, Deb seemingly diminishes 2 key burdens of proof within forensic document examination-- which are important and evident regarding "The Street Girl". First, the provenance of this poem "is" known, and very solid. "The Street Girl" was in Billie's possession at the time of her death-- which makes it a family held artifact. As far as it's ownership, Bonnie was known to have been close to Billie, but was said not to have been so close to Blanche.

According to Marie Barrow, at least a dozen Clandestine family meetings were held with B&C. The last of these meetings is documented to have occurred on or about May 10th, 1934. Billie was photographed having attended the family get together near Sowers in November of '33, well after Blanche was captured in July of that year. Billie was also summoned to help Bonnie, and was present with the Barrow Gang, while they were hold up at Fort Smith, prior to Dexfield Park. Based on the content of the poem, and taking into account the greater number of opportunities for Bonnie to get this poem it into Billie's hands-- although without certainty, it may be more logical to suppose "The Street Girl" may have been Billie's. Its also my understanding, Billie wanted little from Blanche's estate-- which may be another clue re: this poem's ownership.

Secondly, Bonnie's signatures apparently written on the verso of "The Street Girl"-- provide enhanced credence for it's authenticity. Although to a CDE, it's not in the best form to compare handwriting to signatures, the "Balmy Summer Evening" passages-- the partial poem attributed to Bonnie, could be brought to bear, in comparison to "The Street Girl" scripts. This snippet of Bonnie's (said) poetry, is also believed to have come from a family source. I would find it remarkable, if "The Street Girl" could be shown, not to have been penned by Bonnie. In the previous response provided to Steve, it was implied that Bonnie's signatures on this poem don't really matter, as only the dead really know the truth re: this poem's authenticity. Well-- based on now years of experience in discerning the signatures of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow-- I'm here to say, Bonnie's signatures on this poem "of course", and most certainly "do" matter. The importance of such is obvious-- as her scripts present on this document would prove, that Bonnie herself was in possession of this poem at some point.

Also in support of "The Street Girl"-- are the numerous references to drug use. These references depict a virtually assured reality within Bonnie, as noted by physical evidence recovered by law enforcement at the time-- as well as eye witness accounts expressed by W.D.Jones, regarding Bonnie's use of drugs. Another important element here, is the fact "The Street Girl" was typed-- which was in keeping with virtually every other known example of Bonnie's poetry. Exhaustive searches have been conducted by myself and others over the years-- in an attempt to find handwritten examples of Bonnie's poems. The first evidence I have of these searches dates back to 1938. Despite all the looking, unfortunately-- no credible handwritten samples of Bonnie's poetry have been found.

Unlike "The Prostitute's Convention"-- which Jeff Guinn didn't know the correct provenance for, and in reality had a weaker provenance-- "The Street Girl" has much more going for it, as likely a Bonnie work. I feel Guinn misused the juicy temptation to use "The Prostitute's Convention", in an apparent effort to sensationalize Bonnie Parker for his book. What other conclusion can logically be drawn?? Unfortunately, there's been a human an historical toll to this lack of caring and diligence. By using this unsubstantiated poem, tying it to Bonnie Parker, and deeming it's content somehow reflective of Bonnie's morals-- Guinn apparently succeeded (whether intended or not)-- in having altered (sullied) Bonnie's reputation. In having painted B&C in less favorable terms than many authors before him-- I would hope this lack of historical diligence, was not in any way deliberate. None the less, Bonnie is now often labeled a prostitute, based on references within Guinn's book-- fueled by "The Prostitute's Convention".

Within the Tidwell poems auctioned by Bonhams in 2007 which included "The Prostitute's Convention"-- 5 of the 10 poems were known poems of folklore, said "not" to have been written by Bonnie. To me, this further weakens the likelihood of Bonnie having authored "The Prostitute's Convention". Of course she could have authored this work. However this "mixed" grouping of poems, along with curiously-- all having been hand written without a mistake or correction, together with an interesting but questionable provenance-- all add up to me, as citing a lesser likelihood of authenticity than "The Street Girl". I had the opportunity to speak with Jonathan Davis at the B&C Ambush Festival. He was gracious in confirming a fact of which I was already aware-- that Marie Barrow was not in any way, a source of provenance for "The Prostitute's Convention" as Mr. Guinn claimed. If only Bonnie were alive or would have kept a diary-- we might know for sure, whether she authored any of the Tidwell poems. But alas we have no such advantage-- so all we can do is try and make sense, of the clues we do have. However unlike "The Prostitute's Convention" with it's possible weaknesses in authenticity-- I feel support for "The Street Girl" as being an authentic Bonnie Parker poem-- is strong.

Having perhaps detected some subtle digs, directed my way within the response to Steve and his questions on the Blanche board-- I will again state my feelings in saying, I find such expressions a disappointment. The reality is, with my experience in having spent now 3 years investigating the handwriting and signatures of Bonnie and Clyde, apparently without predecessors in this regard-- and in collaboration with renown forensic experts-- which did include working with "The Street Girl"-- I would likely be a good source of educated opinion, regarding this element of B&C history. The vindictive attitudes sometimes expressed, by some who fancy themselves as being irrevocably "in the know" regarding this history, I feel is most unfortunate.

Re: Blanche's Hangout, I wish it well. However I'm not the only example, where freedom of speech was banned there-- when viewpoints expressed, ran contrary to the whims of a few-- who control that B&C bastion of limited expression and childlike games. As David Byrne once said in the Talking Head's song-- "I ain't got time for that now".

At least here, I can make the comments I do. Something is materially wrong, when expressions regarding the debate and enjoyment of this history, are limited, discouraged or distracted. There are no such limitations or issues here. As such-- please feel free to express your views regarding B&C history openly and with candor. I welcome your comments and expressions.

Many thanks for these questions re: Bonnie's poem "The Street Girl" having been relayed to me. I'm happy to try and help re: all matters Bonnie & Clyde-- whenever I can.

Note: Freda Dillard has commented correctly that both "The Street Girl" and Suicide Sal, contain references to the island (by the bay)-- which could be references to Alcatraz-- and also Helen of Troy, which appear to be references to beauty. This commonality of thought within both poems-- could well add to the reality of "The Street Girl", indeed being an authentic Bonnie Parker work. I myself have no doubt. Nice going Freda. Thanks so much for your input.

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