Saturday, July 11, 2009

Protecting Bonnie & Clyde History From the Vultures of Opportunism-- and Seekers of 5 Minutes of Fame

Ah the accuracy of history. Those who know me, know I'm not only passionate about this noble cause, but feel it "essential" to maintaining the vital integrity of documenting human ki
nd. The photo and caption above are from the Jones/Fischer report, It's Death To Bonnie And Clyde-- published in 1998 and used most recently by Jeff Guinn, in spinning his version of the ambush-- which is "fraught" with shameless sensationalism and inept inaccuracy. My response to the caption published above-- is "no" this photo does "not" graphically show an exit wound to the left side of Bonnie's face. Nor has it ever been documented with any credibility, that Bonnie was shot from the right side of the Warren car multiple times by Frank Hamer, in firing his powerful Colt Monitor machine rifle, or by anyone else-- firing multiple times directly into Bonnie from the right side. To put it politely-- BS. This fantasy account of the ambush was published in Guinn's book, admittedly based on the Jones/Fischer report-- which bases it's supposition on the photo pictured, along with ballistics interpretations by non-experts.

But in fact, as Bienville Parish Coroner Dr. J. L. Wade witnessed and documented on May 23rd, 1934, and as verified by the King Murphy morgue photos taken of Bonnie-- the gaping wound on Bonnie's left cheek was an "entrance" wound which exited the top of Bonnie's head. "Only" left handed and rear entrance wounds are noted in Bonnie, by Dr. Wade. The error made by Jones and Fischer, was in thinking the bloody indentation evident on the face of Bonnie Parker-- somehow signified a bullet wound that didn't exist. However in viewing other photos of Bonnie when cleaned up, this natural facial characteristic is revealed not to have been pierced by a bullet's path. By ignoring other morgue photos available to view which didn't fit their scenario, along with not taking into account Bob Alcorn's interview conducted on May 23rd, 1934-- in which Alcorn states "he" fired at the right of the Warren car, thus likely making the holes present above Bonnie's door-- in my view and most unfortunately-- Jones and Fischer did a great disservice to history.

The sensational supposition passed from Jones and Fischer to Guinn, follows the lines of 1930's rumors involving Hamer targeting Bonnie, which apparently had no basis in truth then-- and still don't today. But hey it sure sounds good, and what a splash it can make-- especially when picked up and used within a well publicised new book-- which along with this dubious claim, sports other instances of sensationalized and non-historically based fodder. Admittedly, Guinn's telling of the ambush, is based mainly on the Jones/Fischer report-- right down to the millisecond by millisecond analysis of the firing order of the officers present that day. With all the years that have passed, no witnesses left to interview and so many assumptions used (which may or may not be accurate)-- I'm not sure how or why, this "carefully crafted" firing order would have validity or usefulness.

Most historian's I've spoken with agree, once the firing started-- it was likely a simultaneous assault of lead flying toward the death car. Why it was deemed necessary to portray a firing order, which realistically could only be guessed at-- is a mystery to me?? Perhaps, if those who purport this creative recreation of the ambush with Hamer assassinating Bonnie et all-- had training in ballistics, criminal forensic science and photographic arts-- or employed experts who could support their theories, perhaps someone like myself wouldn't be all over them in pointing out the obvious. When you cannot substantiate your claims-- don't proceed as if you can, and state that's the way it was. Truth is rarely supported by supposition. Truth is most often proven by fact.

To me the most ludicrous claim made within the ambush reenactment, is the incredible statement of how Clyde manipulated the Warren car pedals-- to make the death car proceed toward the ditch once the shooting started. A slight point to remember was that by all accounts, Clyde was killed by either the 1st or 2nd shot fired by Prentis Oakley. Therefore with all respect, Clyde was likely killed instantly-- and thus was unavailable to manipulate anything, much less the clutch pedal of the Warren car, to make it move in any particular way.

Even though some may be familiar with my analysis of the great Bonnie/Hamer assassination controversy, as many are not-- I thought I would dust off my feelings about this, and post an updated version of this furor here on The B&C History Blog. As I am proud to call "Boots" Hinton a friend, I am quite familiar with his caring quest, to assure the purity of B&C history-- and to fight against, hearsay, lore and errant supposition becoming legitimized by its being published in a book (which doesn't make it true)-- and thus become thought of as fact. I stand firmly beside "Boots"-- in protecting B&C History, from those who would cloud and muddle it. Regarding Bonnie Parker's wounds, Dr. Wade's expert observations were this:

Bonnie Parker:

2 Diam rings -- gold wed ring 3rd finger left hand, Small watch on left arm, 3 acorn brooch on dress in front, 1 Catholic Cross under dress Red dress and Red shoes = Tattoo on right leg 2 hearts with arrow 6 inches above R knee Roy on R Bonnie on Left side: G shot wound edge of hair about 1 1/2 in above left eye another entered mouth on L side Made exit at center of top skull + another about middle and Just below left Jaw bones another entering above clavicle left side ranging into neck. Another entering about 2 in. below inner side of left shoulder. 2 bullet wounds 1 about 2 in. below left shoulder another mid way arm fract the bone Another wound elbow left arm breaking into joint. Another shot in left breast going to chest 4 inch below Excela 1 shot ent left ibid 4 in below Excela breaking ribs. 6 shots entering three inches back region of left scapula. 5 bullet wounds about middle of left thigh. Number of of cut places on left leg outer side seems cut from glass, 1 cut on left ankle. 1 on top on left foot apparently from glass Bullet wound inner aspect and center of right thigh. Scar apparty from burn 6 inches in length about 3 1/2 width on outer center of right thigh appears effect of burns, another scar 6 in length 4 in width outer aspect right nee extending on across & front of knee extending 6 inches on inner side of right leg. Flesh wound inner side of right knee.

Gunshot wound entering fleshy portion left thigh 8 bullet wounds striking almost in parallel line left side. 2 striking parallel right side back from base of neck to angular right scapula to side backbone one striking mid way back breaking back bone.

Bullet wound right leg about mid way ankle and knee. Another B wound anterior ankle, inner aspect foot about 2 in. above base of great toe. gunshot wound bone of first finger another middle finger -- at bone severing the member.

Dr. J. L. Wade

Those are the facts-- supported by both Dr. Wade's life long reputation and by photo evidence documented at the time. Bob Alcorn was quoted on the day of the ambush as stating it was he, who fired at Bonnie's door, thus most likely making the holes evident above her window. There are no credible accounts known, which detail Frank Hamer firing through either the passenger door or window into Bonnie multiple times-- and no physical evidence to support such claims. As Hamer and Alcorn likely fired the same caliber weapon, and with Alcorn's admission to the Dallas Morning News-- its less likely to assume Hamer shot at the right of the Warren car. I'm working on obtaining a copy and source of a report said published in England-- which details an account of Hamer, which states-- when he approached the death car and saw there was nothing left to do, Hamer holstered his weapon without firing another shot.

It seems there's always a John Toland. As pointed out so aptly by Nelson Algren, in his strikingly good introduction to The True Story of Bonnie and Clyde in 1968-- it seems there's always a John Toland. Years ago, within a book called The Dillinger Days, Toland painted Clyde as a homosexual, Bonnie as a nymphomaniac-- and henchmen like W. D. Jones as being useful to drive, fix cars and satisfy Bonnie's sexual desires. As some still seem to buy into Toland's claims regarding B&C's aberrant traits, it seems Toland's sensational words stuck-- and all these years later, still bear repeating within the "history" of B&C. But that's exactly my point. To me, it appears Jeff Guinn has now assumed the mantle of most sensational B&C claims from John Toland. Now thanks to Guinn-- Hamer fired wildly into Bonnie in a fit of spiteful rage against her-- and Bonnie may forever be characterised as a prostitute, based on unsubstantiated claims-- backed by a dubious poem which Bonnie may have never written, and that Jeff Guinn didn't even know the correct provenance of. Help me Lord, for those who write of history, need to pay attention-- and have a greater appreciation for trying to get it right.

But I suppose, these boldly sensationalized claims made within Go Down Together are not surprising-- as they were authored by a man who revealed to me within an e-mail, his thought that "all written history is ultimately best guess". So I "guess" that when one of this author's fortes has been writing so prolifically of Santa Claus (5 books worth)-- perhaps fantasy may be hard to separate from reality. Therefore in writing a "hit and run" true crime book about Bonnie and Clyde, who cares if some facts are wrong?? Why not just guess-- that's alright isn't it?? I'm willing to wager, that years from now-- Guinn's errant work within Go Down Together, will echo with the same twisted resonance, that Toland's words from yesteryear still enjoy today. I wish the Tolands and Guinns of the world to know-- that I am "proud" to protect Bonnie & Clyde history, from less than caring revisionists and profiteers. When I was in Gibsland for the B&C Festival recently, I heard that Jeff didn't show in Gibsland because "Boots" and I were there. That's fine. The way I see it, if I can keep just one person interested in the history of Bonnie and Clyde, from paying undue attention to unsubstantiated "best guesses"-- then I feel I'm doing my part for this history.


ted1933 said...

hello winston, i will agree about this "best guessed" comment. one thing i am interested to know is, what is your take on the ambush? who's version do you consider most credible? hamers? jordens? hintons? or have you come up with something yourself you might be willing to share with us? i have come up with something, but i cannot devulge, or reveal anything at this time, i know you can understand that, and when i do i think some will be quite surprised, BUT, it will NOT be a "best guessed" account!

Anonymous said...

I think Hinton's story is credible. He told the story how he saw things. Hinton didn't know about all of the deals behind the scenes. Hinton was there. je also told the same version while under oath at a later date. I do not feel Hinton was a liar.

A. Winston Woodward said...

As Hinton was there, and provided the most in depth account of the ambush, I would think his recounting of it, should have a great level of accuracy. There is nothing I've been able to find, which casts doubt on Ted Hinton's lifelong good reputation. It is clear from the newly released FBI Files, that Hinton was out of the loop-- regarding the planning of the ambush. But it is also a certainty, that Hinton was there for the ambush-- to participate in and witness that event.

However, there are some interesting contradictions, which exist among the various stories told of the ambush. Reconciling these accounts so many decades later, and with all the participants now gone-- is the challenge.

I do not believe the Hamer assassin assertions, as I don't feel they can be backed up by any credible evidence. I believe the "so called" evidence provided, in which to support these claims is at best-- faulty. I'm working to obtain a quote and source, for what I hear is an account published in England-- which states that after the ambush firing stopped-- as Hamer advanced toward the Warren car, and saw there was nothing left to do-- he holstered his weapon without firing another shot.

I would be interested in knowing any new info which could be obtained on the ambush-- along with the source(s) of this info. I'll keep you posted on what I find out as well.

t o m said...
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