Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009-- A Year Of Bonnie & Clyde Extremes

As 2009 makes it's exit and 2010 is poised to begin, it's time to take note of what this past year has brought to the Bonnie and Clyde historical experience. To me, 2009 was a year of extremes-- involving not only historic milestones and enjoyment, but controversy as well within B&Cdom. 2009 marked the 75th anniversary of the ambush of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Many varying comments were echoed not only from that hallowed site near Sailes Louisiana, but from near and far-- concerning the "eternal" ambush, who's smoke seemingly still hangs in the air from fateful day in '34.

There's always great passion when the ambush is discussed, of which opinions run the gamut from "they got what they deserved"-- to "it wasn't their fault" and every conceivable position in between. Renewed talk which never really needs renewing was re-kindled-- concerning the brutality and profound events of that unusually hot late May day. Should Bonnie have been killed?? Was Bonnie really pregnant when gunned down?? What does it mean and what difference should it have made, that Frank Hamer was convinced enough that Bonnie was with child-- to have spread the word to other law enforcement officials in advance of the ambush?? Why did the officers use such brutality in annihilating B&C?? Did Prentis Oakley actually see a gun rise above the window before firing that fateful 1st shot?? Etc--etc. There's never a shortage of ambush topics to discuss, but with the 75th anniversary milestone this year-- never a shortage-- never meant more.

Jeff Guinn made his mark on B&C History by releasing his book Go Down Together-- The True Untold Story of B&C. Most know of my pointed disagreements with this here to fore fiction writer, who to me-- continued his legacy, by writing a somewhat fictionalized and overly sensational account of B&C History. My review of this B&C book, can be found within the blog archives. Many have been impressed by Mr. Guinn's offering. I cannot count myself among those who share that viewpoint.

Paul Schneider also weighed in with a new B&C book-- Bonnie and Clyde The Lives Behind the Legend. Although written in a style most need to get used to, Schneider's research seems strong and his factual accounts to me-- set his work apart from Guinn's book. Importantly-- Mr. Schneider is also the first to use updated info from the Dallas FBI files, within a B&C book.

Despite some behind the scenes controversies and odds against it-- The 75th Anniversary of the ambush edition of the Authentic B&C Festival in Gibsland, LA was a grand event. There was great energy and enthusiasm for this year's festival, which due to it's silver anniversary status-- garnered attention worldwide through a myriad of news outlets.

And speaking of Gibsland, on a sad note-- this past Fall we lost one of the grand old gentlemen of Gibsland and B&C History, with the passing of Olen Jackson. Olen will be greatly missed.

2009 also saw great debate over the Dallas FBI files on B&C. Some have criticized these files, but I can't understand why. Dallas field office file 26-4114-- may be the greatest treasure trove of authentic B&C info documented in real time ever discovered. It seems some may not like what these files reveal, based on preconceived notions and loyalty factors not inherent within historical analysis. But to me, misplaced loyalties shouldn't negatively affect these gems of information or their importance. Perhaps some would prefer we go back to the way it was before the Dallas files, when much less was known-- and searching through this history was more like walking down a path in pitch blackness. Not me-- and I'm quite sure not for most, who are objectively interested in the truth regarding B&C History.

And concerning progress within old themes, even after more than 75 years now-- new information continues to be learned concerning a number of B&C points of interest. I am hopeful those who have learned what appear to be mind blowing new possibilities concerning B&C History-- will feel free to disclose these revelations in 2010. 2009 saw the beginning of my investigation into a Bonnie Parker pregnancy. 2010 will see the continuation of this quest. I have learned some remarkable things concerning this long rumored reality??-- and look forward to uncovering more, within an enhanced and renewed effort in 2010.

A few final points concerning 2009 and B&C History-- although I may think of more. 2009 saw a continued splintering of what some call the B&C Community. Now call me old fashioned, but as I view it-- the B&C Community is comprised of an untold legion of people worldwide, who enjoy learning of and discussing this fascinating and poignant history. However for a small group of B&C "insiders"-- the B&C Community is more of a clique, comprised of some B&C family members and those around them-- who don't wish to wander from the inner circle. Within this self serving realm, "outsiders" seem viewed with disdain-- and scorn can often follow. Unfortunately within this more limited B&C Community, it seems just a few individuals can exercise control over others-- who don't wish to lose their status within this vaunted group.

Well I couldn't be more pleased to be "independent"-- and speak my mind freely concerning B&C History, without fear of retribution. 2009 saw the formation of The B&C History Blog. Some are apparently not happy, that I have a voice and a forum from which to speak of this history. Rest assured that I am proud of this forum, where I can provide "you" who I view as the B&C Community-- with useful insights, objective analysis and uncensored commentary concerning B&C History. Concerning the web attacks and threats made against me this year, please know-- I will say what I want to say-- go where I want to go-- and won't be threatened by anyone. I have removed unwanted bullying from this blog for the benefit of all, and will continue to help champion the cause for "truth" within this history.

To close on a most positive note, 2009 has seen significant health challenges for a couple of friends of mine and to many in L. J. "Boots" Hinton and Frank Ballinger. God has blessed these great men and wonderful friends to this history, as they continue to improve from their maladies. I know the continued good wishes of all can be felt by "Boots" and Frank-- so as to be blessed for many years to come.

And finally to my daughter, who is due to bring a new and wonderful young lady into the world and to our family in February-- there's no adversary of mine, who could ever put you down in anyone's eyes-- who knows how wonderful you are.

A Most Sincere And Heartfelt Happy New Year To All--


Saturday, December 19, 2009

What Ever Happened to B&C's Love Letters and Bonnie's Original Poems?? Like Shadows In the Night-- Most Seem to Be Gone Now

As happens from time to time, recently I was contacted with a question as to what happened to B&C's love letters and Bonnie's original poems?? Back in 2006 and 2007, I had conducted extensive searches for these documents. My purpose in scouring for these artifacts, was to aid in scrutiny of The Bonnie & Clyde Signatures. As such I contacted numerous law enforcement agencies, museums and libraries asking where these elusive historical mementos might be?? In 2007 and 2008, I also had the privilege of asking B&C family members about these seemingly lost B&C treasures. I also contacted the Joplin Globe newspaper, as they had published Bonnie's poetry found in the Joplin apartment. I was told the paper no longer had the poetry or famous photographs, and that investigative reporters there-- have been searching for these artifacts for years, but to no avail.

In 2006, Joplin's Chief of Police admitted to me-- that many B&C artifacts once held in their files, had been "pilfered" from within years ago. I also noticed a most telling exchange of letters within the Joplin PD files, between 1930's Chief of Detectives Ed Portley and a man named C.A. Middleton-- who wrote to Portley in 1938. Seemingly Mr. Middleton was searching for Bonnie's poems, to verify their wording for preparation of a Master's Degree thesis. Just 5 years after the Joplin incident and certainly long ago now, Mr. Portley informed Mr. Middleton that Bonnie's poetry was no longer in their files. As with many inquires made back then, Portley referred those wanting to know about B&C possessions to Sgt. George Kahler of the Missouri Highway Patrol-- whom he said would likely have information concerning whatever was being searched for.

In response to the recent e-mail by Ana, I have again contacted a B&C family member to politely ask-- if they know of the whereabouts of any of the B&C love letters recounted in Fugitives in 1934, or of Bonnie's original poetry. Now of course Steve Haas owns Bonnie's poem "The Street Girl" which came from the Parker family. Also, I am aware of a typed onion skin copy of Bonnie's poem The Story of Bonnie and Clyde. But what's "most" interesting about this particular version, is that it has an alternate title-- only 15 stanzas instead of 16, and many of the stanzas are in a different order. Plus alternative & vintage wording can be found within this effort, which in many cases differs-- from the versions published over the years. I believe this to be a "work in progress" version of this poem-- and one which I find most intriguing.

There are many copies of Bonnie's poems available to view, but few originals. And concerning those love letters which I would "love" to see, as they would likely contain numerous B&C signatures for comparison-- I'm sorry to say that unfortunately, your guess is as good as mine. I have searched in the locations I've thought most logical to find them. Perhaps some of these B&C artifacts, which were taken from the seeming safety of police custody-- are now held by "closet collectors". Perhaps the families discarded them long ago in not thinking them important, or maybe in viewing them as unpleasant memories?? However it does seem, that these once numerous letters and poems have vanished. The love letters, which must have been in the families possession in 1934 for use in writing their joint book-- don't seem to be anymore. And it would appear, that perhaps Bonnie's poems were "scoffed up"-- whenever and wherever they were found.

My thanks to Ana from Portugal, for the great question.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

And Yet "Another" Suspect B&C Signature Offering-- Here We Go Again!!

These are important times concerning The Henry Barrow Star filling station Bonnie and Clyde Signatures, and defending these genuine and authenticated signatures-- in light of newly "purported" scripts, which are in need of exposure, documentation and denunciation. I've met a valuable new ally in this regard, who passionately fights against "suspect" autograph mills and their practices-- and reports on such openly, apparently to the frustration of those who cannot risk exposing themselves as being perhaps less than forthright. This gentleman's name is Chris-- and his You Tube expose's are indeed bold and creative. For those interested, I have posted a link to his latest You Tube expose' concerning the alleged B&C signatures pictured above>> blog right for your education and enjoyment.

One of the seemingly cool things about owning authenticated B&C signatures, is that based on this reality-- others approach me with interesting questions concerning B&C signatures with some regularity. One advantage of this circumstance, is that with many "thanks" to those who alert me-- I'm often able to learn of newly "purported" B&C signature offerings early on. Thus was the case again recently, with this "3rd" new and suspect B&C signatures proffering-- which has been presented without provenance, and without forensic backing.

I don't know about you, but of the 3 most recent B&C signature offerings-- this one seems the least convincing right from the get go. Those who know me, know I'm not shy when it comes to expressing my thoughts, and in particular my opinions concerning B&C matters. In November, I received an e-mail approach from an individual telling me of these supposed B&C signatures being presented for sale. This time, the entity offering these "dubious" scripts is called Coaches Corner. From what I can gather, Coaches Corner is a signature house with roots in Pennsylvania, who may conduct most of their business via the internet.

Anyone familiar with collecting legitimate autographs knows, that one tip off to possible issues within the realm of searching out signatures-- is to be wary of exceedingly low prices for remarkably rare signatures. Upon learning of Coaches Corner, it seems most amazing to me-- that they seem to have a knack for obtaining a plethora of really rare signatures, which they often sell at rock bottom prices. They've apparently sold particularly rare signatures such as John Wilkes Booth and Mike "King" Kelly for just a pittance of what they should, when in reality-- one might realistically expect to need their home equity line of credit check book, in order to purchase truly authenticated versions of these scripts.

The last go round, I had commented about the most cursory analysis of "authenticator" Christopher Morales. This time, I approached the "authenticator" of the Coaches Corner B&C signatures-- a man named Ted Taylor of Stat Authentic. Interestingly, Stat Authentic is also located in PA.-- and seems to have a close association with Coaches Corner. But unlike last time in not having the pleasure of dealing with Mr. Morales personally, this time-- I "was" able to interact with Ted Taylor directly via a number of e-mail exchanges. To summarize these encounters, I informed Mr. Taylor-- that based on my experience with the true signatures of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, it's my belief the "purported" B&C signatures offered by Coaches Corner are not genuine.

I first pointed out the striking similarity of this Bonnie Parker signature to the Bonnie Parker Highway Patrol fingerprint card signature, which I feel confident cannot be substantiated. Indeed this alleged Bonnie Parker signature from the Hwy Patrol card, is the only purported Bonnie signature to look like that. Those familiar with The B&C Signatures investigation, know that after considerable research and digging-- no verifiable trace of this "supposed" Bonnie Parker record could be found where it should be, in Kaufman County Texas-- where it supposedly originated in 1932. This alleged fingerprint record, was said to have come from Bonnie's only known arrest in Kemp, Texas. However an exhaustive search, conducted by U.S. Bureau of Investigation Director J. E. Hoover himself in 1933 (just 1 year after this fingerprint record was said to have been created)-- resulted in Hoover's conclusion, that Bonnie's prints may not have been taken by the Kaufman Sheriff's Dept. nor sent to the Bureau as thought.

Within my inquiry, I found this mysterious "artifact"-- to be a Missouri Highway Patrol Museum exhibit. Thus apparently it's denotation as the Bonnie Parker Highway Patrol fingerprint card. This museum also possesses a fingerprint card said to be Clyde Barrow's. It's been reported the Bonnie Parker card was requested by Joplin Chief of Detectives Ed Portley, after the Joplin incident in April of 1933. However a review of the Joplin police files on B&C, reveals no such request by Mr. Portley-- and no copy of this said record within their files. And of course B&C were never arrested in Missouri. Thus with no evidence found to support the existence of this fingerprint record either in 1933 or 2006-- I and others consider this fingerprint card most likely non-authentic.

Plus true Bonnie Parker signatures uncovered in 2006, look nothing like the Highway Patrol fingerprint card signature-- and thus the signature on the Coaches Corner Bonnie script, which looks exactly like the Bonnie fingerprint card signature. I've also commented that to me, the Coaches Corner Bonnie signature-- looks a bit as if a 5 year old tried to copy the Hwy Patrol signature. Even in being a wrong Bonnie signature-- it just doesn't seem impressive.

A Curious Thing-- Concerning the Coaches Corner Bonnie Parker signature, in his defense-- Mr. Taylor stated that Stat Authentic had only "certified" the Clyde Barrow script and not the Bonnie signature. Well that begs the question, how one signature believed genuine-- could be sitting side by side with another signature which couldn't be substantiated, and is likely non-authentic. I have asked Mr. Taylor a number of times now, to please comment on how this could possibly be-- however, he's apparently chosen to ignore this specific question at every turn. Perhaps I can help. If the Clyde Barrow signature was real and the Bonnie not, the only logical answer to this mystery, would be that one signature was added to the other at a different time. Either that, or they're both fakes. With that in mind, one would need to ask in the case of B&C-- who were virtually inseparable for nearly 2 years, how this could be?? In having given credence to the Clyde Barrow signature, I asked Mr. Taylor how he thought Coaches Corner could feel comfortable in selling a pair of signatures-- where one has been deemed similar to known examples, and the other couldn't even be considered for verification?? Unfortunately and again, no response has been forthcoming to this question.

In addition, I also felt it fair to ask Mr. Taylor for his qualifications as a Forensic Document Examiner-- to which no response was forthcoming as well. I can tell you from working with some of the best experts in this field, that legitimate and certified Forensic Document Examiners are most proud of their accreditation's-- and would likely not hesitate to defend their reputations if asked. I wonder if it could be learned as well, which Clyde Barrow signature(s) were examined-- in deeming the Coaches Corner Clyde Barrow signature genuine within this alleged grouping?? It's my belief with slight variation, that the Clyde signature copied to make the Coaches Corner script (as I don't believe the Clyde's real either)-- and exemplar used by Stat Authentic would most likely be Clyde's signature from the Winter King letter pictured above.

One other note-- Mr. Taylor stated to me that Stat Authentic couldn't locate exemplars of Bonnie Parker signatures for comparison to the Coaches Corner Bonnie Parker signature. I found that a curious comment, as both my B&C signatures and Steve Haas' Bonnie poem "The Street Girl"-- have been available to view since 2006. Indeed, just a quick Google search using the keywords Bonnie Parker signature-- would take you where you need to be. So I can't tell you how much diligence was employed, by what are supposed to be experienced "authenticators" at Stat Authentic?? Seemingly not much.

Dumb and Dumber??-- Here's a question. If you knew that 2 legitimate Clyde Barrow signatures were currently being offered for $95,000. and $35,000. respectively, and you believe you have authentic signatures of Bonnie "and" Clyde-- would you sell them for $236.?? Coaches Corner apparently did. That tells me, that either these are incredibly inept businessmen, or unfortunately-- some unsuspecting individual who trusted in these signatures, may end up being disappointed in having purchased them. I suggested to Mr. Taylor, that if he and the proprietors of this signature outlet-- believe in the apparently numerous exceedingly rare signatures they deem authentic such as the B&C, that they should consider buying these signatures themselves and approaching Sothebys, Heritage or Christies with these "treasures". My feeling is they could do much better than to give away signatures for a couple of hundred bucks-- which could sell for tens of thousands of dollars or more. Ah but you see, ultra cheap and unrealistic prices accepted for signatures-- is often one of the great red flags of autograph collecting, and a key to the phrase "buyer beware". The fact that only $236. was garnered for the Coaches Corner B&C signatures, tells me all I need to know-- to prove their "dubiousness".

Out of Bounds-- Here's another question. Should an "authenticator" openly pass judgment on the value of the signatures they review?? One thing that really irked me in dealing with Mr. Taylor of Stat Authentic, was what I believe were inappropriate comments made by him concerning B&C-- and regarding the prices asked for B&C scripts. He not only uttered negative comments concerning B&C in calling them "2 psychopathic killers"-- but also offered his opinion that prices being asked for authenticated B&C signatures were exorbitant. In response I commented, that I didn't think it should be up to an "authenticator" to determine fair market prices for genuine signatures of historical figures, or for someone who's entrusted to pass unbiased judgment on the authenticity of signatures, to provide negative comment as to his personal beliefs about any historical figure he examines.

So just how do this and other prolific signature outlets sell such valuable signatures for next to nothing?? Stupidity?? Naivety??-- or some other reason?? I don't know, I guess it's a mystery-- but perhaps not. I understand just like these alleged B&C signatures, Abraham Lincoln signatures-- have sold for similar prices at internet stores such as this. Surely most would agree, that based on President Lincoln's historical stature-- that authentic Lincoln scripts would fetch much more than a couple of hundred bucks. Ah but you see-- in reality they do.

I suppose what all this comes down to-- is that anyone can sell signatures that someone who's compensated or not, and with limited or no forensic credentials believes are real-- for whatever prices they want. But common sense should dictate there's a huge difference, between truly verifiable signatures-- and ones "believed" authentic, because they resemble either authentic or non-authentic signatures. When all of this gets to the point, where suspect signatures are being used to verify suspect signatures-- then who is anyone fooling??
Apparently just some trusting individuals who lay their money down, in thinking they've made some great deal-- for signatures with COA's which unfortunately, likely have little value. I would encourage people interested in serious autograph collecting, to be wary, wise and above all diligent-- in ferreting out nonsensical signature offers.

As Billy Preston once sang-- nothing from nothing leaves nothing!! Just as the case previously with the Morales "certified" B&C scripts-- saying that a known "exemplar" looks similar to a signature believed to be a fake-- means nothing. And just as in that case, this time as well with the Coaches Corner offering-- no provenance was offered and no accredited forensic examiner provided any real evidence, for backing what must be called "suspect" signatures.

I am impressed that in these callous times, there are those who would challenge what is believed to be questionable behavior concerning questionable historical signature offerings. I commend Chris and others like him, for their caring, guts and diligence. I am proud to add my voice to this important cause. Concerning this latest B&C signatures offering, what can I say-- except that more fakes have apparently landed. If any of these signature outlets offering "purported" B&C signatures would allow comprehensive and true forensic analysis of my choosing, and at their expense since they believe in these signatures so much-- then perhaps I could congratulate them for helping to bring more B&C signatures to light. But I don't believe that to be the case. And I don't see any e-mails or hear my phone ringing-- to take me up on my challenge.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The November B&C Poll Answers, Round 2-- Like Autumn Leaves, a Variety of Questions

As December sets in for the holiday run-- here are November's 2nd set of B&C Poll answers. In a May 9th, 1934 Treasury Department Bureau of Industrial Alcohol document found within the Dallas FBI files-- based on info obtained concerning Jim Muckelroy's farm-- it was said B&C were believed to be visiting their folks 2 or 3 times a month. While staying at the LaFayette Hotel in New Orleans, Raymond Hamilton was thought to have used the alias F. A. Murphy during his time there. According to Blanche Barrow, immediately after Joplin--The Barrow Gang headed to Dallas, so that Clyde and Buck could visit their folks. It was the search for Bonnie Parker's fingerprints, which finally yielded the correct info that she was not Mrs. Bonnie Harding-- but in fact Mrs. Bonnie Thornton.

Interestingly it was Dallas P.D. fingerprint expert Doug Walsh who seemingly secured both the info that the mysterious man shown with Clyde in photos obtained at Joplin was Hubert Bleigh-- but then later, was more correct in identifying the man believed to be Bleigh as in fact being W.D. Jones. Both pieces of information were provided by convict informants. It was about 2 months after the failed Sowers ambush attempt, that Ed Castor walked into the Dallas U.S. Bureau of Investigation offices to offer the Dallas Sheriff's Department help in the hunt for B&C. As Sheriff Schmid always seemed reluctant to give up hope, that the Dallas Sheriff's Dept would bring down B&C themselves, to my way of thinking-- this 2 month delay after Sowers, was in character for the "politician" styled Sheriff. It's my understanding that in reality, concerning true law and order matters, that Bill Decker was closer to being the actual Sheriff than Schmid.

It was Frank Hardy that W.D. Jone's interviews help exonerate, for the Christmas Day 1932 killing of Doyle Johnson in Temple, Texas. And finally-- Robert Thomas of Indianapolis, was the alias Clyde gave, after being captured in Middletown, Ohio on March 18th, 1930. I also would have accepted Claude Barrett as an alias, as on July 19th of '33 license #2-1314 was issued in Topeka, Kansas-- to such a person, who was thought fictitious and believed to by Barrow. This interesting play on Clyde's name certainly makes it possible it was Clyde, however I'm not thoroughly convinced this connection can be made-- based on just the name similarity and info that this license was issued for a 1932 Ford Deluxe V8. It sounds feasible, but was that Clyde?? What do you think??
My thanks as always for your participation in the B&C Polls. Please look for more polls to be posted soon.