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.

1 comment:

Russ1934 said...

That is so sad, that it pisses me off, really makes me mad that some things that anybody could probably tell would one day be valuable, would be discarded. What if someone had just decided to throw away Booth's derringer, or scrap Kennedy's limo?

And as far as people who would pilfer things like that, to me that might be understandable, but not honest.

If these great artifacts were not thrown away(cringe), somebody out there knows something, and if they also know how important to history that these things are, it's beyond me why they don't come forward!?!