Monday, January 25, 2010

A B&CHB Exclusive: "Pistol" Pete Storey-- An Unknown B&C Hostage??

The August 1st, 2009 post entitled "The Bad Weather Trap-- That Wasn't" has inspired a most interesting e-mail to me, which could reveal a heretofore unknown B&C kidnapping and hostage. As Detroit, Texas was mentioned in the August post, as a location where B&C were thought to have passed through-- Deport, Texas, which lies nearby in the same county-- came into play within the approach to me.

A relative of a man named "Pistol" Pete Storey, told me of a favorite tale Mr. Storey apparently imparted for years-- to anyone who would listen. As the story goes, Mr. Storey ran a cotton gin in Deport, (Red River County) Texas. One night around 8PM, as he was locking up his office-- a man and a woman came to the door. The man commented on Pete's new car. As few people had a new car that nice in that part of Texas at the time, the man asked to see the inside-- as he was considering buying one for himself. Pete obliged, grabbed his keys and met the strange couple outside. Upon unlocking the car, the man pulled a gun and ordered Pete into the back seat. The man took the keys and proceeded to the driver's seat, while the woman sat in the passenger seat.

It was said the man talked to Pete a lot while they traveled, asking him questions and making small talk. Pete and this mystery man may have had much in common, as Pete was known to have used several aliases to avoid ever paying a red cent in income tax. Pete also distrusted the government, distrusted law enforcement and hated banks. Pete said the man was friendly and polite. He addressed the woman only as "honey" at first, but as their ride progressed into the night-- the couple eventually let their guard down, and called each other by name. It was then that "Pistol" Pete's suspicions were said to have been realized-- it was Clyde and Bonnie.

After hours of driving and conversation, Clyde decided it was time to let Pete out. Clyde said he didn't want to do it, but felt he had to tie Pete up so they could get away. Pete claimed they tied him very loosely to a tree, and Clyde promised that his car would be returned to him in good condition-- when he found one suitable to replace it. At that point the couple Pete claimed were Bonnie and Clyde, drove away in his car. A few days later, Pete's car was found by the side of a road believed to be in Oklahoma. The car was unharmed, with the keys in the ignition.

Pete apparently never told the police of his tale, but did tell this story to others-- long before many books were published concerning B&C. Now it's my understanding that Pete was known to have told some tall tales in his time, and as a result-- few believed his encounter with Bonnie and Clyde. However it's known, that Pete swore by this story as being true. As an aside, please remember the family of Bailey Tynes told me a similar account, of how Bailey was known to have told tall tales. However, with the release of the Dallas FBI files, Bailey's stories (never known to be true) were confirmed to have happened.

Similarly, with reported accounts of B&C perhaps having traveled near to the area where Pete's cotton gin was-- his relative now believes this story has the validity to be brought to light. She thinks the specifics of this story sound "a lot" like B&C, and upon review I must agree. The MO of approaching a mark near closing time, has been documented in other Clyde Barrow robberies. Also B&C's approach in taking a captive "for a ride" well outside of an area, and letting them off far away from the scene of their crime-- is also consistent with known B&C escapades. The tying of a hostage "loosely" to a tree to afford the duo a chance to escape, is also true to known accounts verified by police hostages from the Wellington incident.

And finally the traits of politeness expressed during the act of stealing a car and distancing themselves from an area, the small talk expressed-- and the abandoning of a stolen car with it's keys left in the ignition for it's owner to recover, are all witnessed events which to me-- are hallmarks of a B&C carjacking. We now know, that B&C and The Barrow Gang could be be quite cross and uncouth when they wanted to be. However, there are other stories which point to a softer side to the desperadoes-- one laced with kindness for their prisoners. Another interesting similarity to this account, also came from the Wellington hostages-- in that it was said that Clyde tended to talk a lot. So all in all to me-- there are enough similarities in this case to known and verified B&C traits, to make this reported account quite possible.

I am working to secure a photo of "Pistol" Pete Storey, which if successful-- I will add to this post. It's my understanding that audio tapes may also exist, with Pete himself telling his B&C tale. I've been told I may have access to hearing these tapes, which are being searched for now. My sincere thanks to the lady from Texas, who's name I know-- but at this point prefers to remain anonymous to most, in her relaying this remarkable family account. One of my rules in working with those with B&C stories to tell, is that at least I know who I'm dealing with. I am confident enough in the comparison of this story to known accounts, to believe this intriguing tale could be of great importance and interest-- and thus warrants it's publishing here.

I am helping to suggest ways to this family member of Pete Storey, to hopefully nail down a more verifiable account of this recollection. The potentials of this story are great-- so please stayed tuned.
Many of you say you visit the B&CHB for the insights learned here. How about this one?? I very much appreciate the trust placed in me, by those who have B&C insights to tell. I invite your comments, concerning this potentially standout B&C revelation.


Shelley said...

"Pistol" Pete's recollection certainly does have all the earmarks of an "authentic" B&C encounter. They must have passed through just about every rinky-dink, one-horse Texas town along the way - they were everywhere! And B&C must have come in contact with hundreds - if not thousands - of unsuspecting citizens throughout their life on the lam. The vast majority of them lived to tell the tale.

The best part of my job is having the opportunity to meet so many people with B&C stories to tell. I've spoken with more than a few who had aunts, uncles, grandparents, who passed down to their offspring tales of meetings with the gang. Interestingly, not ONE single person I've met has told me their older relative had anything bad to say about them. Without exception, they all give a similar account: they were friendly, polite, well-dressed, etc. One older woman told me her mother always told her that "Clyde was real good-looking and had a great personality."

Although I'm sure they could be quite intimidating when they thought they needed to be, they never harmed a hostage (McNabb doesn't count!). But according to Sophie Stone, Bonnie did rough her up pretty good, and used a great deal of profanity while doing it. From what I saw of Ms. Stone years later on that Hamer video, I can see why her attitude may have rubbed Bonnie the wrong way!

But for the most part, I think Clyde and Bonnie were caring people - once the threat to their own safety was removed.

Perhaps my favorite "hostage story" pertaining to B&C can be found within the pages of "Running with B&C". In it, Clyde, Bonnie, and Henry flee the Commerce, Okla. area with City Marshall Percy Boyd, after Henry has killed the town's Constable, Cal Campbell.

It says, "Barrow was impressed by the lawman's demeanor. He would later say that Boyd displayed "more real guts" than anyone he had ever met. Of Barrow, the officer said, "He is the coolest operator I ever saw."

The paradox of them being ruthless outlaws - who happened to possess many fine qualities - I think, is one of the main reasons why we find them so endlessly intriguing.

BTW, how did "Pistol" Pete ever manage to recover his car, if he never reported it stolen in the first place?

A. Winston Woodward said...

Hi Shelley-- I would think with tags and a registration, it would be easy to track down the owner of a stolen car. But of course as with many of these stories, we may never know all the facts.

Now here we go-- with the framing of B&C within the rays of a glowing and positive light. I'm not sure a fine sugar coating of B&C, can objectively stand up to more than enough eyewitness evidence documented now-- to suggest that B&C and the Barrow Gang were not always the cool operators, and school boys and girls some make them out to be.

With all respect to those who support them more than those who don't, a number of witnesses to B&C under pressure-- noted them to be abusive, nervous and rough in their demeanor and actions toward others. In fairness, there are accounts of B&C being polite and nice as pie-- to offset these other stories of a much more crude and reactive B&C. Perhaps it just came down to circumstance, as being hunted while enduring the harshness of the road for so long-- likely took it's toll on everything to do with them, including their patience and tolerance of those around them.

Bailey Tynes who got closer to B&C than most, made the interesting observation of calling them paranoid-- and noted actions to match. Clyde it seems tended to talk too much, to the point of perhaps giving away their movements. And Buck was known to be in favor of killing hostages. Now in your mind a well as within the minds of many, McNabb doesn't count. In my mind he does. I believe McNabb was killed by Joe Palmer, while in the company of Clyde Barrow and Henry Methvin. We can all agree to disagree, but if the Wade McNabb account is true-- The Barrow Gang did kill a hostage, along with at least 12 other people.

Shelley said...

"Glowing and positive" light??!? No, no, no - I prefer to think of it more as "fair and balanced"!

But let us not quibble over semantics here. "Pistol" Pete reported that B&C were "friendly and polite" or however he phrased it - and I was just agreeing with what you said he said! That's the same as what I've often read, and that is also what I've heard first-hand from many others now with family stories to relate.

OF COURSE B&C were outlaws and villains. That is undisputed fact. We would never have heard of them if this were not so. They did lots of bad things, and paid the ultimate price for their crimes.

I don't believe I give them that "fine sugar coating", I just think it's important to examine ALL the aspects to their story. Unlike many other notorious young killers (Leopold & Loeb; Starkweather & Fugate, for example)-- B&C actually did have some redeeming qualities. Killing was not their objective; it was more of an unfortunate by-product of their other crimes, I believe.

I DO have an empathetic attitude towards B&C - and for this, I make absolutely no apologies. I'm sure my views are probably rooted in the fact that I read "Fugitives" over and over as a kid. Years later, those views were reinforced through reading "Running with B&C", the only other book to really illuminate the human aspect to their story.

I agree completely with you when you say it "just came down to circumstance." That's really the bottom line here. Clyde and Bonnie had good days and bad days just like the rest of us - except their "bad days" were decidedly worse!

BarefootOkieGal said...

I'm sorry that I don't remember exactly which book I read it in over the last week, but there is an account of a postmaster (who apparently had to drive his own car to deliver the mail, and whose car was really just a piece of junk) who was carjacked by Bonnie and Clyde and taken for a ride, and when they dropped him off far away, he asked what they were going to do with his car. They assured him not to worry, he'd get it back - they'd leave it somewhere easy for the police to find with the keys in it. He asked them to do him a favor - he told them that if they burned it up, he'd be able to get a new vehicle. Apparently the idea tickled Clyde, and so they took the vehicle and poured gasoline over it and set it on fire, and then ran (car fires can be seen quite awhile away!)... it sounds like an urban legend, almost, but it does sound like something Clyde would have done!

It seems to me that in most accounts of kidnappings by Bonnie and Clyde, whether the victims describe them as calm and friendly or nervous and rather abusive, they are more friendly when they are saying goodbye - there are numerous accounts of them offering some money to someone so they could get back into town, and even when they tied folks up, they tied them in a way that would enable them to eventually work free.

They did not seem to feel any personal animosity toward the people they "took for a ride" - just part of their way of doing business, I guess!