Thursday, April 29, 2010

Billie's Journal-- Revelations Only a Sister Could Tell

In researching and recounting Bonnie & Clyde History, I can't help but be excited whenever new revelations come to light. But within this elusive history-- newly unearthed facts from the depths of time, which possess both unquestioned provenance and reliability-- are few and far between.

In 2006, a 14 page document was sold via the Blanche Barrow Heritage Auctions-- which I believe few realized the striking importance of. Somehow like a Stealth Bomber slicing through the night, this family held artifact which was submitted for auction by a member of the Parker family-- seemed to evade all detection. And unless you were the lucky individual who purchased this remarkable B&C artifact-- one might wonder how anyone else would ever know, what was contained within this seemingly overlooked treasure??

But "most" fortunately-- copies were made of this extraordinary document. This item was Billie Parker's 1st hand account, of her recollections concerning her sister Bonnie Parker. As it turns out, these 14 pages of Billie's remembrances of Bonnie-- were just part of a larger grouping of Billie's "handwritten" journal notes. Billie's other journal entries, map out an exceptionally detailed and historically valuable family history-- of both the Parker and Krause families. Billie's family history, not only provides all the necessary links to lineage (including some obscure ones)-- but also provides terrific personal insights, into the human characteristics of a multitude of family members.

As many will recall, I recently published a post concerning the true identity of Millie Stamps. That post was made possible, based on an excerpt from Billie's journal. As I was furnished with a copy of Billie's handwritten family history, with profound "thanks" to Bonnie's niece Rhea Leen Linder-- I felt comfortable in recounting the Nellie Parker Stamps story, in order to help clarify Carlsbad B&C History. However concerning Billie's notes on Bonnie, although I had 2 sources for the contents of this info-- in my being hellbent on providing truth concerning B&C History, I wanted to be "sure" I could obtain a copy of these particular Billie journal entries-- before recounting aspects from them. Therefore my caution in not publishing this post, prior to viewing Billie's handwritten account.

Through this and upcoming posts-- I look forward to revealing some most remarkable stories concerning Bonnie and Bonnie & Clyde, as told by Bonnie's sister Billie the old fashioned way-- in segments as in vintage serials or magazines. I will "not" paraphrase Billie, but instead-- let her words say it best-- verbatim, exactly as she wrote them. You may note some aspects of Billie's journal, contradict published accounts including Fugitives. I'll leave it up to all, to absorb these differences when compared to printed versions of B&C History. But for me, I see "no" reason-- not to give considerable historic weight to these 1st hand handwritten accounts-- from the person who likely knew Bonnie best. Also "special" attention should be paid, to truths concerning Billie's children-- as who would know better, than their mom?? Within this once closely held family information, you'll also learn the "true" cause of Jackie and Buddy's deaths. For it was not a stomach ailment-- as has often been reported.

So please enjoy the 1st installment of Billie remembers Bonnie-- as this particular story is quite remarkable. I hope you'll also look forward, to upcoming Billie's journal accounts concerning Bonnie. This initial account shows a profound caring, and willingness to take what would have been a unique risk on the part of B&C-- to bring love and joy to a little boy-- Billie's son Buddy Mace. Would Clyde have been bold enough, to pull a horse trailer with a horse inside-- and venture into Dallas for the sake of a loved one?? Apparently yes. This story also documents 1st hand-- one of the more fascinating aspects within B&C History-- Bonnie's reported premonitions. Here Bonnie's premonition regarding the death of Buddy is revealed in chilling detail, along with what seems to be proof of the accuracy of her forewarning. So sit back and enjoy in Billie's words, this segment which I call--

Buddy's Pony & Bonnie's Premonition

As Billie tells it-- "Bonnie worshiped my children-- I have seen her take pictures off the walls & let them pat & play with them. She couldn't bear to let a baby cry. They bought my little boy his first tricycle-- Christmas eve she brought it to the porch & put it down-- She stood there for a moment-- Little Buddy saw her & cried out Momma, Bonnie's home-- I saw her." Bonnie had to leave for she was afraid someone was around the house. It broke her heart not to see him. We tried to convince him it was Santa-- But he always said it was Bonnie-- We didn't see her that nite. But we knew she had left the tricycle."

"Months after then they had planned on getting Buddy a Shetland Pony--They talked about it & kept looking for one. Finally they found the one they wanted. Clyde talked to the man & told him he would go get a trailer & be back the next week. Every(thing) was O.K. with the man. It took Clyde several days to find a trailer. He told the man to get it in good condition & they would pick it up the next day."

"The next morning Clyde was rushing Bonnie so they could go pick up the trailer. But she just kept sitting there staring into space-- finally she said we don't need the trailer for Buddy's Pony-- for Buddy died last nite. Clyde didn't question her for he knew of her premonition-- He started to Dallas-- It took them 2 days & nites to get to Dallas. Then they were told that both my children Buddy and Jackie had died from Polio."

"That hurt Bonnie so much she began Blaming her self for everything that happened. Finally she snapped out of it when mother confronted her with the fact that I had become so bitter I wouldn't talk to any one. I didn't believe in any thing or any body-- I wouldn't go to meet Bonnie, I wouldn't talk with any one. Mother told me, Bonnie said if I wasn't present the next trip she was coming in-- I knew she would, so I was there. She said Billie what are you trying to do-- kill mother-- can't you see what you're doing to her? Haven't I done enough?? Billie I would be willing to die to morrow if I could go home to nite & spend the nite, just telling mother how much I love her & ask for her forgiveness now, you have that chance. But what are you doing but crucifying her?" Bonnie could always straighten me out."

"That was in the fall of the year. I saw Bonnie at least once a month, from then on-- Winter months was always the hardest on us all. I would find mother roaming thru the house nite after nite. She would always say-- oh I wonder if she is warm, or sick or hungry. I just can't lay in a warm bed wondering where & how she is. My mother was only 46 years old at this time. This was in the winter before Bonnie was killed in the Spring-- May 23rd."

To be continued-- with earlier remembrances. I don't know about you, but for me-- it doesn't get much better than this. The only thing I suppose which could be better, would be to have Bonnie and Billie alive to re-live this account. But of course, Billie's words are "wonderful" as a just alternative. I've been assured by the Parker family of the validity of Billie's journal. It was family held, and found among Billie's possessions upon her death. Also for those who knew Billie, her most distinctive "backwards slant" to her handwriting is tell tale-- for Billie was right handed. As such, provenance of Billie's Journal is iron clad-- and as this document is now out of family hands, I have family permission to recount it's treasures.

My sincere "thanks" to the Rhea Leen Linder (Bonnie Ray Parker) and the Parker family, and also to the source of the color copy made from the original-- who wishes to remain anonymous. Anonymity within this context, never stops me from saying "Thank you". Look for more from Billie's remarkable writings, coming soon to The B&CHB. One note-- as underlining is not available within my version of blog post editing?!?-- I have italicized what are singly and then doubly underlined words within Billie's text.


Russ1934 said...


Let me be the first to say how much I like being able to read excerpts from Billie's Journal. It's really wild how Clyde would consider going to all the risk of finding a trailer and picking a pony up, as hot as they were. Wow. Many thanks to you, Rhea Leen, and the Parker family for these "family stories".


A. Winston Woodward said...

Hello Russ--

I am rarely astounded, as I am now in reading through Billie's writings concerning Bonnie. There are wonderful personal insights, and absolute treasures of stories-- within Billie's remembrances of her sister. I only wish there were more than just 14 pages.

Through Billie's writings, and some thankful personal family interjection-- it's also now clear who destroyed Bonnie's remaining belongings after the ambush. To answer thousands of questions on this subject made over the decades-- yes many of Bonnie's belongings did survive her. But unfortunately, they were indeed destroyed by a family member. And apparently not because the pain was so great in keeping them. More on this now revealed individual and story later.

BarefootOkieGal said...

I am looking forward to further revelations! It is such a treasure to have a description of someone in the words of one of their closest family members...

It's so very touching to see the tender sides of people considered to be such horrible criminals. To read Bonnie's words of concern for her mother is almost heartbreaking, and apparently her sister took her words to heart.

Some people look at so-called "bad guys" and assume that their image of them is the only one. It's truly a treasure to see another side - a tender, loving and caring side, willing to take risks to bring some happiness into a child's life!

Shelley said...

As some here know, I have long supported - and often defended - the view that Bonnie (and yes, even Clyde!) had that "tender, loving and caring" side to them.

As such, I find Billie Jeans's journal entries most gratifying to read. Her words only reinforce my long-held beliefs about their character. And Okie Gal - your observations are right on!

I believe that B&C suffered great remorse for their crimes - and did what they could to try to atone for their sins whenever - and how ever - possible. The love and loyalty they shared with their families is legendary, but their kindness and generosity with friends, acquaintances - and even total strangers - is notable, as well. It's so nice to read about their positive qualities, for a change!

A. Winston Woodward said...

It's certainly true, that the saga of B&C is laced with wonderful examples of human kindness & touching anecdotes-- as Billie's priceless remembrances so tenderly illustrate. It's also true that The Depression Years were uniquely difficult and passionate times, which resulted in the advancement of both good and evil.

However, when those who support Bonnie & Clyde considerably more than not, express comment in sugar coated terms which perhaps lessen stark realities-- then it may be time to strike a better balance, and remember that the folks with the good hearts and those around them-- were responsible for at least 13 murders. These ultimate acts of violence, forever altered the lives of dozens if not hundreds of family members and friends of the slain-- not to mention, contributing negatively to an already scourged and ravaged 1930's society.

I would agree that even the worst in society, likely have redeeming qualities. But I suppose it's fair to ask which carry more weight-- acts of kindness or acts of murder?? As I see it, the difficulty lies in sorting out moral truth-- when both negative & positive extremes are evident within the same individuals, who seem so easy for so many to like.

My point has been, there was a reality to this history which in looking back now-- we can likely view as not being born of either extreme. B&C weren't upstanding citizens, and B&C weren't always cold blooded killers. I'd like to see those on each side this passionate debate, be respectful of the middle ground, where the truth likely lies.

I am equally critical, of those who factor in "nothing" from the realities of The Depression-- in allowing for some most unique tweaking of the social mores of those times-- which gave rise to lawlessness, social rebellion and an increase in violent crime. These are the purveyors of Justice-- where little reasoning matters, and death for B&C couldn't come fast enough.

For those new to the blog, don't worry-- as Shelley and I've revisited these ideas so much, her comments and my replies are old friends. Within our respective positions, we'll have some polite but serious fun with this. She and others know what to expect from me, concerning my views of this history. I can almost hear the sounds of her typing from Arkansas. I'm not sure what to make of the Clyde was remorseful angle, and doing what he could to atone for his sins?? Perhaps that would include atoning for taking lives?? I'm not sure that would fly-- if explained to the families who lost loved ones to The Barrow Gang?? How "do" you make up for taking a life??-- or 2 or 4 or 6 or 8 or 10 or more lives?? I'm just not sure, how that would work.

In searching for that elusive B&C historical "balance"-- the B&C centrist viewpoint soapbox, is closed for now.

Shelley said...

I can see that my latest comment calls for further clarification.

Good deeds towards some, in no way justifys - or out-weighs - the killing of others. It was never my intention to imply that it did. To believe so would be absurd.

The point that I was trying to make is this. Clyde and Bonnie were not monsters. They knew right from wrong, and they had a conscience. They felt guilt and remorse for their wrong-doings. I think that in large part because of this, they tried to compensate the best they could in other aspects of their lives.

Clyde never wanted to kill anyone. He said it made him feel "sick inside" to take a life. And according to W.D. Jones, Clyde prayed on a regular basis.

So why then, did the killings continue? Simply put, to avoid being killed themselves - for as long as possible. Both Clyde and Bonnie were well aware that to surrender meant certain death. For Clyde Barrow, going down in a hail of bullets was preferrable to going back to prison to await execution. Although not a killer herself, Bonnie willingly accepted his fate as her own.

So "it's them or me" became the basis for their mentality. I do not agree that Clyde was a "murderer". To my way of thinking, murder is an act of premeditation; something one plans to do. And anyone capable of planning the death of another human being is "cold-blooded".

Clyde didn't kill 13 people - or 12 people - or even close to that. I doubt he personally killed even half that many. But whatever that number may be, these killings occured within the context of a "gun battle", not a "murder". In most (if not all) instances, Clyde knew he was about to be killed, if he did not pull the trigger first.

This is not to say that I think that what they did was right; it wasn't. I am only trying to explain the mind-set from which they operated. All that transpired was very obviously a great tragedy for all their victims - but I also believe that Clyde and Bonnie were victims, as well. Under more favorable circumstances, I think they would have led far better lives.

BarefootOkieGal said...

I'm usually capable of seeing both sides of any situation, and one of the reason that I've always been fascinated by Bonnie and Clyde is that they have so many facets - there is no denying that Clyde was a killer; whether his killings can be considered premeditated or not, the fact is that he was always prepared to shoot it out, and that level of preparedness indicates that he fully intended to do all he could to keep from being captured. Cold-blooded killers, however, don't usually just kidnap people and take them for a ride; I don't see Clyde killing someone unless he felt it was necessary. I don't think he killed for kicks - he killed out of necessity, but it was his lifestyle that necessitated the killings. I don't think Bonnie ever killed anyone, but she did willingly accompany a man whom she knew would kill people if the situation arose. I do take their upbringing into consideration, and I do realize that after a certain point, they very well may have considered trying to live somewhere else and "go straight," but I think that they just did not have any real idea how to go about it. From some of Bonnie's writings, I get the idea she had a fatalistic view of things - she knew she was going to die with Clyde, and she felt that was their fate. She probably considered it a rather romantic fate. Yes, they were criminals, and Clyde had a hot temper and was quick on the trigger, but they also had qualities that everyone can recognize as being positive, if only one goes looking for them. They got a lot of bad press, and were accused of a lot of things that they didn't do, but I don't think they were ALL bad nor ALL good, and I don't make any excuses for what they did, but I do feel sympathy for them because I believe Clyde's situation escalated until he believed all he could do was to stay on the run (which meant killing if he had to) and I believe that Bonnie went with him initially hoping that they would be able to settle down and live a nice life together. To see her set down her hopes for them in her early letters is rather heartbreaking - these are not the words of a woman who wants her criminal boyfriend to get free so they can go shoot up the country and be shot up themselves in the end. I see the words of a young woman hoping that the new man she's met and fallen for will somehow manage to pull himself up and become an upstanding citizen, so that they could share a happy life somewhere, with perhaps a child or two.


A. Winston Woodward said...

Now your comment BarefootOkieGal is one I can appreciate. It has balance and is well thought out, to include both the hopes and dreams of B&C early on before the die was cast-- and hard realities of their unfortunate end-- where options became realistically few to none. Although you obviously lean toward sympathy for B&C, you also acknowledge their killings in a straight forward manner-- without hesitation or creative framing. As such you address the stark realities of The Barrow Gang's "reign of terror" as it's sometimes described. Many "thanks" for your comment.

With comments such as yours, it seems these debates are getting more realistic. Back in the good 'ol days, by the time these things really got going-- there was no evidence Clyde ever killed anyone, and he'd just helped an old lady across the street-- after leading a boy scout troop in the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. My point in politely trying to find realism within these debates "on either side"-- is to stick to the facts, and avoid letting boundless passion color this history in ways it shouldn't.

I don't feel there's much doubt, that between 4 and 6 are the likely number of deaths personally attributable to Clyde Barrow. By his "own" admission this number was 6, and that boast was made prior to the Grapevine murders-- so his total could well be more. And as far as premeditation, those particular murders were apparently targeted for Ray Hamilton and likely Mary O'Dare, whom Clyde seemed to hate equally as much. If Ray and Mary had happened upon Bonnie, Clyde and Henry Methvin as planned that Easter Sunday, instead of the 2 motorcycle officers-- history may have been recorded differently.

Anyway, from the viewpoint of culpability-- as the leader of The Barrow Gang, someone would need to explain how in pulling the trigger himself-- or acting as an accessory, why Clyde couldn't be held responsible legally for all The Barrow Gang killings ie: murders ie: forcefully ending someone's life??-- however you wish to term it.

Cold blooded-- warm blooded-- the end result is the same for the victims. In some ways, Clyde could be considered a victim. But where does that leave us in considering Clyde at that point as one live victim-- versus more than a dozen dead ones. Again, where is the historical balance??-- and one could argue, who more deserves the justice??

He who prays, knows right from wrong and has a conscience-- continues to kill because he has no choice?? OK I've got it?!? But whatever happened to B&C atoning for their sins?? I would think when you follow the path of an outlaw, you give up any sense of normalcy-- being able to see your mom when you want and having many things both ways. Costa Rica-- suicide??-- there are a couple of choices for the position Clyde found himself in-- which could have saved lives.

ashlee forsyth said...

I have done a lot of research on Bonnie, as a counsellor I can safely assume that the traumatic early life experiences would have contributed to her circumstances. I am sad that she is portrayed in a negative light and that she was shown no mercy. I only wish that counselling of today was around at the time she was going through sad personal events, things might have turned out different. Bonnie Elizabeth Parker is not a criminal in my eyes, and would defend her honour in a heartbeat.

A. Winston Woodward said...

Hello Ashlee--

Which early life experiences do you feel contributed to Bonnie's decisions in her 20's and why??