Monday, May 31, 2010

A Comment About Comments

I surely welcome comments here, within the boundaries I've set for this historical blog. My feeling is when comments are thoughtfully made within an historical context, they focus wonderful creative energy toward a useful examination of this history. However, when comments are made which initially or eventually evolve into vehemently expressed personal diatribes of support for one extreme B&C view or another, then I feel a responsibility to attempt to bring folks to the center-- where the truth likely exists.

"Balance" is a credo I live by and strive for, in recounting Bonnie & Clyde History. As such, I'm opposed to blatant statements of fervor, where either staunch hatred or unmitigated support of B&C or other participants within this history can be implied. These "non-historical" views, unfortunately often include dubious supposition-- in forming such sharp and stationary opinions. I am particularly sensitive to statements wishing harm to others (outlaw, lawman or family)-- or those in which slanderous accusations are advanced.

It is not my intent to be harsh to anyone-- especially those who support this B&C forum. I just need to make sure, thoughtful comments continue as the norm. Many thanks to all, for your wonderful expressions. Of course as always-- I welcome your comments. Thank you.

Gibsland 2010-- A Great Time Was Had By All

What would an anniversary of the ambush of Bonnie & Clyde be, without the Authentic Bonnie & Clyde Festival in Gibsland, LA?? I'd attended the last 2 festivals, but could not make this year's event. Apparently many regulars were absent as well, for a variety of good reasons. None the less, the festival which experienced a drop off of attendance from it's previous record setting year (you can't have a 75th anniversary every year)-- was still a great time for all who attended.

The top photo is one of the best I've ever seen taken at Gibsland. That's Bonnie's niece Rhea Leen Linder (aka Bonnie Ray Parker)-- and Clyde's nephew Buddy Barrow, standing along with an image of Bonnie & Clyde in The Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum. The 2 ladies, looking to take pics of their own, are Dixie Lee Sedgwick who played Bonnie in her one woman show-- and Tonya Holly from Cypress Moon Studio's upcoming The Story of Bonnie and Clyde. Many thanks to Shelley Mitchell, for sharing these photos.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Info Reveals Wellington As You've Never Known

Many seem to have a favorite Bonnie & Clyde incident, tale or story. One of my favorites is Wellington. The Wellington Incident is a key event in Bonnie & Clyde History, in that it contributed to adversity so profound-- it affected Barrow Gang realities and mobility from that point onward. And for Bonnie Parker-- that June '33 crash & burn, resulted in consequences so dire-- it served to limit basic human enjoyment for the remainder of her young life. In addition, Wellington provides a Depression Age tale of people helping people-- with the Pritchards and Cartwrights providing compassionate care to strangers, for whom they had no negative pre-conception. These kind citizens, had little idea of the danger they faced-- until their ordeal was well under way.

Many know the famous story. On June 10th, 1933-- Clyde, Bonnie and W.D. Jones were traveling at a good rate of speed-- on their way to a rendezvous with Buck and Blanche. As they neared the Red River near Wellington, Texas-- somehow Clyde missed seeing a detour sign, warning that the bridge was out. At the last moment, Clyde veered off the road-- sending The Barrow Gang car careening down a steep embankment to the dry river bed below. The late model coupe, landed facing the way it came. The car was scorched but not engulfed in flames. At least 2 of it's 3 occupants were rendered unconscious, with all 3 reportedly pinned within the car. As the accident happened just below a house owned by a family named Pritchard, some number of those who witnessed the accident ran to the crash scene thinking the worst-- only to find assistance could be rendered.

After freeing Clyde & W.D. from their coupe, it was discovered that an unconscious Bonnie Parker was badly hurt and in need of immediate medical assistance. The car's battery, which in those days was sometimes located under the front passenger seat or floor board had exploded-- severely burning Bonnie's leg. Bonnie was carried to the Pritchard house, where she was administered basic medical attention. It's been said that Alonzo Cartwright slipped away to fetch the Sheriff. 
Steel bridge apparently covers spot of Bonnie & Clyde Wellington accident.  However, drop which car traveled, is still evident.

When Sheriff George Corey and Marshal Paul Hardy responded, they were captured. Before leaving, Alonzo's wife Gladys Cartwright was shot when W.D. (identified by Bonnie as being Buck Barrow)-- fired at Gladys with a shotgun, in thinking she was reaching for a .22 caliber rifle stowed above the rear kitchen door. The outlaws shot the tires of the
Pritchard's vehicle, and made their escape along with their 2 peace officer hostages in Sheriff Corey's car. Clyde, Bonnie and W.D. then completed their rendezvous with Buck and Blanche-- in meeting them 6 miles west of Sayre, Oklahoma. After tying Corey and Hardy to trees, the then full strength Barrow Gang moved on-- ending up in Arkansas.

As so often happens within my research into B&C, I get so involved-- that by the time I realize I'm onto something, I can't always tell you what order of things prompted me to action. Such was the case, with my looking to interview Gladys Cartwright. As usual it was just a thought, which led me to the Internet-- which led me to an article which seemed to imply that Gladys Cartwright had survived a relative who died in the Wellington area. This caused me to seek a 100 year old Gladys Cartwright (which would have been correct)-- said to live in the same area. Could Gladys Cartwright from Bonnie & Clyde History still be alive??

Thus I began the process of trying to locate this Wellington survivor. After reaching out to a local Texas newspaper without success-- I tried a different approach. After some digging-- I was able to locate a John Cartwright listed as a relative of Gladys Cartwright's. I knew that name, as being the baby reportedly in Gladys' arms when shot by W.D. I must say, those 1st moments, when asking if the person you're searching for is the person you're speaking with-- are nothing short of magical. And as it turned out, yes-- the John Cartwright on the other end of the phone, was indeed the son of Gladys and Alonzo Cartwright.

I'm always thankful that to date, no one I've contacted within any historical Bonnie & Clyde context-- has rejected my polite approach for information. When you call someone out of the blue looking to get personal-- there's always that chance. In this case, John Cartwright and his wife Judy couldn't have been nicer. Unfortunately-- John did confirm the passing of his mother Gladys. She died in November 2006, at the age of 96. From what I've learned, it seems the Cartwrights have good longevity. It turns out Gladys and Bonnie were both born in 1910-- Gladys in January and Bonnie in October. Thus these 2 young women were about the same age when they met. Gladys was 23 then and her husband Alonzo was 27.

I've learned much from John Cartwright, concerning the true story of Wellington as told by his parents. I say true story, because some of what you'll hear next from the Cartwright family is new-- and contradicts written accounts of this event. John said he's spoken to very few about Wellington over the years, and feels any information which is inaccurate-- takes away from Gladys. Those who know me, know truth is always my goal-- in my recounting this history. Thus I couldn't agree with John more, concerning the truth being told concerning Wellington-- and feel John's sentiment for his mom a wonderful gesture. For those familiar with all the nuances of this story as previously known, I hope you'll enjoy the many new pieces of information revealed here.

In the Pritchard home that June evening were Gladys & Alonzo Cartwright and their young son who were visiting. Also present were Gladys' parents Sam and Sally Pritchard-- along with her brother Jack who was also visiting the Pritchard home that evening. It's been said the crash occurred at perhaps 10 PM. John tells me that Sam, Jack and Alonzo were all on the front porch at about dusk-- and that's when the crash happened, as the sun was going down.

Upon impact, all 3 men rushed to the crash scene. I've seen it written that just Alonzo and Jack went to the Barrow car, but apparently Mr. Pritchard went to help as well. John confirmed that according to those who were there, there was little fire. It's now been revealed that what little fire there was, the men extinguished by hand using Red River water. The next point of contention, has to do with who carried Bonnie from the car to the Pritchard house. In some accounts I've seen, Jack reportedly carried Bonnie. But according to John, Uncle Jack was a slightly built man who couldn't carry her-- so Alonzo carried Bonnie up to the house.

Barrow Gang car after Wellington crash.. as witnessed-- facing embankment which it careened down, to a dry section of the Red River bed below.

As differing accounts of this next point exist, this clarification may be of great interest. According to John Cartwright, guns were not removed from the car immediately, but were retrieved after Bonnie had been taken to safety. And here comes a quite large revelation-- it's been written that Alonzo Cartwright somehow slipped away unbeknownst to Clyde, in order to fetch the Sheriff. Not according to John, who says his dad convinced Clyde to let him go for the Doctor. However apparently Alonzo felt, that in addition to wanting the Doctor-- that the outlaws also wanted the Doctor's car. As seemingly there was no suitable car at the Pritchard place to replace the wrecked Barrow coupe-- when Alonzo's intuition regarding the Doctor's car was related by John, it made perfect sense to me. John mentioned that Clyde told his father-- "Don't send the law out here-- we're hot." Before he left, Alonzo had a message of his own for Sam and Jack, in telling then "Don't let them get to the guns." But of course-- that would prove to be an unrealistic task.

But here's where the reported Wellington stories mesh, cross paths and get interesting. Alonzo did apparently have to push start the car he took to town-- which was Sam Pritchard's old Maxwell. The battery was weak and Alonzo did push start it down the hill to get it going. While Alonzo left for town, Gladys treated Bonnie for her injuries. She used the only salve they had, which she told Bonnie might burn. Bonnie didn't care about any further painful consequences, and was willingly treated with the salve. As reported, those working on Bonnie worked by lamplight-- but for no other reason except that, there was no electricity in the Pritchard farmhouse. The Pritchards also had no telephone or radio.

As all concerned worked on Bonnie, Alonzo made 2 stops in town-- one to the the Sheriff and one to get the Doctor. The law arrived 1st at the Pritchard house, and that's when Sheriff Corey and Marshal Hardy were captured. Meanwhile it's true that Alonzo had trouble returning, but not because he had a flat tire. Rather the Maxwell had a vacuum pump problem and cut out. This inability to return immediately to the Pritchard house, likely saved Alonzo's life. More on this in a minute.

Meanwhile back at the house-- with 2 lawmen under wraps and a car to travel with, Clyde, Bonnie and W.D. made plans to leave. There were 2 other cars on the property. A Dodge which had the back cut off for use as a pick up-- and Jack's car who's make is unknown. Clyde and or W.D. proceeded to shoot all 4 tires flat on both vehicles. As such, now comes the Gladys Cartwright shooting. Upon hearing the gunfire of the tires being flattened, Bonnie got up off the bed and went outside. Thus with all 3 outlaws outside, it was then-- that Gladys thought to lock them out of the house.

So Gladys wasn't reaching for the .22 rifle above the door-- or a 38 caliber pistol also positioned above the back kitchen door frame. However, many screen doors have those little metal eye hooks meant to secure them. To keep this particular door from swinging open, Sam Pritchard had rigged a different and more effective closing mechanism made of wood-- which was chest high. When Gladys went to latch the door, W.D. saw her through the window and apparently thought she was reaching for a gun. W.D. yelled "halt" which startled Gladys. She took a quick step back and turned sideways, apparently toward the window where W.D. was peering in on her. It was then she was shot. Gladys thought if she hadn't stepped and turned before the shot came through the window, she may have been hit in the back-- and her child which she was holding, may have been hit as well.

And are you ready for another key revelation??-- the child Gladys was holding when shot by W.D. Jones was "not" John Cartwright as often reported. John was born in 1936. It was John's brother Ralph-- who was 8 months old at the time, having been born November 9th, 1932. The photo and inscription in Gladys' hand which I've published above, were graciously provided by John and Judy Cartwright. This wonderful photo shows Gladys, Alonzo and Ralph-- at some point after the Wellington event. Gladys is showing her famous hand to an unknown audience. As was pointed out by Judy-- Gladys is wearing the same dress as within the known photo of her.. thus it appears both photos were taken at the same time. W.D.'s shotgun blast did cripple her hand, but Gladys made do. Gladys was right handed. Although limited in motion, she never lost fingers as sometimes reported.

Let's not forgot about Alonzo-- so as such, it's back to our story. Remember Alonzo had gone to town with Clyde's approval, but had sent both the Sheriff and the Doctor-- and then had broken down in the Maxwell. Well just as Clyde, Bonnie, W.D., Sheriff Corey and Marshal Hardy were leaving the Pritchard place-- headlights appeared in the distance moving toward them. Clyde reportedly waited to see who the driver of that car was-- as he said he wanted to kill Alonzo for sending the Sheriff. But fortunately, the driver of the approaching car wasn't Alonzo-- it was the Doctor, who's usefulness was apparently too late to benefit Bonnie. Instead the Doctor treated Gladys for her
gunshot wounds.

Sam Pritchard House

The Pritchard place was a working farm. The Pritchards raised cows, hogs and chickens. They sold milk and eggs. They had a garden for vegetables, and went to town once a week for groceries. They had no electricity but did have an icebox. So when in town for their weekly shopping, they picked up a block of ice which would last a few days. Thus meat and perishables had to be used quickly. Milk and butter were kept fresh via a cooler box-- using cool well water pumped with the aid of a windmill. The Pritchard place was sold in the early to mid 1950's, so the family no longer owns the land where unfortunately-- their former home has now collapsed. When Bonnie and Clyde were there-- the house was painted white.

Alonzo Cartwright was originally from Lone Wolf, Oklahoma. He worked as a cotton gin manager, and worked at the same profession for 55 years. He passed away in 1979. Sam Pritchard left us in 1968 and his wife Sally in 1973. Gladys had a 3rd child-- named Cecillia. Gladys lived in Collingswood County Texas all her life. For all who've commented as I have, that Gladys Cartwright looked to be a most pleasant person-- I'm pleased to report that her son John wholeheartedly concurs. Although a private person as the Cartwrights are said to be, it's said everyone who got to know Gladys-- thought the world of her. She was known as a generous person and as John said-- a sweetheart.

Gladys helped Bonnie that June evening in 1933, and paid a lifelong price for her kindness. John said the Wellington incident was about people helping people. The Cartwrights and Pritchards apparently didn't feel threatened by Bonnie, Clyde and W.D.-- until the shooting started. And what became of the wrecked Bonnie & Clyde car you might ask??-- it seems someone from Wellington bought and drove it. I'm sure many would want to know more about the car. Perhaps additional information concerning this can be learned.

I hope all have enjoyed these remarkable Cartwright family revelations. My sincere "thanks" to John and Judy Cartwright, for their kindness, candor and willingness to set the Wellington record straight.

As always, I welcome your comments.

Controversy in Arcadia??-- Where is Prentiss Oakley??

Now this is the damnedest thing. During this past Ambush anniversary weekend, the park created within the former walls of Congers Furniture Store and Mortuary in Arcadia, LA-- was dedicated in the memory of Sheriff Henderson Jordan. The new Henderson Jordan Memorial Park bears a plaque, which lists all the ambush posse members "except" Prentiss Oakley. The plaque notes Jordan was one of six law enforcement officers who participated in the ambush of Bonnie and Clyde, but goes on to name only 5 of them-- thus leaving out native son Oakley?!?

Within comments Henderson Jordan made, he always seemed quick to acknowledge Oakley-- and both are buried within the same cemetery, just down the road from this location. As Deputy Sheriff Oakley (who later served as Bienville Parish Sheriff)-- has been recognized with almost universal agreement, as being the man who fired the fatal shot that felled Clyde Barrow-- many are asking why he would be omitted from his rightful place on this plaque??

An update--
Upon speaking with Professor Carroll Rich who hails from Arcadia, LA-- knew both Jordan, Oakley and their families and who has great concern over this apparent oversight-- Dr. Rich suggested I contact Mayor Eugene Smith of Arcadia. Mayor Smith and I had a pleasant conversation, ranging from this topic to other areas of B&C History-- which he seemed well versed in.

Mayor Smith was straight forward and offered no excuses. He said he's not sure how Prentiss Oakley was left off the plaque, but would work to remedy it. Professor Rich suggested that perhaps an additional plaque could be placed next to the present one, commemorating Oakley. Hopefully if that's the solution, both plaques would remain in place, as Mayor Smith told me that apparently someone has "already" attempted to vandalize the new memorial plaque, leaving it loose upon it's base.

A further update-- After speaking with Mayor Smith, I've now been told city officials have removed their plaque after being displayed for less than a week. Perhaps while the brain trust at Arcadia is deciding how to better secure their plaque-- they'll decide to include the name of Prentiss Oakley upon it. My thanks to Shelley Mitchell for the photo.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bonnie and Clyde History In Memoriam

With the hour of the ambush (9:15 AM CDT U.S.) now upon us-- I feel it appropriate to say May God Rest Your Souls In Peace-- to the victims, the outlaws, the lawmen and all who've participated in this history, who are no longer with us. Due to the 76 years that have passed now, fewer and fewer 1st generation individuals remain within B&C History. May 23rd, 1934 was a Wednesday. Perhaps it's even more poignant, when as this year-- May 23rd is a Sunday.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Anniversary Spurs Media Interest in Bonnie & Clyde

It always seems to happen this time of year. The May 23rd anniversary of the ambush of Bonnie & Clyde, focuses media attention upon events steeped in 76 years-- of unabated awe. As such I post here, a couple of images which surfaced as a result of this years anniversary. Both came from the Dallas Municipal Archives, and both were carried worldwide by ABC News. "Thank you" ABC. One is said to be a formerly unpublished photo of the Grapevine shooting scene, and the other-- correspondence reportedly sent by Clyde to Dallas DA Winter King (with fingerprint)-- concerning his feud with Raymond Hamilton.

As with some Grapevine photos, the 2 white highlights within this image-- seem to denote the locations of the fallen officers. Also of interest, the location of the car in this photo-- seems close to the reported location of the Barrow Gang car. Regarding the telegram form, interestingly-- the numerous typing errors which are evident, may point to Clyde himself having typed this message. Unlike Bonnie's typed poems which seem well formed-- this correspondence perhaps may have been an adventure for it's creator.

It is known via Marie Barrow, that B&C carried a typewriter with them. As these rare images don't surface every day-- enjoy!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

How Can So Many Ambush Witnesses Differ?? Henderson Jordan's 1934 Ambush Account

As May 23rd marks the 76th anniversary of the ambush of B&C, I've decided to re-stoke what is a great debate. Varying accounts of the Sailes, LA waylay, exist even among the lawmen who participated in the carnage that day.

Some revere earlier accounts told nearer the ambush, as being the true story-- while others look to the last account expressed by Ted Hinton, as being the defining tale of the waylay-- with it's self-effacing lawman's cover up and kidnapping assertion. The account I've chosen to re-publish for this weekend's B&C anniversary, is the rarely seen Henderson Jordan account of the ambush. Sheriff Jordan's version, was originally published in the November 1934 issue of True Detective Magazine.

This article was written by the Bienville Parish Sheriff, as told to C. F. Waers. As this article encompasses 12 pages of rather fine print, I leave the initial and post ambush events for another time-- to focus solely on the ambush. For those unfamiliar with the correct pronunciation of his name, I and other northerners are routinely corrected by those from Texas and Louisiana-- that Jordan is indeed pronounced Jerden. As usual when I recount info such as this-- this is a verbatim quotation from the 1934 article. The only adaptation I've made, is in re-forming paragraph structure to better fit the blog. We pick up the story on page 9 of the article, with Henderson Jordan saying--

Clyde Barrow, Henry Methvin and "Bonnie" Parker had visited the old Cole place near Sailes Monday night. The following morning Clyde, "Bonnie" and the escaped convict drove to Shreveport. Their car was parked in a secluded spot. Methvin started off on foot to obtain food for himself and his companions. Something had alarmed Barrow. No one ever will know what caused him to drive away before Methvin returned. An aside here-- as it's thought that a reported police patrol, was responsible for chasing away a suspicious car parked near The Majestic Cafe' at the time Henry was witnessed purchasing sandwiches-- it now may be known how B&C were separated from Henry Methvin. Back to the story-

I learned that an hour or so later he returned to the place, but had been unable to find Methvin.
Alarmed over the separation from Henry, Barrow and "Bonnie" returned to the Cole place. They arrived there between 5 and 6 o'clock. They soon learned that Methvin had not returned to his father's home. Barrow gave an order to Ivan Methvin. "You go to the old place and see if Henry is there." the outlaw commanded. "We will go to Bossier Parish. He may have gone there." I was to learn later that the gang had a meeting place in the parish, between the towns of Benton and Plain Dealing. The vital part of my informant's message was yet to come. His voice lower than ever, he quoted Barrow. "We will still meet you on the road between Sailes and Gibsland between nine and ten o'clock in the morning." the outlaw told the elder Methvin.

Could we trap Barrow on the highway? I rushed to the telephone and called Capt. Hamer. My message was short. "Come to Arcadia at once. Get your other men if you can." There was no time to be lost. We would have to select a place for the trap, a place distant from homes. I knew it would be difficult to find a desirable clearing along the Gibsland-Sailes road. A forest lined road would have offered too good an opportunity for the pair to escape. The tentative plan for the trap was made in my office. Besides myself, there were five others in the room: Captain Hamer, Chief Deputy-Sheriff Prentis M. Oakley, of Bienville Parish, Deputy Sheriffs Alcorn and Hinton of Dallas County and Patrolman Gault.

About 11 o'clock, I took Captain Hamer and Deputy Alcorn in my car to Gibsland, a little town southwest of Arcadia. For the next two hours we drove back and forth over the sandy, graveled road between Gibsland and Sailes. Our plan made it necessary to establish the trap somewhat closer to Sailes than to Gibsland. Methvin would be driving north over the highway and we wanted him to be the first to arrive at the trap.
At last we found what seemed to be a perfect spot. It was about three miles north of Sailes and situated on a straight north and south stretch of highway. The road swung down a fairly sharp grade, over a small rise and then to a steeper hill. The place for our ambush was on the rise. The road cut through the small hill to leave an embankment of about three feet in height on both sides. The forest receded at the point and the sides of the road were lined with low brush. In throwing back the earth from the cut, the highway workers had created a low ridge along the cast embankment. Grass and weeds along the edge made a perfect cover. From behind the ridge could be obtained a good view of the road to the north. We could see the road for three quarters of a mile to the north and a full half mile to the south.

Would Clyde Barrow and "Bonnie" Parker keep their appointment with Ivan Methvin? That was all that was vital to us. We would be ready for them! We returned to Arcadia to pick up the other officers. Shortly before 3 o'clock the morning of May 23rd, our posse of six men left Arcadia in two motor cars. Less than an hour later we were squatting in the dew-soaked brush and weeds at the trap. Our cars were hidden deep in the brush. I had arranged the men in a line about forty yards long, all on the east side of the road. Deputies Alcorn and Hinton were at the north end of the line: They would be better able to identify Barrow and "Bonnie" Parker than other members of the group. Captain Hamer because of his accuracy with firearms, was stationed at the south end. I was near the center of the line. Chief Deputy Oakley was at my right and Patrolman Gault to my left.

Deputy Hinton was armed with a Browning automatic rifle. Deputy Alcorn, Captain Hamer and Patrolman Gault were armed with automatic shotguns loaded with buckshot. Deputy Oakley and I were carrying Remington automatic rifles and there was a third rifle of that type available for use. All of us, of course, were carrying our regular sidearms. Chilled by the dew, we were glad when the sun rose over the trees. All of us were hungry. The next meal was the principle topic of discussion, and we talked about food to lessen the monotony. Barrow seldom was mentioned. Attacks by swarms of mosquitoes did not make the wait easier. At about daylight I called to Deputy Hinton. "How are the groceries holding out Ted?" "What groceries? I have eaten the stock off your rifle and am starting on the barrel."

Our plan was to stop Methvin as he drove along the road. We would force him to park at the side of the highway, awaiting the appearance of Barrow and "Bonnie" Parker. We wanted to capture them alive if possible. There would be no chance of that if we tried to stop their car as it sped over the road. Barrow was known to be a fast driver. A barricade would have spoiled any chance we might have of avoiding bloodshed.
The sound of a motor came from the south. Instantly all members of the group dropped to reclining positions in the undergrowth. A truck pulled over the hill. It appeared familiar to me. As it drew closer I recognized the driver. When it was about fifty yards from the trap I stepped into the road and signaled the driver to stop. He was Ivan Methvin. As the truck pulled to a halt the other officers stood up. Methvin looked at them. "What's the trouble?" he asked. "We have set a trap for Barrow and "Bonnie" Parker, Methvin" I said. "We are going to take them when you meet them on the road. Right here is where the meeting is going to take place."

If Methvin had any objection to the idea he did not put it into words. He pulled his truck over to the west side of the road, and headed north. It stood directly across the highway from Deputies Alcorn and Hinton. "Pull off that right front wheel," I instructed him. "I want to give the effect that you have a flat tire. Barrow will stop when he sees you." I told Methvin to stand beside his truck. I called the officers together.
"We are ready," I said. "There's only one thing more. Don't start anything until it is absolutely certain that Barrow and his woman are in any car that may pull up. Maybe we can take them alive, but I don't believe we ought to take any unnecessary chances. If they reach for their guns, let them have it!". As the hour of 9 o'clock approached the strain increased. Two or three cars flashing down the highway from the north caused added tenseness as we awaited the word from Deputies Hinton and Alcorn. For each of these cars they shouted: "No!"

At 9:15 a car nosed over the north hill and started down the grade. At the distance we could tell that it was a Ford V-8. It was the type of car that barrow was driving, according to my informant. As it drew closer we could distinguish its color as light tan. That, also checked with my information. Traveling at a pace of about forty-five miles an hour, it rapidly was cutting down the distance.
The driver apparently saw Methvin. The car began to slow down. Deputy Alcorn, crouching peered through the weeds. His rifle was in his right hand. His left hand was stretched out behind him ready to emphasize a signal. "It's Barrow!" he called. "The Parker woman's with him!" The car was about a hundred yards away, traveling at a much slower speed. The occupants looking at Methvin, apparently felt safe. The first warning had sent a vibration up my spine. As the time neared when life or death hinged on split second action, the taut feeling passed. I was ready. I could see most of the other men in the posse. None showed the slightest trace of nervousness.

"Bob," I called. "Be sure, man!" Deputy Alcorn replied. His words barely were audible. "I know! It's Barrow and his woman. Steady!"
A heavy rumble from the south caused me to look in that direction. A wood-pulp truck was approaching at a fair rate of speed. Two Negroes were in the cab. It seemed as though the truck might present a shield for the Barrow car. Then the truck slowed down to a crawling speed. Evidently the driver feared a collision. The Ford sedan came to a halt between my men and Methvin's Chevrolet truck. "Hello, Got a flat?" Barrow called. "Yes," Methvin replied. "Did you find Henry?" "No. Haven't you seen him?" Clyde Barrow was under the wheel of the car. "Bonnie" Parker was sitting beside him. I observed thankfully that no one was in the rear seat. Methvin continued the conversation by answering Barrow's question in the negative. He then spoke to "Bonnie". "Have you got a drink for me?" There was no answer to that question.

I jumped to my feet, shouted: "Put 'em up Clyde! You're covered!"
The tan Ford leaped forward. Barrow had shifted into low gear as he was talking to Methvin. I was watching Barrow. His left hand was on the steering-wheel. He picked up a gun with his right hand. "Bonnie" Parker was seen to raise a pistol. The door on Barrow's side of the car started to swing open. Barrow would not surrender. The sharp report of a rifle sounded. Its echo was drowned by the roar of six guns. Lead was poured into Barrow's car. The windshield was shattered. Most of the bullets were taking effect there and in the left front door of the sedan. The car continued to move. Gunfire was raking it from six angles. The glass in the rear left door was blown to bits. I saw black holes appear in the side of the car. The noise was deafening. I had no idea of time. It might have been an hour that I stood there on the firing line. Actually, everything was over in seconds.

I saw Barrow's head fall against the back of the seat. Blood was gushing out. I saw "Bonnie" Parker slump forward as if to pick something off the floor of the car. The motor of the Ford had died. Still in gear, the car coasted jerkily. It rolled into the ditch on the west side of the road, coming to a stop against the side of the embankment. There was no sign of movement inside the car. All of us leaped onto the graveled road and ran toward the stalled machine. Our weapons were ready. But even then, we knew that we could discard our guns. Nothing could have lived through that volley of more than a hundred and fifty shots. Clyde Barrow was dead! "Bonnie" Parker, her head between her knees, was dead! They had been unable to fire a shot.

I looked down the road at the wood-pulp truck. It had stopped at the first shot. The two Negroes who had occupied the cab had fled into the timber. The back of Barrow's head had been beaten to a pulp by the hail of lead. He had been struck at least a dozen times in the body. Six or seven bullets had taken effect in "Bonnie" Parker's face. We later found that she had been struck by twenty-five shots. Her right hand virtually was cut off. Both the outlaws had been cut badly by flying glass.
In the lap of Clyde Barrow was a sawed off 16-gauge automatic shotgun. His right hand was curled around the shortened stock. Seven grim notches had been carved in the wood by the killer. In "Bonnie's" lap was a .45 caliber automatic pistol. There were three notches on this gun. Between the pair was another automatic shotgun.

On the floor of the car was a bag containing forty clips for a Browning automatic rifle. Three rifles of that type were in the rear of the car. All were loaded. Under the robe on the rear seat were ten automatic pistols and one revolver, all fully loaded. Three bags and a box contained more than two thousand rounds of ammunition. Clyde Barrow and the red-haired "Bonnie" had been ready for us, or any other officers that might have accosted them. We gave them a chance to surrender. They refused. Six Texas and Louisiana officers are alive today because they shot first and shot fast and straight. While we were examining the car and the bodies of its occupants, Ivan Methvin replaced the wheel on his truck. He drove away.

So there you have it-- Henderson Jordan's published account of the ambush. You'll note some issues with this account, when compared to other ambush posse member accounts-- as well as physical evidence present in the death car and bodies of Bonnie & Clyde. Some of this evidence includes bullet holes through the rear window, said fired by Ted Hinton-- and bullet holes above Bonnie's passenger window-- "admittedly" fired by Bob Alcorn in apparently having picked up a Remington Model 8, flanking the car-- and firing at the Warren car from it's right side. Either one of Hinton's or Alcorn's shots likely struck Bonnie from behind-- breaking her spine.

There's also that critical "moment"-- when Prentiss Oakley pressed off the 2 initial shots, said heard by witnesses prior to all hell breaking loose in a barrage of gunfire. Oakley was reportedly haunted the rest of his life, in having shot so quickly without B&C having the opportunity to surrender (another discrepancy between accounts). Of course perhaps the greatest difference between Hinton and Jordan, has to do with the location of Ivy Methvin at the time of the ambush. Also Hinton, who may have had one of the best vantage points of the ambush-- cast doubt concerning a gun being raised within the death car prior to the gunfire. In this article, Jordan conceals the identities of his informants well-- although now thanks to the Dallas FBI files-- we now have documented accounts of who the informants were, and the extent of their involvements. One thing I get to say whenever Henderson Jordan's ambush account is stated, is to remind all that the Bienville Parish posse was not Captain Hamers posse, as many believe-- but rather was Sheriff Jordan's posse and responsibility. A slight point of order.

I welcome your comments.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Heartbreaking Image of Cumie Barrow & Rare Photo of Fred Mace

More images from the B&C collection of Jim Knight. Among these treasures, are some uniquely rare images. This scan, of the striking photo of Mrs. Cumie Barrow kneeling at the graves of Clyde & Buck Barrow-- is a particularly poignant photograph. Again, the green ink visible was written by Blanche. In having cropped this photo, unfortunately based on Blanche's placement of her script-- Clyde's name identifying his grave has been omitted. But many should know the proper placement of Clyde's grave, beneath the hill of flowers. What can anyone then or now say-- concerning this image of Cumie??

And for those who are unfamiliar with his image, this 2nd rare and terrific photo-- is identified as being Billie's husband Fred Mace. There was certainly enough pain to go around, within the saga of Bonnie and Clyde. Not much has been written about Fred Mace. It's hard to imagine the pain this man must have endured, in sharing the loss of 2 children with Billie Jean-- and in seeing her affected so greatly, by the day in and day out stresses of her heart wrenching experiences.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Blanche & The Kissing Bandit-- Paired With the Full Frontal Death Car

Now here are a couple of photos you don't see every day. Another shot from Jefferson City, shows 2 inmates, friends and likely celebrities of the prison in Blanche Barrow & Edna Murray-- better known as The Kissing Bandit.

And this photo of the B&C death car is a good one, as shot head on from grill level-- within the police compound in Arcadia, LA. Note the onlookers as seen in the distance, poised behind the tall perimeter fence. After Bonnie & Clyde's bodies were removed, The Warren Car became the focus of a throng of souvenir seekers-- who pursued it through the streets of Arcadia looking to strip it of it's parts. Sheriff Henderson Jordan, finally ordered the death car pl
aced in the police compound for safe keeping and further examination.

As viewed from this angle, B&C's car seems to show remarkably little damage to it's front and grill. There appears to have been little attempt to disable The Warren Car's engine, with frontal shots seemingly aimed at Bonnie's side of the windshield.

As per Ted-- "Boots" Hinton has told me, this cluster of holes was made by Captain Hamer-- in thinking Bonnie may have slid toward her door in planning to shoot from her window. But this perception, in reality-- may have just been Bonnie being blown into her passenger door, when hit by bullets from her left side. According to a November 1934 interview with Sheriff Jordan, Frank Hamer fired an automatic shotgun at the death car-- loaded with buckshot. I've been told the 3 officers with shotguns, fired the largest buckshot to affect maximum damage. Perhaps this view of the death car windshield, well supports that contention. There are more Blanche photos yet to come.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Barrows at Jefferson City & Snowball Stands Tall

Here are more Blanche photos courtesy of Jim Knight. Blanche noted the prison visitation photo, to have been taken 8/5/34 at Jefferson City, Missouri.

And of course there's Snowball, as shown in the famous pic with Blanche, again from an original photo taken at the Barrow filling station. Snowball seemed to
like standing on it's hind legs. Also within this group of photos, is the rare shot apparently taken by Blanche of L.C., Artie, Jack & Marie Barrow-- along with Snowball standing tall in front of L.C.

Snowball and Sonny Boy share the distinction of having been Barrow Gang mascots. It seems Snowball was a lover not a fighter, as it knew just what to do when gunfire erupted-- head for the hills. After running away from the rear garage apartment of 3347 & 1/2 34th Street-- Snowball likely lived out it's life as a Joplin resident. More to come.

Sisters In Law & The Joplin Hideout

I've decided to mix subjects, in presenting Blanche's pics. As I'm sure some of these photographs are new to you-- I also wanted you to see pictures you're likely familiar with, which have been scanned from their original prints. As per an agreement with Jim Knight, who's so graciously shared his Blanche collection with us here-- I've provided a watermark for each photo. I hope you'll enjoy seeing these rare pictures, which once were Blanche Barrow's. I'll likely post these photos in 2's so they'll be sizable. I've enhanced & cropped many pics by request.

Note the prison fence behind Blanche & Marie above-- and the date marked in red on the Joplin hideout pic, with Blanche's green script to further identify it. It's hard to truly know, whether this photo was taken the day of the Joplin shootout-- or just inscribed as a remembrance of the event. But of course the date written in red, would be correct in either case.

It's often hoped new Bonnie & Clyde revelations will come to light-- that somewhere, there still exist unknown facts & unseen images concerning this history. A large part of what I do in recounting B&C history is research oriented-- which includes the sheer joy of digging for treasures such as this. Many times it comes down to relationships, and the kindness of others in sharing artifacts which "do" exist-- at least in part, as recently surfaced Blanche items and Billie's Journal now stand as proof. Sometimes some of the many irons I always seem to have in the B&C fire grow cold, as leads don't always pan out-- but other times finds like this can happen. I'm not supposed to thank some who have helped so much in this effort, for they wish to remain helpful but anonymous. A most sincere "Thank you"-- can be my only response to that request. My thanks also to Historian Jim Knight, for the rights to reproduce his wonderful collection of original Blanche photos-- here on The B&CHB. More soon.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Billie Remembers a Caring and Compassionate Bonnie

You'll likely recognize these Billie insights from her journal, as having been expressed previously. Seemingly these same Billie remembrances, have been allowed to grace the pages of B&C books-- in order to provide insight into Bonnie Parker.

Billie did a number of interviews over the years, which were recorded or otherwise transcribed. Perhaps she told similar stories in different places, or perhaps-- the family allowed use of just these expressions from Billie's Journal previously?? I couldn't help but post other Billie revelations ahead of this one-- as some rather remarkable recollections seemingly hadn't been revealed before-- and as such to me, deserved attention. But this account from Billie, may be about as good a capsulizing statement regarding Bonnie Parker-- as there is.

Billie's Journal notes concerning Bonnie, have provided a "wonderful" and diverse look into Bonnie Parker as a person. This final installment (which is actually the beginning of her notes)-- shows Bonnie to have been a remarkably generous and compassionate young lady. So here we go-- again with my sincere thanks to The Parker Family and other good friends of The B&CHB-- please enjoy this short but sweet, final installment from Billie's Journal concerning Bonnie Parker. As Billie tells it--

"Bonnie was known for her un selfishness-- if she had a dollar & some on else needed it, and she knew it the money went to them-- un asked for."

"When she worked at Marcos Cafe on main, it was a stop off place for less fortunate-- as she was always good for a hand out or a free meal. She never made it home, with a full check. At times mother would tell her not to be so free with her money & she would say-- I know, I'm a mark but I can't let people go hungry & when they say they are sick or some one in the family is sick-- my hand goes in my pocket. They have their money then."

"She would bring mother flowers or candy each pay day-- thinking that way she would over look the shortness of her check. She worked there for years-- and never brought a full check home."

An aside here-- perhaps this account from Billie describing a hard working and compassionate Bonnie, might provide balance-- to counteract some author's impression that Bonnie may have found it easy to supplement her income, in a way less than ladylike. My feeling is-- why work so hard for less for so many years, if you didn't have to?? Unless you were a caring person, who respected an honest day's work. Also an interesting exercise-- view the photo of Bonnie which accompanies this post, then pan just one post down and view Bonnie not long afterward. The hell of being on the run and the road-- surely took it's toll.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Billie On Bonnie & Clyde

Within her handwritten journal, Billie Parker provides wonderful insights into her earlier days with Bonnie-- as well as looks into Bonnie & Clyde happenings from an insider's point of view. In this installment, Billie delves into Bonnie's married life-- as well as reliving school girl memories of her sister, family conversations from their clandestine meetings with B&C and pointed recollections from Ft. Smith. As Billie says of Bonnie--

"When she married Roy Thornton, they rented a furnished house & Bonnie would not move in until mother Buster & I agreed to live with them. They sure didn't do me a favor for I had to walk 4 miles to school-- Bonnie would walk half way to school with me each morning & meet me half way in the after noon. She worried not for her self-- but for the ones she loved."

"After she left with Clyde, when ever we went out to meet them we talked mostly about the events of home-- Styles-- hair, clothes-- food. She was very evasive about other things-- She would never have my mother worry. She was always so clean, had her make up on to perfection her hair always clean & fixed so pretty. She never wore masculine clothes. She would kiss my mother over & over & always tell her at the end of our visits, mother don't worry & be happy-- you still have Billie & Buster."
"To my knowledge I don't think Bonnie could drive a car. I never saw her drive & never heard her mention driving. When she & Clyde had the car wreck in 1933-- her legs were burned so bad that she never straightened her right leg again-- I was with her during this time. We had to leave the motel as Clyde was running short on money. We had to have clean sheets & blankets for her to lie on so we took them from the motel & Clyde left money for them on the nite stand in the room. Money that he could ill afford. But that was Clyde & Bonnie. We stayed days & nites in woods. Bonnie & I would talk for hours-- about every thing-- a lot about things that could of been."
We'll soon come to the end of Billie's Journal, as 14 pages of hand written notes can go fast. One more installment will follow, where Billie writes of Bonnie's generosity and feelings for her mother Emma. But not to worry, as among materials which have recently come my way-- are transcriptions of some Billie interviews not published for many years. I feel most fortunate, to have been entrusted with these rare materials-- and couldn't be happier to share their insights with all who love this history. More next time.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Barrows Visit Blanche at Jefferson City

These wonderful photos which exchanged hands about 4 years ago, are just 2 of the pictures taken to record a visit between other members of The Barrow Family and Blanche at Jefferson City, Missouri on August 5th, 1934. I obtained these scans recently, made from the original photos owned by Historian James R. Knight. Mr. Knight has graciously allowed the publishing of these images here.

As there are numerous photos within this set, I look forward to providing you with additional looks into this family meeting. The writing in green at the bottom of each photo was made by Blanche. Marie, L.C., Blanche, Joe Bill Francis, and Cumie are visible within these photos. Jim and I both believe, the woman standing to the far right in the group shot, was likely L.C.'s wife Audrey Faye. Also present that day and possibly the photographer of the group picture, was Blanche's mother Lillian. As the originals of these photos are owned by our good friend Jim Knight, I would of course ask please that his copyright be respected. My sincere "thanks" as always to Jim, for his steadfast support of this history-- and generosity both to myself and The B&CHB.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Blanche Prison Correspondence

Among Blanche items recently entrusted to me, are numerous pieces of correspondence Blanche kept over the years from her prison time at Jefferson City, Missouri. It's my understanding prison dances were arranged, where male and female prisoners were allowed to meet-- to share some normalcy of life. Also correspondence was allowed between prisoners, and of course to and from the outside.

This postcard is from Freddie, who I'm told was a jockey who exchanged correspondence with Blanche. This gentleman sent many postcards to Blanche, from the different racing venues where he was riding. Blanche liked horses and horse racing. Among a treasure trove of items including photos and cards sent between Blanche and her father Matt Caldwell, I have various items which illustrate Blanche's fondness for many things including horse racing-- which Blanche kept from her earlier years. In particular, Blanche kept track of War Admiral-- who was a colt from the legendary racehorse Man 'O War.

I suppose not surprisingly, some correspondence to Blanche was a bit racy-- with some prisoners seemingly making a play for Blanche. Other cards and letters were from well wishers, with apparently nothing but good intentions. I hope you'll enjoy seeing some of these treasures from Blanche's past, which she felt-- were memories worth keeping.

New Blanche Barrow Photos Surface

Just when things were already so good with Billie's Journal coming to light, more great news-- some new Blanche photos & historical treasures have now surfaced. This is an original photo of Blanche during WWII. On the back of this photo, Blanche had inscribed a loving sentiment she sent to husband Eddie Frasure-- who was overseas in the Navy.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

More Revelations from Billie's Journal. Stop Singing So Loudly-- You're Scaring All the Fish Away!!

There have been many stories told concerning Bonnie's prowess in school. Also many tales told regarding Bonnie's aspirations to become a performer. Some of these stories, have her wanting to be an actress-- some a singer and some perhaps even a movie star. But Billie's Journal seems to reveal at least one of Bonnie's aspirations for sure. Please enjoy this funny story of how 2 sisters from West Dallas, used to spend their Saturdays, and the dinner they might have had??-- should one of them have been a bit more quiet. Again, this account is told verbatim-- from the journal of Billie Parker.

As Billie says-- "Bonnie was in almost all the school plays-- As I look back now-- I can't remember her having any home work. I would study for hours after evening meals. But I can't ever remember Bonnie studying. She passed all her grades in flying colors. Do I have to say more-- now, I was just dense. We fished & swim a lot on Saturdays. She sang all the time-- even while she was fishing. I would always get across the creek from her. I told her she scared all the fish away."

"She would laugh & say I wonder when I get famous & singing on Broadway if you will put your fishing pole down & visit me. Bonnie was always a happy person. Sadness was seldom a guest of hers."

There's more to come from Billie's Journal. I'm finding myself putting these accounts out perhaps more rapidly than I had envisioned. But I can't help it-- as these personal accounts of Bonnie from Billie, are too wonderful and important not to post briskly. Which account to choose next??-- seems to be the hardest part. More soon.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The April B&C Polls-- "Hey"-- Where Can I Find Those Answers"?!?

Every once in a while with the B&C Polls, it's good to wheel out some obscure questions & insider queries. Questions such as these help keep things interesting, and aid in leveling the playing field-- among those who are attempting to answer such an eclectic group of challenging wringers. Besides-- questions such as these can be most useful in revealing B&C insights, which is a desired by-product of the fun which are the B&C Polls. So away we go in revealing April's poll answers--

Some were correct in figuring out, that the late 60's early 70's research you were looking for-- was the groundbreaking B&C research conducted by Professor Carroll Rich. As such concerning question 1-- I would have accepted either answer C or D as being correct. Based on his review of Dr. Wade's coroner's notes, in one of Dr. Rich's articles-- he describes some 27 bullet holes in Clyde and over 50 in Bonnie. However within another of his B&C articles, Carroll Rich calls attention to no specific number in Clyde-- but 52 bullet holes and glass cuts in Bonnie.

Question 2 concerned the mileage put on the Warren car, between the time it was stolen-- and the day of the ambush. More than 7500 miles were noted to have been added to the the odometer, in just 23 days-- thus the calculation of 326 miles per day. That's a lot of driving in such a short time. This particular number came from Carroll Rich's article titled Clyde Barrow's Last Ford. There are similar accounts of Clyde's Warren Car mileage, noted in other B&C books.

Ah-- now on to Clyde's tie. The importance of Professor Rich's research, is that it was documented based on numerous interviews-- with many who witnessed the tumultuous events of May 23rd, 1934. There are a couple of references to Clyde's tie within Carroll Rich's articles, and one in particular-- where Clyde's tie was said to have been hanging from the rear view mirror.

I knew questions 4 and 5 would be a challenge for most, in that these were the "insider" questions. Both of these queries were furnished by L.J. "Boots" Hinton, based on information from "Boots" and his father Ted Hinton. If there was a toughest question of the lot this go round, it was likely question 4. I don't believe this info has ever been published. "Smoot" Schmid chartered a plane from Dallas, in order to get to Arcadia, LA quickly after the ambush. The owner of the plane was Dallas Aviation's W. R. Bill Long. And traveling on the plane along with Sheriff Schmid-- were Dallas Herald photographer Denny Hayes and Denver Seale-- an investigator from the Dallas District Attorney's Office.

Ted Hinton did indeed perform all the duties within the choices for question 5. However the job he assumed immediately following his tenure as a Dallas Deputy Sheriff-- was that of working for Red Wright as a Deputy U.S. Marshal. A bit of trivia-- while working for the Marshal's Service, Dallas Aviation was in need of a flight instructor. As Ted Hinton had been a certified pilot since 1929, Red Wright came to Ted concerning this position. Ted asked Red how he could perform both the duties of a flight instructor and Deputy Marshal simultaneously. Red Wright solved that problem, by placing Ted on indefinite leave from the Marshal's Service-- thus allowing him the unusual circumstance of maintaining his Deputy Marshal's status, while working another job. Interestingly as it turned out-- Ted Hinton maintained his position as a Deputy U. S. Marshal on indefinite leave, for all the remaining days of his life. When he died in 1977, Ted Hinton was still technically a Deputy U.S. Marshal.

Questions 6 and 7 were geared toward those familiar with Bienville Parish, LA and the ambush location. It's the John Gardner Cole House, which has often been identified as B&C's hideout. Although maps leading to this house and photos of this residence were published in 1934, a debate rages to this day-- concerning the actual location of Bonnie and Clyde's Hideout, as well as the John Cole house which no longer stands. I've visited both locations where this hideout is thought to have been located, and have also visited the Otis Cole house (John's son's place). This home still stands, although each year the woods are enveloping more and more of it. Just last year, I feel I may have found physical evidence of the John Cole house-- right where the 1934 maps and photos of the house had shown it to be. I've also had some guidance from knowledgeable individuals, who visited this location some 40 years ago-- in addition to utilizing information, from some who visited this home shortly after the ambush of Bonnie and Clyde. All of this supporting info matches the location I visited last May.

For those of you familiar with the trek from the ambush site to Arcadia, it's about 7 miles from the ambush site to the turn for Route 80 in Gibsland--- then another 8 1/2 miles from Gibsland to Arcadia. So allowing for the proper mathematical rounding-- 16 miles was the correct answer for question 7. Perhaps the easiest of the April B&C Polls was question 8. Many know that Ross Dyer who used the alias Everett Milligan, accompanied Clyde and Ray Hamilton to the dance at Stringtown, Oklahoma. However by the time the shooting stopped leaving Under Sheriff Eugene Moore dead and Sheriff C.G. Maxwell wounded-- Dyer became separated from Clyde and Ray who had made their escape by car. Dyer was later arrested trying to board a bus to McKinney, Texas.

So there you have it-- the April B&C Polls. I hope these polls shed new light on this history for some. Thanks as always for your participation in this monthly B&CHB event. Look for the all new May B&C polls-- to be posted soon.