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.


BarefootOkieGal said...

It's interesting to me, but it seems that Bonnie comes across more as a "real" person than Clyde does - maybe because there are more first-hand accounts of sweet and kind things that Bonnie had done. In my readings, when people would describe being "taken for a ride" by Bonnie and Clyde, Bonnie is usually described as being the one who would be more chatty and talkative, while many were nervous about Clyde, as he was quieter and apparently gave off an air of someone who was not to be meddled with. I have a harder time with Clyde than I do with Bonnie - but I wonder how much of that is just because I am looking at the two of them from a female perspective, and it's just easier for me to understand Bonnie (or THINK I do!) than it is for me to understand Clyde.

Clyde's character, for me, comes through mainly in his obvious care and concern for Bonnie - he was willing to let her go home to her family and turn herself in, if that would save her life, and while some may see that as a sign that he didn't particularly care if she traveled with him or not, I see it as a sign that he knew his fate and didn't necessarily want the woman he loved to share it. What convinces me of Clyde's inherent human decency is the way he cared for Bonnie after her leg was burned so badly - if he had been truly the monster that he has been depicted as being, he wouldn't have put himself in jeoparty to care for Bonnie. It was a great opportunity for Clyde to drop Bonnie off at home and go off alone, just him and the boys, to continue their life of crime. And yet he didn't do that...

In reading about the funerals, I note that both were attended not just by curious onlookers but by a great many friends and family members. They were both loved dearly by those who knew them best. I love reading the info from Billie's journal, and I enjoyed the book "Fugitives" because it gave a good look at Clyde from his loved ones' perspective, and there doesn't seem to be as much written about Clyde's interactions with outsiders, both before and after his criminal life began, as there is about Bonnie.

In a way, I guess, it was Bonnie's presence that made Clyde's little gang special, different from the other gangsters of the day, and maybe that is why, years later, people are still interested in them!

A. Winston Woodward said...

I would agree, that Clyde taking his girl on the road with him set B&C apart. Just the fascination of a woman being in the gang, likely inspired great interest in these magnetic desperadoes back in the day-- a fascination which continues unabated.

With so much new info coming to light, from what are credible sources-- I feel it may be best now, to view Fugitives in a slightly different light. No one knows for sure what influence Jan Fortune had on that family account, but it does appear now that certain elements of the families' telling of B&C's story-- may have been somewhat different than stark reality might reveal. It's my belief that although the families knew many things about B&C's activities, they may not have known everything-- as they rarely spent enough time together to find out.

Clyde was witnessed by lawmen who were kidnapped by The Barrow Gang, as being almost too talkative-- with Buck being the quiet one, who may have been perceived to be more cruel-- as Buck reportedly was quick to suggest killing hostages. I remember Clyde also being witnessed by a ferry operator and gas station attendant, as being talkative as well-- in potentially giving away their plans. Bonnie was witnessed as being smart and thoughtful regarding logistic and navigation decisions. But then again, Sophia Stone apparently said Bonnie struck her with the butt of a pistol. Bonnie was also said to have cursed freely. These impressions may not always have been the case-- but it's good to have a number of eyewitness accounts to go on.

Comment was offered by some who witnessed the gang-- that B&C seemed perhaps more nervous and uncomfortable, than you might imagine them being cool and collected. Bailey Tynes who knew Clyde as family, and in reality spent more time with B&C than was 1st realized-- described them as being paranoid. So to some, the stresses of being hunted and on the run-- were evident.

Clyde did shoot over the heads of numerous men in apparently attempting to scare them without killing them. As always, I caution not to get too wrapped up in the "humanity" of B&C-- without paying respect to more than a dozen lives they took. You can also look to B&C's interactions especially near the end, as being decisions made without the benefit of many real choices.

We now know as the end neared, even family and friends were turning against them. The noose was tightening, and without a willingness on their part to divert their plans dramatically (such as leaving for a foreign land)-- their fate was sealed, if not in LA then somewhere else, likely not long after May 23rd, 1934.

The beauty of Billie's remembrances of Bonnie, are in revealing touching characteristics of a lovable woman-- who ended up on a convoluted and difficult path, to a tragic end.

BarefootOkieGal said...

There are so many facets to your average human being that it's not surprising that different people focus on different things! The family definitely had a stake in making Bonnie and Clyde seem more human, in an effort to counteract the "monster" image they had, but the people who rode with them either voluntarily or involuntarily had differing stories to tell, depending on their perspective!

Bonnie did have a temper, too - her sister describes her as "fighting her way" through school, and there are a few tales from a few folks regarding fights that she and Clyde had, some of them even claiming that Bonnie had threatened to shoot Clyde at least once, although saying you're going to do something and then actually DOING it are two different things!

That's why I tend to read as many books as I can about subjects that interest me, even those that are mostly just "hooey," as my mom would have put it - sometimes you can find some nuggets of gold even in books that aren't particularly well-written or well-researched. I don't ever take any one book as gospel - there are just too many sides to individuals for any one book to capture everything!

I believe that the reason I have a harder time "getting" Clyde is because he wasn't a writer and I don't know if he left behind any writings of a personal nature that revealed his thoughts and feelings - the few of Clyde's writings that I've seen were not of a personal nature, and the one supposed letter to Henry Ford is probably not actually his... with Bonnie, you can read her actual thoughts in her own words, and that may make her easier to understand, for some people.