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.

11 comments:

BarefootOkieGal said...

In most of the books that I've read, the pain and grief of the two families comes across so clearly; I was reading one of my books last night (I think it was "The Lives Behind the Legend") and there was a transcript of a phone conversation between Mrs. Parker and one of the Barrow family members (I think it was Marie; I've got ADHC and tend to forget exactly who said what or wrote what until I go back and check it out!) - at any rate, the Barrow family member said that Mrs. Barrow had been so "sick" that she was staying in bed; Mrs. Parker asked if a pint would cure her and the answer was that it would certainly help! The photos of the family members are always hard to look at - everyone trying to enjoy one another's company, but Mrs. Parker had to see her bright and sparkling daughter drooping under the weight of the road and the stress and the constant knowledge that death was waiting right around the corner up ahead somewhere.

There is a photo of Bonnie, and I am not sure when it was taken: It is the one in which she is wearing a long, dark dress and what appears to be sort of a turban-type hat, with her hand on her hip - it's been described as a "seductive" pose. There are a couple of pictures of her in that same outfit, so I'm assuming they were taken at the same time - at any rate, in that photo Bonnie is so painfully thin that you can see her hipbone jutting through her clothes as she poses. She's smiling - but in those photos, she looks absolutely gaunt. I am wondering if her extreme thinness in those photos is a result of her leg injury (since I don't know when exactly they were taken, I don't know how they fit in with the accident time-wise) or if it's just the stress of the road.

It's been reported in some books that Bonnie certainly did some drinking, and that Clyde did not try to stop her - said that her nerves were so ragged that sometimes he just let her have at the bottle because it gave her a little peace.

I can understand Bonnie's wish for one last evening at home with her family, even lying in a coffin... I think that Clyde and Bonnie probably felt worse about the effects on their families than they did for themselves; after all, Clyde (and eventually, Bonnie) had chosen his lifestyle, but the families had no choice but to let them go their own ways, and then spend their time worrying, watching, waiting, listening to the radio, and trying to deal with reporters and cruel pranksters.

A. Winston Woodward said...

The photos I believe you're referring to, were taken at Cumie's birthday celebration-- on November 21st, 1933, the day before the Sower's ambush attempt. At least one photo from this meeting which includes Bonnie, has rarely if ever been published. Although Bonnie appears not at her best at this event-- to me, one of the greatest photos ever taken of her was taken at that family gathering. As this photo I'm referring to was sold by the family this year, and thus revealed publicly-- I'll see if I can find it and post it for you.

As is known, Bonnie did more than drink to ease the pain from her Wellington injuries. Some pretty heavy drug use was reported, although many would presume that by-product of their Red River crash-- most understandable.

BarefootOkieGal said...

The photos of Bonnie are interesting; in some of the ones in which people describe her as looking squinty-eyed and hard, I'm looking at the camera angles and realizing she's just squinting into the sun! I think one of my favorite photos of Bonnie is when she's posing in that famous little tight dress with the stripes (the one she's wearing in the infamous photo with the gun and the cigar)but in this photo, she's grinning from ear to ear, and actually looks relaxed and happy! Then there is a cute little picture of her looking out the car window with her hands on the window and looking as if her head can barely reach the seat.

Clyde also looks different in so many photos of him - in the one in which Bonnie is pointing the gun at him, he looks a bit weak-chinned, but in one of my favorite photos, in which he is holding her in the air and she is leaning against him, they both look happy and in love and Clyde (probably due to Bonnie's tiny stature) looks big and strong. I wonder if Bonnie's size was part of her appeal to Clyde - she was much smaller than him, and appears to be about the size of his own mother!

I'd love to see that photo that you are referring to - please do post it if you find it!

Shelley said...

You sure wouldn't recognize Clyde and Buck's gravesite today, looking at this picture! It isn't far from the chainlink fence on the west side of the cemetery, I believe. Although there are trees nearby shading the graves, there aren't any bushes behind them. The original, standing headstone is noticably missing from this photograph. My guess is that it hadn't yet been purchased. As most of us are aware, the original marker was stolen numerous times and was eventually replaced with a flat one that is encased in cement.

Photos of Fred Mace are few and far between. I have seen only two others that I can remember, and strangely enough - he looks like a different person in all three. He and Billie Jean spent much of their married life living with Emma. Perhaps they still were by the time the children died? And perhaps their deaths were a contributing factor to their separation and ultimate divorce? In any case, Fred Mace had a bit of a criminal rapsheet himself. I'm not quite sure of the extent of his law-breaking activities, but they must have been pretty minor in comparison to B&C - or even Roy Thornton, for that matter!

A. Winston Woodward said...

The Bonnie sweater dress photos are many people's favorites-- likely including mine. But there are other Bonnie pics, which are most interesting as well.

Both B&C were apparently mistaken for being kids, as both were slight of stature. Bonnie was said to have been approximately 4'11" and Clyde about 5'6 or 7". One person who viewed the bodies in Arcadia, was said to have commented in a disparaging way concerning the height of Clyde Barrow. Seemingly B&C in reality, didn't match up to their fearsome reputation.

BarefootOkieGal said...

There are some photos of Bonnie wearing pretty little frilly print dresses that I like, as well. It's amazing to me that they kept themselves up so well, given the way they had to live! Remember Clyde's determination to have a nice silk shirt when he got out of prison?

BarefootOkieGal said...

I ran into another photo online that I've only seen a couple of times before - it's a picture of Joe Palmer, a man who is supposed to be Clyde (it's hard for me to tell because, as I mentioned, Clyde looks different to me in every photograph, and in this one he's wearing a moustache) and Bonnie, standing between the two men, hatless, wearing a very frilly, lacy dress. I think that's one of my favorite photos of Bonnie - either that, or the one you've got up in which she is young, very blonde, and wearing sort of a cloche-type hat!

How long did Clyde wear that moustache, anyway? In one of the books I just read it had that photo, and it mentioned that it was taken not too long before they were killed, but I don't remember exactly when Clyde grew the moustache. I sure don't see it in the death photos...

A. Winston Woodward said...

That photo (one of a number)-- is thought to have been taken in the Spring of '34, possibly around Easter. Some believe the apparent toasting of beverages within that photo shoot, could denote a realization they felt the end was near?? Palmer and Methvin can be seen within those photos, along with B&C. There are also some unpublished photos from that lot-- very rare.

Although the the length of time both Barrow and Methvin sported their moustaches is unknown-- I believe those are the only photos known with their facial additions.

BarefootOkieGal said...

They had to be aware that the law was closing in... maybe the toasts were sort of a way of laughing in the face of certain death - no doubt showing a bravado that they probably did not feel! If they were taking photographs to document their lives (They did want to be remembered, and they did like to pose for the cameras and shoot guns and brandish guns and otherwise play around and show off) then it makes sense that they would show themselves having some fun, regardless of their inner feelings. They were recording themselves for posterity, I suppose, and showing off may have been yet another way of thumbing their noses at their pursuers.

I wonder if Clyde grew the moustache as an attempt as a disguise, or just on a whim? And I wonder what Bonnie thought of it? (Maybe that's why he shaved it off!)

Charles Conrad said...

Mr. Woodard...I am reading this post several years after it was posted. You mentioned in a comment that a certain photograph of Bonnie Parker is "one of the greatest photos ever taken of her"...Did you find that photo or post it on your website somewhere? I am curious as to which photo you are referring. Thanks.

A. Winston Woodward said...

Hi Charles-- "Yeah man". You know, sometimes with the best of intentions-- some things get lost in the shuffle. I'll see if I can find this pic and post it. May have to do with my hard drive crashing, back around the time of this post. Lost some data. Hopefully not that pic. Thanks for your comment.