Sometimes you reach that not so magical spot in life, where you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. For more than a year now, as time has allowed amongst the many things I do related to B&C History, I have delved headlong into research and conducted a good # of interviews, aimed at trying to shed light on a cornerstone wonderment of this history-- was Bonnie Parker pregnant when killed with Clyde Barrow on old LA Highway 418, that unusually hot day in May 1934??
Once I initiated this endeavor-- early on, some people within and around the families and friends of the families (both outlaw and lawman)-- made their feelings known to me. A few people made it a point to tell me I should lay off, and "drop" my investigation into attempting to learn the truth concerning a possible Bonnie pregnancy. Interestingly for the most part, these pleas didn't center so much around what one might expect-- concerning areas of emotional sensitivity and the like. But rather the most prevalent expression made to me in this regard, has been a simple 5 word question-- "what difference would it make??"
Somehow whenever that question's been asked, I've not only felt that knowing the truth "could" make a difference for this history-- but I've also felt through that question, there was an underlying protective web being spun for both outlaw and lawman advantage-- but with the edge perhaps going to those with an interest in protecting the lawman's point of view. One conversation went a bit like this-- I'm represented by the color blue. "But Winston, they had to be stopped"-- "Yes I know, and I don't disagree". "But you don't understand-- if they hadn't been stopped, more would have died"-- "I do understand, and that's likely true". "Then what difference would it make if Bonnie was pregnant"??-- "Ah, but that "is" the question isn't it"?? Of course disagreement will reign, concerning what difference this knowledge would make-- should some supportable conclusion become available. From a practical point of view, of course nothing would change. What's done is done, and long ago. Depending on circumstance-- I suppose any new battleground could be a moral one.
But as I often consider, what would those alive in 1934 have thought of a Bonnie pregnancy??-- and would they have viewed this debate as being important?? They certainly were digging to find out. My question is why?? Was it mainly a matter of tabloid fascination until Bonnie's death, when it didn't matter any more?? Or was it more, the deadly game of cat and mouse between the law and B&C taken to a new level-- which then leaked into the press?? Why did the law seem so intent, on focusing their efforts toward learning the truth-- regarding the pregnancy of Bonnie Parker?? Did the law feel it would be easier to catch B&C, with such a dual joy and burden to perhaps slow the duo down?? Or maybe this knowledge accelerated a perceived urgency to get 'em quick-- before Clyde & Bonnie might do the unthinkable, and leave their known stomping grounds for a prolonged period-- due to the reality of a baby??
I don't recall seeing news reports from olden days, expressing sympathy for Bonnie-- should the reality of a pregnancy have been proven. But apparently behind the scenes, contingency plans were being developed in Louisiana to care for a Bonnie Parker child. For this rumor to have been developed that far, and within the location where Bonnie was active and interacting with individuals who it's said were preparing to help her-- surely makes one wonder. Would B&C think kindly, concerning a rumor of this sort being spread about them?? And if the rumor was true, would they want their reality to be known?? My God, there are a lot of questions within this question!%@&!!
I believe it's now thought with a reasonable assurance, that Frank Hamer believed Bonnie to be pregnant ("in a delicate condition")-- prior to the ambush. He relayed this knowledge, reportedly known from an informant's family in Louisiana-- to Dallas Bureau of Investigation SAC Frank Blake on May 11th, 1934-- 12 days prior to the waylay. Within this hand written document, Hamer reminds Blake he had told him of this knowledge before. Based on Captain Hamer's revelation to SAC Blake, a fair question remains-- whether this insider's info (true or not)-- was told to the other posse members, in advance of 9:15 AM on May 23rd?? It seems both before & after the ambush and in a variety of locations-- rumors swirled that Bonnie was indeed pregnant.
As John Neal Phillips referenced in his book Running With Bonnie and Clyde, news reporters were sent from Dallas to Arcadia and allowed to view the undraped body of Bonnie Parker in death-- to see if they could discern any sign of Bonnie being a reported 2 1/2 months pregnant at the time. Also as now revealed through various accounts-- these rumors had multiple sources in multiple places, seemingly all unrelated and unknown to one another. You know the old adage-- where there's smoke there's fire. Thus in reviewing the evidence, which seems to emit plumes of smoke as if from smoldering leaf piles scattered across the B&C landscape-- I decided to take on what could be considered a daunting challenge.
The B&CHB receives numerous inquiries each week, asking the question "Was Bonnie Parker pregnant??" My feeling is next to the ambush itself, the question of a Bonnie Parker pregnancy-- is the greatest mystery of the Bonnie and Clyde saga. Now that I've kicked my investigation into high gear concerning Bonnie's maternal status??-- I've receiving a renewed crop of calls for me to "drop" my investigation. Somehow when I hear these calls for "containment"-- it makes me even more intent on redoubling my efforts to get at the truth. One famous B&C researcher asked me as we discussed this-- "why would anyone not want to know at this point??" That's a good question. Why indeed??
My feeling is, this emotionally charged mystery concerning a Bonnie Parker pregnancy??-- is not going away with or without my interest. The more I cull through evidence, some of which is new or very obscurely known-- the more I feel I couldn't be more right to pursue a possible solution to this mystery. I tread with respect for all, and with the realization that whether or not a definitive answer can be found to this 76 year old question-- remains unknown.
What do you think?? Should a Bonnie Parker pregnancy be explored?? I welcome your comments.
My thanks to Life Magazine, for publishing the perfect photo for this expression.