Sunday, June 27, 2010

"W. D. Already Had the Gun at My Head-- Cocked and His Finger on the Trigger"-- Bonnie Parker

I will always think of 2010, as a memorable year for Bonnie & Clyde revelations-- particularly concerning the valuable and previously unreleased info from Billie Parker. Billie's Journal entries concerning her family genealogy, as well as personal insights into her beloved sister Bonnie are quite special. But now, yet another most unique grouping of Billie's recollections have surfaced-- this time from within the pages of a book begun but never finished. Historically-- the importance of these newly found revelations-- require they be revealed.

A brief history-- As I was combing through a box of artifacts given to me recently, I came upon a grouping of pink pages of paper in protective sleeves, with Dallas Times Herald letterhead imprinted upon each one. Long story short-- a number of Blanche's and Billie's items had been combined by agreement, and offered to Heritage Galleries in Dallas for auction in 2006. However as some items were never included within auction lots, they remained unsold. It appeared this document, may have come from among those artifacts. Upon closer examination, these pages appeared to be layout pages-- from back in the days when metal type was physically set to print newspapers. These seemed to be pages reporters would submit their stories upon, formatted for typesetting. With numerous Blanche and B&C related items having come my way recently to review and catalog, when I first glanced at this batch of colorful pages-- I decided to save them for another day. When that day arrived, the realization of what these writings meant-- was nothing short of astounding.

These expressions which are identified as a second draft (and comprise 26 typewritten pages in all)-- are dated January 1975 and are titled Bonnie, Clyde and Me. With this being the same title as the cassette interviews released concerning Floyd Hamilton's story-- my reaction to this similarity, is to believe the date found here of January 1975 may pre-date the Floyd Hamilton offering. I am still researching this coincidence of title. This draft is clearly identified as being a "book". The authors are Billie Jean Parker Moon and Joyce Huddleston as told to Clint Kelley.

Even though I had been entrusted with this document-- as I was familiar with the Dallas auctions from 2006, I felt it important to confirm it's ownership prior to proceeding with revealing it's contents. I also wanted to make sure for the benefit of those involved in this project from 1975, that I do my best to contact these individuals-- to make sure copyrights or other agreements wouldn't be infringed upon, and that there was no concern with my revealing their work now. Within a wonderful conversation with the individual I believe owned the manuscript, in a most gracious gesture-- this document was again offered to me, thus ending any reservations I had in working with Billie's manuscript. To be fair, I have offered to return the original of this document to it's source-- should that ever be desired. It just seems that now is the time, some long held B&C secrets are being freed to be revealed. To those with that generous and caring spirit, I feel we all owe a very large "Thank You".

Having now spoken to both Rhea Leen Linder (aka Bonnie Ray Parker)-- who grew up with Billie as both her aunt and step mother, and Joyce Huddleston whom I've learned is the daughter of A. B. Moon (Billie's last husband)-- I have confirmed the story behind Billie's book, and think I may also know why-- unfortunately this effort was discontinued prior to completion. The bottom line is, this manuscript-- is all that is known to exist from Billie's book which was begun in 1974. It appears that Clint Kelley (whom I've still not located)-- and who may have worked for The Dallas Times Herald-- created this manuscript from the recollections of Billie Parker Moon, with the assistance of Joyce Huddleston.

With the history and provenance of Billie's manuscript now established, let me say how remarkable and truly "important" I feel the information found within Billie's literary effort is. Most recollections found within these pages are accounts personally witnessed by Billie Parker, concerning events she participated in with Bonnie & Clyde. As Billie says-- she was writing her book to "set the record straight". Of great note within these writings, are quotes from B&C as relayed by Billie. As a number of Billie's recollections both contradict and enhance accepted B&C historical knowledge-- I've already had some interesting conversations, with other B&C Historians about Billie's writings. My feeling is, based on Billie's eyewitness accounts-- many involved in this history may be forced to take a fresh look and perhaps rethink, some of what is known regarding certain B&C historical events.

Concerning this possibility, I've felt it imperative to ask a quite delicate question politely-- of 3 individuals who knew Billie intimately. I've asked whether Billie Parker was prone to fib or in any way embellish statements she made?? The unanimous consensus of those who knew her, is that Billie despised those who lied. To those close to her, Billie was not known to be anything other than straight up and straight forward. When I mentioned that historians might question some of Billie's accounts as detailed in her book, one person who knew her well said-- "I would suggest they pay attention to Billie Jean".

In reporting on these important new additions to B&C History, I've decided to do as I did with Billie's Journal-- by recounting this information in segments. I may choose at some point, to offer copies of Billie's complete work through the blog. But for now, within Billie's manuscript you'll learn much of many things including-- a "gripping" account of Sowers from the viewpoint of those being shot at, and by how many lawmen?? You'll be surprised. You'll also get what I feel is a clear impression, of whom Billie singles out as the Sower's informant-- including what she believed he was paid. Also you'll learn of Billie's recollections from Ft. Smith and of Bonnie's injuries from the Wellington crash-- as well as an insider's view of the McKinney, Texas incident. Then there's another "wonderful" and funny story concerning Billie's son Buddy, and his interactions with B&C and more-- including personal views of B&C, as well as insights from conversations held-- along with B&C quotes I don't believe ever revealed.

But for now, I "have" to start-- by reporting on a Billie revelation found within her book, which I know will be of great interest-- Billie's confirmation of a B&C suicide pact. Billie wasn't present for the incident she recounts related to this, but her knowledge of this B&C secret and quote attributed to her sister Bonnie from Dexfield Park-- is "chilling".
Here and there, you've heard whispers of a suicide pact perhaps having been formed along the way by Clyde and Bonnie. John Neal Phillips addressed this possibility within his writings, based on statements attributed to Billie. But until now, Billie's own acknowledgment of this reality hasn't been available to view. True to my handling of these historical gems, I feel an obligation to only tell these accounts verbatim (including spelling errors). So grab a hat to hold onto-- and here we go.

"That was the life of Bonnie and Clyde. There were no good times... no drinking and carrousing around with a submachinegun in one hand and a bottle in the other. The kids never knew who they could trust or around what corner or over what hill they might find themselves boxed in and killed. They lived every moment in fear of death. A lot of people know about the Joplin, Missouri, raid where Bonnie, Clyde, Buck Barrow and his wife barely escaped with their lives. And about the two Joplin police officers who weren't so lucky."

"But very few people know about the suicide pact the kids made early in their wanderings-- when they finally realized they could never get out of the life they had made for themselves. The movies never mention the fact that after a shootout at Dexter Park, Iowa, Buck was almost dead and his wife was blinded from flying glass fragments. Bonnie, Clyde and another companion, W. D. Jones, had to abandon the Buck Barrows and escape by swimming across a river. All three were seriously wounded, to a point where Bonnie told me the water around them was red with their mingled blood.
Clyde handed their only gun-- the only weapon they salvaged in the mad fight-- to W. D. and told him if the police moved in, he was to use the gun on Bonnie. He told W. D. to tell lawmen Bonnie and Clyde had forced him to stay with their gang. Clyde dragged himself across a nearby field, stole a car and returned to pick up Bonnie and W. D."

"We heard Clyde coming back but we didn't know it was him" Bonnie said. "When he finally got close enough to whisper his name to us, W. D. already had the gun at my head-- cocked and his finger on the trigger."

"Their suicide pact is clear evidence they knew what eventually would happen to them. They preferred death at their own hands to death in the Texas Penitentary's electric chair."

Now for all familiar with the incident at Dexfield Park-- for this "remarkable" Bonnie Parker quotation concerning her experience, to fit in with the known history as recounted by witnesses such as the Fellers-- it would likely need to be inserted after Bonnie, Clyde and W. D. swam the river, but prior to their appearance at the Feller farm. As Billie was not there to witness this particular event, my feeling is this Bonnie account as told to Billie must have occurred with the logical adaptation-- that Clyde left a badly wounded Bonnie with W. D. as he scouted first for a car-- and then returned for them prior to all 3 heading to the Feller Farm, and to the fence for Bonnie to be lifted over and so forth. That way, both witnessed accounts work. I don't see how that couldn't be so. But it does seem that their only gun (as again confirmed by this story)-- was indeed loaded, as an empty gun would have served little purpose-- to have saved Bonnie from capture.

There's plenty more to come from Billie's manuscript. On behalf of all who care about B&C History-- I extend my thanks to Billie Parker, may you rest in peace-- to Rhea Leen Linder, Joyce Huddleston, and to Clint Kelley-- where ever you are. The Billie Parker Moon manuscript along with it's revelations of Bonnie and Clyde statements and events, are © 2010 The B&CHB by A.W. Woodward. Thank you. I invite your comments.


Shelly said...

W.D. was just a kid. He idolized Clyde, and adored Bonnie. Sure, he may have shot (or shot at) anyone whom he felt was a threat to any of them--and it's indisputable that he did, on numerous occasions. At least one or two of the killings attributed to Clyde (or more commonly, "BONNIE & Clyde") were, no doubt, actually committed by W.D.

But I have a hard time believing that he would have gone through with pulling the trigger on Bonnie, even if those were her wishes at the time. Perhaps if he was convinced that she was wounded so badly that she was already dying--perhaps. But even then, it seems doubtful to me that he would have intentionally ended her life himself.

For one thing, he loved her. Like a "sis"?--we don't know. That's what he called her in front of strangers. But also, there's another possibility here that may have weighed in as a factor. If the "laws" were closing in, they would have heard the gunshot. This would have made it easier for them to find where they were hiding--and then what??? They would have found W.D. still alive, and Bonnie dead. He would most likely have been captured on the spot, and then charged with her murder. He would also have faced the possibility of additional murder charges, as well.

I just don't see that being a likely scenario. Bonnie may have been telling the truth--and this incident may very well have happened the way Billie Jean related it--but I can't fathom that W.D. would have done the deed itself. Not if she had a chance to survive--and not if there was a chance that doing so would have led the posse straight to him. Also, at that point, they had no way of knowing what had become of Clyde. I'm sure W.D. had many possibilities to consider, and luckily for Bonnie, decided that was probably NOT the best alternative!

A. Winston Woodward said...

Hello Shelley--

"Bonnie may have been telling the truth"??-- about having a gun to her head. And Billie may have been telling the truth??-- in relating this personal and "quoted" account from Bonnie.

The beauty of insider information is just that-- it should be knowledge that requires less speculation. As long as the individuals relaying the information are credible, then the knowledge stands a good chance to be counted as truth. You seem comfortable in scenario building, concerning Bonnie's statement expressed about Dexter-- and that's fine. I don't view this Bonnie account as a scenario. I view her "quoted" words as a statement of her reality. As I see it, to doubt Billie's knowledge of Bonnie's reality at Dexter-- is to doubt the woman with a gun to her head.

Billie may not get everything right, concerning an incident she wasn't actually there to witness-- but I would think Bonnie's account of nearly being shot by W. D. at Clyde's request-- wouldn't be much within the realm of debate. I myself, would rather trust in a "quote" from Bonnie Parker passed through a reliable and inside source-- than speculate, in trying to enter the mind of W. D. Jones-- or in creating multiple what ifs. Should the jig have been up for B&C at Dexter (and it nearly was)-- I'm not sure who would have cared, if the gunshots of B&C ending their lives would have been heard??

Do you think Clyde knew Bonnie would have trouble ending her own life-- and thus his trust in W. D. to help Bonnie, should the need arise?? The same could be asked concerning Clyde, if he felt it necessary to help Bonnie in a similar way. I wonder if Clyde could have shot Bonnie, if it truly came down to it?? A love eternal, and fear of the alternative (the electric chair)-- may have dictated the answers to these questions concerning them.

The suicide pact as revealed by Billie, "is" the point here. Billie said B&C had one-- and Bonnie said W. D. had a gun to her head at Dexter. I suppose many can build scenarios if they wish. I myself am fascinated by Billie's 1st hand accounts, and have found no reason to date-- not to trust in them.

What's coming soon, is a "remarkable" eyewitness account from Billie concerning Sowers.

BarefootOkieGal said...

What a find! I am eagerly awaiting further revelations!

In the last month I've checked out just about every book available about B&C, just to refresh my memory. I do recall that at least one of them hints at a suicide pact, and I believe it was stated outright as fact by another book, and I think they got their information by talking to Billie.

It makes complete sense. Bonnie and Clyde knew that someday they'd be killed, and they did not want to leave the other one alone. There may have been discussion as to what to do if one were killed and the other left alive. I'm sure that as much as W.D. cared for Bonnie, he was also aware of her determination to die if Clyde had died. I believe that out of respect for Clyde and Bonnie's wishes, he would have pulled the trigger, knowing that he would fulfilling her final promise to Clyde.

If W.D. had shot Bonnie and then run, I don't think anyone would have conducted any type of inquest as to who had shot her, given that there were a lot of people with guns all firing.

I believe that BECAUSE W.D. cared about Bonnie, he would have pulled the trigger - I think he would have respected her determination to perform the final act of love and loyalty to Clyde. I believe that in one of the accounts I've read, she tells W.D. that if he won't do it, she would - so she was determined to carry through with her end of the deal. As she said, she did not want to live without Clyde.

I have the same questions that you do, Winston, as to whether Clyde would have shot Bonnie if he had to. I don't think Clyde would have, as this was a "suicide pact" and as long as he was alive, and she was alive, there was no reason to act on such a pact. In my opinion, whether Clyde would have shot Bonnie or whether Bonnie would have shot Clyde is rather moot; with both of them alive, suicide wouldn't be necessary. I don't think that Clyde would have shot Bonnie to put her out of her misery if she'd been injured and was close to death - I think he'd have tried to help her, as he did after the car crash.

It surely gives a different light on the supposed glamour and glory of a gangster's life...

BarefootOkieGal said...

You know, it just hit me what a horrifying statement this would have been for Billie to have to hear from her beloved sister - the families knew that eventually Bonnie and Clyde would be killed by the law, but for Billie to hear from her sister's own lips that there was a suicide pact and that it had come so close to being carried out... so much more pain for the family. I wonder if Billie shared this story with her mother... I rather hope not. The families had to be in so much pain and torment already that this additional knowledge would have been just another unbearable thing that they'd have had to bear.

This should answer everyone's questions about whether it was necessary to kill Bonnie. Either the law would have killed her or she would have killed herself if something had happened to Clyde, and given their determination, I just don't see any way of separating Bonnie from Clyde long enough to "save" her - and, as evidenced by her words to her sister, she did not want to be saved.

joe from Canada said...

In response to an earlier commentShelly, Bonnie was developing a reputation of being able to shoot. WD could have easily shot Bonnie as part of the pact- then put a gun in her hand and as the law approached,WD could have raised his arms in surrender. He could have claimed that he had been a prisoner of B&C as Clyde told him to say in case of capture and he could have claimed self defense which probably would not have been too difficult to contradict seeing the time and the people involved. The minute of action would certainly be hard to determine-- how can one determine that it's over with no way to escape. WD, I believe was and proved that he was capable of killing someone and B&C or no B&C I beleive he was capable of killing B&C regardless of what he thought of them.

BarefootOkieGal said...

Well, although W.D. was "just a kid" (and a rather nice-looking kid, too - he was confused with Pretty Boy Floyd a time or two!) he was also a willing killer. It might have been W.D. who actually shot and killed Doyle Johnson, from some accounts. In his Playboy interview, I believe he mentioned five gun battles that he'd been involved in while running with Bonnie and Clyde. He was genuinely fond of them (although I wonder how Bonnie felt about him - notice how she's leaning away from him in the photo of the two of them, and looks a bit uncomfortable?) but I'm sure he would have carried out Clyde's order to shoot Bonnie if it had come to that.

One of the little details about W.D. Jones really struck me again as an example of how "glamorous" outlaw life on the road was: When he was shot and wounded at Joplin, he wasn't sure if the bullet had gone all the way through him or if it was still inside; in his own words, ""Clyde wrapped an elm branch in gauze and pushed it through the hole in my side and out my back. The bullet had gone clean through me so we knew it would heal."

Whew! I don't think there's anything about being medically "treated" in that fashion that would ever entice anyone to a life of crime!