Saturday, July 31, 2010

The July Bonnie & Clyde Polls-- No More Pencils, No More Books--

In honor of Summer and to note the Alice Cooper classic, School's Out-- no books were needed this time around regarding the B&C Polls. In the past, I've used many varied sources for poll questions. I'm not sure, but this may be one of the only times I've formed all 8 monthly questions-- without much use of a B&C book. As such 1 of July's poll answers was available through the written page, but uniquely-- this time all the answers were available via the Internet. Newspaper clippings scattered here and there, as well as B&C historical photos and websites such as Frank Ballinger's Bonnie and Clyde's Hideout seemed to work wonderfully well-- in creating challenging questions. So here we go-- with July's B&C Internet based B&C Polls potpourri.

You needed to locate an image of Bonnie's marriage license, to know who married Miss Bonnie Parker and Roy Glenn Thornton on September 25th, 1926. Certified copies can be obtained from the Dallas County Clerks Office. But if you look around, the Internet does afford opportunities to view an image of this most interesting document. I included every name listed on Bonnie & Roy's marriage certificate as choices, including R. E. Foster Minister of the Gospel-- who married them. Texas marriage license #114552 was applied for on September 24th, 1926-- with Minister Foster performing the marriage a day later on September 25th. Thus contrary to many published accounts-- Bonnie was still 15 when she married Roy Thornton.

63527 was Clyde's prison number from Huntsville concerning his (7) 2 year sentences totaling 14 years cumulatively. Clyde's Division of Investigation U.S. Department of Justice fingerprint card detailed this info. It was Ralph Fults who used the alias of Jack Sherman, well before W. D. Jones became famous for it. Fults used this alias when caught with Bonnie at Kaufman, Texas (many say Maybank) on April 18th, 1932. Fults took the fall for this early Barrow Gang bungled caper, while Bonnie although held-- was eventually no-billed and released.

Henry Barrow advertised a number of products openly as noted by photographs of his Star filling station. However the photo above seems to say it all, concerning the most prominently displayed billboard for Coca Cola. To me, this is the rarer of the photos showing Henry outside his West Dallas gas station. It seems even in the '30's-- things went better with Coke. It took a head first dive into the B&C news articles for the next query-- where it was Blanche Barrow, who reportedly revealed the possibility of loot buried at Dexfield Park. An unidentified article states-- "Blanche shortly after her capture, said the gang had hidden some of the bank loot in the woods somewhere near where they had camped." Based on this published report, apparently many searched for the reported cache of Barrow Gang money. Another article which told of this rumor, said the hidden loot may have amounted to around $4000. ($60,000. in today's money). Another Bonnie & Clyde tale. I wonder if this one was true??

It was a reporter from The Dallas Times Herald, who first reached Emma Parker by phone to tell her of Bonnie's death. In a revealing news article published at the time-- it was noted before telling Emma Parker of her daughter's demise, the reporter asked Emma whether she was alone?? To which Emma responded that her daughter in law Edith was present with her. Emma was then told Bonnie & Clyde had been killed. "Where did it happen??" Emma reportedly asked. To which the reporter said "Near Gibson Louisiana-- do you have any relatives there??" "No-- but you must be kidding me" Emma replied. "There is no mistake, both of them were killed" the reporter stated. At that point, the phone was heard to drop and a woman screamed. Another woman picked up the phone to state "Mrs. Parker has fainted. Why didn't you come out here and tell her face to face??"-- "I believe you are a damn liar." After Billie's Attorney Fred Harris had inquired of the truth and called Emma to confirm the worst, Emma's sister Lelia Plummer called the Dallas Times Herald press room to apologize for her cross remark.

Mrs. Plummer (Aunt Pat, as known to the Parker children)-- would later become responsible for a most dramatic decision and action concerning B&C History. More on Aunt Pat another time. So both Edith Parker (Buster's wife) and Emma's sister Pat Plummer were said to be present, when Emma was notified of Bonnie's death by a Dallas Times Herald reporter.

And speaking of Emma, only one person apparently knew it was Emma Parker-- who uttered the blistering quote concerning the ambush. That quote-- was written of within a news article entitled, Mother of Gun-Moll Enraged at Officers and 'Double Crosser'.

And finally the question where I can accept 2 answers as being correct. Within the May 14th, 1934 report, written by SAC Whitley of New Orleans to Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover as reported to Whitley by Bureau Agent Lester Kindell-- it's noted "if extradition of Methvin is demanded by other states for crimes, that Henderson Jordan will go to Governor Allen of Louisiana and explain the facts." Oscar Kelly Allen was the Governor of Louisiana at the time of Bonnie & Clyde, and likely only Governor Allen would possess the power to block the extradition of Henry Methvin from Louisiana. Never the less, as it was Henderson Jordan who expressed the desire to approach the Governor if need be-- I can accept either Sheriff Jordan or Governor O. K. Allen as correct answers. Perhaps it will be revealed someday, why some you wouldn't suppose-- were willing to fight so hard to protect Henry Methvin and why?? Alas another B&C secret, not yet ready to surface.

So there you have it-- another installment in the ongoing and hopefully always challenging B&C Polls. As August is here-- look for new B&C polls to be posted soon. And as always "many thanks"-- for your participation in the polls.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Who Introduced Bonnie & Clyde??-- The Answer Appears to be Found "All in the Family"

The event of Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow meeting for the first time, has been told and re-told-- but seemingly from the same source material-- Fugitives.

As related by Emma Parker within Fugitives, the 1934 Parker and Barrow account-- "I had never heard Clyde Barrow's name and didn't dream that such a boy existed until January, 1930. Bonnie, still out of work after the closing of Marco's Cafe, had gone to stay with a girl friend in West Dallas. This girl had broken her arm, and Bonnie went to help with the work. Clyde's folks lived near, and here it was Clyde came and meet my daughter. It all came about so simply, as such momentous and life-changing things often do. Clyde dropped by this girl's house. Bonnie was there, and they met. That was the beginning."

However ultimately it would take some 79 years, along with the release of a long secret file-- for the mystery woman with the broken arm to be known with any certainty, who by her own admission introduced Bonnie and Clyde. As with a number of known or suspected individuals, who's names were seemingly "changed to protect the innocent" within this family memoir-- this person's identity too was shielded. However in reality, one needn't look far-- to discover the truth concerning this close family relation.

Dallas FBI File 26-4114, is a treasure trove of little known or previously publicly unknown Bonnie and Clyde info-- documented from the time of B&C. Such is the case, concerning the key individual within this mystery. On January 5th 1934, renown B&C and Dillinger Bureau of Investigation Agent Charles Winstead filed a report-- of which both handwritten and transcribed versions exist within the Dallas FBI files. This 5 page memo signed by Winstead, had to do with interviews conducted by himself and a peace officer named Carroll in Gladewater, Texas. Many pieces of valuable information were garnered from the more talkative female interviewed (who it's said was against officers generally)-- however much less was learned from the less talkative male.

Some of this knowledge revealed by the woman questioned, included her clarifications concerning the identities and relationships of various Parker and Barrow family members-- the correct ages of B&C-- the story of Clyde's previous love affair with Grace-- information concerning Frank Clause and Clyde Barrow, along with revealing Frank's employer-- the identity of Bonnie's husband Roy Thornton and prison term he was serving-- info on Billie Parker Mace, her age and the deaths of her children-- the fact that this woman's husband who was also interviewed, is questioned regularly by Dallas lawmen concerning B&C-- along with the revelation that B&C won't come near this couple, due to her husband's dislike for B&C's mode of living-- and B&C's concern for their safety, as alcohol was often present. But paramount to a long pondered B&C mystery, was the revelation that it was she-- who introduced Bonnie to Clyde.

If you don't already know, or haven't guessed by now, these were interviews conducted with Buster Parker and his wife Edith Clay Parker. In writing of his interview with Edith Parker, Agent Winstead wrote-- "She said she introduced Bonnie to Clyde." So apparently the woman with the broken arm, who helped to facilitate a fateful love at first sight-- was none other than Emma's daughter in law-- Edith Ray Parker. According to Billie Parker's well documented family history, Edith Ray Clay married Buster in 1929. So I suppose she could be described as a friend to protect her identity-- but in reality as of 1930, Edith was Bonnie's sister in law.

By the way-- these were the same interviews which led to poignant statements by Buster Parker. Buster said he knew Clyde was going to get Bonnie killed, and would rather know Bonnie in a penitentiary than with Clyde. Buster then promised, if ever he should learn of Clyde's whereabouts while separated from Bonnie-- he would give that information to 2 named lawmen. It seems that like a number of others both inside and outside the families near the end-- Buster was willing to turn on Clyde, in his case unabashedly-- in order to save his beloved sister Bonnie.

From time to time, some seem critical of the Dallas FBI files on Bonnie & Clyde, but I never understand why??-- nor do I feel those impressions logically justified. Perhaps for some, it's just a matter of coming to terms with contrary views of heroes-- from one side of this history or another?? But as info like this concerning Edith and Buster Parker is priceless to Bonnie & Clyde History-- I for one am grateful for so much additional B&C knowledge now being available, after so many decades shrouded in darkness. As I see it, an objective view of history should necessarily include all the good, bad and ugly-- and the more info to help discern the truth, the better. Based on new B&C knowledge being revealed, I remain more & more intrigued by accounts within Fugitives-- now being proven as other than told. As always, I welcome your comments.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Billie's Compassion for Bonnie & Clyde

As we are winding down now concerning materials remaining within Billie's mid '70's manuscript (and as I've been bouncing around anyway)-- I've decided to skip to the end, of what is known of Billie's unpublished writings. Remaining are a good intro and quite unique description of Depression realities, along with additional insights from Billie Jean-- which I'll post stand alone. Throughout Billie's unfinished book, I feel there's considerable compassion evident within Billie's descriptions and memories of Bonnie & Clyde-- which may not have been so obvious, within writings revealed in this series so far. But as you'll soon see, these expressions of compassion from Billie Jean are prominent-- within her thoughts and recollections of her beloved sister and the man Bonnie loved. Thus it's time to quote Billie's manuscript again--

"Bonnie has been painted as a gun-toting gangster who smoked cigars. That is not true. She never smoked cigars and, before her death, tried to make it clear to the public the image was wrong. It would sadden her today if she knew she never was successful and that most people still believe she was addicted to cigars. Clyde also has been much abused by the press and the police. He admitted to us many times that he had robbed places and killed people. But he was accused of many things he denied to the family. Why, if it wasn't the truth, would he deny these things when he admitted so much more was true."

"My purpose is to tell what I know to be the truth about Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. I grew up with and loved her. And many times I rode with them after the law was hot on their tails. I know the heartache they felt at not being able to live normal lives with their families. I know the caution they had to use-- even to the point of not calling each other by name-- in order to avoid the bloody end that eventually was theirs. I know the misery they endured in the wind swept woods as they tried to sleep and stand watch at the same time."

"I sat up many nights at the campsites, standing a watch in which the silence of the woods magnified every sound to terrifying proportions. I know the feeling of panic which came to them when a sudden sound would send Clyde scrambling for his guns and Bonnie running toward the car. When they are called cold-blooded killers, nobody bothers to mention they were kids, barely into their 20's. Nobody seems to care that when Bonnie died on that deserted Louisiana road while trying to help a friend, she was only 24-years-old and so homesick she would have abandoned the back roads if she could have."

"Nobody seems to realize, or care, that Bonnie never was in any trouble until Clyde Barrow appeared in West Dallas. And nobody seems to realize that Clyde got involved in a set of circumstances from which he could not return. They were kids forced by times and life to take the road they took. By the time they realized what was happening, it was too late to turn back. 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."

"Instead, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were cut to tiny pieces by a combination of police and bounty hunters shooting from ambush. The kids were dead before they even could touch one of their guns. And, ironically, their last thought was for a friend in trouble. When they pulled off that Louisiana road and into the ambush, they were pulling over to help Henry Methvin's father change a blown out tire on his old truck. I don't guess they ever knew Methvin had sold them out to the posse. At least, I hope they never realized that."

Billie can be seen leaning on Clyde with his arm firmly wrapped around her in the picture above. In a number of ways, this family photo said to have been taken the day before the Sowers ambush-- seems to speak for itself. Next to the closeness between Clyde and Billie, I've always thought the sorrowful resignation in the expression of a worn looking Emma Parker-- to be the most remarkable element of this photo. To me, The Barrows were perhaps better at putting on a good face for the camera than the Parkers-- where the reality of their situation, seemed more apparent within their expressions. Through Billie's admissions, we know now Bonnie felt responsibility for Emma's morass of sorrow. With her mother's arm around her, perhaps that too is evident-- in the expression of Bonnie Parker.

There's still more to learn from Billie's manuscript-- so please look for additional insights, from this wonderful and personal collection of Bonnie & Clyde remembrances. Billie Parker Moon's manuscript as recounted in all forms-- is © 2010 The B&CHB by A. W. Woodward. As always I welcome your comments.

Friday, July 9, 2010

"That Damn Clyde Barrow"

Today a quick, and wonderfully funny story from Billie Parker Moon's manuscript. This one has to do with Billie's son Buddy Mace. As it was told by Billie--
"There was the time Clyde gave my 4-year-old son Buddy a sackful of quarters. There must have been eight or ten dollars in quarters in that sack. The next day, Buddy was handspringing proud of his new found wealth. He told his grandmother that he would pay the newspaper boy. Back then, we paid 25 cents a week for the daily paper."
"When the paperboy came, Buddy proudly handed him a quarter and demanded a receipt. The paperboy was in a kidding mood that day. He solemnly told Buddy that the quarter was a fake... no good. Buddy looked at him and I was afraid he was about to say he had gotten the money from Clyde and his Aunt Bonnie. Instead, he took the quarter back and strolled into the house. He walked up to me and said, "Mammy, that damn Clyde Barrow done stuck me with a whole mess of fake quarters."

"When Buddy died a short time later, Bonnie and Clyde were in Dallas and had just bought him a Shetland pony. The poor little guy never got to see the animal."

As a point of reference, the inflation conversion from 1933 to today is about 15 to 1.  So $8 to $10 of quarters then, would equate to $120 or $150 today. A pretty good haul for a youngster. There's more to come from Billie's unpublished book, so stayed tuned for more Billie insights-- exclusively here on The B&CHB. Excerpts from Billie Parker Moon's manuscript are © 2010 The B&CHB by A. W. Woodward. I hope all are enjoying these rare B&C revelations.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bonnie and Clyde Q&A-- Was Clyde's Sexuality Ambiguous?

Short and sweet-- If you believe in the movie version of Bonnie and Clyde, w/Clyde's sexuality seemingly depicted as being ambiguous, based on callous & unsubstantiated rumors proliferated in modern times by John Toland and others after him-- then yes. If you believe in Bonnie & Clyde "History"-- as supported by those who knew Clyde best, and in realizing there's apparently no concrete evidence to support such a claim-- then no is the correct answer.

I suppose those who would ask over and over whether Clyde was a homosexual, could be the same folks who might ask-- what fruit B&C were eating when killed?? It looked to be a pear in the movie-- but in reality, there's no evidence there was ever a piece of fruit present.

I've got to look up the article I found a couple of years back, which outlines the rise and fall of male heterosexual expressions of affection common in the early 20th century-- which may explain the Clyde and Ray Hamilton hand holding photo. That singular picture, is the only real portrayal I can see-- to question Clyde's sexual focus. Criminal camaraderie may also explain this photo. Blanche's comment that W. D. didn't like to sleep alone, could also be considered within this debate-- however there's nothing else to back up any nefarious inference, concerning this Blanche revelation.

Almost every day, The B&CHB receives multiple key entry questions concerning this subject. For those here for that purpose-- please look up and read the August 8th, 2009 post entitled "Sordid Rumors and Innuendos Exposed"-- "Please"-- Por Favor, Bitte, Tevreden, Svp,
Nожалуйста, παρακαλώ Per Favore!!

There's no verifiable evidence to support a claim of Clyde Barrow being gay-- "none"--
ningunos, никакие, nenhuns, keine, nessun, κανένας, aucun, niets!! As such, this great challenge remains open-- if anyone knows of evidence to support sordid claims regarding Bonnie or Clyde-- I'm sure all would welcome hearing of this info.

At some point, there will be a follow up to the Sordid Rumor's and Innuendos piece.
Research is underway to identify the sources used by John Toland (apparently earlier published works)-- although this source info too, appears dubious.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Billie Tells of Wellington and Beyond

In her unpublished manuscript, Billie Parker Moon relates her recollections from a number of key Bonnie & Clyde events she was there to witness. Always of keen interest within the history of Bonnie & Clyde, is any account of The Barrow Gang's time after Wellington. The gang's foray into Fort Smith, Ark. involving Bonnie's traumatic injuries from the Wellington incident, and the gang's dealing with them-- seem to elicit elements of compassion, even from the most hardened B&C detractor.

I was going to separate Fort Smith from McKinney within publishing these reports on Billie's remembrances-- but decided instead to combine them for continuity. Oddly, the singular detail of Billie traveling back to Dallas by bus-- seemingly has some B&C scholars in a tizzy. When I first read this account to others, unanimously-- it would be said "it was a train". Well surely Billie knew the difference between a bus and a train, and which conveyance she traveled on. As mentioned, some B&C facts may have to be re-worked, with Billie's accounts now known. Billie Jean's recollections of the McKinney, Texas incident are particularly detailed and interesting-- as well as her revealing a kind person's perjury under oath, in protecting Billie concerning the aid she rendered Bonnie at Fort Smith. Also of note, is a possible conflict between Blanche's account after Fort Smith and Billie's account of the same time period. Interestingly, this 2 week period specifically noted by Billie-- is a time where little seems known within this history.

So here we go, with more of Billie Parker Moon's eyewitness accounts from Bonnie & Clyde History.

"In the summer of 1933, the kids were driving fast over a back road near Wellington, Texas. As they topped a hill, Clyde could feel the car slipping along the road. "Hang onto your hats," he yelled. "This is it." The car went out of control and careened through some guard rails into a ditch. The car caught on fire, burning Clyde superficially. But Bonnie was hurt badly. She suffered bad burns on her legs-- burns which left her permanently unable to straighten her right leg or walk without a heartbreaking limp."

"As always when they were in trouble, they turned to their families-- the only people in the world they knew would never betray them. Clyde drove to Dallas from Fort Smith, Arkansas, in a stolen Ford to pick me up. They had rented two cottages near Fort Smith and were attempting in the best way possible to take care of Bonnie. When I arrived, I was greeted by Buck and his wife, and by W. D. Jones. Bonnie was in a coma and didn't know I was there."

"The daughter of the man who owned the tourist court was a nurse. She provided a doctor friend of hers and began intensive treatment to get Bonnie's festering leg to heal. Neither the motel owner, his daughter or the doctor knew at the time who we were. Later, however, in a moment of human kindness I shall never forget, the nurse refused from a witness stand to identify me as the woman who had helped Bonnie through this period."

"Cold-blooded, impassionate killers? When Bonnie regained consciousness, her first thoughts weren't for herself. They were for me. She insisted to Clyde that I be returned to Dallas immediately, before more trouble started and before I became irrevocably involved. The next two weeks we spent wandering back roads enroute to Texas... stopping where necessary to rub ointments on Bonnie's wounds and camping out at night. They finally got me to Sherman, Texas, and put me on a bus back to Dallas."

"Bonnie always was concerned with keeping me safe. I was with them one afternoon when they were low on money-- as they usually were-- and low on gasoline for the Ford Clyde invariably drove. We stopped at a churchyard at McKinney and Clyde got out of the car, telling me to keep it running. He strolled off in the direction of town. With the gasoline situation low, I made a mistake. I turned off the engine while we were waiting for Clyde to return. Bonnie still was in pain from the Wellington burns and she was sitting in the back of the car. When Clyde returned, he threw a sack of change on the seat from a grocery store robbery he had just pulled. He was mad-- raging-- about the fact the car wasn't running. It was the only time I ever can remember his losing his temper with me."

"As he started the car, it lurched and the wheels became stuck in the mud. A woman and her son happened by in their car and Clyde offered them $20 to pull us out. He cut a barbed wire fence nearby and used the wire as a chain, wrapped around the bumpers of our Ford and the other car. As soon as we were out of the mud, he clipped the wires and roared off. He couldn't have paid the woman $20. Our only money was the three or four dollars in change he had taken from the grocery store."

"While the car was in the mud, people began to materialize from no where. Bonnie was afraid for me and told me to get out of the car and mingle with the crowd. "Pretend you don't know us," she said. "You aren't involved in this robbery." I looked into the back seat where she was lying. She looked so afraid and sick, there was no way I was going to leave her like that. She looked so pathetic, I wouldn't have left her if the whole country had been full of laws. Those were the bad moments... moments where everything could have ended at once. But there were good times. Times when we got together and for an hour or two, the kids were able to forget they were wanted fugatives."

On that note, there's more to come from Billie's manuscript-- so please stay tuned. Excerpts from Billie Parker Moon's manuscript, in part or in their entirety-- are © 2010 The B&CHB by A. W. Woodward. As always, I welcome your comments.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

"But when the air cleared, I counted at least 25 cops- city, county and state" Billie Parker

The story of The Sowers Ambush has been told and re-told over the years-- but never quite like this. Within her unpublished manuscript, Billie Parker Moon spends considerable time speaking of Sowers. And rightfully so-- for Billie had a unique advantage in relaying her account of this dramatic Bonnie & Clyde event. Not only was she present to witness this November 1933 Texas ambush attempt 1st hand (including being shot at)-- but as an insider with an intimate closeness to Bonnie & Clyde, Billie was privy to many unique details as told by the outlaws after this waylay occurred. Thus Billie's able to fill in gaps previously untold, and provide a "gripping" account from ground zero. I'll say this-- based on Billie's recollections of this story, as Ricky Ricardo would say-- it seems some who've recounted differing versions of this event over the years, may have some esplanin' to do-- with Billie's account now known.

The identification of Sowers as the ambush location, has always been a bit of a misnomer-- as Sowers both today as in yesteryear was an unincorporated community. Those who live in this community today, find themselves within the city limits of Irving, Texas. As such, Billie never identifies Sowers by name. Rather she calls this location Grapevine, for the community which was nearby. But there's no mistaking Billie's description of this incident, as being the same episode we've come to know as The Sowers Ambush. In November of '33, the actual location of the ambush was the crossroads of Texas Hwy 10 and Esters Road. Today, with an updated highway system, this spot would be the intersection of Texas Hwy 183 and Esters Road.

So without further delay-- see how many new pieces of information you can find within Billie's account of Sowers. There were just 4 lawmen present for the ambush, as wheeled out for photos by the Dallas Sheriff's Office, right??-- or 6 lawmen as reported by the newspapers?? Not according to Billie-- not by a long shot.

Also pay close attention to Billie's description of the Sowers informant. Although she's reluctant to name "him" by name-- by process of elimination within Billie's account of who was present, along with her explanation of this man's role that evening-- to me Billie leaves little doubt concerning both the identity of the Sower's informant, and her hatred for this individual. This man's reported participation with the families that November evening, has been confirmed many times by those present over the years.. and within Billie's account, now reconfirmed.  You'll also learn in fabulous detail, what happened to B&C after the ambush. So here we go, and as always-- I relate these wonderful Billie accounts verbatim. Bonnie & Clyde's quotes are emboldened.

"The Ford rolled slowly down the road and then faltered, as if the driver momentarily was unsure of himself and the situation. The car's light blinked on and off in a prearranged signal which had become familiar through long use. The flashing lights were answered in kind from a second car parked further down the road. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow had returned home for another visit with their families. The scene was familiar to all of us. We had met them before in out-of-the-way places around the Dallas area. Clyde had telephoned earlier that evening to arrange the Grapevine meeting. As Bonnie's only sister, I took our mother along and we were joined by Clyde's mother, sister and younger brother. A family friend drove the car we were in."

"The Ford, reassured by the exchange of signals, gathered speed as it closed the distance between it and our waiting car. The Ford moved in front of our car and the headlights illuminated the front seat. As usual, Clyde was at the wheel with Bonnie close beside him. The kids had made it back in one piece-- something on which we never could depend. A grin which had been building on Clyde's face turned to a grimmace as the Ford slowly rolled to a stop. A flash of red light erupted from a bar ditch alongside the road. It was accompanied by a popping noise which sounded for all the world to me like firecrackers at a Fourth of July celebration. It was the beginning of a gun battle which Bonnie would say later was "the closest we ever came to dying."

"It took a few moments for me to realize the ditch alongside the road was filled to the brim with cops of all shapes, sizes and services. The headlights of our car still were trained on the Ford and, pushed by an instinct I didn't know existed, I reached across the front seat and killed the lights, shrouding the Ford in darkness. Flickering gunfire outlined the ditch in flashes of red and the miniature thunder from the guns rapidly became deafening inside our car. Clyde, always an excellent driver even in the worst of situations, shoved the Ford into gear and sped down the road in a storm of gravel and gunfire."

"Bonnie and Clyde escaped that night but not without considerable loss. Clyde had been hit two or three times in his legs and a bullet lodged in one of Bonnie's knees. They almost bled to death before reaching Salisaw, Oklahoma, and the safety offered them at the home of the brother of Pretty Boy Floyd. It was later that we realized the "family friend" who drove the car for us that night had told police of the planned meeting. He sold them out for a used car and a few dollars lawmen were offering for the end of Bonnie and Clyde. They had been betrayed by a man they called friend. A similar betrayal on a lonely road near Gibsland, Louisiana, two years later would cost them their lives."

"There was no glamor in the lives of those kids. Just like there was no glamor that long ago night in Grapevine. Bonnie told me later she had a premonition about the meeting. "When we pulled onto that road, something didn't look right," she said. Clyde slowed the car and gave the signal. When it was returned from our car, Clyde told her "It'll be alright, honey. We need to see the folks. Moments later, the air was filled with gunfire and both Bonnie and Clyde were bleeding badly from gunshot wounds."

"The newspapers said the next day that six officers were involved in the ambush. But when the air cleared, I counted at least 25 cops-- city, county and state. There never was a time when six cops would attempt to capture Bonnie and Clyde, even from ambush." "That's the closest we've ever come to dying," Bonnie told me later. "They almost killed us right there on that road." Clyde, in an almost superhuman effort, got the car moving and eluded pursuing squad cars."

"They drove to an old well as they headed for Oklahoma. Bonnie told me they pulled the car up to the well and Clyde dragged himself out, trying to get to the cold water which would staunch the flow of blood from their wounds. "We must have passed out about the same time," Bonnie said. "When I came to, Clyde was lying between the car and the well. He was out cold and his pants were soaked in blood." At the well, they managed to bind their wounds and recover sufficiently to get to Salisaw where Floyd's brother looked after them until they were fully healed."

One thing that's struck me from Billie's account of Sowers, was how close the 2 cars were when the shooting started. I've asked both Jim Knight who owns a well known Bonnie & Clyde replica car, and L. J. "Boots" Hinton who raced cars in his youth and grew up during that period-- how close these cars would have been, for the headlights of one to illuminate the seats of the other. With just a 6 volt battery to power the headlights, which although they looked big-- were mostly reflectors with small light bulbs-- "damn close" was one answer I received.

Plus, unless Clyde turned around when B&C fled the scene-- they would have driven right past the families car, while the shooting was under way. Sowers was the incident, which after it's conclusion Dallas Sheriff "Smoot" Schmid issued his order-- that no engagement with B&C would be allowed when civilians were present. It seems that was for good reason. I've heard that Clyde was incensed, that the families were fired upon that night. Based on Billie's description, it's a wonder no one from the families were shot or killed.

In his foreword to Billie's book, Clint Kelley explains that the only man Billie really hates is the former friend whom she refused to identify by name. He was the man who drove the family car on a windy night in Grapevine, when Bonnie and Clyde almost were killed as they attempted to meet with their families. "That man sold them out for a used car and a few dollars," she said. "His only motive was profit. He didn't have a son to save like Mr. Methvin did." And for all familiar with those present for the 2 back to back family meetings that fateful November in '33-- Joe Bill Francis was the man known to have driven the families to their rendezvous with Bonnie & Clyde.  

More on Billie's feelings concerning the Methvins and the ambush of Bonnie and Clyde in a later post. They'll be more to come from Billie's manuscript soon. My thanks to Stephanie Charlesworth from The UK, who I recall providing this hard to find photo of Billie within a past B&C debate. Ah, that was a good one. A friendly reminder-- these Billie Parker recollections are ©2010 The B&CHB by A. W. Woodward

Was Billie's account of The Sowers Ambush what you expected?? I welcome your comments.