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In her unpublished manuscript, Billie Parker Moon relates her recollections from a number of key Bonnie & Clyde events she was there to witness.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.


BarefootOkieGal said...

Wow - another first-hand account! I'm going to miss new ones, when these are finally exhausted...

Despite her undying love for Clyde, seeing the pain that her family was going through on her account had to torture Bonnie, as she loved them deeply... the idea of Bonnie, so hurt and in such incredible agony, begging her sister to get away and mix with the crowd so as not to get into trouble is a heartbreaking one. And the feelings expressed by Billie are no less touching - she will not leave her beloved sister in such straits. No matter what anyone might feel about Bonnie and Clyde, no one can doubt that they were capable of great love and compassion as well as criminal acts; the love that they had for their families and the love that their families had for them was one thing they could always count on, and probably one thing that kept them going so long.

Bless the heart of the nurse who purjured herself for Billie... I believe she was one of those people who feel that compassionate care of an injured person, particularly when that person is your own sister, should not be punished by jail time. The law sees only black and white, and the B&C saga contains so many shades of gray!

I am looking forward to more of Billie's revelations, and my deep thanks to you for unearthing this and presenting it to us - and to the persons from whom you obtained it and got permission to print it up for us!

joe from Canada said...

Makes for great reading - I am enjoying Billie Jean's writings. Thank you for making them available

A. Winston Woodward said...

Thanks very much for your kind words. Billie's 1st hand accounts of her time with B&C, place us not only inside their cabins and cars with them-- they also place us within the minds of Bonnie & Clyde. As such this remarkable
information, as told by someone so close to Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow-- is very exciting new B&C knowledge for us to have. When someone who knew Billie perhaps most intimately, told me historians should pay attention to Billie Jean within these accounts-- I'd most certainly agree.

I see little point, for skeptics to find creative ways to criticize Billie's eyewitness accounts of B&C events. These are Billie's remembrances of B&C, no matter what may be thought of them. She was there, and we were not-- and I for one am glad to have these close up and personal B&C insights. According to those who knew her, Billie was known to be honest and straight forward. Some have wheeled out statements from those with perhaps lesser reputations, to counter Billie's accounts. My feeling is, those comparisons can stand on their own. With all respect for example, some who worked with Marie-- have said you never quite knew what some realities were.

The relationship between Bonnie & Blanche was said to be a bit tenuous. And interestingly, within Billie's writings-- she never refers to Blanche by name. In fact, Blanche's name is crossed out in I believe every instance-- and replaced with a reference to being Buck's wife. I'm not sure what that meant, especially since I understand Billie & Blanche were friends in later years. But I don't think many would doubt-- that Billie couldn't have been closer to Bonnie-- and Bonnie couldn't have been closer to Clyde.

So when it comes to considering Billie's 1st hand accounts, I am taking them straight up. I don't see why Bonnie & Clyde History shouldn't be adapted, to include Billie's insights. I would hope it never be the case, when this history should be thought of as including only what's been known to date. In reality, way too little is known within B&C History-- so I'm one to welcome Billie's insights.

BarefootOkieGal said...

It's not just the fact that Billie was actually present to witness these events; it's also so exciting to me that she was there as a close and very much loved sister and someone to whom Bonnie would have certainly talked to about her thoughts and feelings, as Billie describes earlier... it broke my heart when Billie mentioned somewhere else in her writings that she and Bonnie would talk for hours about what might have been. I am so glad that she saw fit to put some of her memories in writing so that others can see a side of Bonnie and Clyde that was long overshadowed by their criminal misdeeds; a pair of lovesick young people caught up in a crazy life of their own making, desperate to keep in touch with their families, and knowing that the inevitable end was drawing near.

Anyway, Winston, as you mention, it is great to have these first-hand accounts available!

Luke said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
A. Winston Woodward said...

I have deleted a comment which through some investigation, was found to be bogus-- and meant to be troublesome for more than one B&C forum. My thanks to a number of friends, including the administrator of the other B&C forum-- where this individual had also created issues, for their help in uncovering this plot for no good.

With so many comments to discern, every once in a while a nefarious comment can slip through. Situation remedied.