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manuscript (and as I've been bouncing around anyway)-- I've decided to skip to the end, of what is known of Billie's unpublished writings.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.


BarefootOkieGal said...

Anyone who ever thought for one minute that Bonnie and Clyde led a life full of excitement and glory needs only to read Billie's accounts of how they actually spent their time on the run to know that, any movie to the contrary, they were not glamorous and roaming around the country having a high old time. They were living like scared animals, eating cold food, sleeping in fits and starts, and forever in a state of near panic. Some people may feel that Bonnie and Clyde deserved whatever misery they got, due to their crimes; I tend to be more compassionate toward them, considering their youth. I honestly don't think that Clyde ever intended to spend his life running from the law, even when he was a kid stealing chickens and turkeys and cars; he did hold a number of jobs, and it might be that if there had been any better prospects for him, he might not have drifted into the criminal lifestyle so prevalent among the poorer people among whom he grew up. He had musical talents and abilities, according to those who knew him, and a man who had been raised in with better opportunities may have been able to use his talent to entertain people - but Clyde would have had no opportunity to develop a professional style of playing that might have enabled him to pick up a job as a musician. Bonnie, from all accounts, was one of those bright, bubbly women who could easily have charmed any young man - hey, depending on circumstances, she could have ended up as Mrs. Ted Hinton, living life as the wife of a lawmaker. (This is pure woolgathering on my part, although it is evident from Hinton's writings that he definitely found Bonnie attractive and may have been a bit sweet on her.) So many possibilities in life, and yet because of their decisions they limited their potential and ultimately lost their lives.

The photo of Bonnie and Emma is heartbreaking... Bonnie is obviously very thin and gaunt, and she and Emma are wearing nearly the same expressions - weary resignation, as I interpret it.

It is so good to read Billie defending both Bonnie and Clyde. Her love for her sister shines through, as undying as Bonnie's love for Clyde. It is apparent that she feels affection for Clyde - maybe, despite everything, she realized that what little happiness Bonnie had in her life was loving and being with Clyde, and Clyde has been described as a charming young man.

One thing that no one can doubt about Bonnie and Clyde is their loyalty, both to one another, their families, and to those whom they counted as their friends. The Law was aware of that loyalty and used that knowledge to set them up and kill them. I suppose that I can't blame the Law - if Bonnie and Clyde continued to run free, there would be more killings; Clyde's temper and determination never to be caught would have assured that, and I do feel that the only way to guarantee stopping Bonnie and Clyde was to put them into a situation in which they could not shoot their way out.

I love reading these insights from Billie!
I have a question, though - are there any photos of Bonnie's brother, Buster? I don't think I've seen him named in any family photos! Did he accompany the family when B&C visited, and just managed to stay out of the photos?

Again - thanks for sharing this wonderful information with us.

KymHix89 said...

I wonder if the posse was there there hiding when clyde stopped to help mr. Methvin and the log truck blowed the horn for him to move out of the way. So he moves the car up then in line with the posse who wad said to have in some way announced them selves. Would there not have been a better time to have announced themselves than when clyde was talking to mr.methvin as to wait til he moved his vehickle up and then shoot

A. Winston Woodward said...

Hi KymHix89--

There's much debate and confusion, re: many of the stories concerning the ambush. Even the direction the logging truck was traveling is debatable. The law seemingly said that truck was traveling north-- while one of the men on that truck, said it was traveling south, with Clyde having passed it on the way to the ambush site. Both stories cannot be true. And hypotheticals can be fun to envision-- but the truth has been tough enough to discern after the fact, and maybe-- never will be.

Also, as 3 members of the ambush posse claimed to have announced themselves-- I must say I'm not so sure any of them did??