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 There's more to come from Billie's unpublished book, so stayed tuned for more Billie insights-- exclusively here on The B&CHB.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.


BarefootOkieGal said...

I had to laugh because it sounded so much like a prank that a newsboy might play on a little kid today - "Hey, kid, that quarter's fake!"

Even as young as he was, Buddy knew that it wasn't a good idea to mention Bonnie to outsiders... rather sad, actually. He seems to have been a very bright little boy, and from all accounts, Bonnie doted on him. I'm sure that the deaths of Buddy and his sister were absolutely devastating to her.

And Buddy's comment about "that damn Clyde Barrow" makes me wonder about each family's true feelings toward the other - the Barrows and the Parkers were bound together by their children's love affair, and there are several accounts of friendships between different family members, but I also know that some in Bonnie's family resented Clyde "taking her away," and I have read comments from some of Clyde's family members referring to Bonnie as "that girl." I'm sure there were times when some of those feelings were verbalized; where else would a 4-year-old come up with the expression, "That damn Clyde Barrow..."?

Still - it brings to light some of B&C's humanity. They obviously wanted to bring some happiness into the lives of these kids! I do hope that someone let poor Buddy know that those quarters were perfectly good, despite what the newsboy jokingly said to him!

Shelley said...

I believe that the various family members - on both sides - definitely had some mixed emotions regarding their feelings for Clyde and Bonnie.

Emma Parker evidently was impressed with Clyde, at least in the beginning. Her first impression of him is recounted in FUGITIVES: "He certainly was a likable boy, very handsome, with his dark wavy hair, dancing brown eyes, and a dimple that popped out now and then when he smiled. He looked more like a young law student or doctor than a bandit; he had what they call charm, I think. He was good company, and full of fun, always laughing and joking. I could see why Bonnie liked never entered my head that he was in trouble...".

But as with any good mother, Emma wanted what was best for her daughters, so common sense prevailed. Once it became apparent that Clyde was NOT "going straight", she wanted to protect Bonnie from a life she knew could lead to no good. So she did her best to discourage Bonnie from seeing him, and later tried many times - in vain - to get her to leave him. And who could blame her?

Later, after the families came to somewhat of an acceptance that Bonnie would NEVER leave Clyde, they posed together at a family "meet". This group photo is quite intriguing, I think. In it, the woman with her arms embracing Clyde, is none other than...Billie Jean! They say a picture paints a thousand words--and in this picture, Billie's affection for Clyde is plainly evident.

As far as I can discern, the only Barrow to refer to Bonnie as "that girl" would have been Cumie. It seems to me that MANY mother-in-laws assume the attitude that "NO woman is good enough for MY boy!". If I am not mistaken, Cumie did not fully approve of any of Clyde's previous girlfriends, either! But in time, I think, she did finally come to care for Bonnie. And remember, Cumie also had her "issues" with BLANCHE, as well!

Clyde's sisters were far more charitable towards Bonnie, from the start. In FUGITIVES, Nell states, "All in all, Bonnie Parker was the answer to a sister's prayer for a wife for a best loved brother". And in all the documentaries I have, Marie had only nice things to say about her.

BarefootOkieGal said...

The whole situation had to be pretty horrible for both families, and they would have been only human if some of their less-charitable feelings were expressed from time to time! Every parent wants the best for their child, and every sibling hopes that their brother or sister will do well in life (well, in MOST cases!) - and it had to be apparent to both families that there would be no happy ending. It would be natural for family members to experience some disagreements and even bad feelings - not because they disliked the other family, but just because of the dynamics of the situation. The families had to be stressed beyond belief! Often when people go through painful experiences together they form a bond; in later years it's apparent that friendships formed and were maintained. I'm just thinking that while B&C were alive and on the run, it would have been normal for their family members to express their negative feelings from time to time, as I'm sure there were often incidents that prompted more stress and fear than usual. Bonnie's family had to deal with the fact that Bonnie was with Clyde of her own free will, but that doesn't mean that they might not feel some resentment toward Clyde from time to time even though he himself supposedly urged Bonnie to come home to her parents while she still could.

I believe it was Marie who referred to Bonnie as "that girl" when she was expressing her thoughts about Clyde's supposed homosexuality - something along the lines of, "If he's gay, why is he running around with that girl?" I don't necessarily think she meant anything bad or hurtful by her choice of words, however.

I recently re-read "Fugitives" and I also enjoyed the "first meeting" impressions of both families; it's good to know that initially there was nothing but good, warm feelings and lots of hope. It's a sorrow to me that all of those good feelings had to end, but it is still good to read of their first impressions.