As is often the case when some mystery comes about concerning Bonnie & Clyde, I'll place a call to L. J. "Boots" Hinton-- to see if our friend with so many B&C resources, can shed light on whatever needs sorting out. "Boots" and I had an interesting talk, concerning Bonnie's poem The Saga of Bonnie and Desperate Clyde. As said previously-- it appears this once family held artifact, may be a rare and early working version of The Story of Bonnie and Clyde. Although seemingly, there have been different versions of this Bonnie classic published over the years and apparently with different titles-- what is likely considered the definitive version of this poem, appears to be the one published in Fugitives in 1934.
Those familiar with this family told story of Bonnie and Clyde (with help from Jan Fortune)-- know that according to Emma Parker, Bonnie gave The Story of Bonnie and Clyde to her just 2 weeks before she died. A 16 stanza version of The Story of Bonnie and Clyde, was then published in Fugitives later that year. The Saga of Bonnie and Desperate Clyde contains just 15 stanzas, and exhibits notable differences in both stanza order and wordings-- when compared with published forms of Bonnie's poem. Remarkably, "Boots" told me that when The Story of Bonnie and Clyde was brought forth to be published in Ted Hinton's memoir Ambush-- that Billie Parker allowed it to be used for the book, provided it was published in the right order and with all 16 stanzas present, including it's "missing" stanza.
So the plot thickens. It seems Ted Hinton may have also had a 15 stanza version of this poem (or Billie made him aware of one)-- and Billie was insistent, that based on her knowledge of Bonnie's poem-- she wanted the 16 stanza version used for publication in Ambush. Billie's comments concerning this, more than imply to me that there "was"-- a known alternate version of The Story of Bonnie and Clyde.
As Billie seemed aware of a 15 stanza version with it's stanzas in alternate order, my question is was that version The Saga of Bonnie and Desperate Clyde??-- and based on this poem's provenance-- possibly this very copy of Bonnie's poem?? "Boots" asked a good question, in wondering what influence if any Jan Fortune may have had on Bonnie's poetry and it's publication?? Jan Fortune's influence on the content of Fugitives, has long been the focus of speculation.
The "missing" stanza as Billie put it, appears to have been the stanza referring to the West Dallas Viaduct. "Boots" is searching for the rendering of Bonnie's poem used in Ted's manuscript. It's unclear to me, whether all this was discussed with Billie in advance of her supplying what she felt was the correct version of Bonnie's poem-- or whether there was indeed another copy of an alternate Story of Bonnie and Clyde outside the family?? Could Jan Fortune have played some role, in editing Bonnie's poem at some point??-- or had Bonnie's earlier draft already been refined by Bonnie, and presented to Emma in completed form?? That also leaves the question, of who in the family originally had this seemingly unfinished Saga of Bonnie and Desperate Clyde.
With family accounts of this part of B&C History seemingly known, I don't see how any version of this poem would have been published prior to Bonnie's death-- but with the True Detective magazines so active at that time and money tight, I suppose anything's possible. The families are documented, to have participated in that traveling sideshow of sorts back in the day-- comprised of notorious outlaw family members. I'm not sure how much more I can learn about this, but so far so good. I'm anxious to learn more of this if I can.