Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Bonnie & Clyde History Blog Q & A-- With Gordon Baker

Gordon Baker's new Bonnie and Clyde offering Retribution, has inspired much comment-- some of it polite, thoughtful and genuinely inquisitive, and some to my way of thinking-- rude, self serving and not befitting of historical discussion. Unfortunately within the analysis of Bonnie & Clyde History, there are some who would prefer to play vicious games, rather than add meaningful comment to this history. With that said, there are many more fair minded and polite individuals-- who keep a wary but open mind concerning Bonnie & Clyde History, and who with the proper element of respect-- are willing to consider alternative scenarios within an historical void, which rarely lets in much light.

Perhaps those so critical of Mr. Baker, should take a lesson from the famous quote attributed to Voltaire but likely written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall under the pseudonym S. G.
Tallentyre which states-- “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Within that spirit of fairness, it seems appropriate to comment-- that Retribution consists of a reasonable but brief rehash of Bonnie & Clyde History, derived from a variety of well known sources. And just as a number of Bonnie & Clyde authors have formed their historical opinions based on writings which have come before them, it appears Mr. Baker along with the proper credits-- has accomplished his version of the same. As such although the read is good, Retribution offers little new on the traditional Bonnie & Clyde home front. "However"-- this new e-book's importance and claim to fame, will undoubtedly be it's "7th man" ambush account-- a wildly different and most controversial story espousing the participation of Charles Baker, whom it's said was hired by Frank Hamer to professionally film the ambush of Bonnie & Clyde.

It's purported that to Baker's horror, he witnessed Bonnie Parker plead for her life as well as the life of her unborn child-- only to have those pleas dashed and then be brutally murdered, after the sharpshooting of Prentiss Oakley had already cut down Clyde Barrow within the space of 2 shots. At first what seemed a chance Bonnie would be taken alive, quickly turned to mayhem-- as the ambush posse opened up with remarkable firepower, on just one living individual whom it seemed apparent to Charles Baker could have been saved. Although it's never seemed clear what the posse members realized at the time, or whether their regenerated thoughts only resonated within accounts told afterward??-- when you think of it, based on the totality of ambush recollections-- the sense of Clyde having been hit and likely already dead when Bonnie took the wrath of so many shots-- seems with or without Charles Baker, to have been the reality of the ambush.

However based on this latest ambush account, the key question is-- did an independent observer audibly hear Bonnie Parker plead for her life and the life of an unborn innocent, only to be decimated in cold blood by officers who couldn't control their desire to enact retribution that day-- their own form of roadside justice, regardless of circumstance?? With all the cloaked secrecy surrounding Bonnie & Clyde ambush stories as told over the years, it seems fair to ask whether Baker's account is credible enough to be "the great dark secret"-- and reason for all the conflicting ambush accounts as told, not told or analyzed for all these many decades?? It's not my purpose within this post, to address my opinions or evidentiary comparisons regarding the Baker ambush account. Rather this article, is dedicated to questions and answers addressed to Gordon Baker concerning his book. My next post concerning Retribution, will get to the meat of the matter from an historical viewpoint.

Some have seemingly taken their public interrogation of Mr. Baker to an unhealthy and heartless extreme, under the guise of protecting Bonnie & Clyde historical correctness. Well as someone who staunchly defends Bonnie & Clyde historical accuracy, my view is if someone, "anyone"-- can verify which ambush account is worthy to protect and why??-- well then we have a news flash!! The ambush of Bonnie & Clyde's been solved. But as no one can seem to prove any of the ambush accounts as stated, and it doesn't appear this one can be proven either-- "and" I assure you, even more controversial ambush contentions are on the horizon-- my view is, to maintain an open mind and keep digging for the truth. There are certain aspects of the ambush and it's aftermath, which are pretty much assured. However to this day-- many key elements concerning the ambush of Bonnie & Clyde-- seem about as solid as a dissipating fog.

While some were busy exhibiting non-exemplary behavior toward this latest Bonnie & Clyde author-- I felt it important to reach out to Gordon Baker, in a way fitting of someone who'd presented a new Bonnie & Clyde ambush account. What follows are a series of questions, answers and comments made to and by Gordon Baker. Among many e-mails to hit my inbox in commenting on Retribution, a number of really good questions were advanced-- which I addressed with Gordon Baker both within e-mails and a phone conversation I had with him. Along with queries of my own-- I present here a compilation of questions which many have felt should be asked, along with responses from Gordon Baker. Many thanks, to those who formed questions used in this effort.


Q-- Even though you had an agreement to wait the 25 years until 2010 to tell this story, based on a realization of your own mortality-- why did you risk this information perhaps being lost forever?? Did you ever think to release this information sooner??

GB-- I now understand your concern, as a historian about my waiting so long to make the information public. In that 25 year period, I could have lost my life, and the information I had would have been lost. However, the deal was I had to wait out those 25 years before going public. This was Charles Baker’s wish. No, I never considered releasing the info sooner. I filed the info away and never really thought about it much until the beginning of 2010. Prior to my starting to write the book about B&C at the beginning of 2010, the B&C story was not a big deal to me. It's only since I started to write the book that I have taken more of an interest in the story.


Q--Did Charles Baker make notes of the ambush, and how long after the ambush were these notes made?? Also did you make notes based on Charles story as you heard it?? And did your father perhaps make any notes, based on his knowledge of Charles story??


GB-- Charles did make notes about the ambush, but I have no idea how long after the incident that he did this. I did not make any notes as Charles told me, he would be mailing me a copy of all the information, which he did. My father did not make any notes. Everything I put in the book concerning Charles's participation was taken from his notes.


Q-- Where are Charles' notes now??


GB-- I had all the notes Charles Baker sent me including the envelope till the winter of 2004. It was at that time that my sister destroyed most of my belongings. This is a story about a fight over our parent's estate. It started in 2000 and it is still going on today, eleven years later. In 1999 I purchased a new computer, and that was when I entered the notes Charles had sent me.

Q-- How did your father learn of Charles' ambush account??


GB-- In 1935, Charles father told my dad his son had been with the B&C posse, acting as a photographer. That was all the information he gave my dad and he asked my father to not repeat that information. My dad never told me about that and I only learned he knew about it, the day Charles visited my dad's home in 1985.


Q-- How old was Charles Baker in 1934?? How old was he at his death??

GB-- I believe he was 81 when he died so that would put him at 30 years old in 1934.

(A.W.W. note)-- 1934 plus 51 = 1985. As such, Charles would have died the same year he met with Gordon Baker. Some tight timing-- however Gordon related to me that Charles knew he was dying, and didn't want to pass on without his ambush experience being known.

Q-- Where in Texas did Charles Baker live??

GB-- All I know is that he was living in Texas at the time. I don’t know what part. My father did tell me, because of the type of work he was in, he had to keep on the move to find new jobs and of course the depression of that era didn’t help his cause any. This next comment was speculation on my father’s part. He believed Charles accepted the ambush assignment hoping that it would open up new opportunities, which would further his career.


Q-- Was Charles employed as a newspaper or media photographer-- or was he a freelance photographer, and where was he employed??


GB-- Charles was self employed by himself as a freelance photographer. From my understanding, times were difficult then and being a freelance photographer was not an easy job. Apparently he was quite mobile in his search for work.


Q-- Was Charles Baker an American??


GB-- No, Charles was a Canadian-- who lived in Texas at the time.


Q-- Do you have a photo of Charles, or know of anyone who would??

GB-- I do not have a photo and wouldn’t know where to start to try and get one.
I only met Charles that one time. These were distant relatives and the two arms of the families only visited each other a few times in the 30s.

Q-- Do you feel it would it be possible to locate info on Charles Baker??

GB-- Trying to trace back Charles Baker is a mission impossible job. Too much time has passed. The Baker families did not keep in touch with distant relatives. All my dad's brothers and sisters are dead, and it's the same on my mother's side. The same would be true for all arms of the family tree.


Q-- How did Charles Baker come to meet Frank Hamer??


GB-- I have no knowledge of how he met Hamer or what assignments they worked on.


Q-- What type of cameras were used by Charles Baker in recording the ambush of Bonnie & Clyde, and how could more than one camera have been running at the same time??


GB-- I'm almost certain Charles used a Cine Kodak 8 Model 20 movie camera. This camera was used during the 1930s and was employed by many newspaper photographers. Cameras such as this used wind up spring mechanisms, which allowed 2 minutes of filming time for each side of the film. 2 minutes of film would 1st be shot on one side-- then the film cartridge reversed to allow for an additional 2 minutes of exposure. I believe an external spring action device could be purchased, which could extend the motor time.


(A.W.W. note)-- For reference, here's a link showing how an old style Kodak movie camera worked.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3E0fYNtu8w


Q-- The January 1st entry in Bonnie's diary seems to allow for the possibility that Frank Hamer was involved in the hunt for B&C prior to the Eastham Prison break. How would this be possible??-- or does this diary entry purport an unknown reality for the emergence of Frank Hamer within this history??


GB-- In reference to your paragraph starting with, “Also the Jan 1st, 1934 reference. I have read the two entries in the diary and yes, you are right, they do appear to be out of sync. When I was entering the notes into my computer I was taking small chunks, typing them in and triple checking them to make sure I had everything correct. In that regard, I am confident that I did not make a mistake. That raises the question, did Charles make a mistake, did Bonnie make a mistake or did Bonnie know something that has not been discovered yet?


Q-- What other info concerning Bonnie Parker's diary was present within the notes you mentioned existed??

GB-- Charles said Bonnie was quite the writer, and as such many of her entries were long-- in talking of the weather, road conditions, reminiscing about things they had done in the past, and places Bonnie would like to go etc. As such, Charles related only what he thought was relevant information.

Q-- L. J. "Boots" Hinton has sometimes related stories from his father which are unpublished. Have you ever spoken to "Boots" Hinton??

GB-- I have never spoken to "Boots" Hinton.


(A.W.W. note)-- As there's an ambush detail, I've heard recounted by "Boots" which I believe has had little exposure over the years-- I felt it important to ask this question. "Boots" has also told me, that he and Gordon have never spoken.


Gordon Baker comments--


The B&C posse had a seventh man with them who was a freelance photographer hired by Frank Hamer. I personally, do not find that impossible or strange to believe. I believe the ambush of B&C was going to be the highlight of Hamer’s career and he was well aware of that. He was also aware that trophy material, like the killing of B&C would be worth a substantial amount of money. However, he had to settle for whatever B&C had with them at the time of the ambush. I believe Hamer made the decision to have the ambush recorded on film because he knew that would be worth money to news services, newspapers, magazines and maybe even the Hollywood film industry.


The reality was with a seventh man at the ambush, there was now a person who could give a more independent account of what happened. However, Hamer was a methodical type of person and to protect himself in case of a major blunder, he swore the photographer to silence with deadly consequences if he ever talked. His actions make sense and his thinking is logical. If the ambush didn't go as planned the last thing he needed was a big mouth photographer causing him major embarrassment.


Charles Baker's account of the ambush was quite close to the other accounts given by the lawmen. There are however, a few differences.


1) The car stopped on the hill for as long as five minutes, before approaching the truck stopped on the highway ahead of them.


2) Between the killing of Clyde and the killing of Bonnie there was an interval of time, where no shots were fired. I don't know how long that period was, but it was long enough that Charles believed they were going to take Bonnie alive.


3) A third difference is the fact that Bonnie was given enough time to yell at the lawmen after Clyde was killed. After reading Charles' notes, there was no question about it. She was trying to surrender to the law and begging for her life. Her efforts failed, but I believe it bought her more precious seconds. During those seconds, the lawmen had to be wondering was this right, to kill a pregnant woman who was a cripple and pleading for her life? In the end, I believe the lawmen looked to their boss for a signal on what to do? Hamer's signal came in the form of the opening shots, which led to over thirty shells entering Bonnie's fragile body.


4) A fourth difference is the fact, Bonnie in her attempt to surrender told the lawmen that she was pregnant. Another unknown that will never have an answer is would Hamer have given B&C fair warning before firing. My personal thoughts are yes he would have. Clyde vowed he would never be taken alive. If Hamer gave them fair warning, Clyde had two choices, reach for his gun or put the gas pedal to the floor. Either way, he was a dead man in my books.


Hamer went to the trouble of hiring a photographer to film the event. I believe he did this, because he figured he could make some money with the film. If that was true then he needed to follow proper police procedures. However, the ambush took a twist of fate, not in Hamers' favor and he had to bury the film.


Third piece of new info. The photographer finding Bonnie's diary. Again this disclosure of information is hard to believe. However, Bonnie was known to have kept a diary. My own thoughts on this are: The lawmen in their haste or excitement did not find the diary and Charles did. It was just pure luck on his part. However, for him to smuggle it out under the nose of Hamer was one gutsy move.


Gordon Baker thoughts at this time


I have read all your emails 3 times, to make sure I understood them. I have read some comments on line. I knew there would be a lot of skepticism. I knew people would want proof almost beyond a shadow of a doubt. I can understand that. So far I've received two nasty emails. Some people are taking this very personal. It's only now, I realize, I should have taken notes and regret that mistake. At that point in time (1985) my interest in B&C was not that great. I was self employed at that time and owned two video movie rental stores. The renting of video movies was very popular in those days and the stores occupied most of my time.


Gordon Baker conclusion to this point


I'm really wondering if I did the right thing, by going public with the info. However, I believe most people have filled in the blanks anyway. I read one comment on line, where the person stated this news is not new. I wish Charles would have gone public with it, long before he died. That way, everyone would have heard the story from the horse's mouth.


Some people think this is all about me selling books. If people want me to give the book away, I'm willing to list it for free. This was about my keeping a promise. I believe the average person in the U.S. and Canada couldn't care less about Bonnie and Clyde. Actually, I did forget to include a couple of items in the book, which are Frank Hamer did give Charles Baker a pat down looking for any film that Charles may have put in his pockets. That was at the same time he asked Charles to open all the cameras. The other item was Charles did say Frank Hamer was a big man and it was very easy to feel intimidated around him. I can tell you that when Charles started talking about the ambush, he became very emotional. It was clear to me that 50 years had not faded the memories. I do remember him telling me, I don't know how those lawmen can live with themselves, after firing their guns on a defenseless cripple woman, who was clearly trying to surrender. It was this part of the ambush that affected him the most I believe, as he mentioned it more than once.


-- Gordon.


A.W.W. Comment--


I will return soon, with a critical look at the Baker ambush account. For those who feel Bonnie & Clyde History shouldn't be explored to it's fullest, because some in their ultimate wisdom wish to pass definitive judgment on this history-- which is so hard to nail down in so many regards-- some beautifully written words of edification.


The people along the sand
All turn and look one way.
They turn their back on the land.
They look at the sea all day.

As long as it takes to pass
A ship keeps raising its hull;
The wetter ground like glass
Reflects a standing gull.

The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be—
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.

They cannot look out far.
They cannot look in deep.
But when was that ever a bar
To any watch they keep?

Neither Out Far Nor In Deep
Robert Frost 1936

17 comments:

BarefootOkieGal said...

What a great e-mail discussion! To me, the gentleman seems honest and his answers ring true. As he himself said, he wished Charles Baker had told the story himself, so people could hear it from the horse's mouth, but that didn't happen and so this man is in the position of reporting someone else's words with no way of backing them up - not an enviable position!

I think he may be right about why Hamer would have hired a photographer. This was supposed to be Hamer's bright, shining moment - and just because Ted Hinton had brought along a movie camera doesn't mean that he would have been able to capture the actual ambush - he'd be busy shooting! I can see Hamer thinking of the possibility of making a great deal of money off the movie - I think people would have flocked to see Bonnie and Clyde die over and over and over again! (Says something about the sensibilities of the times.)

However... I can also see why Hamer would not want ANYONE to see a tape that clearly shows that Clyde was dead before the bulk of the ambush. I don't think he wanted anyone to know that Bonnie had survived long enough to possibly call out to surrender - even if the movie was silent, those few moments would have been apparent, and Bonnie may even have been visibly alive and moving around. I think Hamer would have done anything possible to see that those few moments in which Bonnie had not yet been killed were never seen by anyone - I'm sure he destroyed it, which is a shame because what a piece of B&C history THAT would have been!

DJC said...

Thank you Mr. Woodward for your site and your unbiased comments

A sign of an honest man that just wants as much of history as possible and the way you are going about this is heartwarming...I did write to you years ago,and now I see where you are going..I seem to trust answerers that tell good and bad as this history does have both in it..The times were horrible and you saw that..No excuses just honesty from you as the truth may or may not unfold..Please for all continue as you have///.DJC

A. Winston Woodward said...

I appreciate your kind comments very much. I've done my best to get answers, which apparently show that this ambush account cannot be backed by further evidence from Gordon Baker. In being fair to this history, this author and this ambush account-- that reality is unfortunately, so often the case within the B&C saga.

Also to be fair-- the other ambush accounts too, along with their conflicting details-- seemingly cannot be independently verified either. That allows for some loose play by authors like Jeff Guinn, and now the unknowns of this new ambush account. The difference with Guinn's version of the ambush, is that there is independent, verifiable and respected counter evidence-- such as the documented coroner's report, which rebuke Guinn and report(s) he used as "evidence". But here, we have just this new ambush account-- as said told by another person now reported to have been there.

I'm not convinced more cannot be learned about Charles Baker. Canada's population is substantially less than the U.S.-- and in knowing his approximate years of birth and death, a records search could prove fruitful. Such a search could also be conducted in Texas. If records could be found, they may also denote a profession for Charles Baker. If records of a Charles Baker from that era could be located, which show that man to have been a photographer-- that would go a long way toward strengthening what is now (without the notes)-- to be a word of mouth story. Just like the other ambush accounts.

I've already heard from some of the cynical B&C naysayers, who've tried to build elaborate reasoning to denounce the Baker ambush account. I must say I haven't got time to play. I would say let's see them take on the Hamer account, or Hinton account, or Jordan account or Bob Alcorn's statement of the ambush-- and go to town on those.

I'm still waiting to hear which of those conflicting ambush accounts, has been chosen as the account to defend??? Which one is the gold standard-- in being used to criticize others?? Which ambush account (which cannot be substantiated either)-- is believed truthful enough, to be used as a tool to level insults-- at those who are doing their best to get this history right.

Some people I suppose, are just not good people-- and never change. That's true about life outside of B&C as well. But for me, it's quite heartening to hear from those who appreciate an independent approach to Bonnie & Clyde History. Many Thanks.

BarefootOkieGal said...

Honestly, Winston, when it comes to the conflicting ambush reports, I don't particularly HAVE one "gold standard" against which I compare others! There are so many tiny details in which they differ, and some mighty significant ones. I assume that there is no one, complete, true account of the ambush, and this could be due to many reasons other than an outright coverup (which I'm not discounting) - any police officer can tell you that when you're dealing with several independent eyewitness reports, you're going to have a lot of discrepancies! The ambush story that I've got in my mind is sort of a mish-mash and hodge-podge... sort of my picking and choosing which parts of which accounts to believe. I try to overlook some simple discrepancies, but I tend to believe the man who was driving the logging truck when he talks about the direction in which he was driving - this is one example of an ambush detail that is not second-hand, but something that was told by the man who was driving the vehicle, who should surely have known which way he was going! I don't believe the more sensational stories about Frank Hamer blasting Bonnie from the front to make sure she was dead after the car had stopped, for example, because there is no ballistic evidence that any such shots were fired. Some accounts of the ambush are rendered obviously false because of the ballistics. However, IS there any way of knowing exactly where Methvyn was while his truck was sitting in the middle of the road, disabled? IS there any way of knowing how long Bonnie was still alive after Clyde was killed? (To me, the accounts of the men who were involved in the ambush and who admitted hearing Bonnie scream indicates that they were willing to admit that she was alive after Clyde died - but none of them were ever willing to admit that she may have been alive long enough to try to surrender!

It's a lot like reading the Gospels, actually - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all had their differing stories of Jesus' life, with details that seem to conflict, but they were all written at different times, with very different points of view, and so I believe the truth is wrapped up in there somewhere. Same thing with the conflicting stories of the ambush - I don't believe the whole truth was told in any of the stories, and I believe there was a lot of information that has never been made public.

A. Winston Woodward said...

Regarding the "gold standard" ambush account-- I was referring to those who are so critical of any new B&C info coming to light (such as the Baker ambush account)-- where some grand stand defense of existing B&C History is used, to bash those who would advance alternative possibilities. In this case, I've asked those who've been so remarkably rude to Mr. Baker-- which ambush account is considered "the" ambush account, as now being employed in defense of B&C History-- and against the Baker account??

The fact that we have to piece together the truth re: the ambush, from a variety of conflicting accounts with key elements having been hidden or missing -- is proof positive to me, that something occurred there that day that the general public wasn't supposed to know.

Regarding Hamer having fired at Bonnie's side of the windshield-- in looking at the post ambush windshield, there's ample physical evidence to support someone having fired at it. To me it makes sense, that Bonnie had already been knocked over from the volley of shots from the posse's position. Hinton's account, has Bonnie having been blown into the passenger door. Thus it appears the head high frontal shots missed. There could be one frontal shoulder wound evident in Bonnie, based on the morgue photos (Bonnie's right shoulder)?? However, it's possible that wound could have been as a result of flying glass-- as noted in Dr. Wade's report.

The Baker account claims that Hamer fired those shots. So have some other sources. That's why I asked about "Boots" Hinton. I'm checking on which other sources, have revealed that info over the years.

joe from Canada said...

There will be as many different accounts as there are witnesses or people reporting.
I believe the automobile,pictures of the death car and the autopsy report for Bonnie are great pieces of forensic evidence that last till today.
For me< I see three separate volies of fire.

Fire 1-- driver side of vehicles

car is slowly moving

posse at head of the ambush come unto the road

Fire 2-- back side of vehicle

Car comes to a stop- movement is seen inside vehicle - Bonnie moving
thinking she is going to fire

Fire 3-- front windshield

We know that one of Bonnie's hand was blown away-- was this a defensive move to possibly protect her head

The bullet holes can be reviewed in the pictures of the death. To me they do not look to be fired from an angle but rather straight on

I have not read Mr Baker' account but I intend on doing just that. Being an ebook is making it harder for me to get. But, in reading bits and pieces in this blog. I am believing the 7th man version and all the reasons Hamer may have had to bring him along. T Hinton brought his camera to film the ambush but he was to busy shooting bullets instead of film so he has to shoot after the ambush.

One thing to remember is that by some accounts, Bonnie was still breathing when Hinton opened the door and she fell into his arms. In one account, I read that he stood her up and she died in his arms

Was it an ambush that went terribly wrong and not to plan? Maybe?

We will never know because even if Bonnie and Clyde could tell us their version it probably would be different. I think what we need to do is respect everyone's version of events as just that and not be critical and accept them as that.We will never know what exactly happened that fateful May morning but this is what keeps the story still alive more than 75 years after the fact with writings still coming out. I, as a person interested in Bonnie and Clyde enjoy reading the various accounts, it seems I cannot get enough of their story.
I am presently reading ON THE TRAIL OF BONNIE AND CLYDE THEN AND NOW
which retraces their crimes in pictures and writings but also show up to date pictures of the locations as they are today--interesting read

I cannot wait for Part 2 and I will get the ebook

cruz said...

There is no 'gold standard' ambush account, nor does there need to be. Instead, historians compare the evidence and come to conclusions about what's reasonable to believe, and what's not. This may change over time. A lot of things are possible, but what should a reasonable person believe?

We know about the first six men at the ambush because of contemporary historical records, not only about their ambush involvement, but their existence before and after. We know something about where they came from, their families, what they did for a living, etc., and not just based on someone in the 21st century saying so. In other words, the accounts of the first six men have an established provenance.

There is no provenance for the account of a seventh man. We cannot at this time even establish his existence from any contemporary source. His name is common, and there are few details available to link him to any historic or genealogical record.This constitutes an important difference between the first six men and the seventh.

The ambush scene had multiple contemporary witnesses. The six lawmen, Ivy, and the spectators from the nearby area who heard the gunshots and came running. They quickly mobbed the site and poked around, some looking for souvenirs. There is no extant mention of this extra photographer as far as we know. There is no explanation as to how Charles Baker would become a trusted law enforcement photographer for such a sensitive assignment. There is no prior or subsequent work of his to point to at this time.

So far as I know he is also not mentioned in Texas Ranger history, the FBI files, or any police files. There are no pictures that include someone who seems to be him. By now, any identification of him in a crowd picture would be a pure guess - no one of the many historians who've poured over the pictures and accounts has sensed or postulated the presence of a seventh man at the ambush.

So, there are at this time no primary sources for the life and ambush role of Charles Baker. And, the secondary sources are down to only one: the memory and notes of Gordon Baker. There is no documentation to corroborate the story of a Charles Baker journeying from Canada to the southern United States working as a freelance photographer. This doesn't mean he didn't, but does put this account in a different class from those whose individuals have an existence established by other corroborating evidence. There is plenty of evidence to corroborate the presence of the other six lawmen.

The question is not whether or not this could have happened. The question is whether or not this account merits enough credence to be added in to the pool of evidence that forms our understanding of the ambush.

A. Winston Woodward said...

These are good observations all. And I'm in agreement, that little seems to have been advanced to verify the Baker ambush account. However I can tell you, there are still secrets within B&C History.
I'm aware of some of them-- which out of respect for those who've shared them with me, I've protected at least for now. I'm an historian first-- however, I'm also a man of my word-- and feel a keen sense of loyalty for good human interaction and trust.

Now if for one reason or another, these revelations remain untold for some unreasonable period of time-- I've expressed my willingness to reveal horded historical details, for the good of this history.

Perhaps I've coined a phrase which is still largely misunderstood. As such, I'll do my best again to clarify. My point in employing the term "gold standard" ambush-- is that there ISN'T one. Those who see fit to bash Gordon Baker, seem to be stating that Charles Bakers' version of the ambush is somehow blasphemous and an insult to this history. With less than cooth individuals attempting to rally others to what in my view is a less than respectful cause-- my response concerning this defense of the "correct" ambush account, is to ask which ambush account is the proper one to defend??

And if not just one account, and the truth's only found within a combination of ambush accounts-- then which combination of perceived realities do those so critical feel are correct and why??

We may know which men fired upon Bonnie & Clyde-- but even some seemingly iron clad knowledge doesn't seem enough to make a difference, in discerning truth concerning some key elements we lack.

I have trouble believing, that 6 trained officers wouldn't agree on more concerning the most critical issues of the ambush. I'm also not sure it makes sense, that the 6 (or so??) men who were closest to the action-- can be thought of being innocent to the truth, in some employing the thought that different individuals can witness the same event differently.

So what did happen, during the discernible pause which was witnessed independently of the ambush posse?? What happened during this gap in time??? Some don't appear to acknowledge any pause occurred. Why is that?? If 2 shots ring out-- then there's silence for some although it brief period of time-- followed by a deafening barrage of shots-- why is it that all 6 shooters wouldn't acknowledge that independently reported event?? But interestingly even without proof-- the Baker ambush account does address this pause. More on that thought in my next post.

You would think the more that's told concerning the ambush, the more agreement we could identify in searching for common ground. But in a cruel twist of fate-- it seems somehow just the opposite can be true.

cruz said...

It's more normal than not for different observers of the same event to have different (even conflicting) stories. See 'Rashomon effect' in Wikipedia.

A. Winston Woodward said...

The Rashomon effect is certainly a possibility. However the most commonly expressed distance of the posse from the Warren car, seems to be 30 feet. Six sets of eyes at 30 feet or there about. Or 7 sets of eyes?? Many might think some reasonable agreement on key elements of the ambush, from 6 lawmen trained in the knack of expressing detail in events they observe-- could be expected??

I'll express why I feel Hinton's account, may have a choke hold on 4 other documented ambush accounts coming up. Most feel Hamer said little concerning the ambush. This appears to be true for the years afterward. However, 2 Hamer accounts do exist-- which were published after the ambush.

Jim from Atlanta said...

Dear Winston,

Re: Existence of 7th person in the posse at Gibsland.

As grizzly as the deaths of B&C were, we must remember that people will make claims for whatever reason. Take for example the man who claimed he was Jesse James or the man who claimed that he was Billy the KId.

I believe the only film was taken by Hinton after the shooting. Besides, Hamer did not have such lofty aspirations as you mentioned. He turned down countless interviews for money simply because---

I like to look at things with an open mind. But show me some evidence that such a person was there besides inuendos.

Your friend Jim

A. Winston Woodward said...

I believe the comments made concerning Hamer's aspirations, were made by Gordon Baker. Many aspects of this history, contain little proof. In that regard this is nothing new. All of course, are free to believe what they will.

Also I don't think I've said once yet-- that I subscribe to Baker's ambush account. Perhaps some are putting words in my mouth. For those who espouse hate and nonsense within this history-- that's nothing new as well. I've commented on the possibility of the Baker account-- because in support of this history, it should be presented.

However I do believe there's an interesting aspect to the Baker account, which "is" supported by witnesses-- and needs to be examined. That's fair isn't it?? Or I guess to some it's not??

And to those who despise me so, who don't think I can see what you comment on-- but who keep coming back to read what I have to say all the live long day, day in and day out-- the question's been asked how long is too long-- when it comes to some revealing B&C research that's been pending for release??

Oh I don't know-- I understand it's been 20 years now. I would think for the good of B&C History, at some point something should happen-- shouldn't it?? Perhaps instead of inciting hatred, some might consider spending more time on their research-- and release of their own controversial B&C postulations, so all can examine those B&C claims as well. Just a suggestion-- for a more positive B&C result.

rusted said...

Some very good points have been made about this new ambush revelation. As you said, there are still secrets out there. Concerning some of the secrets you are privy to, I would ask you the same thing you asked Mr. Baker. Considering the promises you made, and realizing your own mortality, do you risk this information being lost forever? If you were run over by a bus tomorrow (heaven forbid!), is there a process in place that would share the information you have with the rest of us, or would it be lost to the search for the truth about the ambush? Thanks for all you do!

A. Winston Woodward said...

It's interesting you bring that up, and that's a fair question. That's really the whole point of my saying, I might be willing to consider violating a trust at some juncture-- and reveal info that's been in the works for some 20 years now, but for various reasons on the part of those with the info-- has never seen the light of day. I may not likely do it while I'm alive, but you're right-- perhaps some arrangement could be made which would survive me.

I guess another fair question might be, concerning historical matters-- do some have the right to withhold info that is known?? To me, that's an interesting counter balancing question. I recall having many conversations with a principal involved in this issue-- where he desired of others that all info should be shared, but when it comes to the secret info-- a double standard was in place, where it couldn't be shared. To be fair, as I recall there was a difference of opinion regarding this-- between the 2 individuals involved.

I just got lambasted on another B&C forum-- for even considering revealing research I'm aware of, which others are either unwilling or unable to bring forth-- in any way shape or form at this point, after such a long time.

My feeling is after some reasonable period, someone's gotta get off the mark for the sake of this history. I have a strong regard for loyalty, and the honor of a promise. However as the question was asked of me "How long is too long??"-- in fairness I would reply with the same question-- "How long "is" too long, to wait for some to reveal info they're holding onto, when history is at stake??"

Concerning your comment, this is really about others mortality primarily-- more than mine in reserve. As of now-- the ball's still in the court of the individuals involved. I keep encouraging a resolution for this issue, but as I view it for now-- it's not my issue to press.

I remain optimistic regarding release of this info, but not overly so. Plus the hypocrisy of all this is remarkable. Some of the individuals giving Gordon Baker and me such a hard time right now, in even bringing forth the possibility of another ambush account-- are individuals involved in your question. I'll be most curious to see, what happens when some individuals ambush ideas are scrutinized, which as I understand them-- may have little chance of being proven either.

Hypocrisy at a stellar level-- or in this case based on the crassness, cruelty and rudeness of comments expressed regarding Gordon Baker-- perhaps better described as hypocrisy at it's worst. Plus in order to have a shot at one of these ambush contentions, someone's remembrances may have to be embraced-- something I've caught much flack for, since revealing some of this person's recollections. That may prove interesting.

Again I would ask, why the needless attacks on others-- when there should be so much to do in advancing ideas and theories more useful to this history, which have been in limbo for so long now??? Hate is not positive-- hate is useless. Advancing Bonnie & Clyde theories is positive. Will I end up being like Charles Baker (provided you believe in Charles Baker)-- and wait until near the end for me, to reveal some things of interest?? I would hope that wouldn't be necessary. And my saying all of this now, is really nothing new. I've expressed this viewpoint before, and I believe I've done it in print. It seems some just like giving me a hard time-- whenever it suits them. Is there some imminent letdown is store for anyone?? Not at this point. I've remained steadfast for 5 years now. Let's see what happens.

BTW-- thanks much for your tag comment. Rest assured, I'll keep doing what I feel is right to advance truth within Bonnie & Clyde History-- and examine B&C knowledge and accounts no matter how different or controversial, for the sake of that truth.

I hope all info can be shared, and peace can be forged within this history.

Jim from Atlanta said...

Dear Winston,
I have to strongly disagre with your assumption that Frank Hamer put profit as a motive for killing Bonnie and Clyde. Hamer was an officer who had killed 40-50 hombres as a Texas Ranger then gave up a rewarding position to track down the notorious duo.
It's incredulous that a photographer was hired to film the ambush. There is no credible evidence that such a person existed.
Surely, one of the ambush team or the many hundreds of gawkers after the ambush would have spoken of such a person. I liken this tale with Brushy Bill who claimed to be Butch Cassidy or Billy the Kid.
Did Frank Hamer or the posse call out to B&C to surrender?
Answer: Absolutely NOT. If you read "I am Frank Hamer", Hamer spoke of an episode wherein he advised a sheriff not to call out a surrender. The sherrif ignored Hamer's advice and the sheriff was killed as a result.
Based on Hamer's biography and books which quote posse members, it is highly unlikely that any warning was contemplated except as a public subterfuge. Before the ambush, the officers were well aware of the potential firepower of the B&C pair could provide if cornered. Remember, they managed to shoot their way out of many police encounters.
Warning, NO. Photographer, NO. The film of the after ambush is much too amatuerish to be done by a professional.
Just my humble opinion. Prentiss opened fire taking out Clyde and the others fired almost simultaneouly. Thats according to other witnesses who heard the shots. Do we really need a brushy knoll conspiracy?

A. Winston Woodward said...

Hi Jim--

Did you happen to read my follow up piece on Retribution published here recently, in which I dissected the Baker B&C ambush account?? Take a look at that piece, and please get back to me with your thoughts.

One point I would make re: the book I'm Frank Hamer however-- is that's likely one of the least regarded and non-factual historical accounts concerning B&C lore that's out there. And I'm certainly not the 1st to say so. All are entitled to their opinion-- but personally, I wouldn't bet the ranch or hang my hat on that one all that much, regarding Bonnie & Clyde events.

Jim from Atlanta said...

I agree with Winston. Often we face the dilema of researching historical events with little or no corroboration. That does not mean the event did not occur or the account version is incorrect.

One of the reasons that I became a CID Officer is viewing the B&C death car in 1979. I recall being awestruck at the number of bullet holes and remember thinking what it must have been like for B&C and how very different the reality was compared to the movie with Beatty and Dunaway.

Several of the ambush team stated that Bonnie screamed. Did she scream when she spotted the ambush or after Deputy Oakley shot Clyde in the head. What a gruesome surprise that must have been.

Bonnie had a reputation for being a loud mouth and prior encounters with the duo by officers show she screamed very loud.

As for the ambush itself--Oakley was even with Clyde's door when he sited and squeezed the trigger. Hamer was at the far front end of the ambush line and fired toward the front of the vehicle accounting for the holes in the front windshield on the passenger side.

Oakley used a semi auto while Hinton used a BAR auto rifle. Hinton and Alcorn account for the driver's side perforation. Based on the angle of fire, this would account for the greater number of bullets stiking Bonnie.

We study history lest we forget. I will never forget viewing that old Ford in 1979.