Saturday, May 28, 2011

Joplin Relief-- Please Help If You Can

The Joplin relief effort in helping displaced families is seemingly a monumental task. As such I would ask that if possible, all help if you can-- even with a small donation. Although for many of us, our only link to Joplin is the Bonnie & Clyde History that resides there, this very human tragedy is certainly not a Bonnie & Clyde event.

I must take a moment to say, I've now heard of a Bonnie & Clyde Historian's fund being established for Joplin relief. I suppose that's alright-- however I'm not sure anyone should tag this tragedy to promote a Bonnie & Clyde anything. You don't see a B&CHB Joplin Relief Fund, as I can only feel the Red Cross Chapter there on the ground in Missouri-- is likely the correct vehicle with which to donate. Also-- any comments concerning complaints about Joplin residents I've seen advanced recently, in dealing with Bonnie & Clyde matters at a time when Joplin's citizens are dying-- is abhorrent to me. Bad taste & timing as I view it.

You can find links to the Ozark Red Cross Chapter here, on Frank Ballinger's site and on my facebook page. I encourage all who can-- to please donate. And don't feel you need to link any association to Bonnie & Clyde to do so. I'm not part of any historian's fund, and although I'm sure it's well intentioned-- I'm not so sure it's entirely necessary. I just hope all will do the right thing-- when doing the right thing is all that matters.

Link to the Ozarks Chapter of The American Red Cross for Joplin disaster relief--

"Thank You"

Monday, May 23, 2011

Joplin, MO Devastated by Tornado-- Death Toll High. Bonnie & Clyde's Joplin Hideout Survives Twister

Joplin, MO has sustained much damage after a powerful double vortex tornado struck the city on May 22nd. The storm which has been identified as an EF5, had winds topping 200 MPH. More than 140 fatalities have been confirmed, with many still missing. Besides heart felt concern for the lives and property of the good people there, there's also been an interest among those who revere this history regarding the condition of Bonnie & Clyde's Joplin hideout.

As tornadoes have destroyed a number of Bonnie & Clyde historical sites over the years, I've attempted to learn what I can concerning this situation-- while maintaining a proper and compassionate focus on the lives and families of Joplin residents, which of course must be the overriding concern. Regarding Bonnie & Clyde's Joplin hideout, Tonya Holly has declared the following via facebook-- "Just heard from Phillip McClendon, he said the apartment in Joplin is fine. It is on 34th St. and the tornado went down 32nd St. He is going to let us know where people can send supplies or whatever is needed to help. He and his wife survived the tornado in their closet, but their house and many of their neighbors are gone. He is the owner of the Bonnie and Clyde hideout. I was so glad to hear his voice."

My Goodness, what a story. Thankfully the McClendons are safe, but their harrowing account illustrates just how serous this situation was. Many thanks to Tonya for the update, and may God bless the citizens of Joplin in their time of need.

Author Ron Morgan had communicated with me, in providing his feeling that based on his knowledge of Joplin-- that the tornado may have come very close to Oak Ridge Drive.
How right he was. As Ron and I and others have expressed continuously since this tragedy occurred-- people and families must come first, before historical matters. As such, priorities need to be placed in the right order. As nearly 1000 hits were logged on this site on May 23rd and 24th alone, mostly searching for info on Joplin-- there's obviously been great interest expressed. Many thanks for your patience and understanding-- within what are most dyer concerns for the people of Joplin.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Story of Bonnie & Clyde. Hilary Duff's Out-- No She's In-- No She's Out-- No Wait, She's In??

As many know, I've tried my best to keep up with the ongoing saga of The Story of Bonnie & Clyde-- Tonya S. Holly's independent attempt at telling a true life version of the History of Bonnie & Clyde for the silver screen. In exchanging e-mails with Tonya over the past few days, I've discovered the heartbreaking and unfortunate truth-- that many associated with the film were affected by the devastation of the recent tornadoes which swept through Alabama. Some associated with the film or within their families lost their homes or worse-- lost friends or loved ones. Shooting was also said to be affected by the toll of the tornadoes. Upon expressing my somber condolences to all affected, I politely attempted to learn what I could from Tonya concerning the progress of the film, which has apparently been sidetracked repeatedly by a lack of adequate funding for the project.

But then I seemingly walked into a hornet's nest of controversy involving the reported firing of the movie's leading lady Hilary Duff by Holly. TMZ had reported this rift and although Holly's website Cypress Moon Productions still lists Duff as portraying Bonnie Parker for the movie, has removed her from the movie's actors list. Hilary Duff has issued comment-- including making a statement for the U.S. news show Access Hollywood Live that she approached director Holly through her agent for clarification.

"I said, 'Well, I wanna, like, release a statement, but if I got fired I just want you to let me know so I don't release something, saying, 'I didn't know that I was fired. "She emailed me and said,"You know you're my Bonnie and of course I don't even know where this all came from and I'm so sorry..."

Thus Hilary's conclusion has been expressed this way-- "So, if the movie ever gets made, I think I'm Bonnie... It's been a long time coming. With these independent movies, sometimes they never get made or sometimes they take 10 years to get made."

However, importantly what may be have been overlooked by Hilary Duff within her statement-- is the reality that Bonnie was barely 20 years old and Clyde not much older when the saga of Bonnie & Clyde actually began. So especially with it's lead actors, time is of the essence as no one's getting any younger. And although Tonya has always been most generous in keeping The B&CHB informed of her movie's progress, this go round it appears more measured responses were the order of the day regarding the status of the film-- both from a filming perspective and perhaps more critically, a funding one. I too am hopeful this updated and projected true life account of Bonnie & Clyde will indeed be made. But it seems especially for a bold and independent project such as this-- this is no time for a recession. There's still interest in this movie, but understandably it seems less-- than 2 years ago when interest was at a fever pitch.

So channel your positive thoughts and hopes for what could be a wonderful and historically important film-- and stay tuned for more on Tonya Holly's The Story of Bonnie & Clyde.

Prentiss Oakley Finally Gets His Due

In a move which seemingly took longer than it may have needed to-- an updated plaque has been installed at the Henderson Jordan Memorial Park in Arcadia, Louisiana. This newly crafted brass plaque has now corrected the oversight of a year ago, where former Bienville Parish Sheriff, Deputy Sheriff and Bonnie & Clyde ambush posse member Prentiss Oakley-- was inexplicably left off the memorial commemorating the 6 members of the posse. This memorial is located at the former sight of Congers Furniture Store and Funeral Home in Arcadia.

In a gesture befitting of Prentiss Oakley's place in history-- the new plaque (pictured here)-- includes mention of Oakley, whom is known to have been the lawman who killed Clyde Barrow. Many thanks to Holley, for providing the image of the new Henderson Jordan Memorial Park plaque for those who frequent The B&CHB.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bonnie and Clyde Truth-- "Oh" Those Authors

Every so often I'll comment re: truth in Bonnie & Clyde History, a topic which most know with confidence that I'm committed to wholeheartedly. I wonder what it is about modern society, that truth has seemingly taken a back seat to reaping the spoils of unbridled greed-- or has truth really always been at the mercy of reality as seen through rose colored glasses?? It almost seems now we're to the point where accuracy has roughly the same value as mediocrity. From reality TV with no basis in reality, to journalism which regularly sports apologies and who's output is rarely proofread-- to books where some authors seemingly say as they please, and treat historical events with the same care employed by tabloid journalists.

And at least for one Bonnie & Clyde "historical" author with a much celebrated release, it seemed easier to incorporate a catch all disclaimer in attempting to negate even the need for historical accuracy-- rather than field legitimate questions concerning his work. Add to that the pungent aura of self aggrandizement amongst some, in appearing to take credit for others' long standing research within more modern efforts. What do you suppose is lacking within today's historical sensibilities??-- which has transformed what "should" be stellar standards upheld in the researching and reporting of history-- into some denigratory clay like modeling of history, to fit perhaps within the narrow maximization of a 16 week book tour. What's apparently lost on publishing houses today, is the fact that once historical books hit the discount racks-- they still retain lasting impact. And do publishers really possess the ability to research and resolve factual issues, without succumbing to the temptation of allowing sensationalism to drive book sales?? Now there's a question for a whole 'nother article.

I must say I'm not much into publishing plugs for authors who leave what appear to be self supporting comments-- which I suppose they hope will be posted, and just so happen to coincide with a book release. Recently-- a claim of propriety for the 1st publication of knowledge concerning a Bonnie Parker pregnancy was advanced behind the scenes here, along with the assertion of remarkable proof having been cited for this contention. Well being as interested as I've been for a number of years now in this mystery, and having launched my own investigation into a possible Bonnie Parker pregnancy which I feel "has" produced interesting insights-- I was of course eager to learn of this remarkable info. But it seems the catch was, I had to buy the book to find out.

I don't feel any historian, should install a financial prerequisite on another historian in the sharing of what could be key historical information. Selling your wares is fine, but seeming to hold out for cash historian to historian-- I had never heard of that before, and frankly skepticism on my part was the inevitable result of such an action. And as no revelations were forthcoming within a number of follow up e-mail exchanges, to support this gentleman's statement that Bonnie had told a friend she was 3 months pregnant-- I can only believe this monumental info had to do with Clemmie Methvin's insights as related by her sister in law Emma. However as I and others familiar with this history are aware-- that knowledge along with other Bonnie Parker pregnancy angles have been known and written of for years, and in some cases decades. Perhaps this individual wasn't familiar with the extent to which I've delved into this mystery, but it became clear through our e-mails-- that the weight of new knowledge concerning a possible Bonnie Parker pregnancy rested squarely on this side of the keyboard.

Hey, gotta push to sell those books-- which I'm sure are fine books-- but not here, where Bonnie & Clyde truth is sought without compromise. As this particular True Crime book having to do with Dillinger truths isn't primarily focused on Bonnie & Clyde, and it's author (who seems a nice enough fellow)-- is better known for reporting on other notorious outlaws, I'll wish him well with his book and not belabor the point-- except to say I feel
Dr. Carroll Rich and John Neal Phillips might appreciate their published efforts being recognized. Carroll wrote of a Bonnie Parker pregnancy circa 1970 with regards to Dr. James Wade's findings upon examining Bonnie-- and in 1996, John chronicled additional detail concerning this rumor.

Some of John's work was then footnoted within Jim Knight's book, with Jim using personally held interviews with Clemmie Methvin concerning Bonnie's revelation to Emma concerning her pregnancy-- as well as the preparations of women in Bienville Parish to help Bonnie. Another Clemmie interview regarding this topic exists amongst numerous interviews, which are so far unpublished. I have read transcripts of or viewed a number of these remarkable interviews from those alive in 1934-- most of whom are no longer with us.

Among Phillip's revelations was the story of Dallas Herald Reporter Bill Duncan, who in searching for answers concerning this mystery, traveled to Arcadia apparently for the express purpose of viewing the undraped body of Bonnie Parker in death-- in attempting to determine Bonnie's state of pregnancy if any at the time of her demise. That was of course nearly 77 years ago. Ala John Toland-- some authors who specialize in other outlaws, or paint outlaw history with a broader brush-- understandably might not always convey Bonnie & Clyde History to it's fullest insights. Of course in fairness, the opposite would certainly hold true-- should I try to impart many of the finer nuances of John Dillinger or Alvin Karpis.

However as this author was seemingly hell bent, on espousing a conspiracy theory and cover up of a Bonnie pregnancy-- my reply (even though I too believe Bonnie may have been pregnant when killed)-- was to exercise caution, and prompt this gentleman to provide more proof than just logical feelings. Logical feelings and $2.25 will get you a ride on the NYC subway-- provided you can find a MetroCard machine that takes cash!!

It seems true, as expressed by some within this history who are wise enough to possess a uniquely broad perspective on previously published Bonnie & Clyde works-- that so much knowledge (whether true or not) regarding these iconic desperadoes just seems bandied about from book to book-- and with some said insights having little basis in fact or evidence to support them. Also the groundbreaking info from Dallas FBI file 26-4114, to my knowledge-- was 1st used by Paul Schneider within his 2009 release Bonnie and Clyde: The Lives Behind the Legend. Some may not care for Scheider's unique narrative style in telling the story of The Barrow Gang from a surmised point of view, but Paul's research including his use of the aforementioned FBI info seems strong.

One disturbing element within this debate over truth within Bonnie & Clyde History, has to do with some authors' apparent ease in incorporating previously known work-- while seemingly taking credit for their use of it. One highly regarded Bonnie & Clyde author has related his feelings concerning this to me, while a well known B&C Historian has been so bold as to use the term plagiarism, to describe his impression of a recent B&C work. Just as with popular music these days, where blatantly sampled million dollar hooks from the past-- are re-spun into new songs in seeking the expedient all mighty dollar-- such seems the case with some historical chronicles published within this lightning quick data driven world.

"Sorry-- I'm too busy to exchange e-mails with you concerning this history, as I'm out promoting my book"-- is a phrase the gist of which I've experienced in one form or another, more than once in recent memory. But as we're all really busy in one way or another these days-- I feel you make time, when something's important to you. Also if you've gone to the trouble, to publish an historical effort likely filled with blood, sweat and tears-- wouldn't it seem worthwhile to discuss it within the realm of historical relevance?? Winston Churchill's famous quote about truth as depicted at the top of this article-- couldn't be more relevant.

It's most interesting what you learn by telling the truth, and suggesting the need for higher standards within this history. But it seems a sad reality these days-- that support for supposition driven assertions, and less than truthful self promotion of others work can so easily be bought and defended. However just remember-- facts are not decided by how many people believe them, and truth is not determined by how loudly it is shouted. Hopefully, there will always be an honorable defense of truth in Bonnie & Clyde History.