Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Ambush of Bonnie and Clyde. After 78 Years-- Still a Poignant Moment in History

As May 23rd marks the 78th anniversary of the ambush of Bonnie & Clyde, many will pause at 9:15 AM Central time U.S.-- to share karma with those who participated in both the celebrated and mourned carnage that fateful day in 1934.  If you've ever been to the ambush site, on what's still a desolate stretch of road 7 miles South of Gibsland, Louisiana-- it "can" be an eerie feeling, especially if you're exploring those Pine laden hills alone.  Some say when there at night, the "sewing machine" like purr of Clyde's Fordor V8 can still be heard in the distance-- advancing 'round the bend, and steadily towards what is always certain doom for the loving desperadoes.  For those who study this history, Bonnie & Clyde's deaths were a certainty.  However many truths, which surely existed for those who lived Bonnie & Clyde History-- remain shrouded, as if lurking in the shadows-- but without our ability to see them.  

For the ambush of Bonnie & Clyde is steeped in controversy-- both past & present.  But no matter the facts supported or theories espoused-- such an impassioned history is bound to inspire heated debate.  And it does.  Within the many topics favored by Bonnie & Clyde aficionados-- invariably, the ambush ranks near the top of the most heavily bantered queries.  So "was" Ivy Methvin (just 49 at the time, but thought older by many who live & breathe this history)-- indeed positioned in the road next to his truck to entice Bonnie & Clyde to stop, or was he in fact handcuffed to a tree as Ted Hinton would reveal in his memoir "Ambush"??  

"Or" in an unforeseen twist, as I and others heard directly from those old enough to have heard from those alive at the time-- was it another Methvin family member standing near the car, someone Bonnie & Clyde would also trust-- to act as the lure for them??  Interestingly, this possibility would allow for Ted Hinton's story re: Ivy to be true.  As we now know-- the betrayal of Bonnie & Clyde was indeed a family affair, so one could ask why couldn't this story concerning Terrell Methvin be true??  Perhaps Ivy Methvin "was" forced to balk-- when faced with the reality that Henry's whereabouts couldn't be confirmed by the law prior to Bonnie & Clyde's car approaching that day.  As a parent and thinking you have a deal to protect your son-- what would you have done, if you felt your son could be in that car-- and soon be killed by those in your presence you were assisting??     

Many may be unaware that Ted Hinton's bombshell revision of the ambush, concerning Ivy being detained against his will and not at the truck when Bonnie & Clyde approached-- was "not" 1st known through his book.  During the famous Ted Toddy trial in Atlanta, meant to prove which Bonnie & Clyde death car was authentic-- Hinton testified "under oath" concerning his participation at the ambush, revealing details which contradicted other posse members including the location of Ivy when the shooting started.  So one is left to wonder,  how a lawman with seemingly such a stellar reputation for integrity as Ted Hinton-- would lie under oath re: ambush particulars??  Good question, which begs another.  If it was Hinton who told the closest version of the truth-- where does that leave other somewhat conflicting posse members stories??  "Ah"-- for that's the rub.  

Then you have the issue of a reported Bonnie Parker pregnancy, as it relates to her on many levels-- as a woman, as Clyde's lover and in having more than just 2 lives??-- so savagely snuffed out that unusually hot morning in May of '34.  At least one standout principal, Frank Hamer-- admittedly knew of Bonnie likely with child (or thought so)-- before passing that knowledge (apparently already discussed) to The U.S. Bureau of Investigation clearly "in advance" of the ambush.  But just as with Watergate-- the question concerning the rest of the posse then becomes, what did they know-- and when did they know it??  The Bonnie rumors were out there prior to the ambush-- to the point where members of the Dallas Press were dispatched to Arcadia to view Bonnie in death, to see if  she appeared with child.  This makes one wonder how lawmen so close to the actual situation, wouldn't know of this possibility prior to pulling multiple triggers to end Bonnie's life??

Pregnancy possibilities aside-- I participate in Bonnie debates with those on all sides of these issues on a regular basis.  Did Bonnie deserve to die, and would she have left Clyde if given the opportunity??  As it's believed B&C did separate at times to visit family members on their own-- Bonnie apparently had the opportunity to leave Clyde, (a wish encouraged by her family)-- but ultimately stood steadfastly by her man, knowing she would die with him.  Now was Bonnie Parker culpable for murders committed by members of The Barrow Gang within various incarnations??  In my view, most certainly-- as I don't think there's doubt if she had lived, she would've been tried as an accessory to murder in being present for many of the killings-- and for likely loading bullets, fired to end the lives of at least some known victims.  

However I find it both remarkable and repulsive-- that some have called for "silence" in encouraging investigations into a Bonnie Parker pregnancy not go forward.  It's been asked "what difference would it make now all these years later, if Bonnie was pregnant"??  My response has been-- "the same difference it would've made in 1934".  "A lot of difference".  For if it had been known that Bonnie was pregnant when killed-- there may have been a severe public backlash against the law, concerning their handling of the whole affair-- with negative repercussions concerning both personal reputations and lawmen in general.  It seems in trying to stifle what could be the truth now-- it's "CYA" time in the lawmens' camp. 

Along with those who called them unmitigated heroes-- the posse members had their detractors, for their stealth-like tactics and brutality employed at the ambush.  Many have viewed (and still do)-- this deadly "assurance plan" as just plain smart-- where others have questioned the posse's grit, in thinking the posse cowardly for not facing up to whatever element of The Barrow Gang might have returned fire that day.  This discourse has only been heightened in recent years, by revelations that the law likely could've attempted capture of Bonnie & Clyde sooner than May-- and perhaps without the glory and fanfare of such an assassination, leading to unintended martyrdom of the outlaws.  

The moral dilemma concerning Bonnie Parker presents numerous human & ethical challenges.  A key question has been, in feeling she may have been with child-- should or could the law have attempted to save and imprison Bonnie, rather than apologetically fill her full of lead??  Also, if you believe in the sensationalized Hamer family recollections, or read between the lines of Capt. Hamer's own words-- one might conclude Hamer had a vendetta against Bonnie (more evidently than Clyde)-- resulting in some particularly heinous approach and one-man justice enacted by Hamer against Bonnie at the ambush.  

This assertion has been added to ambush lore by Jeff Guinn, the "hired gun" Simon & Schuster sometimes fiction/ sometimes non-fiction writer-- in using research which L. J. "Boots" Hinton would term "facts not in evidence".  But to believe in such a claim, you'd necessarily need to call Dr. James Wade either incompetent, a liar-- or one pressured by coercion, to have covered up such a bold attack by Hamer from the right side of the Warren car.  Professor Carroll Rich (who knew Dr. Wade personally)-- has told me James Wade wouldn't be pressured by any man.  But plain & simple-- the detailed evidence compiled by the Coroner (Dr. Wade) in front of all to see that day, doesn't support such an vengeful and needless attack.  

Plus it's a good thing Hamer wasn't at the right of the car, when Bob Alcorn admittedly fired at it-- apparently making the few holes which appear "above" Bonnie's window.  I've wondered about those errant shots??-- as you'd think Alcorn a better marksman than that from such close range.  As surely he knew who he was firing at-- perhaps there's an unwritten story of compassion there?? So when you shake out the Hamer vs Bonnie contention, it seems when considering such a bold theory-- the addition of non-expert supposition doesn't change history.

But not to be outdone, in adding another wild theory to an ambush soup already rich with controversy-- there's Gordon Baker's assertion of a "7th Man" at the ambush.  A most interesting contention-- but one not  backed by proof anyone can find.  I've attempted to warn some over the years, that when pontificating re: Bonnie & Clyde-- that they better bring their proof with them. Otherwise some within this history, who tow the status quo more often than not-- will berate those with unsubstantiated theories, sometimes to the aim of public humiliation.  My issue with this discourse, is not just one of decency & decorum-- but also one of fairness, in knowing some who like to criticize others-- also possess, unproven theories with highly debatable claims.  

So concerning the ambush of Bonnie & Clyde-- there's never a dull moment, where "bountiful" theories abound.  In deciding on a pic for this post, I opted for a photo taken a few years back of the ambush marker-- which sits across the road from where Bonnie & Clyde's bullet riddled car came to rest.  This marker is often and regularly defaced by both supporters and detractors of the outlaws.  On the day I took this photo, the sentiment-- which rightfully should include all who lived this remarkable history-- was conspicuously skewed in favor of the West Dallas desperadoes.  Ted Hinton would tell the story, of how in the '30's-- there seemed as many people trying to protect Bonnie & Clyde-- as were trying to catch them.  

But even after all these years-- when you see such a human sentiment as that expressed by some today-- it makes you wonder, whether much has really changed??  I welcome your comments.  

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