As far as I can tell, Bonnie & Clyde had never seen our nation's Capital-- although in now knowing of their travels to the far reaches of North Carolina, I'm not sure I would've put it past them. But today, they surely maintain a spot of honor amongst a remarkable array of historical crime information and artifacts at The National Museum of Crime & Punishment. For the Bonnie & Clyde exhibit there is a nice one-- and now expanding.
Having done many historical talks on Bonnie & Clyde, my 3 days at The National Museum of Crime & Punishment provided a welcomed experience for me-- and one if possible, I plan to use as a model from now on. Instead of more formal talks as I'm normally used to, the fine folks there set me up among the patrons at the bend coming off the Bonnie & Clyde exhibit. Thus those interested in B&C would stop and talk with questions concerning the iconic outlaws. This informal give and take was "wonderful"-- and seemingly enjoyed by all.
I did prolonged sessions on all 3 days, which thanks to those who stopped to inquire of the outlaws-- lasted well beyond the times scheduled. I was able to discuss the ambush and other B&C topics of interest, such as a Bonnie Parker pregnancy and Bonnie & Clyde's role in the Depression Age. In addition-- I had in front of me Bonnie's poem "The Saga of Bonnie and Desperate Clyde", Blanche's Christmas card with personal note and signature, Billie's manuscript "Bonnie, Clyde and Me"-- and correspondence sent to Blanche while imprisoned at Jefferson City. These artifacts, will be available to view at the museum in the near future. I was also able to recount remembrances from Billie's journal, as well as numerous points of contention to many with a keen interest in Bonnie & Clyde.
As an aside-- it took me a few go-rounds, to realize why young people kept approaching me to ask how many people Bonnie killed?? It was then I realized that's a question from the museum's question and answer booklet, meant to be learned by studying the exhibits. These questions also seemed a required assignment, for kids involved in school tours (of which there were many). So I guess the kids figured the "Bonnie & Clyde guy" would know the answer. Of course I did-- and unwittingly at 1st, and then sometimes willingly (shhh)-- helped where I could. So I guess the test will be graded on a curve??
As I took hundreds of photos in Washington, I plan shortly to feature The National Museum of Crime & Punishment in a well deserved post here on The Bonnie & Clyde History Blog. What a remarkable resource the Crime Museum is. My thanks to Janine and Rachael for inviting me, and for doing everything possible to accommodate me so graciously concerning my visit. My thanks also to the staff of The Holiday Inn White House/ Rhode Island Avenue NW, for a great stay-- as well as Amtrak for "as always"-- unparalleled service to & from home.
Also my thanks to FBI Historian John Fox for a great lunch. "Finally", after all these years-- we had that lunch we've been wanting to have. Now we just need to do it again. BTW-- John surely agreed that J. Edgar (whom I have my arm around above)-- seems to have had a tough day. But in reality-- Director Hoover would've never appeared so disheveled. And my thanks as well to Lisa, for taking the iPad shot of me at the top of this post-- and being so kind in e-mailing that image to me. Those things take great pictures. Lisa was the only person I saw, among what had to be hundreds of people who passed through the museum over this memorable weekend-- to use an iPad to preserve her images. I would think at some point-- that will change.
After having Lucky Luciano staring over my shoulder for 3 days-- I lived to tell of the adventure. In a slight foray into gangster history-- even though Luciano was deported from the U.S., when he died in Italy-- he was granted his wish to be buried in Queens, N.Y. under his given name Salvatore Lucania. Please look for my post on The National Museum of Crime & Punishment (with many cool pics)-- coming soon.