Friday, January 25, 2013

Bonnie & Clyde Amatuer Coroner's Night Revisited

OK-- Since some wish to dredge up the Frank Hamer brutal shooting of Bonnie from the right side of the death car, as espoused by Jones, Fischer and Guinn-- such an analysis requires the "bloody dimple" on Bonnie's right cheek, to be an entrance wound not noted by Dr. James Wade within his Coroner's Inquest report of May 23rd, 1934.  Either that, or this theory implies a cover-up by Wade-- in succumbing to pressure by one would assume Frank Hamer, to avoid the embarrassment of such an action on his part.

However as Hamer wasn't known as a man who minced words or feelings, and his feelings toward Bonnie (apparently largely based on a jaded impression of the Grapevine killings) were adequatelexpressed-- such hedging of any determined action he participated in makes little sense.  It's all gobbledygook to me.  My response to such reckless Bonnie & Clyde supposition and sensationalism-- is to simply say "prove it".    

There are those still living, who remember James Wade as man of great integrity.  In defense of the real Coroner Dr. Wade-- we could begin with this photo of a cleaned up Bonnie-- which shows what many have always thought was a cute Bonnie Parker indeed having dimples.  But we've already known that from photos of her when alive.  But I wonder what happened to that bullet hole within her right cheek, so "clearly visible" within the bloody Bonnie photo?? I guess it just goes to show-- blood within a dimple, does not good history make.

Time to quote Jeff Guinn as per Jones and Fischer-- "As the Ford gradually rolled to stop in the ditch beside the road, Hamer hustled down the hill, brandishing his powerful Colt Monitor Machine Rifle.  He was taking no chances. First, he fired a burst into Bonnie through the rear passenger window.  Then, when the car had completely stopped, the six-foot, three-inch Hamer walked forward, leaning his towering frame over the front seat where Bonnie was slumped, and fired a final series of shots down through the window and windshield directly into her".  

"Ummm"-- I don't think so.  Without forensic evidence to support such a colorful description, this story may qualify for some elitist award of fiction-- but lacks credibility from an historical viewpoint.  "So many" point-blank and powerfully punishing shots.  Apparently it's too bad Hamer was such a poor shot-- "and" from such close range. For based on the record both written and photographic-- it seems he missed her.

For the record-- this is the photo and description from the Jones/Fischer report which started this whole brew ha ha-- and inspired Jeff Guinn to travel a slippery slope, when forming his interpretation of the ambush-- seemingly laced with large and poisonous doses of fantasy.  Besides addressing elements of the Warren Fordor vehicle, by a man who built a remarkable replica car-- no one associated with the Jones/Fischer report was an expert on any element commented on-- ie: forensic science, crime scene investigation or photography.  However by the time this creative analysis was published-- it had been decided Bonnie's "bloody dimple" was an entrance wound, and the true entrance wound as noted by Dr. Wade-- had miraculously morphed into a scornful and vindictive exit wound. 

Dr. Wade's notation of this wound was as follows-- "another through the mouth on left side, exiting at top of jaw".  Please compare this photo and analysis, to the photo of a cleaned up Bonnie above for the truth.  But I can just hear the conspiracy theorists now-- "well then, they must have doctored the photos".  "Oh please"-- but I do hope those with such inclinations, find more valuable things
to do in life .  

It's likely we will never know all that really occurred at the ambush of Bonnie & Clyde.  Hamer for example, said the Warren Car was traveling at a high rate of speed when the shooting commenced.  All other accounts have the car stopped or barely moving, which logic also supports.  Too many inconsistencies to address, in a post dedicated to the desire by some to over-sensationalize the already sensational-- and others to exploit unproven grandiose "theories"-- which I think are correctly classified by many including me, as what they are-- creative and "wanting" supposition.

And one last thing-- I absolutely want to address a comment made to me, that according to more than one source-- Ted Hinton stated that Frank Hamer had fired into the right window of the death car.  And based on the wounds in Bonnie's face-- even though Ted said Hamer used a .45 caliber, this individual surmised (surely proper admission)-- that based on it's penetrating power, Hamer instead used a .38 for this grisly task.  Well for those who know me, you'll know I didn't hesitate to go to the best source concerning Ted Hinton-- his Son L. J. "Boots" Hinton, who's both a good friend and most accurate relayer of information known concerning his father. 

I read the entire creative statement as espoused by this gentleman, in support of the Hamer assassin's theory to "Boots".  While decorum dictates I not print Mr. Hinton's response-- it's suffice to say, these comments attributed to Ted by those lacking both historical
knowledge and diligence-- are surely not correct. 

According to Ted Hinton and Bob Alcorn as told both publicly and in private-- Ted was the first officer to the car, trying 1st to open Clyde's door-- but when it wouldn't budge (as it had been blown shut by gun fire)-- Ted was said to have hurdled the hood of the Warren car to open Bonnie's door.  Alcorn apparently offered colorful comment, that he was afraid Ted might hurt himself in his haste to reach the death car.  It seems to me, those who wish "so mightily" for the Hamer vindictive elimination of Bonnie twaddle to be true-- are getting so bold, as to just make things up now.  But that seems in keeping with this whole "theory" doesn't it?? 

of course, no rebuke of Bonnie & Clyde lore would be quite complete-- without continued thanks to Jeff Guinn, for bringing unsubstantiated and sensationalized fodder to the forefront.  I suppose for some, it's best to keep Jeff's fateful words in mind when sorting through Bonnie & Clyde History--
a clever quote, which might allow a creative writer historical license to infinity and beyond.  Jeff said-- "all written history is ultimately best guess". 

Well here's a quote from me-- "No, it's not".
You know, I always try to be polite, fair and patient within the realm of Bonnie & Clyde History. However, I "will" call it like I see it.  And when studying Bonnie & Clyde, one thing's for sure-- for many it's a polarizing and emotional experience.  It seems when some travel dimly lit paths-- they strive to see what isn't there.  It's easy to float the sensational, and criticize those of us who do our best to "keep the gate"-- when it comes to historical truth.  These days it seems so simple to imagine scenarios without merit, and spread them like wildfire through modern means.  My feeling is rumor and innuendo within history, have always been a fact of life.  What seems different today-- is the personal tact some people take, when they cannot defend historical positions or plain get caught within a web of the non-defensible. 

Many will note, when I make statements concerning this history I rarely use absolutes-- a trait I am most conscious of.  For I know how hard it is to prove what's hard to prove-- so long after the fact.  Therefore I feel it best in most circumstances, to leave a little wiggle room.  I only wish some would realize, when they say with "absolute assurity" that some far-out notion is true-- keep building upon it with reckless abandon, advance contrived rumor and make personal attacks when asked to consider logic and employ diligence within their quest-- they would have the graciousness to take a step back and ponder their position.  What a refreshing change that would be.

Some might say I should heed my own words when it comes to Jeff Guinn.  Perhaps a fair comment.  But to me the difference with Guinn-- is sensationalism shouldn't have been allowed to trump diligence within a widely distributed work.  It's my opinion, Jeff had the opportunity and was expected to exercise heightened diligence when writing an historical account-- something it seems he wasn't used to. Now everyone and their brother quotes "Go Down Together" as being Gospel when it comes to Bonnie & Clyde.  "Yep"-- Bonnie was a prostitute and Hamer acted like a crazed assassin, hellbent on filling a hated Bonnie Parker full 'o lead.  Jeff Guinn said so.  Well while Jeff has long since left this history to write of other things-- those of us who seek the truth, are left to clean up his mess.  Someone has to.         

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"When It Rains It Pours"-- Another Bonnie & Clyde Death Car Weapon To Be Auctioned

When a recent auction featured Hamer family-owned guns reportedly from the Bonnie & Clyde Death Car-- Bonnie & Clyde Historians, aficionados and the public alike, marveled at the prices fetched for such rare and "romantic" weapons.  And almost all have surely viewed the inventoried arsenal of Bonnie & Clyde firepower, either through pics taken at Arcadia in the wake of the ambush-- or via Ted Hinton's famous film footage, which "God bless him" for taking.  As it's unclear to me, whether the Hamer Bonnie & Clyde weapons were included within the pictured arsenal or held back for private enjoyment-- I'm not sure whether any non-inventoried firearms from the death car have previously been viewed by the public??   Thus the weapon pictured above, may be "the or one of the"-- only non-inventoried death car guns known to exist. 

This weapon has been owned for some time by the renown Bonnie & Clyde Historian Professor Carroll Rich. As Carroll has become a friend over the years-- he and I have discussed this weapon.  But it wasn't until recently-- when he decided to part with it.  As per Carroll, the story and provenance of this .32 long goes like this-- 

"The gun was taken from the death car on the day of the shooting after the car had been towed into Arcadia.  One of Henderson Jordan's deputies, Reginald Hightower, who was not at the ambush, got the gun, with the bullets in it, kept it a while until the issue of who actually owned the contents of the car came into question.  Barrow's family were threatening to sue for the items, although the guns themselves were surely stolen.  Although there was supposed to be an inventory of weapons from the car, some of them were never on the "official" list. Reginald, whom we all called "Reg," gave the gun to his sister-in-law Vern, probably with the intention of getting it back later.  Vern Hightower was a widow whose husband--Reg's brother-- having had been gassed in WW1, later died of lung failure.  She lived alone with a small child, and  Reg believed that a woman alone might need to protect herself.  She had the gun from that point on, showing it on rare occasions to nieces and nephews, my brother and me among them.  Years later when she was an old lady and interest in Bonnie and Clyde had long since faded, she went to the nursing home.  She then passed the gun on to my father, her brother-in-law and the one who was dealing with her financial affairs.  She did not want to risk having the gun stolen from her house.  Both she and my parents--my mother was Vern's sister--seemed to think of it as some kind of unpleasant relic from a violent past, certainly nothing of value.  Later when I was older and had a renewed interest in B and C, my dad gave it to me.  I'm sure he felt it was almost worthless since the bullets it required were hard to find.  He knew all about guns, was a great hunter who frequently quail hunted with Prentiss Oakley. I think it has not been cleaned or fired since the day Reg took it from the car.  Certainly I have not done so--although a gun expert once told me I should keep it oiled.  Oddly enough, I also have an old shotgun my dad used, one he bought from Prentiss for $80.00."

Let me interject a feeling at this point.  There have been numerous stories told re: items removed from the death car prior to it being towed to Arcadia, or more to the point-- while the lawmen in charge of "guarding" the car looked the other way, thus allowing the public to have their way with Bonnie & Clyde and their rolling tomb-- until more reasonable heads prevailed.  Also I know of no one, who doesn't respect Carroll Rich immensely-- and hold him in the highest esteem.  Thus if Carroll states this Smith and Wesson pistol to be a non-documented weapon from the Bonnie & Clyde death car-- this surely seems a case where you can "take it to the bank".  Carroll's stellar reputation and knowledge of Bonnie & Clyde events-- as well as his personal friendships with key players involved (The Jordans, Oakleys and Wades etc)-- along with his family's close association with this history (a Cole connection)-- make Carroll's views unique, and worth paying close attention to.    

I think this weapon is fascinating not only because it's yet another death car weapon to become available-- but moreover as a reminder of stories told by those who were there-- of  both a frenzied mob descending on the car and picking at it until being stopped by those who allowed this morally debatable thievery in the 1st place.  And concerning actions by the ambush posse-- it's surely reasonable to assume, that the lawmen present also removed articles desired-- when given the opportunity.  There's also the story told of Capt. Hamer asking Lee Simmons what to do with the weapons from the car??  The response accepted as truth, was to give the lawmen carte blanche in keeping whichever weapons they fancied.  Thus for Deputy Reginald Hightower-- this gun was his baby and trophy from that fateful day. 

The Carroll Rich Smith and Wesson Bonnie & Clyde revolver is set to be auctioned by Mayo Auctions of Kansas City on February 2nd, 2013.  For those interested in this historic Bonnie & Clyde item, additional info can be found and questions directed here--