Monday, June 22, 2015

In Bonnie & Clyde History-- Sometimes Romantic Notions Can Cloud The Facts.

As yet another year of Bonnie & Clyde History has come & gone (based on the anniversary of the ambush)-- it seems only right once again, to take stock of where this history stands.  One thing I'd like to address, are misconceptions some like to advance-- who seemingly care for this history enough to comment on it, but not enough to really learn of it's truths.  I would think these skewed perceptions, originate from less than reliable sources such as movies and websites-- more geared toward rumor and fluff than historical accuracy.    

It surely happens on "Marquee days", such as Bonnie or Clyde's Birthdays.. and on the anniversary of the ambush.. but can also occur just about any 'ol time.  False impressions of Bonnie & Clyde History, as if based on some Cliff Notes summary-- melded with the latest Nora Roberts romance novel.  Comments I suppose, which prove that in the minds of many-- Bonnie & Clyde have indeed been elevated to Romantic Cult Hero Status, regardless of inaccurate and suspect lore advanced to achieve that lofty title.   

However in reality-- the struggles of Bonnie, Clyde and various members of a somewhat revolving Barrow Gang-- were uniquely personal ones, caused by their own doings.. framed within the desperation of Depression Years-- and without the glamour and glitz heaped upon them now, by folks who apparently wish for those realities to have been more benign and romantic.  For being on the run from the laws as they were known then, and from those who supported hunting them down like rabid animals was no picnic for the bunch from Oak Cliff-- and with conveniences most never paid mind to.. a struggle to obtain or enjoy. 

Food-- a decent nights sleep-- the ability to be clean or a regular basis-- and the peace of mind to live without fear.. fear of pretty much everything-- a car breakdown, falling asleep when they shouldn't.. any number of circumstances which could've given them away and caused inevitable capture.  And death would've been the likely end for any capture.. for unbeknownst to most, if pressed to the wall-- Bonnie & Clyde's suicide pact would likely have taken care of things, others  bullets wouldn't have the satisfaction and opportunity to.  

No.. living out of cars or in the woods, always in danger of being recognized-- leading to chases at any moment or journeys thought needed to avoid violent engagement.. these were not pleasant realities.  But obtaining covert medical attention to treat injuries or gunshot wounds "was" a reality.. likely granted at the point of a gun, money or liquor in return for "favors" or forced assistance.   

So let's address one of these paramount misconceptions concerning Bonnie & Clyde here in this post.  The belief of Bonnie & Clyde having been modern-day Robin Hoods.. stealing from the rich and giving to the poor-- and having provided moral support, for Depression Age downtrodden people in need of a populist lift. Well, being the "front page" poster heroes of the downtrodden populism thing, at least has a ring of truth to it-- as many during the Depression Years did exhibit an air of anti-establishment sentiment-- and rallied around those who bucked officialdom. 

But the "Robin Hood" mantle.. "No".  In truth, Bonnie & Clyde robbed fewer banks than many give them credit for-- with "Mom & Pop" stores and gas stations (just like the one Clyde's parents owned)-- oft-times the targets of Barrow Gang hospitality, robbery and a quick getaway.   

As such, hard-working blue collar people least able to afford losses experienced within a visit from Bonnie & Clyde-- were the proud recipients of their "Robin Hood-like" goodness??  Doesn't work does it??  For although there "were" stories here & there concerning Bonnie & Clyde's kindness to common folk.. when money was needed--  the not so truly adept bank robbers, often chose less formidable targets to frequent.  For in truth.. they as people who came from a poor background-- stole mostly from those most like themselves. 

I'm not sure how and when, such a grand bank robber reputation seeped into to the minds of many concerning The Barrow Gang-- however if that were true, there may not have been such a falling out between Clyde and Ray Hamilton-- who fancied himself more within the bank robber mold, a direction he apparently wanted The Barrow Gang to take.  And although banks in Grand Prairie, Texas, Stuart, Iowa and Everly, Iowa were hit in fairly rapid succession near the end-- no one knows how any future plans would've played out, as death for Bonnie & Clyde was immanent.  

In my view, during that general time frame, there were 2 quite formidable line-ups of Barrow Gang members which could've pursued more advanced criminal ventures (especially the Henry Methvin/Joe Palmer line-up.. but with Clyde at the helm, betrayal at hand and as fate would have it.. those pursuits were not to be realized.  Palmer would be captured, and later executed just short of a year after the ambush of Bonnie & Clyde.. and Methvin who was pardoned by Texas as per the deal with his family, would serve 8 years of a life sentence.. having been convicted by Oklahoma for the killing of Cal Campbell, and later pass in 1948.         
Yep, many like to think of Bonnie & Clyde more in terms of a an embellished and romanticized revisionist remake, rather than within the harsh realities with which they lived.. and died.  But those harsh realities have the better lessons you see-- and the advantage of truth on their side.

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