Wednesday, June 10, 2015

R.I.P. Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum-- And Selling Less Than Authentic Artifacts??.. Say It Ain't So.

As I'm tired of cluttering up this historical site with a need to address Bonnie & Clyde infighting-- I've decided to address the recent turmoil surrounding The Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum in a different way.. and with some very straight talk.  1st some realities.  Unfortunately, the museum as many once knew it is gone.  Oh, the physical location is still there and the museum's still open.  It's just that the heart & soul of that quaint and charming museum located in the old "Rosa Canfield's Cafe" building in Gibsland.. and what it stood for for so long under the direction of L. J. "Boots" Hinton-- well, that's now history.  "Boots" may visit from time to time-- but the museum's new owner is not "Boots" Hinton and never will be. 

A couple of months back, I was contacted by friends of this history and made aware of drama which had occurred at the museum.. as well as drama still unfolding.  The Bonnie & Clyde chat rooms were all "abuzz", with pointed and passionate comment concerning issues at the "new" museum.  Oddly enough, I know quite a lot about the workings and finances of the museum through past associations and friendships. 
At one point Ken Holmes offered me a partnership in the museum-- when he and Charles Heard parted ways.. an offer I politely thanked Ken for but ultimately declined.

To my knowledge-- in the past, the museum was always run with the highest of both ethical and historical standards and with the "wonderful" historical guidance of  L.J. "Boots" Hinton.  One might not always agree with "Boots" historically-- but it was hard to knock the homespun and sometimes ornery Bonnie & Clyde warrior.. as he crafted Bonnie & Clyde stories 
as if seated at a crackling campfire, with fireflies darting happily about the night.   Then after captivating visitors fortunate enough to meet him-- "Boots" sent them down LA 154 to the ambush site, where Bonnie & Clyde History came to life within people's imaginations-- almost as loudly and dramatically as it did in the Spring of '34.     

For you see, the old Ambush Museum experience was about "history".  But now-- apparently it's more about backstabbing, rash embellishments and selling a plethora of touristy items along with supposed artifacts, which some "in the know" have warning-- are not as claimed??
  
     


I was made privy to Internet threads concerning this changeover, which included comments made by Ted Prince, a friend to this history and with intimate knowledge of the new museum.  Among many comments exchanged on both Facebook and within Bonnie & Clyde chat spots-- was this comment by Mr. Prince..

"Ted Prince-- Before Mr Carver Purchased The Museum He Asked Me To Come To Work For Him And To Help Him Operate It Full Time. After A Few Weeks I Could Notice A Big Change In This Man Who I've Known For Years. As For Bogus Historical Items Being Sold? Yes, There Are Because I Was There When My Carver Made These Phony Items. I Told Him Several Times He Might Fool Some People But Come Festival Time, When The Advanced Historians Made And Visit, He Would Be Busted. And. ....He Was. The Historical Bricks Came From Outside The Rear Of The Museum And Community Center Next Door. The Others Came From The OTIS COLE House In Sailes Along With A Door And Wood Planks As Being Said To Be From The JOHN COLE House. There Was And I'm Sure Still Is Much More Phony Items And False Information Being Sold And Told. Such As Telling Visitors That The Gun Oakley Used In The Ambush Was On Display. The Gun In Question Actually Belongs To A Friend Of Mine And Is Not Even The Right Make Of Gun Oakley Used. There's A Lot More That Was Being Told That Was Nothing But Fabricated Lies".

 

Well now, what to do about that??  Surely serious enough charges to investigate and report on.. and for those who'd prefer I not do so-- too bad-- for this history deserves integrity, not odd questions concerning it's doings. So did some digging, conversing with many and observing.  And what did I find??.. that despite the museums lack of comment concerning all this (to me a remarkable thing)-- firstly based on historical knowledge I and others have, which apparently those now at the museum don't possess-- that allegations made against them do seem fair. 

For concerning the idea of contrived artifacts-- the museum apparently cannot provide adequate provenance for most of their high-ticket items.. and in some cases, others knowledge trumps the weak or non-assurance the museum provides.  Thus concerning the allegations made by Ted Prince, do I believe them??  Yes, based on all I can discern, and by logical and objective means historically (and allowing for a touch of bad blood)-- I believe them to be largely more true than not.  Included within that judgement, is knowledge that for those who know him-- Ted Prince's reputation is a good one. 

Plus the museum for all it's backroom talkin'-- has yet to deny any of Mr. Prince's claims publicly (to me a conspicuous silence)-- and actually has removed questioned artifacts from it's website for sale.  Now I understand they're still offering suspect items in person-- so if true, a much less visible and apparently deliberate attempt to limit their sale.   

So the question has to be, if these artifacts are real.. and having already been offered more broadly-- why then retreat from more lucrative opportunities and "circle the wagons" if not necessary??  A pretty fair question. 

As an aside here.. in having dealt so often with Bonnie & Clyde signature verification, and with those who look to ferret out forged signatures-- I am aware, that should less than authentic items be shipped over State lines.. that could constitute Federal mail fraud.  An effective tool, concerning forged historical document sales for example.      

For those not already aware of the items in question-- here's the rundown..  


COA states from Bonnie & Clyde's Sailes hideout, along with photo of the John Cole House.  However an eyewitness claims brick taken from Otis Cole House.  If so.. "wrong Cole house".


To me, the strangest Ambush Museum item.  The Bonnie & Clyde Joplin apartment, was known to have survived the Joplin Tornado.  Also, I believe the apartment's foundation to be concrete-- covered in what looks to be cut field stone.  So then.. what is this??  
In selling swatches of this for $200 a pop-- someone needs to provide better provenance, in order to claim this sweater vest had anything to do with Bonnie Parker. 





The sweater vest shown here, and touted as having belonged to Bonnie Parker-- is being sold as swatches for $200. each-- despite the fact proper provenance may not exist for this supposed artifact??  So which Parker relative will vouch for this article of clothing provided from an Internet sale??  More on this farther down the post.

Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum display, Gibsland, LA. For those who understand how hard it is to obtain authentic Bonnie & Clyde artifacts-- logic would preclude a current and seemingly limitless supply, of what were decades ago a "quite finite" number of items such as this.  So does anyone with a good sense of this history-- really feel it possible, for wheelbarrows full of claimed Bonnie & Clyde "relics" such as this, to magically appear-- after long ago having been so scarce??  You be the judge.  Nice display.. but one that defies historical logic.     

Also for sale are bricks said to have come from The Red Crown Tavern and Tourist Court.  However, although I have heard of a possible legitimate source for these particular offerings from a quite credible representative of this history.. according to Mr. Prince, these bricks too (or some of them??)-- may not have come from that locale as stated. 

I am offering Mr. Carver an open invitation here on The B&CHB-- an invitation to defend himself against the accusations made.  Thus, Perry, I will publish for all to see-- valid proof of your Ambush Museum's items authenticity and explanation thereof.  Please provide "specific" info concerning the provenance of the Cole House Bricks, Red Crown Bricks, Joplin Apartment stones, Bonnie Parker vest swatches-- indeed all supposed Bonnie & Clyde artifacts you are selling outside of the "touristy-type" offerings.  Provenance for historical artifacts needs to be specific-- with names named, dates provided and the circumstances for your obtaining them spelled out. 

It's my understanding, a number of stories may have been advanced concerning some of these supposed artifacts.  I would politely ask, that you provide just one story for each offering.  This forum is yours Sir.. whenever you're ready.  And from an historical viewpoint.. adequate provenance does not include people walking in the door, making some claim and having that stick as being true.  "Oh man.. I didn't catch his name.. but he said these are real-- and that's good enough for me".  "That"-- is not provenance. 

And for all please know-- that concerning thoughts being expressed re: legal sabre rattling, that within any follow-up involving authenticity-- proper provenance and the sources for each item would need to be divulged.  And, that provenance needs to be strong, in order to claim items as authentic.  The primary reason those accused of selling forged documents and signatures cannot effectively challenge those who accuse them-- is that valid proof of authenticity would need to be provided, proof never forthcoming.


Also, as I've heard the word slander bandied about-- slander is only the case when accusations aren't true and maliciousness is involved. I see no malice here at all, at least not on my part-- just a reporting re: an already publicly discussed controversy, and search for the truth-- as to "what's what" concerning the authenticity of said historical artifacts.  And I suppose when you're the owner of a spot accused of impropriety-- it pays to address that impropriety, rather than try to scare people off-- concerning truth which needs to be discerned to protect the integrity of history.  I've said it before and I'll say it again-- this is Bonnie & Clyde History.. where scrutiny is a way of life.  Apparently for some who thought they were already a part of this realm.. a sincere "Re-Welcome" to Bonnie & Clyde History.

Perry, let me say.. if you can provide proper provenance for the items you are selling, which someone intimately familiar with your operation says cannot be provided.. that would satisfy my quest for "right" concerning all this, and I will publicly apologize for reporting in error should you prove otherwise.  For I am not accusing you here.. only reporting as I should concerning this controversy.  So let me hear from you please, so we can get to work on this.  I'll also say, that without a follow-up from you to back your claims.. I would think most would be forced to conclude Mr. Princes accusations true.


Recent ebay auction featuring "suspect" items.  I believe this to be Mr. Howard's auction, incorporating both his swatches and other Ambush Museum offerings.  At auction close-- no bids.  For those into what's right about this history.. welcome news.   
And regarding the sweater vest-- I'll make James Howard the same offer I've made Perry Carver. James-- in order to assure accuracy concerning Bonnie & Clyde artifacts, please provide the "specific" historical source of that sweater vest used to make your alleged Bonnie Parker Swatches.  And it's not good enough to say "a Parker relative" without naming the relative. 

For as the Parker relatives are known to myself and others within this history.. just saying "Oh, this sweater vest was saved prior to Bonnie's Aunt Pat destroying all her belongings" (except for this piece)-- that won't cut it.  As the truth is known from the Parker family, concerning the fiery outcome for Bonnie Parker's possessions-- anyone claiming anything of Bonnie Parker's authentic-- would require extraordinary provenance.  So concerning this vest and swatches-- let's see if valid provenance is forthcoming.

 
"Which" relative provided it, "how and when" was it obtained?? and also contact info, for whomever had this item in their possession before you.  Also, I understand since only swatches have been taken from this article of clothing's lining.. "what size" is the vest??  As there are far too many Charlatans on the Net selling bogus things-- with some peddling Bonnie & Clyde related items, without a shred of proof of their authenticity-- as a marketer of memorabilia.. I would think you would welcome such a challenge Mr. Howard, to prove your item.


Concerning the John Cole House (Bonnie & Clyde's last hideout)-- I and others I trust-- have been to both locations identified as being where the John Cole House once stood.  As Carroll Rich has told me directly where his aunt Mildred Cole said it was-- and about the 2 brick chimneys still standing when he visited the sight-- at one point there "were" bricks there-- but not in the many decades since the 1930's when the house was reportedly destroyed and 1970's when bricks were witnessed there.  However, there were no bricks present-- by the times I and others visited these sites.  And that too.. is years ago now.

A standard I live by.. and wish all others would as well.
To me, the long and the short of this new museum is simple.. it's not what it was-- and a touristy shop with reported dubious products has risen from the ashes of what was an historical gem.. not for anything ever sold there-- but rather for the personal interaction with "Boots" Hinton.  Now "Boot's" has effectively been removed from his father's dream and life's work.. to lead a museum dedicated to Bonnie & Clyde History.  And tee shirts and beer koozies aside-- some in the know are warning of bogus "artifacts" sold there.   
 
And don't forget your Bonnie & Clyde Shot Glass.. perfect with beverages-- when celebrating your bricks and swatches.







So if you're looking for touristy incidentals for your Bonnie & Clyde touristy incidentals collection, look no further-- for The Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum likely has what you want.  But if you're looking for "history".. and history is what Bonnie & Clyde are all about-- it now seems in question??.. regarding how much history you may find, where once history resided in glory.   

What, no solar powered dancing Bonnie and Clyde's for your kitchen window??  "Damnation"-- for I may have just given them an idea.  And BTW-- if those now "in charge" in Gibsland and their supporters, knew much about that area or the back stories of Bonnie & Clyde History-- perhaps they could provide useful tours for those interested in the true tales of an area so rich with this history. 
 
What do most think of, when remembering The Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum during the best of times??  This Man-- L. J. "Boots" Hinton  

4 comments:

taronda schulz said...

It's upsetting to know that the reputation of the museum is now jeopardized by a carnival type atmosphere. And very sad to know that Mr. Hinton, who many of us know and love is being used by someone wiith dishonorable intentions to promote what has become a joke.

A. Winston Woodward said...

My thanks to Ted Prince, for posting this comment to the Bonnie & Clyde History Blog Facebook page. I hope he and others, will post additional info here directly.

Ted Prince-- "Before Mr Carver Purchased The Museum He Asked Me To Come To Work For Him And To Help Him Operate It Full Time. After A Few Weeks I Could Notice A Big Change In This Man Who I've Known For Years. As For Bogus Historical Items Being Sold? Yes, There Are Because I Was There When My Carver Made These Phony Items. I Told Him Several Times He Might Fool Some People But Come Festival Time, When The Advanced Historians Made And Visit, He Would Be Busted. And. ....He Was. The Historical Bricks Came From Outside The Rear Of The Museum And Community Center Next Door. The Others Came From The OTIS COLE House In Sailes Along With A Door And Wood Planks As Being Said To Be From The JOHN COLE House. There Was And I'm Sure Still Is Much More Phony Items And False Information Being Sold And Told. Such As Telling Visitors That The Gun Oakley Used In The Ambush Was On Display. The Gun In Question Actually Belongs To A Friend Of Mine And Is Not Even The Right Make Of Gun Oakley Used. There's A Lot More That Was Being Told That Was Nothing But Fabricated Lies".

craigsd said...

I am so glad i made the trip a few years ago and got a chance to sit and speak with boots for over an hour,he was very gracious with his time. Thank you boots!

t o m said...

It is all just so absurd. There are so many examples of shadiness. I did not like the way Ted was treated. I believe the version of events regarding the Cole house bricks. The silliness with the ugly vest. Then there is the topic of what stuff belongs to Boots and what stuff did Perry buy when he purchased the museum. I see now some bullets for sale, and the little ridiculous card says these bullets are from the 'collection of Boots Hinton'... Which makes me ask, Does Boots know his stuff is being sold? Is he getting his fair share? Is there a clear inventory of what Perry purchased, what belongs to Boots Hinton, what is on loan?

But none of the hundreds of questions about any of that are ever answered. All questions are met with anger and attacks.

When I first heard about the Cole house bricks, I was so curious. I wanted to know all the details so I could compare those details to other things already researched. But right off the bat, my questions were met with anger and no details. Did you take pictures I asked. I knew something shady was afoot. Then when Ted told me the story of the bricks coming from the Otis Cole house rather than the actual John Cole house, it fit in with my suspicions.

At the same time, I was asked to add the fake vest swatches to the website. I knew then and there that I had made a mistake of trying to help in this endeavor. I cut ties and went on my way. Since then I am portrayed as the bad guy. Figures, if Mr. Carver will kick Ted to the curb and trash him like he did, then I knew I was next. Mr. Carver actually went around Gibsland telling people to watch out because Ted was hitchiking back to Gibsland armed and ready for revenge. I know he did that because he told me that, and one of the Gibsland people came up to me to ask about this very thing on Friday, May 22.

We can go down the list of things like the vest, the bricks, the this, the that. We can cite examples like the shabby way Ted was treated all day long. But nothing will ever be replied to. All a person has is their good word and reputation at the end of the day. If this person thinks it is ok to fabricate hideout brick stories just to make a buck, then that is his prerogative. I just can't be a part of anything like that. It is literally none of my business.

I am concerned about Boots and his possessions. I have had my say a few times now. I am not family, so I can not do more than that really. I have called Boots and told him I can not be a part of the shady things going on with the museum. I also said if you ever need anything, then just call me. I have called boots very often for years. Now I do not call him and that makes me sad. I had my say and that is all i can do. It makes me sick that Boots' good name is being used on garbage like the fake bricks and vest.

I am done and that is that. I would not be surprised at anything at this point. I do not care one single iota what perry, freda or charles flynn say about me. I am not the one selling fake crap.