Sunday, July 26, 2015

Bonnie & Clyde History-- Under The Looking Glass Of Scrutiny

Why is integrity and genuineness important within history-- and surely within Bonnie & Clyde History??  Because without such common sense standards of excellence and candor, important elements of this history could be cheapened or lost-- with truth reduced to nonsensical layers of storytelling, and no way to tell truth from fantasy. 

Also without the promise of authenticity, artifacts often used to strengthen historical cause-- could be thought so common and non-defined, they would lack historical purpose-- and thus be rendered useless, concerning research and arriving at logical conclusions.  So instead of aiding in the search for truth-- questionable artifacts would muddy historical waters, and prove a hindrance to advancing knowledge-- rather than serving as a reliable and objective ally.

Enter the current Bonnie & Clyde debacle in Gibsland.  For those perhaps less familiar with this oft challenging history-- unfortunately, unlike many histories, the History of Bonnie & Clyde contains remarkably few physical links to it's past.  Many of it's physical structures are gone-- and even personal belongings routinely kept within families long term, in this case-- have been lost, destroyed or sold off.  Plus during the Depression Years, people seemingly had less to possess-- and therefore fewer things to pass on after the fact. 

Thus artifacts from the history of Bonnie & Clyde are highly coveted-- but the reality is, they are remarkably hard to locate if still exist at all??  In some cases, physical locations are known, with others still in question.  But amongst all of this, one thing is abundantly clear-- in many cases where Bonnie & Clyde structures once stood, some have been reduced to the land they once occupied.  Thus whatever remnants could be collected over time-- have mostly been collected long ago.

Such is the case with the Red Crown Tavern and structures at Dexfield Park-- and unfortunately, we've now lost Stringtown to fire.  This is also true, concerning Bonnie & Clyde's last hideout, known as the John Cole House in Sailes, LA.  Oddly enough, for those in the know-- the John Cole House apparently did not sit on land owned by John Cole.  According to Parish records, his land was located elsewhere in Sailes, but not particularly close to the 2 locations thought to be the hallowed hideout spot.  There's even a 3rd possibility, although not much call to support it.  Now there is debate over which of these locales was the correct one.  However until someone can reliably say there are more-- both of these locations have been scoured over the years by Bonnie & Clyde historians and researchers including yours truly, within research adventures-- in looking for whatever knowledge can be gleaned by modern visits to these locations.   

Apparently now, some think they can wheel out a seemingly endless supply of "locale pieces" as they're being called-- ie: bricks and rocks and add in odd swatches of clothing-- many without reliable provenance.. and of course, all for sale.  In Museums dedicated to history without reliance on merchandising-- almost assuredly, historical treasures would be found in display cases-- not lined up for purchase.  Thus it seems, some may view the newly acquired Ambush Museum in Gibsland-- as perhaps more of sales enterprise, with less emphasis on history than before.  The latest I've seen from Gibsland-- involves bobble heads now.  Not much history in those.. but for the right person.. somehow fun, I guess.         


And as far as this "prove it's not authentic" attitude now apparently being expressed.. I'm not sure you can find many people who protect the integrity of history-- who would back that level of provenance.  It doesn't work that way, at least not within the realm of legitimate history.  It works very much the other way around.  The purpose of provenance is to help prove truth.  It is not at all proper within the realm of historical artifacts, to ignore provenance and claim things authentic, well-- "because they are.. prove they're not".  For anyone to say something along those lines, and have that be the historical standard of authenticity for this or any other history-- well.. then we're really in trouble.

And if that were true-- anyone could bring pretty much anything to Christies or Sotheby's or any leading auction house.. and in offering artifacts, the attached description might read "Some guy says it's authentic and that's good enough for me-- so here it is".  That is "NOT" the case within the reality we should all find ourselves.  Simple as that. 

So concerning Gibsland-- is it good enough to point to all the artifacts now being "donated"??  OK.. so "who" donated them??-- and now let's look into provenance as it applies to those individuals ownership of them.  What are their source stories??.. and can sources be substantiated??  I'll tell you what-- I've known a considerable amount about the Ambush Museum for a good number of years now-- and wonder why that sort of "generosity" hasn't happened much before in such volume, in all the years that museum's been open??  It's surely remarkable.

My feeling is no Museum with the "right stuff", would make claims without valid provenance-- much less offer rarities for sale in large numbers.  Rarities for sale in large numbers???  Just doesn't sound right does it??  After all the decades of sites picked clean of physical remembrances (including Area A and Area B, as historians have named the 2 hideout spots)-- it doesn't make sense, there would be a flood of artifacts available so suddenly from one of these locations.. or other hallowed B&C spots also known to be void of souvenirs, right??  Well-- that's what many of us who care about this history are trying to figure out. 

As as far as the story now told, concerning Ambush Museum bricks supposedly being taken from the spot up in the hills off LA 154-- problem is, many Historians and loyal enthusiasts of this history have visited that spot many times over the years.  So it's with experience, that many know what's up there-- and what's not. And around those parts, when someone named Cole takes you anywhere-- it pays to know their 1st name and contact info, "and" be able to describe in detail, where the spot was with pictures.  For it's not as though, most of us don't travel with cameras on our phones.  

For the record, Professor Carroll Rich's Aunt was Mildred Cole.. (I'm sure familiar to some, as seen in the documentary "Remembering Bonnie & Clyde")--  who as a young woman visited the hideout while it was still standing.  It was my friend and friend to this history Carroll Rich, who told me where his Aunt said the John Cole house was.. the location he later visited in the 1970's. BTW-- that was at the other location off LA 516.

Regarding such a grouping of Bonnie & Clyde artifacts all showing up at the same time, when a certain newly-acquired Museum is expanding it's inventory of items for sale-- well, with so much known about sites being touted as giving so much now-- that needs to be explained.. as the odds of that being so, are very long indeed.


Some loyal to the Ambush Museum, their friends or even legal representatives might ask who are these Bonnie & Clyde historical-types now messing with our new-found miracles??  Well, some are Bonnie & Clyde History family members.. some are noted researchers and historians who "know" the sites these supposed artifacts are said to have come from-- and some are Bonnie & Clyde Historians like myself.. who both know the sites and have participated in Bonnie & Clyde research, as part of some of the best alliances available.

And what claim do I have to question this controversy?? A fair question perhaps for some.  So as to satisfy anyone interested and to save time-- some questions.. with answers.

Do I possess knowledge of Bonnie & Clyde History enough to qualify me to comment-- based on prolific research and clinical participation within this history??  Goodness, I would think so. 

Do I myself, own authentic artifacts related to Bonnie & Clyde History, and thus understand both the difficulties involved in finding them-- and forensic processes used in determining truth in provenance??  Yes I do. 

Among my Bonnie & Clyde treasures are, a Bonnie poem obtained from Blanche Barrow's Estate/ a rare working version of "The Story Of Bonnie & Clyde" titled "The Saga of Bonnie and Desperate Clyde".. a poem found within Blanche's personal effects.  Also "The Bonnie & Clyde Signatures".. to date, the only dual Bonnie & Clyde signatures deemed true to the best standards documented so far.  Also, Billie Parker Moon's copy of her unpublished manuscript.. which came to me via Blanche's Estate with permission of the Parker family.
Yours truly at the National Museum of Crime in Washington, D.C.-- with authentic Bonnie & Clyde artifacts. 

Original documents, photographs and many other personal effects of Blanche Barrow's-- wonderful and interesting items, including things Blanche collected while serving time in prison for her Bonnie & Clyde exploits.  Among those items, the famous olden Christmas Card-- used to house Blanche's notes from prison, transcribed to create the only Barrow Gang member record of their bloody adventures.  This Blanche artifact-- may also contain one of the only surviving "Blanche Barrow" signatures available.  All of which I obtained, from Blanche's Executrix and close friend. Now in fairness, I have detailed the provenance for my key Bonnie & Clyde artifacts.  Now let's see others follow suit.    

I always enjoy speaking with the Bonnie & Clyde faithful-- especially at a venue, such as the Bonnie & Clyde exhibit in Washington.. "and" with real Bonnie & Clyde artifacts present to comment on. 

Do I also have pieces of Bonnie & Clyde locations??  Sure.  These include a vertical section of the rear door frame from the Pritchard House (Wellington Incident).  A door frame immortalized, as perhaps having a gun mounted above it.. where Gladys Cartwright was thought to have been reaching, when W.D. decided to end any thought of that with a shot.  BTW-- Gladys later denied she was reaching for the gun.. but rather the latch on the door.  

Also numerous other pieces of Bonnie & Clyde historical sites.. like a piece of floor/ with that quite distinct tile pattern from the Lancaster Bank.  Bricks from various locations which I can verify.  Even a piece of what I believe is the foundation of The John Cole House, Bonnie & Clyde's last hideout.  Did I say that??  And so do I believe I've stood on the spot the house attributed to John Cole's ownership once stood??  Based on research, and on behalf of Bonnie & Clyde History-- with feet having been anchored firmly in the Louisiana dirt??  Yes-- I do believe that.

A rare image/ olden Blanche Barrow Christmas card used to house Blanche's writings from prison.  An image viewed within a Bonnie & Clyde documentary, keying on Blanche's knowledge of The Barrow Gang.  This, a scan of the actual and quite beautiful card.  Provenance on this item couldn't be more solid. 

So do I have call to comment on this controversy??  I would think most would agree I do.  BTW-- I still haven't heard from the principals involved, regarding my offer to publish their defense against allegations made, concerning recently reported marketing of said suspect Bonnie & Clyde artifacts.  Silence is important in life.. both when used for emphasis, and also to highlight an inability.  So I wonder.. which is the case here?? 

Also, I'm not sure why some feel I made these allegations??  Well, that's certainly not true.  I'm not the person who sparked this uproar, by publicly revealing "eyewitness" accounts, and thus inspired considerable and passionate debate-- publicly displayed on Facebook and other B&C venues, long before I began commenting on this controversy. 

So how my reporting on this (and who honestly thought some within this history wouldn't comment??)-- has somehow escalated to my being involved in accusations, is a mystery to me.  Compared to the multitude of Facebook and private site messages which have been posted, deleted, exchanged and passed about-- I feel my opinions rather tame.  I am reporting on and providing qualified opinion on this hullabaloo-- for the benefit of this history.  The same qualified opinion I've exercised, concerning many Bonnie & Clyde historical issues for years. 

So if someone wishes to make life more difficult for me over this-- please know, I will fight back vehemently over my right to express opinion on such a remarkable charge-- which absolutely has an impact on this history.  Some may wish to silence others-- but I would think it more effective to refute charges, back provenance and move on.. rather than have this fester as a sore spot for Bonnie & Clyde History.             

Speaking of silence-- what does silence mean concerning this issue??  I would think as serious allegations have been made-- at some point, a response from the individuals accused would be graciously forthcoming.  How can one not defend, and willingly not go on record when so accused??  And if no response is forthcoming-- is it fair to conclude no defense can be offered??  I guess that's for each person who cares about this history-- to decide for themselves.

Not just a human rights campaign-- but also "the" optimal statement, for all who care about history.. like Bonnie & Clyde History.

And let me finish, by saying something about those who are now defending an entity accused of impropriety seemingly without objective review.. and who it appears, take pride in bashing those with poignant cause to comment, by wasting mucho time in being followers of a few-- and with those few, apparently letting their "EL GRANDE'" egos, get in the way of serious discussion concerning this history.  Egos??  Followers??  No rocking the boat now.. with some apparently contributing their own products to sell, along with those accused of Bonnie & Clyde malcontent??  Why do those things have anything to do with Bonnie & Clyde History?? 

Right.. "they don't".

But also a word to those who care to comment plenty fine, concerning defending this history within closed forums, where nary an opponent can see-- but who "clam up" when it comes to commenting on forums with greater access.  What is that"??  Want to help make a difference??.. then I would suggest doing so for real, not just practice.  Private groups seem built for cheer leading and mutual admiration.  However, the rubber hits the road on public forums-- and as such, it would be nice to see comment beyond Facebook here, and on other B&C venues with public access.  

And you know-- if those at the new museum would look about at the floor in the area where so much for sale now covers it-- they could point out to folks visiting, the marks signifying the location of seating at Rosa Canfield's Cafe. Who knows.. could be the very spot Clyde rested, while waiting for food that fateful morning.  Just a point of interest, it might be nice for folks focused on this history.. to know.  


t o m said...

When Mike & Frank from American Pickers came to visit Boots Hinton, you can see Boots tell them that they are barking up the wrong tree because nothing is for sale; nothing will ever be for sale.

Things sure change huh.

Now stuff is for sale on ebay that specifically says the items are 'from the private collection of Boots Hinton'. At the very least, it raises a few questions. But questions are met with anger and attacks. Add that to all the other crazy stuff like the bricks, vest, etc.. and what is a person supposed to think? Are we expected to just assume that Boots is being looked after, assume that his possessions are being respected? I do not assume this is true. I'd like to abe able to assume this is true, but I find it hard to be positive about these items for sale on ebay, or about any of it.

The list of questionable things is so long now. I *could be wrong about the ebay items. I have simple questions and would like straight answers. Does Boots know things from his 'private collection' are for sale on ebay? Does Boots know all these bricks and things have his signature on each of them? Does Boots get his fair share f the items were to sell? Are there more items from 'Boots Hinton's private collection' coming up for sale in the future? Does Mr. Carver comprehend that there is a difference between Boots' possessions and the stuff he bought in the museum purchase? Why did Boots change his mind about selling his things?

It is almost as if these people can not read. They could read the questions and answer them. They may answer them amongst themselves, but I never hear the answers. To be fair, I have the three on ignore/block, so I can not see answers. But I also know from the rest of the list that any questions are answered with anger & attacks. Maybe at least when others see items for sale on ebay that are specifically put forth as being 'from the private collection of Boots Hinton', they might ask questions.

ask questions , or turn a blind eye. We all make decisions as to which road to take.

A. Winston Woodward said...

Tom.. You make valid points those accused are apparently choosing to ignore-- and which others who've fought so hard for this history, and who have at least former friendships now with "Boots"-- should care enough about, to travel to Gibsland and walk in the door of the museum there to gain knowledge of if necessary. Perhaps that will happen. Since many who have maintained good relations with "Boots" over so many years are apparently persona non grata now (to me, his most trustworthy friends)-- is it fair to assume there may be some interaction, in terms of what he knows and who he communicates with?? This may be related somehow to his ongoing needs there in Louisiana. One could think that those who may afford some level of peace of mind for "Boots" concerning his personal day to day well-being-- may also be providing additional assistance concerning other things?? There could also be some stark realities now, concerning the man we've thought we knew-- as his circumstances have let's just say become more advanced.

I believe there are at least a couple of people "Boots" will let talk concerning all of this. Going to try and make that happen. I too am "quite" concerned re: "Boots". When someone you've known changes so dramatically concerning his reactions to so many good people who are on his side-- there must be an answer as to why. And for those choosing to remain silent, concerning this gentleman and Bonnie & Clyde History family member-- I would think, time to look in the mirror and get busy for our old friend.