Monday, October 12, 2015

Bonnie Parker-- Innocent And "Sweet As Pie".. Or Perhaps In Reality-- Not Exactly??

Bonnie & Clyde History can be a polarizing experience-- with impassioned and spirited views flying about, as if leaves on a blustery November day.  Within such disparate views-- many have formed opinions concerning Bonnie Parker.  Some seem to envision Bonnie Elizabeth Parker, as just a "sweet young thang".. who fell prey to love and the charms of a sinister Clyde Barrow, who then.. led her astray into a world she never would've imagined dying in.  

Then there are those who consider Bonnie perhaps more akin to a female "Devil Bandito".. who while voluntarily participating within a gang of evil wrongdoers.. became one herself-- and despite seeming evidence to the contrary.. brutally killed along with other members of the gang, many innocents without mercy.

Well I've gotten into that debate often with some.  For I feel the reality concerning Bonnie Parker and killing was.. that in the eyes of the law and indeed society in the 1930's-- Bonnie was clearly at least an accessory to murder.  Although with the number of times she was witnessed firing weapons at the law.. and considering weapons she loaded (along with that ill-advised pic with a stogie)-- well, seems Bonnie may never escape the trumped-up image of her as perhaps the preeminent Gun Moll.  And with The Barrow Gang having committed so many murders (likely 13)-- it's my feeling, Bonnie Parker may well have gone to the electric chair.. if not ambushed on May 23rd of  '34.

But what about Bonnie as a person??  What about her heart-driven demeanor and actions while a Barrow Gang member??  What type of young woman was she in reality??.. and how did her love for a killer, along with life on the road with a gang of killers change her.. from the sweet and innocent person many view her as-- to a more hardened sort, fueled by Barrow Gang desperation seemingly at every turn.  

Movies and books portray Bonnie in different lights.. from innocence unduly influenced, to Jeff Guinn's not so masked assertion of an astute woman, prone to even the lure of prostitution for want of better things.  But there "are" credible clues, into the identity of the real Bonnie Parker while involved in Bonnie & Clyde's "reign of terror".  And oddly enough to me, these clues almost mirror..(almost)-- Bonnie as portrayed in the Bonnie & Clyde TV mini series aired in 2013. 

Now in fairness, much about that mini series was contrived and "all jumbled up".. as if someone pulled Bonnie & Clyde 1/2 truths and balderdash out of a hat, and just plugged it in various places.  Of course, Frank Hamer was not at Dexfield Park-- and Bonnie didn't aspire to be a dancer.. although according to Billie, Bonnie did want to be a singer on Broadway.  And I'm not sure anyone can nearly surmise, Bonnie somehow actively sought to substitute fame within a murderous gang-- for her faded aspirations in show business.

However, I do think that movie got something quite important right, not usually associated with Bonnie Parker.  A certain hardened-steel toughness and propensity for tough-talking action, many seemingly overlook-- in giving Bonnie a wink, nod and pass-- when scouring Bonnie & Clyde references for truth. 

Dallas Bonnie & Clyde FBI file 26-4114 contains a multitude of unique Bonnie & Clyde info.  So do interviews with lawmen the Barrow Gang kidnapped.   Sheriff Corry (Wellington) thought the gang abusive with Bonnie seeming "nervous and high-strung".. and with the least provocation-- she and the others, capable of killing without hesitation.  And Percy Boyd claimed Bonnie was the 1st to fire on he and Cal Campbell-- and that she used a shotgun.. but concerning that incident, Clyde told her she was not to shoot any more, without his telling her to.  However, that didn't seem the case-- in a number of other documented Bonnie & Clyde shooting incidents, where Bonnie "was" witnessed pulling the trigger.

Joe Gunn (Reeds Spring, Missouri) said Bonnie cursed a lot-- and when she spotted police said "There they are.. we had just as well stop and have it out with them".  And they did.. with Bonnie having again been witnessed firing at officers.  W.D. Jones also said Bonnie fired  a .41 caliber pistol on the night of January 6th, 1933 in Dallas, at the Lily McBride house (Malclom Davis killing).  So can it be said with absolute certainty, that Bonnie never hit anyone with her gunfire??  Likely not.. but likely true she didn't kill anyone.. at least not that we know.  

And of course Sophie Stone (Ruston, LA)-- told of an abusive and physical Bonnie, who Miss Stone said slugged her with a pistol butt and shoved her into their stolen get away car.


So do these eyewitness accounts by many-- lead to a conclusion of Bonnie blinded by love, being an innocent "victim of circumstance"??  I'm not sure that can be judged the case.. as objectively, this combination of credible accounts which don't even include Bonnie perhaps firing at Joplin??-- likely lead one to conclude that in reality.. Bonnie may have been a much more tough-talking-- prone to crudeness-- nervous and reactionary woman.. than many have previously believed.  And without a doubt I think.. willing to propel bullets in the direction of ending life.

And thus, was Bonnie the innocent and reserved young romantic many portray her to be while with The Barrow Gang??  In my view-- not according to enough evidence to make a difference.  Of course, there's nothing wrong with commenting on Bonnie's sweetness as described by some who said they knew her best-- as long as grains of salt are employed.. to temper, what was likely a stark and more hardened reality. 


BarefootOkieGal said...

You know, in some ways Bonnie reminds me of Anne Boleyn, who was also known to be ambitious and headstrong and who also had lots of things said about her that probably weren't true!!! Bonnie WAS just a kid - there's no telling what sort of person she'd have been if she'd had a chance to grow up. After all - didn't Mary O'Dare turn out to be not quite as bad as everyone thought she was, after she'd gotten all grown up? (Geez - trying to imagine Bonnie my age - 54! Wow!)

BarefootOkieGal said...

In a lot of ways, Bonnie reminds me of Anne Boleyn - while they were nothing alike in terms of birth and upbringing, both of them are accused of all sorts of heinous things - often without a lot of proof - maybe sometimes more because they were notorious or infamous than because there was proof that they'd done something they were accused of. Both of them had their supporters, and both of them had their detractors. I think Bonnie was basically a person with all the good and bad traits that people share, and however we look at her is probably based on the people who talk about her that we believe! :-)