Monday, April 11, 2016

"That Damn Clyde Barrow".. Revisited.

One of the great & touching moments within Billie Parker Moon's manuscript.. had to do with her telling of a wonderful story involving Clyde and her young son Buddy Mace.  As told by Billie--

"There was the time Clyde gave my 4-year-old son Buddy a sackful of quarters. There must have been eight or ten dollars in quarters in that sack. The next day, Buddy was handspringing proud of his new found wealth. He told his grandmother that he would pay the newspaper boy. Back then, we paid 25 cents a week for the daily paper."

"When the paperboy came, Buddy proudly handed him a quarter and demanded a receipt. The paperboy was in a kidding mood that day. He solemnly told Buddy that the quarter was a fake... no good. Buddy looked at him and I was afraid he was about to say he had gotten the money from Clyde and his Aunt Bonnie. Instead, he took the quarter back and strolled into the house. He walked up to me and said, "Mammy, that damn Clyde Barrow done stuck me with a whole mess of fake quarters." 

"When Buddy died a short time later, Bonnie and Clyde were in Dallas and had just bought him a Shetland pony. The poor little guy never got to see the animal."

As a point of reference, the inflation conversion from 1933 to today is now up to 18 to 1.  So $8 to $10 of quarters then, would equate to $144 to $180 today. So a pretty good haul for a youngster. There's more to come from Billie's unpublished book, so stayed tuned for more Billie insights-- exclusively here on The B&CHB. Excerpts from Billie Parker Moon's manuscript are ©2010 The Bonnie & Clyde History Blog by A. W. Woodward.  I hope all are enjoying these rare Billie Parker revelations.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Does Billie Parker Moon's Manuscript Cause Angst For Bonnie & Clyde Lore?? Surely, As Any Trusted Eyewitness Account Would. This Time.. Wellington And Beyond.

Within her unpublished manuscript, Billie Parker Moon relates recollections from some key Bonnie & Clyde events she was there to witness.. which are of great interest historically, as conflicting versions of the same incidents have often been "pieced together" from various accounts which could be deemed less reliable.  And always of keen interest within the history of Bonnie & Clyde, is any account of The Barrow Gang's time after Wellington. This, as the gang's foray into Fort Smith, Ark. involving Bonnie's traumatic injuries from Wellington, and the gang's desperate efforts in dealing with them-- seem to elicit elements of compassion, even from the most hardened Bonnie & Clyde detractor.

I was going to separate Fort Smith from McKinney within publishing these reports on Billie's remembrances-- but decided instead to combine them for continuity. Oddly, the singular detail of Billie traveling back to Dallas by bus-- seemingly has some Bonnie & Clyde scholars in a "tizzy". When I first read this account to others, unanimously-- it would be said "it was a train". Well surely Billie knew the difference between a bus and a train, and which conveyance she traveled on. As mentioned previously, some B&C historical facts may have to be re-worked.. with Billie's accounts now known.

Billie Jean's recollections of the McKinney, Texas incident are particularly detailed and interesting-- as well as her revealing a kind person's perjury under oath, in protecting Billie concerning the aid she rendered Bonnie at Fort Smith. Also of note, is a possible conflict between Blanche's account after Fort Smith and Billie's account of the same time period. Interestingly, this 2 week period specifically noted by Billie-- is a time where little seems known within this history. Thus, her accounts have heightened value.

So here we go, with more of Billie Parker Moon's eyewitness accounts from Bonnie & Clyde History.

"In the summer of 1933, the kids were driving fast over a back road near Wellington, Texas. As they topped a hill, Clyde could feel the car slipping along the road. "Hang onto your hats," he yelled. "This is it." The car went out of control and careened through some guard rails into a ditch. The car caught on fire, burning Clyde superficially. But Bonnie was hurt badly. She suffered bad burns on her legs-- burns which left her permanently unable to straighten her right leg or walk without a heartbreaking limp."

"As always when they were in trouble, they turned to their families-- the only people in the world they knew would never betray them. Clyde drove to Dallas from Fort Smith, Arkansas, in a stolen Ford to pick me up. They had rented two cottages near Fort Smith and were attempting in the best way possible to take care of Bonnie. When I arrived, I was greeted by Buck and his wife, and by W. D. Jones. Bonnie was in a coma and didn't know I was there."

"The daughter of the man who owned the tourist court was a nurse. She provided a doctor friend of hers and began intensive treatment to get Bonnie's festering leg to heal. Neither the motel owner, his daughter or the doctor knew at the time who we were. Later, however, in a moment of human kindness I shall never forget, the nurse refused from a witness stand to identify me as the woman who had helped Bonnie through this period."

"Cold-blooded, impassionate killers? When Bonnie regained consciousness, her first thoughts weren't for herself. They were for me. She insisted to Clyde that I be returned to Dallas immediately, before more trouble started and before I became irrevocably involved. The next two weeks we spent wandering back roads enroute to Texas... stopping where necessary to rub ointments on Bonnie's wounds and camping out at night. They finally got me to Sherman, Texas, and put me on a bus back to Dallas."

"Bonnie always was concerned with keeping me safe. I was with them one afternoon when they were low on money-- as they usually were-- and low on gasoline for the Ford Clyde invariably drove. We stopped at a churchyard at McKinney and Clyde got out of the car, telling me to keep it running. He strolled off in the direction of town."

"With the gasoline situation low, I made a mistake. I turned off the engine while we were waiting for Clyde to return. Bonnie still was in pain from the Wellington burns and she was sitting in the back of the car. When Clyde returned, he threw a sack of change on the seat from a grocery store robbery he had just pulled. He was mad-- raging-- about the fact the car wasn't running. It was the only time I ever can remember his losing his temper with me."

"As he started the car, it lurched and the wheels became stuck in the mud. A woman and her son happened by in their car and Clyde offered them $20 to pull us out. He cut a barbed wire fence nearby and used the wire as a chain, wrapped around the bumpers of our Ford and the other car. As soon as we were out of the mud, he clipped the wires and roared off. He couldn't have paid the woman $20. Our only money was the three or four dollars in change he had taken from the grocery store."

"While the car was in the mud, people began to materialize from no where. Bonnie was afraid for me and told me to get out of the car and mingle with the crowd. "Pretend you don't know us," she said. "You aren't involved in this robbery." I looked into the back seat where she was lying. She looked so afraid and sick, there was no way I was going to leave her like that. She looked so pathetic, I wouldn't have left her if the whole country had been full of laws. Those were the bad moments... moments where everything could have ended at once. But there were good times. Times when we got together and for an hour or two, the kids were able to forget they were wanted fugatives."

There's more to come from Billie's manuscript-- so please stay tuned. Excerpts from Billie Parker Moon's manuscript, in part or their entirety-- are ©2010 The Bonnie & Clyde History Blog by A. W. Woodward. As always, I welcome your comments.