The Story of Bonnie and Clyde
By Paul Rosa, NCSA Member #135
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You've read the story of Jesse James,
of how he lived and died.
If you're still in the need
of something to read,
here's the story of Bonnie and Clyde.
Ladies first: Bonnie Parker was born on October 1, 1910 in Rowena, Texas. She was the
second of three children. Her father was a bricklayer by trade. In 1914, her father dies and the family packed
up and moved in with her maternal grandparents in Cement City near Dallas. Bonnie attends Cement City School and
is an excellent student. In 1924 she enters Cement City High School and even wins the Cement City spelling
championship. At 4 foot, 10 inches and 85 pounds, Bonnie is no dumb blonde. She is an addicted fan of romance
and confession magazines.
In 1925, she met Roy Thornton and the following year they exchanged
tungsten wedding bands. She loved him to the point of
where she proceeded to get a tattoo on the inside of her thigh of two intertwined hearts with their names in
the middle. She should have waited a little longer. A year later Mr. Thornton begins to wander and Bonnie is
left in West Dallas to brood. At this time she has a job as a waitress in Marco's Cafe which is located in East Dallas.
Bonnie was, as you can see, very depressed and lonely at only 18 years old. She muddled
through this existence
until the beginning of 1930 when she visited a friend in West Dallas. Here she met a pixie eared gentleman by the
name of Clyde
Clyde Barrow: Clyde Champion Barrow (actually his middle name was "Chestnut"), aliases Roy
Bailey, Jack Hale, Eldin Williams, Elvin Williams, was born in Telico, Texas on March 24, 1909. He was the third
youngest of eight children. His father was a sharecropper. Clyde's schooling days, if you can call them that, were
sporadic and he never went past the fifth grade. When Clyde is 12, the family gives up farming and moves to West
Dallas where his father opens a service station and Clyde attends the Cedar Valley School. He quits shortly after
and becomes involved in selling stolen turkeys with his brother Buck. He's arrested three more times for investigation
of auto theft and safecracking but let go.
In 1928, he moves out of the house. He was 5 foot 6 and 3/4 inches tall with a schoolboy
face. He loves playing the sax and idolized movie actor William S. Heart and the legendary
On October 16, 1929 he was arrested with William Turner and Frank Hardy at the Roosevelt
Hotel in Waco, Texas. He told Chief of Police Hollis Barron through a stream of tears that the two men had picked
him up hitchhiking and he was unaware of their reputations. Barron let him go. This was probably the last break
Clyde would ever get.
He should have heeded his good fortune. In January of 1930, he visited a friend in West
Dallas and met Bonnie Parker. Thus the romance began.
Bonnie became aware of Clyde's past when the "laws" came looking for him and took him back
to Denton, Texas about some stolen merchandise. When they could not make it stick, they transferred him to Waco
where he confessed to a couple of burglaries and several car thefts. He couldn't cry his way out of this one. He
was sentenced to two years on each count but the courts allowed the sentences to run concurrently.
As it turned out, his cell mate turned out to be William Turner. Bonnie, who visited Clyde
every day, smuggled a Colt to Clyde and that night Clyde, Turner and another prisoner by the name of Emory
Freedom was short lived. Clyde and Turner (Bonnie was not with them) were recaptured in
Middletown, Ohio and Clyde got 14 years at the Texas State Penitentiary. the two constantly kept in touch by
But the 'laws' fooled around,
kept taking him down
and locking him up in a cell
'till he said to me
"I'll never be free
so I'll meet a few of them in Hell.
With the intervention of his mother, Clyde was pardoned from prison on February 2, 1932. Unfortunately,
just prior to his release, he had another inmate chop off two of his toes on his left foot during a work detail
in order for him to avoid working in the cotton fields. He left prison on crutches. Here Clyde made a halfhearted
attempt at work in Massachusetts. That lasted all of two weeks. He returned to Bonnie and off they went -- in a
The "laws" caught up with them, Clyde escaped and Bonnie ended up in the Kaufman, Texas jail for a couple of
months. It was at this time that Bonnie wrote the poem "The Story of Suicide Sal."
Meanwhile, Clyde kept busy. He robbed the Sims Oil Company in Dallas and escaped. The turning point came on
April 13 when the robbery of a jewelry store owned by John Bucher ended up with Bucher's death. Although Clyde
claimed he was in the car at the time of the shooting, he and Raymond Hamilton, a childhood friend, were then
known as the killers of John Bucher. Clyde's career had began in earnest. A series of gas station robberies
followed and Clyde was identified as one of the perpetrators.
Bonnie was released from jail in June and joined Clyde. On August 5, while he was in Atoka, Oklahoma with
Hamilton (it is unclear why Bonnie was not with them), they killed two policemen, C.G. Maxwell and Eugene Moore,
who went to investigate them while they were drinking inside the car.
Several other thefts took place after this and also a couple of robberies which culminated in murder. Hamilton
was apprehended during this time in Michigan, sent back to Dallas and given a mere 263 years.
Tne morning in Rustin, Louisiana, Bonnie and Clyde stole a car belonging to a Mr. Darby from a boarding house.
He saw them. He asked Miss Sofia Stone if he could borrow her car to give chase. They did, but realized they could
not keep up and turned their machine around. When they looked in the rear view mirror, they saw they were being
pursued by their own stolen car. They were taken in Mr. Darby's own car as captives. As Miss Stone tells it, a gun
was kept in her side all the time by Bonnie and she was told that if they weren't so likable they would have been
killed. Bonnie laughed when she asked Mr. Darby his profession and found out it was an undertaker. She said maybe
someday he would be working on her. As it turned out, Bonnie couldn't have been closer to the truth. They were let
go. But Mr. Darby would see Bonnie one more time.
W.D. Jones, a petty thief, was Bonnie and Clyde's newest member on their road to nowhere. Malcom Davis was the
next police officer to lose the draw to Clyde's deadly aim.
Now Bonnie and Clyde are the Barrow gang.
I'm sure you have all read
how they rob and steal
and those who squeal
are usually found dying or dead.
In March of 1933, Marvin (Buck) Barrow was released from the Texas Penitentiary after serving a short term for
burglary and, with his second wife Blanch, joined his brother, Bonnie and W.D. Jones in Joplin, Missouri. The five
set up house in a garage apartment and stayed there until April when the police, thinking they had found a gang of
illegal gin brewers, closed in. In the ensuing gun battle, Clyde was shot as was Jones but two more officers bit
In the apartment, officers found Buck's pardon and a guitar. A newspaperman found some undeveloped film. When
developed, one of the shots was Bonnie holding a shotgun on Clyde and the most famous -- Bonnie -- smoking a cigar.
In actuality, she had borrowed the cigar from Jones. Bonnie smoked Lucky Strikes. But the myth was created. She was
now known as the cigar smoking moll of the Barrow gang. It was a moniker that Bonnie hated.
If they try to act like citizens
and rent them a nice little flat
about the third night,
they're invited to fight
by a sun-gun's rat-tat-tat.
By now, it was all downhill. Near Wellington, Texas, their stolen Ford plunged off a bridge under construction
and Bonnie was pinned underneath. The machine caught fire. Rescued by some farmers, who saw the arsenal of weapons
in the car, one ran off to call police. One of the women neighbors who came to help was shot by a nervous W.D. Jones.
He blew her hand off. When two policemen came to investigate, the Barrow gang overpowered them. Along with Bonnie,
they were loaded into the car and later released. Bonnie's leg would never be the same.
Their next place of residence was the Red Crown Tourist Camp in Platte City, Missouri. They rented a double cabin
with a garage in between. The police paid them another visit. In this gun battle Buck was hit in the forehead. Blanche
was hit in the eyes with flying glass. The gang put a set of sunglasses on her face. Once again, they escaped but were
found three days later in a park in Dexter, Iowa on a tip from a waiter who informed police that a man had for the
past few days ordered five meals and taken them into the woods. Clyde, in his haste to escape, ran his car into a
stump and the police proceeded to riddle it with bullets. Buck was hit several more times -- in the hip and shoulder.
Clyde and Jones took Bonnie and escaped through a stream and proceeded through a cornfield to a farm. Holding
the farmer and his son at bay, they took his car. Buck was captured and died from his wounds a few days later in
a Perry, Iowa hospital. Blanche, probably the most innocent of all (she was constantly trying to reform Buck) was
sent to the Missouri State Penitentiary.
The next few months were probably the worst ever for the two. W.D. Jones left them but was later captured in
Texas. He claimed that towards the end he was kept captive by a pair of desperadoes for fear of squealing on them.
He was scared to death after his capture. Rightly so -- he was only 17 years old.
Bonnie's leg became deformed for lack of good medical attention. In November, while trying to visit their parents,
sheriff Smoot got wind of it, set up an ambush and with other law officers, blasted the car. Bonnie and Clyde, both
hit in the legs, once again escaped. Clyde had more lives than a cat.
The road gets dimmer and dimmer;
Sometimes you can hardly see
but it's flight, man to man,
and do all you can,
for they know they can never be free.
In January, Clyde and Bonnie sprang Raymond Hamilton from the Eastham Prison Farm in Huntsville, Texas. Along with
Hamilton was one Henry Methvin. Another police officer, Major Crowson, would not see the days end. Between January
and March, several banks were robbed and were attributed to the Barrow gang. In March, Hamilton split from the gang
for reasons that are uncertain. Now matter -- Hamilton would be later captured and sent to the electric chair in 1935
for the murder of the guard at Huntsville.
If a policeman is killed in Dallas
and they have no clue or guide;
If they just can't find a fiend
they just wipe their slate clean
and hang it on Bonnie and Clyde.
On Easter Sunday, 1934, on a side road off Highway 114 in Grapevine, Texas, Clyde and Methvin killed two police
officers who thought they needed help. Five days later they kill police officer Cal Campbell and kidnap Chief Percy
Boyd in Commerce, Oklahoma. They let Percy go but not before Bonnie asks him to tell the public she does not smoke
cigars. Bonnie's priorities are a little distorted by now. They also have less than a month to live.
Now the law enforcement authorities start putting the pressure. They constantly harass Clyde and Bonnie's relatives
and try to seek indictments on anyone who has tried to conceal or help the two. Lee Simmons, who at that time was head
of the Texas Prison System, was enraged at the Huntsville break. He receives permission from Texas Governor Miriam
Furguson to hire a special agent. That special agent was retired Texas Ranger Frank Hamer.
Hamer, working for a salary of $150 a month, took to Clyde's trail on February 10. He used a Ford V8 which he knew
Clyde was partial to. He picked up their trail in Texarkana but always seemed to be a day late. While the chase was
on, Clyde killed three more policemen.
A newsboy once said to his buddy:
I wish old Clyde would get jumped;
in these awful hard times
we'd make a few dimes
if five or six cops would get bumped.
Ivan Methvin, Henry's father, had in the past let Bonnie and Clyde use his place to hide. Now fearing for his son's
life, made a deal with Lee Simmons. A full pardon for his son in Texas for information on the Barrow gang. Hamer was
informed of a "post office" that was used by the Barrows. It was a large board which lay on the ground near a large
stump of a pine tree. It was on a farm to Market Road several miles from Plain Dealing, Louisiana. The "post office"
was used for communication among the Barrow gang and their friends and relatives. The scene was set.
At this time, Hamer picked up his old friend B.M. Gault. The other men who were in on the kill were Bob Alcorn,
Ted Hinton, Henderson Jordan and Paul Oakley. At 1:30 a.m. they set up blinds with tree branches approximately 25
feet from the road on the east side so that they could look down on the road. They placed themselves approximately
ten feet apart. Then they waited.
They waited for approximately seven hours when at about 9:10 a.m. they heard a machine approaching at a high rate
of speed. It is unclear whether Hamer or Alcorn stepped into the road to challenge them. When the car stopped they
were told to give up. They reached for their guns but never had a chance to use them. The posse opened fire with steel
jacketed, high velocity bullets. The car leaped ahead and came to a halt in a ditch beside the road. The firing
continued after the car came to a halt.
The officers, even after pumping 167 rounds into the car, approached the machine carefully. Bonnie Parker and
Clyde Barrow couldn't have been any deader. Fifty rounds had smashed into their bodies. Some through the driver's
door, through Clyde, through Bonnie and out the passenger door. The fingers on Bonnie's right hand had been shot
away. Her left hand held a bloody pack of cigarettes. She died with her head slumped between her legs, a gun across
her lap. Bonnie was 23 years old, Clyde 24. It looked as if Bonnie had just gotten a permanent wave.
Inside the car, Hamer found the following: 1 saxophone, 3 Browning automatic rifles, 1 10 gauge Winchester lever
action, sawed-off shotgun, 1 20 gauge sawed-off shotgun, 1 Colt 32 caliber automatic, 1 Colt 45 caliber revolver,
7 Colt automatic pistols, and approximately 3,000 rounds of ammunition. They found license plates from Illinois,
Iowa, Missouri, Texas, Indiana, Kansas, Ohio and Louisiana.
They don't think they're too smart or desperate.
They know that the 'laws' always wins;
They've been shot at before,
but they do not ignore
that death is the wages of sin.
The car was towed with the bodies in it to Arcadia, Louisiana. The
were already waiting.
Their bodies were placed in the undertaker's parlor, which was the rear room of a
furniture store. The crowds were
uncontrolled to the point where the undertaker had to squirt embalming fluid on them to keep them back.
Clyde was buried in a West Dallas cemetery on May 25 next to his brother Buck. Thousands of thrill
seekers were present,
some snatching the flowers from his grave.
Bonnie's mother had refused to have Bonnie buried next to Clyde and so she was buried on May 27 at the West
Dallas Fishtrap Cemetery.
Frank Hamer received thousands of letters of congratulations and was also honored on the floor of congress.
Hamer died in 1955.
Henry Methvin received his pardon from Texas as promised -- but not from Oklahoma. He was arrested for murder,
sentenced to death which was later commuted to life. He served 12 years, was released and run over by a train in
Twenty-three persons were brought to trial on charges of harboring Bonnie and Clyde.
Clyde's and Bonnie's families tried to gain ownership of the guns that they were found with because they realized
their worth to collectors. They did not receive them.
The gray V8 Ford was shown for years after that at State Fairs for 25 cents a look.
It is said that Bonnie never killed anyone. No matter how much it is debated, the truth will probably never be
known. A modern-day Belle Starr, she apparently justified her criminal activities because she did not want to leave
her man's side. She would stay with him no matter what -- even though it meant the death of nine police officers.
Even John Dillinger, who had less than a month to live himself, commented that Bonnie and Clyde gave bank robbing
a bad name.
Some day they'll go down together.
They'll bury them side by side.
To few it'll be grief -
To the law a relief -
but it's death for Bonnie and Clyde.
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