You've read the story of ''Jesse James''
Of how he lived and died
If you're still in need
Of some thing to read
Here's the story of ''Bonnie & Clyde''
Now Bonnie & Clyde are the ''Barrow Gang''
I'm sure you all have read
How they rob and steal
And how those who ''squeal''
Are usually found dying or dead
There's lots of untruth to their ''write ups''
They're not so merciless as that
Their nature is raw
They hate all the ''laws''
The ''stool pidgeons'' ''spotters'' & ''rats''
They class them as cold blooded Killers
They say they are ''heartless'' & ''mean''
But I say this with pride
That I once knew Clyde
When he was honest, upright & clean
But the law 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 'em in ''Hell''
This road was so dimly lighted
There was no highway signs to guide
But they made up their minds
If the roads were all ''blind''
They wouldn't give up till they died
The road gets dimmer & dimmer
Some times you can hardly see
Still it's fight man to man
And do all you can
For they know they can never be free
If they try to act like a citizen
And rent them a nice little flat
About the third nite
They're invited to fight
By a ''sub gun's'' ''rat-tat-tat''
If a policeman is killed in Dallas
And they have no clues for a guide
If they can't find the ''fiend''
They just wipe the slate clean
And ''hang it on'' Bonnie & Clyde
Two crimes been done in America
Not accredited to the ''Barrow mob''
For they had no hand
In the kidnap demand
Or the Kansas City Depot ''job''
A newsboy once said to his Buddy
I wish old Clyde would get ''jumped''
In this awful hard times
We might make a few dimes
If 5 or 6 laws would get ''bumped''
The police haven't got the report yet
Clyde sent a wireless today
Saying we have a peace flag of white
We stretch out at night
We have joined the ''N.R.A.''
They don't think they're too tough or too desperate
They know that the law always wins
They've been shot often before
But they do not ignore
That ''death are the wages of Sin''
From heart break some people have suffered
From weariness some people have died
But take it all in all
Our troubles are small
Till we get like Bonnie & Clyde
Some day they'll ''go down'' together
And they'll bury them Side by Side
To few it means grief
To the law it's relief
But it's death to Bonnie & Clyde
Bonnie's just written a poem
The Story of Bonnie & Clyde
So I will try my hand at Poetry
With her riding by my side
As we travel down the highway
Never knowing where it will End
Never very much money
And not even a friend
As we travel through the city
Looking for something to Rob
Bonnie will always help me
When I am casing a Job
Sometimes we travel for days
Before we can find the right place
And then we would always wonder
If there would be any shooting in the place
We don't want to hurt anyone
But we have to steal to eat
And if it's a shoot out to live
Then that's the way it will have to be
We have never shot at anyone
That wasn't after us
And to kill someone that is after you
You are lucky if you don't get it first
We have kidnapped some people
And tied them to a tree
But not so tight that after we were gone
They could not get themself free
We are going home tomorrow
To look in on the folks
We will meet them out near Grapevine
If the Laws don't get there first
Now days that's all we live for
Just one more visit home
For we know that someday they'll get us
And then it will be solong
We will drive by the Station tomorrow
Throw a bottle out under the shed
To meet us out near Irving
If they don't start scattering some lead
We pray every town that we pass through
To forgive sinners like Bonnie & Clyde
And please God just let us make it
Through this town to the other side
Some day we will go home forever
And they will Bury us side by side
The grief that we brought to our families
Will pass as the years go by
Now that's not as good as Bonnie's
So I guess I will call it a flop
But please God just one more visit
Before we are put on the spot
The ''some day'' Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow ''went down'' together was at 9: 15am on 23 May 1934, ambushed and ''put on the spot'' by six Laws, while riding in their ''little gray machine'' on a back country road coming from Mount Lebanon and just before they reached Sailes, in Bienville Parish Louisiana.
While they are not buried Side by Side, they are forever together, riding ''Side by Side'', in their legend as Bonnie & Clyde.
A book about Jesse James was among the things found in the 'death car'. They were reading it at the time Bonnie wrote this poem and it provided the impetus for Bonnie to write this poem. Then in turn this poem provided the impetus for Clyde to write his reply to this poem.
The name ''Barrow Gang'' was given to them by the police and newspapers after the Joplin incident, when they were forced to abandon almost everything in their escape, and where the Laws concluded that Clyde Barrow and his brother Buck Barrow together and Buck's wife Blanche Barrow were all 'running' together, hence the 'Barrow Gang', along with 'the Parker woman' and a fifth unidentified person (they didn't know it was W.D. Jones until he was arrested after leaving the gang) . Bonnie sarcastically notes that the Laws and newspapers wrote the usual generic 'gangster nonsense' (she was an avid reader of the True Detective crime magazines) .
Bonnie then tells that there's a lot of nonsense in their writeups, fanciful writing, fabrications, falsifications and assures that Bonnie and Clyde are not so merciless as that. She tells that they are just young people riding free and they hate all those who get in their way or try to harm them.
Bonnie acknowledges that they are classed as cold blooded killers and are considered heartless and mean. But Bonnie tells that she knew Clyde back when he was just a normal person, trying to be honest upright and clean.
When Clyde was put in the Huntsville Penitentiary for almost two years, he was like a 'schoolboy' and stood up against ill treatment of his fellow prisoners and thereby made himself a 'target' as a 'problem type' for the prison guards to 'knock down'. Prison guards targeted prisoners they disliked to kill them if they could before they got released, by deliberately overworking them or setting them up for a fake escape attempt and then shooting them. Clyde was targeted in this way and knowing he would not be able to survive the overwork, cut his toe off in a deliberate axe 'accident', in a desperate action to get taken off the work team. Shortly afterwards he was released by the Governor following a successful petition by his mother Cumie, unrelated to his axe incident. So the prison guards 'just missed him', but they had attempted to kill him in prison and Clyde knew that they would kill him if he came back to prison again. So Clyde left prison a very traumatized person, a 'rattlesnake'. He was unable to deal with his trauma and quickly slipped back into a life of crime, but this time he was suicidal against getting caught, fueled by his near escape from death in prison.
Bonnie knew the Clyde before he went to prison. Bonnie still loved Clyde with all her heart despite him now being a changed and traumatized person after his prison experience. Bonnie was sad for Clyde and now loved him even more.
Bonnie tells that the Law unfairly identified Clyde as a young troublemaker and kept fooling around by taking Clyde down to the police station and locking him up in a cell, both for questioning and also to participate in their regular 'ugly mug' identification lineup, which was embarrassing, till Clyde had had enough of being hassled by the Laws, and losing jobs because of the Laws intrusive interruptions. Feeling he would never be free from harassment, Clyde 'gave up' on being honest, upright and clean and made up his mind to 'go his own way' into the life of crime and any Laws that got in his way could meet him in 'Hell'.
Bonnie tells that how all this would play out was not clear when they started out (not clear to her at least, but probably very clear to Clyde) . There was no precedent (in her experience) to guide them, but regardless they made up their minds that even if everything they tried led nowhere, they nevertheless wouldn't give up till they died. Clyde decided he was never going to give up and Bonnie decided she was going to be with him till the end. Bonnie wanted to be a part of this 'adventure'. She 'appointed herself' as Clyde's 'bodyguard' and always watched over him while he slept and as he interacted with accomplices and people in general (who probably did not realize how heavily armed she always was, ready do defend Clyde at any moment) . She was protecting Clyde and with that protecting her 'world'.
''Clyde's name is up, mama, he'll be killed sooner or later, because he's never going to give up. I love him and I'm going to be with him till the end. When he dies I want to die anyway. Let's don't be sad. I'm in as big a spot as Clyde is. My name's up too. And though it may sound funny to you, I'm happy, just being with Clyde, no matter what comes''.
The situation just kept getting worse and worse, she had no say in anything (she tried to and had many flaming arguments with Clyde) . It all just kept coming 'thick. Some times they could hardly see how to continue. Often times she was sure that 'now' was the time they were going to get captured, then Clyde, the escape artist, somehow managed to get them away. Nevertheless it was still a fight man to man, no matter what, and they were determined to do everything they possibly could, for they knew they had nothing to lose (at least Clyde had nothing to lose as the electric chair was waiting for him) .
If they tried to act like ordinary people and rent a place to live, it would take the local Laws about three days (which was kind of standard) , to send information relating to something suspect to other authorities and receive requested information back, on which they would then act and go out to search and arrest. So anyone who knew they were 'hot', knew to avoid remaining in the same place for a third day, to avoid trouble.
It became fashionable to 'hang' everything on Bonnie and Clyde. It made good news stories and hick Laws could use it to cover up their not being able to catch the actual perpetrator. Other 'crooks' could also cover their crimes by claiming they had been 'jumped' by Bonnie and Clyde and thus cover the money they stole from their own banks and the documents (mostly loan agreements) that were so conveniently destroyed. Also quite a few others falsely claimed to be Bonnie and Clyde, when committing crimes to raise the 'fear factor', or just to 'wow' people, leading to there being countless stories of peoples 'encounters' with 'Bonnie and Clyde'. People got so 'jittery' that practically every suspicious male-female duo was suspected of being Bonnie and Clyde. So Bonne and Clyde's legend grew, even though in reality they had their time cut out just looking out for themselves and their own survival. Even on a number of occasions during the time Bonnie was actually locked up in the Kaufman jail, she was reported as having been present at crime scenes, which was of course impossible.
The two crimes referred to and which Bonnie uses to 'historically date' her poem, is the Lindbergh baby kidnapping demand and the Kansas City railway depot attack on a group of Laws to free an apprehended gangster they were transporting.
Newsboys were happy for any scandal that helped sell their newspapers and Bonnie and Clyde were providing a lot of scandal so the newsboys were cheering them on and earning a 'pretty penny' off of them. Bonnie's uncanny premonition, it turned out that in the end it was six Laws, but it was Bonnie and Clyde that got both 'jumped' and 'bumped'.
Clyde worked for a time as a Western Union messenger boy, so Bonnie has Clyde sending a wireless to the police telling them that they would like to be left alone to rest and that they have (tongue in cheek) joined the N.R.A. (which was Roosevelt's National Recovery Administration) . In other words, just like others were being given new options by the N.R.A., they too would like new options.
They don't think they are too tough, they bleed and hurt like everyone, get sick, Bonnie got her leg burnt. And they don't think they are too desperate. They're still doing 'ordinary' things like filling up on gasoline, grabbing a bite from sandwich shops, buying groceries, going into small towns to shop, having their laundry done, meeting up with family and accomplices. Always dressing up nicely and being clean. They loved dressing well but also 'had' to dress well to 'look the part' in the late model cars they stole, lest they attract attention and suspicion if they were not dressed to a standard appropriate for owners of such cars. They even had the odd tipple of whiskey and fun taking captured Laws on 'joy rides'. Clyde even had his guitar along and later his saxophone (which was found in the 'death car') . But Bonnie acknowledges that they know that the Law will win in the end. Bonnie confirms that even though they have been shot often and so far got away, that they are well aware that death is a very probable price they will have to pay for their sins.
From heartbreak some people have suffered, but heartbreak alone is not enough on it's own to cause one to die, Bonnie discovered that after Roy abandoned her and also after her niece and nephew died. But that from weariness people do die and Bonnie and Clyde were now very weary. And if people honestly appraise their situation they will realize that all their problems are still relatively minor when they compare them with the troubles now faced by Bonnie and Clyde.
Some day they know the Law will win and they will go down. Bonnie has made up her mind never to leave Clyde while he is alive. Clyde has no choice as death awaits him in the electric chair if he gets caught. So they have resolved to go down together and when they die they expect that people will bury them side by side. They don't expect anyone except their nearest and dearest to grieve for them. The Law will be relieved that they are finally finished with Bonnie and Clyde. But for Bonnie and Clyde personally it is their death and with it the end of their story, and with it all their memories and dreams and sorrows and happiness and pain and suffering. It is their mortal end. Bonnie's 'World' while on the run was just Clyde, their stolen car and the few possessions they had in it, the stimulation of the changing scenery as they drove along the roads, the nervousness when they robbed and stole, the terror of their gun battles, the blood and pain of their wounds, the places they stopped at and all the experiences they shared together. It sure was not 'boring'. Through it all Bonnie was always Clyde's 'champion'.
It is not necessary to comment Clyde's reply, as unlike Bonnie's poem with all it's complex meaning, Clyde's reply is just a straight forward poetic telling of their situation from his point of view.
Emma (Bonnie's Mum) :
''You know your going to get it and get it soon, aren't you afraid? ''.
''Sure, were afraid, we never know what the next hour will bring. You may think this is funny- but we never go through a town or past a place where there may be a trap, that we don't pray we'll make it. Seeing you folks is all the pleasure Bonnie and I have left in life now, besides each other it's all we've got to live for. Whenever we get so we can't visit our people, we might as well die and be done with it. We're staying close to home and we're coming in as long as we're alive''.
THE TRAIL'S VERY END
The Law was having big problems trying to catch them because they were so heavily armed, with military National Guard weapons and constantly presenting a moving target, never staying in the same place for long and often living in the woods at unknown and everchanging locations. They were constantly changing their appearance and car number plates, as well as cars. From when they were spotted anywhere, by the time the Laws were able to organize a response, they were already gone.
They were finally 'put on the spot' by Ivy, the father of their last constant gang member Henry. Henry wanted to leave Bonnie and Clyde but Clyde threatened him and forced him to stay. Clyde reckoned that as he had broken him out of Eastham Prison Farm (Henry had been unknown to Clyde and had just tagged along) , that Henry owed him. So Henry told his father Ivy, who then helped Henry get Bonnie and Clyde 'off his back', by 'ratting' them to the local Sheriff, then acting as a 'stool pigeon' with his 'broken down truck' and then definitely 'spotting' them to the six Laws hiding in brush by calling out to Bonnie and Clyde ''have you seen Henry? '' as they drove up and stopped.
As it happened Bonnie and Clyde were already running three days late in getting back to Dallas to see their families, who they had last seen seventeen days before, at which time Bonnie had given her mother Emma this poem. This was because Henry had successfully given them the slip in Shreveport and Clyde was stubbornly insisting on getting Henry back before they went back to Dallas. Bonnie was most probably arguing with Clyde and trying to get him to give up on Henry or at least first go back to Dallas and then look for Henry later. But Clyde would stubbornly not hear of it and Bonnie could do nothing but bicker with Clyde about it.
So on the final fateful day Bonnie and Clyde were coming early in the morning in the hope of picking up Henry and then heading straight for Dallas the same day. They were dressed up well and Bonnie was all done up ready for their family meeting in Dallas later that day.
As they drove down that road from Mount Lebanon towards Sailes, they were probably sitting silently in the car riding side by side, Clyde driving and looking to see Ivy and Bonnie reading her magazine with a sandwich from Rosa's ''American Cafe'' in her left hand and a pack of Camel cigarettes in her lap. Then Clyde spotted Ivy standing beside his truck in the road, and slowed down and stopped.
Ivy called out to them ''have you seen Henry? ''. At that moment Clyde would have thought 'oh no, we still can't find him' and Bonnie who had probably got Clyde to agree earlier that morning that if they don't find Henry now then they were going to Dallas without him would have thought 'oh well, now we can head straight for Dallas anyway, without him'.
Then two rifle shots (from former Marine sharpshooter Prentiss Oakley) and Clyde was hit. Clyde would have heard the shots and felt himself get hit, and found himself paralyzed and unable to move. He then would have started slumping and heard Bonnie start screaming and then he would have rapidly passed out and died. He would most probably have thought that Ivy and Henry had lured him into a trap and it was Henry who had shot him.
Bonnie would probably have thought the same as Clyde in the first moments and started screaming in horror at Clyde slumping beside her, realizing all was over, they were not going to get away, were not going to Dallas, she was not now going to see her Mama, she was now stuck on a deserted road alone, she could no longer stay on the 'run' without Clyde, so her 'present world' was suddenly over, and she was probably somewhat wistful that Clyde had not listened to her and given up on Henry, but his stubbornness had brought them now into this fix.
Then all six Laws opened fire and Bonnie would have realized immediately this was not just Henry and then she would probably have seen some of the Laws now standing in the brush and firing and realized that just like back at the Sowers ambush the previous November, here now it was Ivy who had 'ratted' them to the Laws and they were now ambushed and Clyde was not responding and they were not escaping. So now Bonnie's screaming would have turned from horror to anger at Ivy the 'rat' and rage at the Laws shooting at them. The Laws said that she screamed like a panther (and Bonnie's screaming was to haunt the Laws for the rest of their lives) .
Bonnie would have felt herself get hit multiple times and perhaps instinctively attempted to shield herself with her right hand (which was mangled by bullets) and then suddenly felt herself paralyzed as her spine was broken. At some point bullets hit her in the mouth and one went up through her brain and out the top of her head, at which point she would have probably rapidly lost consciousness and passed out and died.
Their injuries are detailed in the Coroner's report which is available to view. The Dallas undertaker's notes on Bonnie's funeral preparation at McKamey-Campbell are also available to view.
The Laws estimated that their barrage of fire lasted about fifteen to twenty seconds (until the 'death car' coasted to a stop against the earth bank at the side of the road and Bonnie stopped screaming) . The aftermath was filmed by one of the six Laws (Ted Hinton) and is available to view. Ted was the most junior of the six Laws and immediately after the shooting they sent him to Bienville (the closest telephone) to report the shooting to Dallas. Ted also reported it to his newspaper contacts, he was very fast, as the shooting happened at 9: 15 am and Bonnie's mum Emma already got the telephone call from the newspaper journalist around 9: 30am. The newspaper reminded Ted to take a movie of the scene, which he did upon his return to the scene. The newspaper had provided a movie camera to Ted which he carried to record newsworthy incidents of interest for them, which gave Ted a 'sideline' income (which was officially against regulations as Sheriff Smoot Schmid initially emphatically denied that a movie of the scene had been taken) . By the time Ted returned to the scene the other Laws were well along with emptying the 'death car' of it's contents and setting them out for the required official photographic 'scene' record. The movie was most probably taken about forty five minutes or so after the shooting and is available to view. The following day the participants returned to record the official 'ambush re-enactment' which is also available to view.
After they had finished their scene examination Sheriff Henderson Jordan and Captain Frank Hamer went to Arcadia, Hamer to report to Dallas and Jordan to get the Coroner Dr Wade and organize a tow truck (Ted Hinton also went with them to tell his newspaper contact that he had made the movie) . From the scene photos they must have taken their time, as many local townspeople had arrived at the scene before they got back. The other three Laws, Prentiss Oakley, Bob Alcorn and Maney Gault had remained to guard the scene. While there are various reports that items were pilfered from the 'death car' by the public at the scene, this is not corroborated by the photographic evidence. When the bodies of Bonnie and Clyde were photographed being removed from the 'death car' in Arcadia, items were still on them that would easily have been pilfered had that been done, like Clyde's sunglasses down round his neck and Bonnie's Camel cigarettes on her lap and her three acorn brooch still pinned to her.
The six Laws who ended Bonnie and Clyde's lives were themselves colorful:
Sheriff Henderson Jordan was a W.W.1 veteran who owned a furniture store and had recently been elected Sheriff of Bienville Parish Louisiana.
Chief Deputy Sheriff Prentiss Oakley of Bienville Parish Louisiana had served in the U.S. Marines where he trained as a sharpshooter. It was a common vocation for former military personnel to become 'peace officers' in their communities.
Bob Alcorn was a career Dallas Deputy Sheriff of many years experience under various Sheriffs.
Frank Hamer was a famous Texas Ranger Captain of many years, who before he joined the Texas Rangers had considered robbing a bank with the hope of fleeing to another state, laying low till the 'statute of limitations' expired, then living free on his 'ill gotten gains'. He never did follow through and joined the Rangers instead.
Maney Gault was a stock and dairy farmer who was forced by crashing milk prices to find other work. He ended up living as a neighbor of Frank Hamer in Austin Texas which is how the two met, and became great pals. Hamer liked Gault and 'saved' him after he lost his sawmill job by 'giving' him a job in the Texas Rangers.
Ted Hinton was a former Western Union messenger boy from West Dallas who knew Clyde from childhood, and worked with him briefly at Western Union when Clyde also tried his hand as a messenger boy. Through his work Ted got to know Smoot Schmid who owned a bicycle shop and Smoot took a liking to Ted and 'took him under his wing'. When Smoot stood for election as Dallas County Sheriff, as an out-sider with no law enforcement experience, against the scandal plagued incumbent Sheriff Hal Hood and won unexpectedly, he 'patronized' Ted into a job as a Dallas Deputy Sheriff. Ted also had no law enforcement experience. The Bureau Of Investigation loved calling Sheriff Smoot Schmid, 'Smooth Smith'.
.....Well, if Smoot had had a saxophone shop instead of a bicycle shop and had met and taken a liking to Clyde instead of Ted, and 'taken him under his wing', history might have had a Dallas Deputy Sheriff Clyde Barrow..... but history didn't go that way, and if it had, Bonnie would probably not have been interested in him.