Bonnie and Clyde – adventurers or killers?
Their names have become household name, and the time has smoothed the events of previous years. And now they are called extraordinary individuals who defied society.
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow traveled the southern states of the USA in the early 1930s. And they were not like the characters of Hollywood film 1967 with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in the lead roles.
Bonnie Parker was born on October 1, 1910 in the Texas town of Rowena and was the middle of three daughters. In 1914 her father died and her mother took children and moved to the Dallas suburb. At school Bonnie was considered one of the best students. She enthusiastically read magazine stories about the adventures, wrote poems and was fond of photography. Teachers and parents believed that Bonnie had a chance to become successful in the future. But … six days before her 16th anniversary Bonnie left school and married her classmate Roy Thornton. In 1929 he was jailed for robbery, and Bonnie would never see her husband again. Bonnie was only 19 years old. She dreamed of a life full of events and adventures.
At the beginning of 1930 Bonnie met Clyde at a party.
Clyde Barrow was born in Texas on March 24, 1909. He was the fifth son of the seven children of the farmer Henry Barrow. The future gangster attended school not very often. When Clyde was 12 years old, the family moved to Dallas, where his father opened a gas station. Together with his elder brother Clyde sold stolen turkeys and drove stolen cars.
On October 16, 1929 Clyde was arrested for the first time. Together with William Turner and Frank Hardy he was trying to commit a robbery at the hotel Roosevelt. Clyde lied to the chief of police that he did not know about the bad reputation of the men and was released. And it was his last “break” before the “real” life.
Soon he met Bonnie. Then he was sentenced to two years in prison. By some strange coincidence his cellmate was William Turner. Together they came up with an escape plan. Bonnie secretly brought the gun into the prison and gave it to Clyde. The next night Clyde and Turner fled. But freedom did not last long. A few days later they were captured. Clyde was sentenced to 14 years in prison and was sent back to prison. Thanks to his mother Clyde Barrow was released on February 2, 1932.
However, on the eve of liberation, did not knowing about the mother’s efforts, Clyde decided to take the initiative and persuaded his partner “accidentally” cut off a couple of toes with an ax. It was nothing compared to the opportunity to relax after everyday life in prison, when he had to work 16 hours per day. Clyde left prison on crutches.
He made the first (and last) attempt to work honestly, but it lasted only for two weeks. Clyde returned to Bonnie, and the couple fled in a stolen car.
Clyde and his buddies robbed a shop and Bonnie stood at the door. Suddenly the alarm went off. Robbers managed to escape and only Bonnie was arrested. She was sentenced to three months in prison.
Meanwhile Clyde was very busy: he robbed and killed. On April 13, 1932 he committed the first murder during a robbery of a jewelry store. Clyde shot and killed the shop owner – jeweler John Boucher. Barrow became a real bloody criminal.
In June 1932, Bonnie joined the gang to live together with Clyde two crazy years, which turned them into a legend.
On August 5, 1932 Hamilton and Barrow killed two policemen in Atoka, Oklahoma. This was followed by several thefts and robberies, again ended in murder. Soon Hamilton was arrested in Michigan and sent to Dallas, where he was sentenced to 264 years in prison.
One morning in Rustin, Louisiana, Bonnie and Clyde stole Mr. Darby’s car. He saw the thefts and asked his neighbor Sophia Stone to borrow her car to catch the criminals. Soon Darby and Sophia turned back. However, they noticed that stolen car followed them. Darby and Sophia were taken hostage. Learning that Mr. Darby worked at the funeral home, Bonnie laughed and said that maybe one day he would prepare her body for the funeral. The hostages were released. But Bonnie was right: Mr. Darby actually saw her again … in the morgue.
Clyde’s elder brother, his wife Blanche, and 17-year-old thief W. Jones joined the gang in Joplin. They rented an apartment and had a noisy party. The fun ended when they were suddenly visited by police. During the shooting Clyde and Jones were injured, two police officers were killed.
On June 10, 1933 there was a car crash. At the speed 70 miles per hour the car fell off a cliff. Boiling acid from a car battery burned Bonnie’s leg. The wound remained unhealed.
In January 1934, they carried out a raid on a Texas prison Eastham to release Ray Hamilton and Henry Methvin. In March Hamilton left the gang and in 1935 he was caught and sentenced to death in the electric chair.
The gang continued their journey on the “route of death.” All police personnel were instructed: shoot to kill, and then ask questions. The head of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover said: “Clyde is a psychopath. He must be destroyed.” The former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer was hired to catch criminals.
On May 23, 1934 Hamer and five policemen killed Bonnie and Clyde. The shooting was so loud that the Hamer’s detachment suffered from temporary deafness. There were more than 100 bullets in their bodies. Bonnie was 23 years old, Clyde was 24.
Mr. Darby prepared their bodies for the funeral. Clyde was buried in the Western Heights cemetery in Dallas on May 25, 1934 next to his brother Marvin. Bonnie’s mother refused to bury the daughter next to Clyde, and the ceremony took place on May 27, 1934 at Fishtrap Cemetery in West Dallas.
Who were Bonnie and Clyde? The victims of the Great Depression? Lost generation? In reality Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were just ruthless killers.