HP041: Bonnie & Clyde

HP041: Bonnie & Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde (Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow) were infamous criminals, known as bank robbers, but who far preferred small stores and gas stations to banks to rob, and who traveled the central United States during the Great Depression, often with various members of the Barrow gang.

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Your listening to historypodcast episode 41, Bonnie and Clyde.

Opening up the show was Amplifico with “All Your Sins”. Before we get started, a while back, episode 30 we played a great piece from Griddlecakes Radio. A lot of you liked the show and wanted to hear the second part. Well, here is a sneak peak at Griddlesode 16…..

She was a lonely waitress longing for excitement and romance. He was a volatile ex-con who vowed that he would never go back to prison. They found each other in the slums of Dallas, TX in the early 1930’s and proceeded to go on a crime spree that shocked the nation. Fueled by passionate love, the desire to escape poverty and the utter contempt for authority, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow united.

Since their death 60 years ago, the lives of Bonnie and Clyde have been romanized and glamorized in films, books, music and on television.

For two incredible years Bonnie and Clyde lead their notorious gang on a blood crime wave that stretched across five states. They robbed banks, pulled a string of armed robberies and left a bloody trail of murder victims in their wake.

All the while hundreds of law enforcement personnel from 5 southwestern states hotly pursued the couple. Yet the pair was able to elude authorities and avoid capture until they were taken out in a hail of bullets.

“No man but the undertaker will ever get me, if officers cripple me to where I see they will take me alive I will take my own life.” Clyde Barrow

A tough man who lived in tough times. Clyde Barrow was born in Telico, Texas on March 21, 1909. He was the sixth child of Henry and Cuby Barrow. He was described as a “Mama’s boy”.

There was plenty of love in the Barrow family, but very little money. Henry Barrow was a poor tenant farmer. When Clyde was 12 years old the family was forced to give up farming, they moved to Dallas, Tx.

By age 16 Clyde had quit school. He was slender and small in stature. Barely 5’7” and possessed an innocent look. Following the example of his older brother Buck, Clyde embarked on a life of crime. It started with small transgressions. He then moved into stealing cars. He quickly became well known to the Dallas police.

In October of 1929 police were searching for Clyde in connection with a number of local robberies. He was trying to elude police and was in hiding. When he met the woman who would become his soul mate, Bonnie Parker.

Bonnie Parker was born in October 1910. She had an older brother and a younger sister. Her father Henry died when Bonnie was just 4 years old. Her mother Emma then moved the family to a suburb of Dallas known as “cement city”. Bonnie’s family managed to get her through high school. She worked as a waitress and married at 16, but her husband Roy Thorton was sent to Easton prison for bank robbery. He was an abusive drunk and would sometimes disappear for weeks at a time. She left him without filing for divorce. Wearing her wedding ring to her death.

In January 1930 Bonnie Parker met another dangerous man who would be her true love and her undoing, Clyde Barrow.

Clyde was 20 years old, and Bonnie just 19. Their first encounter took place when Bonnie came to the aid of a sick girlfriend. Clyde was already wanted by the police at the time. They were together for the next two weeks until Clyde was finally arrested. He was convicted of 5 auto thefts and was sentenced to 2 years. Clyde was bent on escape from prison and Bonnie was more than willing to help.

Bonnie smuggled a Colt 32 automatic into the prison and Clyde was able to escape. Within a couple weeks he was re-captured in Minnesota. He received a 14-year sentence this time.

Clyde was remanded to the Huntsville penitentiary where he met fellow inmate Ralph Fults. They worked on the prison farm together. Prisoners were regularly beaten and abused at Easton. It is reported that the guards routinely killed inmates to keep the other prisoners in line. Soon Fults found himself on the receiving end of a guard beating. The beating was a punishment for a previous escape Fults had made. Clyde stood by while Fults was being beat. This distracted the guards and they stopped beating Fults, this possibly save Fults from death. They developed a plan together to escape, return to the prison with a gang and release all the inmates, while killing all the guards. This plan would take 3 years to put into action.

Meanwhile, Clyde’s relationship with Bonnie intensified as the pair regularly corresponded through letters.

In February 1932 Clyde came home to Dallas. Life in prison had had a devastating effect on him.

Clyde started to work, but when there was a crime the police would visit him at his place of work. So much so that he frequently lost jobs because of this police questioning. This was during the depression and jobs were rare. After 2 weeks Clyde gave up looking for the next job.

Bonnie and Clyde were not very efficient thieves. They never seemed to plan. The moved about the country and when they depleted their funds, they would rob another bank. This meant they were taking very little money. Often risking their lives for 20 or 50 dollars. 2,000 dollars was a huge haul for them. Clyde fancied himself a modern day Jesse James.

He avoided killing innocent victims and mostly shot police, sometimes even kidnapping cops to later release them unharmed.

In March of 1932, traveling in a stolen car Bonnie and Clyde went on the road together for the first time. Ralph Fults joined them for the trip. Bonnie participated in a botched robbery with Fults and Clyde but she and Ralph were captured and taken into custody.

While Bonnie and Fults were in jail Clyde teamed up with another former inmate buddy, Raymond Hamilton. During a robbery Clyde killed a shopkeeper. He knew if he was captured he would get the chair. There was now no turning back for Clyde.

In June 1932 Bonnie was acquitted for lack of evidence and released from jail. She quickly rejoined Clyde. The governor of Texas offered a 250 dollar reward for the capture of Clyde.

On the night of August 5th 1932 at a country dance the gang murdered Deputy Ugene Moore and seriously injured the sheriff in Stringtown, Oklahoma.

Bonnie and Clyde would survive 22 more months after the Stringtown murders, but life on the run was far from luxurious. They were camping and living in tourist camps. They would secretly meet with their families during this time as well.

During a family visit in Michigan Hamilton was captured and sentenced to 264 years at Easton. Clyde vowed to get Ray out.

In late March of 1933 Buck Barrow was released from prison. For two weeks Buck and his wife lived with Bonnie and Clyde in Joplin, Missouri. Suspicious neighbors had alerted police that bootleggers may be living in the apartment. The police were met at the door by Clyde and WD Jones. The officers did not stand a chance. Clyde and WD mowed them down. Bonnie then grabbed an automatic weapon and began to shoot out the kitchen window. A shooting frenzy in sewed. Clyde managed to get everyone but Blanch, Buck’s wife into the car for a get-away.

On June 8th 1933, at Willimington, Texas Bonnie was seriously injured in a car accident when the car caught fire from overturning and she was badly burnt on her leg.

In Platte City, Missouri on July 1933, the gang stopped for a break, but the police were tipped off. The gang was surrounded. Again the police came to the door. Blanch politely said she wasn’t dressed, buying the men time to arm themselves. Again the police at the door were the first to die. And again more shooting broke out. Blanch was injured when she got shards of glass in her eyes, Buck took a bullet in the brain. Clyde and the gang drove out of there with one hand on the wheel and shooting his gun.

He went right thought the police lines and escaped. On July 20th they stopped at an abandoned amusement park near Dexter, Iowa. After 4 days the police discovered the hideout and moved in. All but Buck and Blanch escaped. Buck and Blanch surrendered. Buck died on July 30th, 1933. Blanch was sent to jail and spent 10 years in prison.

On January 16th 1934 Clyde kept his promise to Raymond Hamilton. He mastermind a break out at Easton. Hamilton and 4 other prisoners escaped.

Soon after the prison break, Texas highway patrols found Bonnie and Clyde but they did not live to capture them. Once again fellow police officers were outraged at these deaths and the search for Bonnie and Clyde intensified.

On the morning of May 23, 1934 in Arcadia, Louisiana Bonnie and Clyde drove into an ambush. Henry Methmus, father of one of the 4 escaped Easton convicts had betrayed Bonnie and Clyde in exchange for amnesty for his son. The ambush worked, Bonnie and Clyde were riddled with bullets and died together in the front seat of a sedan.

I hope you liked that as much as I did. For the rest of it please head over to www.griddlecakes.com and subscribe to Ron’s podcast.

You can find a link to Griddlecakes Radio and Amplifico on historypodcast.blogspot.com. Please email me you suggestions, comments and podcast to historypodcast@gmail.com.  And now Bonnie and Clyde….

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