23
May
11

From the Writer’s almanac

Seeing as I watched Bonnie and Clyde last week this seemed apt:

On this day in 1934, (May 23) Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow’s two-year crime spree ended when they were ambushed and shot by police in Gibsland, Louisiana. They met in 1930, when Bonnie was 20 and Clyde was 21, and fell in love almost instantly. Bonnie Parker had been a good student who won prizes for spelling and writing, but she dropped out at 15 and married a classmate. She and her young husband were estranged, mostly because he had spent the few years since their marriage in and out of jail. Clyde Barrow had committed a few robberies and stolen some cars, and was arrested soon after they met. He entered prison a wayward schoolboy and emerged two years later a hardened criminal, vowing to take revenge on the Texas correctional system.

The five members of the Barrow gang were nearly caught at a rented apartment in Joplin, Missouri, in 1933, but escaped after killing two lawmen who had come to arrest them. They left behind most of their possessions, though, including a roll of film and one of Bonnie Parker’s poems, “Suicide Sal.” The photos showed the Barrow gang clowning around and posing with their weapons, and it was the publication of the photographs and poem over the new national newswire that made them celebrities. They were really just small-time crooks, not career bank robbers, mostly robbing stores, restaurants, and gas stations; their take from any given job was never more than $1,500. But it was the Depression, and people felt oppressed by the banks, and it only took a couple of small-town bank robberies to give them a “Robin Hood” reputation among the down-and-out public. But after 13 murders—nine of them police officers—even the public turned on them.

The posse took no chances that they would pull off another daring and bloody escape, and began firing — about 130 rounds, total — as soon as they ambushed the outlaws’ car on a Louisiana back road. Crowds gathered immediately, snipping locks of hair and bits of blood-soaked clothes to sell as grisly souvenirs.

From Bonnie Parker’s most famous poem, “The Trail’s End”:
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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