Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bonnie Parker's Poetry

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrows are famous for a few things. One, of course, they were famous enough to be the subjects of at least two movies that I'm aware of. More importantly, they robbed rural gas stations, small stores and banks in the early 1930's. They shot at least nine police officers and a few civilians as well. 

As the story goes, Clyde Chestnut Barrows was born outside of Dallas in 1909. Bonnie Park was born in 1910. Both came from dirt poor backgrounds. Parker's father had died when she was small, which forced her mother to support Bonnie and her two siblings as seamstress. Clyde had six siblings. At one point, his family moved from a poor rural farm to a tenement in Dallas, and then to a tent. Bonnie, an excellent student, dropped out of high school before her 16th birthday to marry. Clyde, on the other hand, worked several small jobs and robbed small stores and gas stations during his teen years. He went to prison because he rented a car and didn't return it. While in prison, he murdered a man who sexually assaulted him. Bonnie left her husband in 1929, although she never divorced him. He proved to be a career criminal who spent much of his time in jail. According to one story she still wore his wedding ring at the time of her death. She went to work as a waitress. Once Clyde got out of jail, he met Bonnie at a friend's house. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Clyde renewed his career, with Bonnie at his side, almost immediately. His intent was to launch a raid against Eastham Prison, and liberate the inmates. Bonnie spent sometime in jail during their first year together after a botched robbery attempt. They were reunited after just months. Brother Buck Barrow and wife, Blanche, joined the group just a few months later when Buck was released from jail. Buck was suppose to talk Clyde into turning himself into authorities. That never happened. Those four, along with C.W. Jones formed their original gang. 

The 'Barrows' gang seemed to be their own worst enemies. Besides keeping themselves in 'bread' money by robbing small, out of the way establishments, they kept getting into shootouts with cops. Their behavior created a lot of attention. They rented an apartment in a quiet neighborhood in Jopland, Missouri, where they held all night poker parties. At one point Clyde discharged his Browning automatic rifle while cleaning it. It wasn't long before the cops were called in to quiet them down. In Platte City, Missouri, Blanche Barrows rented a room, claiming to have three total in their group, and then paying for everything in change. When she ordered food from the restaurant next store, she ordered five meals, five beers, and again paid for it with change. The cops were called again. Because of this kind of thoughtlessness, one police department after another sent warnings off to neighboring agencies, as well to agencies out of state to be on the look out for these criminals.

Photos were found in rooms they once occupied, that showed Bonnie as a cigar smoking, gun toting moll. Also found were samples of her poetry. Stories about Clyde and her soured the public. These two not only killed people, robbed them of their hard earned livings, but they were on the road and living it up besides. Truthfully, they had become so famous, they had to withdraw from living publicly to holding up, five of them together, in rented rooms, or even to camping in out of the way places. They bathed in cold streams a lot, and they cooked for themselves over campfires. Medical attention was nil. When Clyde flipped his car on a bridge, Bonnie's leg was severely burned by battery acid. She needed a lot of attention, and because she didn't get it, she spent the rest of her life dependent on Clyde. He carried her from place to place, or she hopped on one leg. Buck Barrow was shot several times. He didn't receive attention until he and wife, Blanche were caught. He died pneumonia after an operation to remove a bullet. After a shootout, she was nearly blinded by with flying glass as the windshield exploded. And after being stuck together for so long, the group bickered. At one point C.W. Jones took off with their car, leaving them to their own devices for about five days.

On January 16, 1934, the Barrows gang finally addressed Clyde's long burning desire to get even with the Texas Department of Corrections. They orchestrated a breakout at Eastham Prison where Clyde was held during his teen years. Needless to say, this caught the attention of the media, and word spread across the country about Texas' bad prison system. That sparked the infamous manhunt that followed. Texas Ranger, Frank A. Hamer, and his 3 brothers, also Rangers, made it their duty to track down the Barrows gang. They made several bad attempts, resulting in the death of at least one more officer. On May 24, 1934, Captain Hamer, Dallas County Sheriff's Deputies Bob Alcorn and Ted Hinton (both of whom knew Barrow and Parker by sight), former Texas Ranger B.M. "Manny" Gault, Bienville Parish Sheriff Henderson Jordan and his deputy and successor in office, Prentiss Oakley, set up an ambush on Louisiana State Highway 154, just outside of new gang member, Henry Methvin's family home. Methvin joined the group after having been sprung from Eastham Prison. The posse waited two full days and nearly gave up. Finally, at about 9:15AM, on May 26th, along came a stolen Ford V8. The driver pulled over to speak to Methvin's father, who waited at the side of the road with his truck. It was the intention of those involved that the truck would be there to force the vehicle closer to where the posse was waiting. The car started up again and the posse began shooting before the car was even with them. Clyde Barrows died immediately from a shot to the head. Bonnie screamed. The posse stopped at that point, and redirected their aim to her. They fired again, and continued to fire until the car ran itself off the road and into a ditch. Bonnie and Clyde were 23 and 24 years old at the time of their deaths. 

In the end, Bonnie wanted everyone to know that she didn't smoke cigars. 

You've read the story of Jesse James
of how he lived and died.
If you're still in need;
of something to read,
here's the story of Bonnie and Clyde.

Now Bonnie and Clyde are the Barrow gang
I'm sure you all have read.
how they rob and steal;
and those who squeal,
are usually found dying or dead.

There's lots of untruths to these write-ups;
they're not as ruthless as that.
their nature is raw;
they hate all the law,
the stool pigeons, spotters and rats.

They call them cold-blooded killers
they say they are heartless and mean.
But I say this with pride
that I once knew Clyde,
when he was honest and upright and 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 them in hell"

The road was so dimly lighted
there were no highway signs to guide.
But they made up their minds;
if all roads were blind,
they wouldn't give up till they died.

The road gets dimmer and dimmer
sometimes you can hardly see.
But it's fight man to man
and do all you can,
for they know they can never be free.

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 and Clyde.

If a policeman is killed in Dallas
and they have no clue or guide.
If they can't find a fiend,
they just wipe their slate clean
and hang it on Bonnie and Clyde.

There's two crimes committed in America
not accredited to the Barrow mob.
They had no hand;
in the kidnap demand,
nor the Kansas City Depot job.

A newsboy once said to his buddy;
"I wish old Clyde would get jumped.
In these awfull hard times;
we'd make a few dimes,
if five or six cops would get bumped"

The police haven't got the report yet
but Clyde called me up today.
He said,"Don't start any fights;
we aren't working nights,
we're joining the NRA."

From Irving to West Dallas viaduct
is known as the Great Divide.
Where the women are kin;
and the men are men,
and they won't "stool" on Bonnie and Clyde.

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 sub-gun's rat-tat-tat.

They don't think they're too smart or desperate
they know that the law always wins.
They've been shot at before;
but they do not ignore,
that death is the wages of sin.

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.

 Suicide Sal
We each of us have a good "alibi"
For being down here in the "joint"
But few of them really are justified
If you get right down to the point.

You've heard of a woman's glory
Being spent on a "downright cur"
Still you can't always judge the story
As true, being told by her.

As long as I've stayed on this "island"
And heard "confidence tales" from each "gal"
Only one seemed interesting and truthful-
The story of "Suicide Sal".

Now "Sal" was a gal of rare beauty,
Though her features were coarse and tough;
She never once faltered from duty
To play on the "up and up".

"Sal" told me this tale on the evening
Before she was turned out "free"
And I'll do my best to relate it
Just as she told it to me:

I was born on a ranch in Wyoming;
Not treated like Helen of Troy,
I was taught that "rods were rulers"
And "ranked" as a greasy cowboy.

Then I left my old home for the city
To play in its mad dizzy whirl,
Not knowing how little of pity
It holds for a country girl.

There I fell for "the line" of a "henchman"
A "professional killer" from "Chi"
I couldn't help loving him madly,
For him even I would die.

One year we were desperately happy
Our "ill gotten gains" we spent free,
I was taught the ways of the "underworld"
Jack was just like a "god" to me.

I got on the "F.B.A." payroll
To get the "inside lay" of the "job"
The bank was "turning big money"!
It looked like a "cinch for the mob".

Eighty grand without even a "rumble"-
Jack was last with the "loot" in the door,
When the "teller" dead-aimed a revolver
From where they forced him to lie on the floor.

I knew I had only a moment-
He would surely get Jack as he ran,
So I "staged" a "big fade out" beside him
And knocked the forty-five out of his hand.

They "rapped me down big" at the station,
And informed me that I'd get the blame
For the "dramatic stunt" pulled on the "teller"
Looked to them, too much like a "game".

The "police" called it a "frame-up"
Said it was an "inside job"
But I steadily denied any knowledge
Or dealings with "underworld mobs".

The "gang" hired a couple of lawyers,
The best "fixers" in any mans town,
But it takes more than lawyers and money
When Uncle Sam starts "shaking you down".

I was charged as a "scion of gangland"
And tried for my wages of sin,
The "dirty dozen" found me guilty-
From five to fifty years in the pen.

I took the "rap" like good people,
And never one "squawk" did I make
Jack "dropped himself" on the promise
That we make a "sensational break".

Well, to shorten a sad lengthy story,
Five years have gone over my head
Without even so much as a letter-
At first I thought he was dead.

But not long ago I discovered;
From a gal in the joint named Lyle,
That Jack and his "moll" had "got over"
And were living in true "gangster style".

If he had returned to me sometime,
Though he hadn't a cent to give
I'd forget all the hell that he's caused me,
And love him as long as I lived.

But there's no chance of his ever coming,
For he and his moll have no fears
But that I will die in this prison,
Or "flatten" this fifty years.

Tommorow I'll be on the "outside"
And I'll "drop myself" on it today,
I'll "bump 'em if they give me the "hotsquat"
On this island out here in the bay...

The iron doors swung wide next morning
For a gruesome woman of waste,
Who at last had a chance to "fix it"
Murder showed in her cynical face.

Not long ago I read in the paper
That a gal on the East Side got "hot"
And when the smoke finally retreated,
Two of gangdom were found "on the spot".

It related the colorful story
Of a "jilted gangster gal"
Two days later, a "sub-gun" ended
The story of "Suicide Sal".

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