March 3, 2011

History Lessons: The Story of Bonnie and Clyde

This past Monday's episode of Chuck was a semi Bonnie and Clyde spin-off. It was epic. When I was deciding which podcasts to download for the week, I noticed a Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast on Bonnie and Clyde. It was perfect! Plus, the story is really interesting.

Bonnie Parker was born on October 1, 1910 in Texas. Bonnie was a straight A student in school and on the honor roll. When she was only sixteen she married her childhood sweetheart Roy Thorton. Even after he was sentenced time in prison, they never got divorced. Clyde Barrow was born March 24, 1909 in Texas. He, on the other hand, was never interested in the world of academia. Clyde was arrested for the first time in 1922 for auto theft and continued to commit robberies for the next four years.

Bonnie and Clyde met for the first time when Bonnie was staying with a friend in Dallas. Her friend had broken her arm and Bonnie was there to assist her while she was out on work. Clyde was a mutual friend of Bonnie's friend. According to most historians the rest was history. Bonnie feel in love with Clyde and joined him in his lifestyle of crime.

Not long after they met, Clyde was sent to prison. They wrote back and forth and Clyde convinced Bonnie to help him break out. After his escape he continued his life of crime and was sent back to prison once again. This time he was sent to the Eastham Prison in Texas. In 1932 he gets pardoned. This is when the Barrow Gang was formed.

Their life was full of robberies, stealing cars, and murders. The robberies weren't ever the best, they barely made $1,500 in a heist. The first murder committed was a police officer outside a dance on August 5, 1932. One of their trademark moves was the kidnap police officers who pulled them over and drive around with them for awhile and release them.

Bonnie was an avid photographer. This helped make them the duo they are own as. She documented their journey and life throughout the years. The rolls of film usually got left behind and hugely aided the media's fascination with them. Clyde's favorite car was the Ford V-8 and was the car they stole the most often. This kind of gives the police a bit of a roadmap to follow Bonnie and Clyde all over the country.

There was a car reck in 1933 that severely injured Bonnie. She got pinned under a car and her leg was burned. This is when things started to fall apart for the Gang. Clyde's brother, who had joined the gang awhile back, and his wife, were severely injured during a gun fight and escape when a police officer figured out where they were staying at in July 1933. Bonnie and Clyde left them and Clyde starts a plan to bust out prisoners from the Eastham prison. During this break-out several security guards are killed by the Gang. After this, there is a crack down on the Bonnie and Clyde hunt. The FBI sets a bounty hunter in search of them. During this time several more police officers were murdered, more cars were stolen, and places were robbed.

Eventually they are betrayed by Henry Methvin, who was part of the Eastham break out that Bonnie and Clyde set up. On May 3, 1934, Bonnie and Clyde are ambushed by a hail of gunfire in Louisiana. Henry tells the Duo that they were going to meet up at his parents house and he would rejoin their gang. Once the police get an official ID on the couple as they drove up the road to Henry's parent's house, they open fire. About 168 bullet holes were found on the car and over 50 were found in bodies. Clyde was the first to die. He was shot in the head with one of the first shots fired. Accounts say that the polices officers were haunted afterwards by Bonnie's screams before she died.

After the murders people were all over the scene trying to get a piece of Bonnie and Clyde, parts of the car, pieces of hair and clothes. The car was towed into town afterwards and shown to school kids. Over a dozen guns, 1000's of rounds of ammo, and several license plates were found in the trunk of the car, along with a saxophone that Clyde would play. 

There is so much more to the story of Bonnie and Clyde. This was kind of just a quick rundown. If you like history and the 1920/1930's you should definitely read up on this Duo. It's kind of amazing how much they got away with before they were finally caught. 


*All of the images are from a Google search. I forgot to source them as I went a long. Oops.  

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