History

Driving Around the Lone Star State with Outlaws Bonnie and Clyde

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Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were not good people. They were bad folks who robbed their way across Texas. If you crossed their path, you’d be lucky if all they did was steal your car. Their gang killed 13 people. Eight of the folks killed were lawmen.

Bonnie and Clyde never went for the large scores. They robbed mom-and-pop shops, restaurants, and local banks. During the Depression, these businesses needed all the help they could get. Instead, they got robbed by Bonnie and Clyde. At least the victims had bragging rights.

The idea that the gang gave some of their loot to poor people is nothing more than a myth. They kept every cent they stole, which wasn’t much. No individual heist got them more than $1500, and most were much less.

They seemed to enjoy their life though. A number of pictures found at one of their hideouts showed Bonnie and Clyde posing with weapons and having a good time. Those pictures made it onto the wire service, and then into newspapers around the country. So, the two were famous for a little while.

Driving Around the Lone Star State with Outlaws Bonnie and Clyde

Photo: @sarah.beal74 via Twenty20

Bonnie and Clyde were killed in a famous ambush, but some people still argue that the duo should have been given a chance to surrender.

Well, maybe Bonnie and Clyde should have surrendered on April 1st, 1934, when they were confronted by two highway patrol officers. Instead, the gang shot and killed them so they could make their escape.

Maybe Bonnie and Clyde should have surrendered on April 6th, 1934. Instead, they killed a constable in Miami, Oklahoma, and abducted a police chief. They wounded him too.

Bonnie and Clyde had plenty of chances to surrender before they were killed. Considering their bloodthirstiness, it’s understandable that law enforcement was taking no chances.

Driving Around the Lone Star State with Outlaws Bonnie and Clyde

Photo: envato elements

Hollywood glamorized these two criminals in the 1967 film “Bonnie and Clyde.” Of course, a lot of the film was just plain fiction, but that’s Hollywood for you.

Clyde Barrow was raised in a gas station outside of Dallas. The original brick station is still standing, although a wood addition was added a few years after Clyde’s death. It is private property, so you may want to take a look from a distance. The building is at 1221 Singleton Blvd.

Apparently, the City of Dallas wants to keep the building around, while the current property owner isn’t so keen on that idea. You may want to see the site while it’s still up.

Bonnie and Clyde drove all over Texas during their crime spree and seemed to leave their belongings everywhere. If you stay at the Stockyards Hotel in Fort Worth, you may be able to see one of Bonnie’s pistols. The duo stayed at the hotel, so their room has all sorts of Bonnie and Clyde memorabilia, including photographs and newspaper clippings. The room also has a king-sized bed just in case all you want is a little sleep.

The Texas Ranger Museum, down in Waco, also has some of Bonnie and Clyde’s possessions. One of Clyde’s pocket watches, along with guns recovered from Bonnie and Clyde’s “death car” are on display here. Being a museum dedicated to law enforcement, a couple of the guns used to shoot Bonnie and Clyde are on display too.

Driving Around the Lone Star State with Outlaws Bonnie and Clyde

Photo: envato elements

Not to be outdone, the Texas Prison Museum has the gun found on Bonnie’s lap when she was killed. It is a nickel-plated Colt .45. The museum is in Huntsville, Texas.

Speaking of prison, Bonnie got caught by the police while trying to break into a hardware store in Kemp, Texas. She was thrown into a Calaboose, which is a little, free-standing jail. When the townsfolk would peer through the bars at her, she would spit at some of them. The Calaboose is still in Kemp, on Civic Center Drive. It is tiny. Maybe that’s why Bonnie was in such a foul mood.

Of course, all crime sprees come to an end. Clyde’s grave isn’t too far from his childhood home. He is buried in Western Heights Cemetery, close to his brother Buck, who was also killed by the police. The cemetery does have gates, and you may want to check with the caretakers before you pay your respects.  Also, make sure to stay on the path, and be respectful.

Bonnie’s grave is in Crown Hill Memorial Park. Her mother wouldn’t allow Bonnie to be buried next to Clyde. She said that Bonnie and Clyde may be together in life, but they wouldn’t be together in death. Her tombstone reads “As the flowers are all made sweeter by the sunshine and the dew, so this old world is made brighter by the lives of folks like you.” Bonnie’s victims may not have agreed with that sentiment.

For better or worse, Bonnie and Clyde have become legends. Like all legends, their story has been oversimplified and puffed up. Thankfully, you can still retrace their steps and find the truth for yourself, instead of relying on other folks, and Hollywood, to tell you what to think.

Bonnie and Clyde were rebels. Thinking for yourself is what rebellion is all about.