Bonnie and Clyde–Just A Fun-Loving Pair
Next week marks the anniversary of the death of the infamous and colorful gangster duo of Bonnie and Clyde. But in order to truly appreciate this pair and the lives they led, you need to first understand what life was like in America in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
The largest stock market crash in America happened in 1929, causing the 1930s to fall into a deep economic depression that lasted the entire decade. There was widespread unemployment and poverty. Herbert Hoover made things worse by raising taxes. It was not until the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, and the creation of the New Deal, which finally brought jobs and prosperity to thousands of workers who built dams and roadways
Further contributing to the economic downturn in the 1930s was extreme drought in the heartland of America, which caused massive dust storms that affected agriculture in the region. There seemed to be no escape from the despair that gripped the nation.
It was into this depressed period of American history that Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker became adults. The couple first met in 1930, in Texas. Bonnie was only 19, and married to a convicted felon, who was incarcerated for murder. What was a fun-loving girl to do, with an absent husband and no viable means of support? Clyde was 21 at the time, and unmarried. The pair quickly became an item and began their life of petty crime together. Their relationship was further cemented when Clyde was arrested for burglary and placed in jail. Bonnie slipped him a gun, which he used in a bold prison escape. He was soon caught and sent back to prison until 1932. Ever faithful Bonnie was waiting for her man, and they soon began a bold crime spree that took them through Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico.
With Clyde’s brother, Buck, and his wife, Blanche, along with another man, William Jones, the gang set off on a series of high-level robberies in early 1933, which made national headlines. Efforts to capture this gang escalated, and Buck was fatally shot in July 1933, and his wife captured. William Jones was caught in November 1933, leaving Bonnie and Clyde to continue on their own.
They eluded police as they raced across Texas in one stolen car after another. The FBI got involved, and chased down every lead they got, leading them from Texas to Louisiana. They received a tip that the couple was returning to the remote section of the state near Ruston, LA, and set up an ambush using authorities from both Louisiana and Texas along a stretch of highway. When Bonnie and Clyde came down the road and saw the trap, they attempted to evade the police, but couldn’t. They were killed instantly. They were driving a stolen 1934 Ford Deluxe which was clocked at 85 mph before the gunfire stopped it.
The car, with all its bullet holes, was put on display at various carnivals and fairs before being sold as a collector’s item. In 1988, the car was again sold to the Primm Valley Casino in Las Vegas for $250,000.
At the time of their deaths on May 23, 1934, the couple was believed to have been responsible for 13 deaths, numerous banks robberies, and many stolen cars, the Ford being Clyde Barrow’s car of choice.
Becky Lower remembers her parents’ talks about growing up during the Great Depression and credits her mother with teaching her how to squeeze every ounce of goodness from a chicken carcass or a ham bone. You can follow her blog on www.beckylowerauthot.blogspot.com