The Troublesome Two

I never had much of an interest in Bonnie and Clyde.

Bonnie Parker. Clyde Barrow. Those Outlaws from the 1930s.

We recently watched a movie, that was loosely about them, called the Highwaymen (on Netflix). It was a pretty good movie, starring Woody Harrelson and Kevin Costner. It focused on the two agents who went after Bonnie and Clyde at the end of their stint as criminals. Woody. Kevin.

At any rate, today, May 23, is the day they were shot to death, near Sailes, Louisiana. In 1934. It was a tricky ambush.

Those two. They traveled the central United States with their gang in the early 1930s. They would drive from place to place, where they would rob banks, and small gas stations and such. Along the way, they committed various murders.

All of this during the Great Depression. Their way of making a buck.

Barrow was born in Texas. As it happened, his family was pretty poor. So, he began cracking safes, robbing stores and breaking into cars in his late teens. Then he met her. Bonnie. That was in 1930.

He was sent to prison for theft. He killed a guy in there. His first murder. It was a fellow inmate who repeatedly sexually assaulted him. And then, Barrow had an inmate chop off two of his toes to avoid hard labor. He ended up getting released in 1932, but he had a bad limp. From the missing toes.

After that, he started that famous gang with various people, including Parker and his elder brother Buck.

The duo became known for bank robberies, but they really didn’t rob many banks. At all. They were too complicated, with very little payoff. They much preferred robbing small gas stations and rural stores. But they had to rob a LOT of those because the money was even smaller than the banks. It was the Great Depression for crying out loud.

People of the day were interested in them. After they died, the officials made public viewings available for their bodies. It is said that 20,000 walked by Parker’s casket; 10,000 by Barrow’s.

That brings us back to their deaths, on this date. They died in a hailstorm of bullets shot at their car. The set up was pretty good. (At least from the depiction in the movie.)

There was a posse. Now here’s a sidebar. “Posse” is one of those words that I’ve always had an interest in. Truthfully, I never had any other aspirations as a kid. There was no “when I grow up I want to be a doctor, or a lawyer.” None of that. No. But when I was 7 years old, I am pretty sure I wanted to be in a “posse” someday. Maybe there is still time.

Anyway, a group of Texas and Louisiana lawmen formed a posse. They hid in some corn. And they put a decoy-guy on the road with a broken-down truck. Barrows and Parker were driving down that road, and pulled over to help the guy. When they stopped the car, the posse opened fire.

Approximately 150 rounds later, Bonnie and Clyde lay dead on the front seat. Their car looked like it had a thousand holes in it. The leader of the posse, Frank Hamer, walked up to the car and fired several additional shots into Bonnie’s body. She was already dead but he didn’t want to take any chances. Remarkably, she hung on to her half-eaten sandwich. I’m guessing egg salad.

The coroner’s report detailed 17 holes in Clyde’s body and 26 holes in Bonnie’s body. Unofficially, they say there may have been many more. The undertaker had some trouble when he got them ready for burial. That guy found that the bodies had so many holes in them, in so many different places, that it was difficult to keep embalming fluid in them.

Maybe they wouldn’t have been able to spring out of jail, but in the end, they were both springing leaks.

That is the “hole” story.
On this date, back in 1934.


“Don’t compromise yourself – you’re all you have.”
― John Grisham, The Rainmaker


“The man who has a conscience suffers whilst acknowledging his sin. That is his punishment.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment


“To have once been a criminal is no disgrace. To remain a criminal is the disgrace”
― Malcolm X