Bonnie and Clyde met in 1929 and together they lived through two years of robberies, murders and escapes. A photo exhibit in Texas now tells the story of the day the couple were caught.
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow met in 1929. Separated first by his arrest and then by her arrest, they began in 1932 two years of robberies and murders that would only end with their deaths. The end of the "Romeo and Juliet of crime", as they were dubbed by the press at the time, was for decades shrouded in great uncertainty and disparate accounts: some said that Bonnie and Clyde had resisted and fired, others ensured that the couple did not even realise what was going on.
After 86 years, some photographs reveal a little more about the operation that ended with the death of the criminal couple. The exhibition "Photographs Do Not Bend", opened November 11th, 2017 in a Texas gallery, includes several photographs that depicts an act of no mercy, the extreme brutality and ruthlessness of the attack on Bonnie and Clyde - by the dozens of bullet marks on the car they were travelling in - and the visible way in which the two young criminals became disfigured.
Bonnie and Clyde met in the US state of Texas when she was 19 and he was 21. Each found in the other the answer to survive the Great Depression that had just begun. Over four years of murder, assault and escapades, they conquered the United States: they were idolized as movie stars even though they never showed great fear of pulling the trigger and killing whoever was bothering them. Seen as two symbols of the struggle against the "terrible oppressive state", they became icons of American popular culture before they even died.
Their features helped them a lot, in "The Lives and Times of Bonnie & Clyde", E. R. Miller describes Bonnie as "a beauty with reddish blond hair" and freckles, who was only a few inches away from being a movie actress. Clyde is described as an "attractive boy with brown hair and brown eyes" who usually wore a grey suit with wide stripes.
At the wheel of a stolen Ford V8 and armed with Browning automatic weapons, weapons that were also stolen from the military, they became the biggest enemies of the U.S. authorities.
The U.S authorities took in consideration that they might not be able to catch them.
Between robberies and murders, they even managed to free five prisoners from Eastham jail in Texas. In 1934, completely desperate, the Texan police decided to hand over the pursuit of the couple to Frank Hamer, a fifty-year-old, six-foot-tall ranger.
The officer devised an intricate plan to catch the criminal couple. The first step was the most complicated: to convince one of Bonnie and Clyde's accomplices to cooperate with the police. The chosen one was Henry Methvin, also a criminal, who accepted the pardon for all the crimes he had committed in the state of Texas in exchange for information about the two friends.
The informant told Hamer that the couple made several trips between central Texas and the Methvin family farm in Louisiana.
The ranger assembled a team with five other prominent police officers - from Texas and Louisiana - and waited among the bushes lining the highway connecting the two states for two days. Most of the writers who told the story of the day Bonnie and Clyde were finally caught assured that the five policemen disagreed several times about the approach to be applied: Louisiana's officers wanted to give the couple a chance to surrender, while the Texans argued for a killer entrance. Literally.
On May 23, 1934, the five police officers intercepted Henry Methvin's father's car, which was traveling in front of the couple, and forced him to stop the car at the side of the road. Minutes later, Bonnie and Clyde appeared at the wheel of the famous grey V8. They looked anything but murderous: she would eat a sandwich instead of the hanging, he would drive barefoot. In the car they brought four rifles, a pistol and a box with ten to twelve different guns. When they saw Methvin's father's car stopped, they pulled over. For Frank Hamer and company, it was time to strike.
The five cops fired a torrent of shots and one of the bullets hit Clyde directly in the head. He died instantly. As soon as he lost consciousness, the car started to drop and the officers thought Bonnie, still alive and was trying to escape. When they approached the car, Bonnie was just screaming. Frank Hamer fired two shots at her. Later he explained why he did not hesitate: "I hate to blow a woman's head off, especially when she's sitting down, but if it hadn't been for her, it would have been us”.
At nine and a quarter in the morning, the operation was over. Some historians guarantee that the shooting lasted only 16 seconds, others say it extended to two minutes. The same uncertainty remains regarding the shots: some say Bonnie and Clyde each had more than 40 gunshot wounds and some argue that together they did not exceed 30. The crime scene became a real circus and hundreds of people rushed to the scene to see the dead couple. Soon after, a truck took the car and the bodies to a nearby town to prepare the burials: hundreds of people attended the funerals, just like movie stars.
My take in Bonnie and Clyde
The story of Bonnie and Clyde even though short lived must be one of the most iconic and infamous duos of all time.
Their story is based in true facts they kind of replicated Romeo and Juliet and added their own spice, yes it may have been a more distorted way to create a relationship based on crimes but you cannot deny that, this couple truly loved each other and they where together until the very end.