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195: Bonnie and Clyde with John Neal Phillips

Historian and author John Neal Phillips joins the show to chat about the historical accuracy of the 1967 movie Bonnie and Clyde.

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Note: This transcript is automatically generated. There will be mistakes, so please don’t use them for quotes. It is provided for reference use to find things in the audio more easily.

Dan LeFebvre  02:20

The movie opens by showing how Bonnie and Clyde meet. It seems to be sort of a chance meeting when she catches Clyde stealing Bonnie’s mother’s car in 1931. The two end up walking into town together and almost immediately, we can tell that she’s smitten by him. Right away. We see the two committing a crime. It happens. Bonnie asks Clyde what armed robbery is like and Clyde shows Bonnie his gun and she doesn’t believe that he’s actually going to use it. So to prove her wrong. He walks across the street to a place called I think Ritt’s Groceries is what it’s called in the movie. And a couple minutes later, he emerges with a small stack of cash. They run into an nearby car, Clyde jumpstarts it and they drive away. How well does the movie do showing how Bonnie and Clyde first met.


John Neal Phillips  03:03

Not very well at all, historically speaking. But that’s a great scene. It really is the way it’s shot, the way it’s acted the way it’s written. And I love the way Warren Beatty has a little bit with the toothpick in his mouth when he showed her the gun. I really liked this movie. It’s fun to watch. It’s not at all historically. So the way Bonnie and Clyde met. And stick with me because this is this gets a little convoluted. But there was a kid named Clarence clay, who was a friend of cloud Barrows, a real close friend to Clyde Barrows. And Clarence had a sister named Edith and Edith married Hubert Parker, who was Bonnie’s brother, and Hubert and Edith lives at 105 Herbert street down in West Dallas with either parents and Clarence clay, her brother live there as well. So apparently, Edith had been in some kind of accident, broken her arm and needed some help around the house there and Bonnie came over to help one time and to visit with her brother and sister in law. And it so happened that Clarence clay and Clyde Barrow showed up at the house, and, by all accounts, Bonnie and Clyde were immediately attracted to each other. But there was no attempt to steal Bonnie’s mother’s car for one thing Bonnie’s mother did not have a car she didn’t have enough money to own a car. And as I remember in the movie, that house is a two story house. There are very few two story buildings at all that date from the time in West Dallas, the homes, many of them are the old style shotgun houses very quickly built, because they were meant to be temporary. But people stayed down there for a long time. But yeah, the way by and that scene in the movie is very fanciful, but it’s that’s not how they met at all.


Dan LeFebvre  05:17

It sounds like the two parts they kind of pulled from was that it was more of a chance encounter and she fell for him right away. But then the rest of is kind of filled in.


John Neal Phillips  05:25

True. Yeah, much of the movie is like that. They do pull the essence of most of the incidents and then rearrange some things they they also conflate a few things for time reasons. But yeah, you’re right about that.


Dan LeFebvre  05:45

According to the movie, after a farmer named Otis Harris says the his place was repossessed by the bank. And Bonnie and Clyde are there and they shoot up the house. And Clyde tells Otis that they robbed banks. And the way that is shown in the movie, it really sounded to me like, Clyde is just kind of making this up as a way of making Otis feel better that the bank has screwed over Otis, his family. And so Clyde is going to give them some payback. But then a little bit later, we see Bonnie and Clyde robbing their first bank, nearby farmer state bank. Was that how and why they started robbing banks?


John Neal Phillips  06:21

No, not at all. But that scene again really captures the public mood at the time. Much of the public held responsible for the economic situation at the time of banks, politicians and the law for some reason, a lot of people had the feeling that the law was on the tape, and that they were being paid off by wealthy bankers and wealthy politicians. And there probably was some of that, but there was a general feeling that all along and we’re on the, you know, so it was bankers, politicians and alarm and anybody that could ruin their day was okay. So that scene really captures that. But actually, Clyde did not like robbing banks. He did it very reluctantly, and only because somebody else needed something in the way of a lot of money real quick. Ralph Foltz, one of the members of the original incarnation of the barrow gang, he and Raymond Hamilton and Clyde Barrow robbed a bank in Lawrence, Kansas, because they wanted to get a lot of money to recruit some other outlaws to go raid east and prison farm. And that was the first bank robbery any of them had pulled. They learned how to do it in prison, from bank robbers that they knew in prison and the bank robbers told them tricks of the trade, and what weapons to use, how to act, what time of day to go in. The bank robbers taught them how to do this. Their technique was to case the bank for two or three days and see who arrives first in the morning. And then whoever it is that arrives first, get the drop on them and take them in before anybody else shows up in the bank, make them open up the ball and then clear out before the bank even opens. That was the technique. That’s what they did in Lawrence, Kansas, after that tried did not like robbing banks because it made headlines, and he did not like headlines because it made him hot. Of course. He still got hot anyway, because of all the chances he took. But he did not like robbing banks, after Buck joined up. Accidentally there in Missouri. Buck was interested in bank robbing. So the two of them pulled a few bank jobs. About half of them actually work. But it was only because of buck. That after buck and Blanche were out of the picture. There are no bank robberies, attributed to Well, there’s one in Missouri, Clyde and two other guys pulled off one bank robbery that we know. And then after that it was just all gas stations and grocery stores. He didn’t like robbing banks.


Dan LeFebvre  09:17

That’s the exact opposite impression I got walking away from that first part, that first scene. It was a good scene, but when they robbed that bank, they find out it went out of business a few weeks earlier. So they really they’d get almost nothing out of it, which just tells me that there really wasn’t any planning. It just seemed to be spur the moment and they didn’t really care about how much money they got out of it because they didn’t really seem to plan that one in that scene.


John Neal Phillips  09:41

Yeah, that kind of thing did happen. Ralph told me that on his own at a spur of the moment. Usually Ralph cased everything he did, you know really checked it out for a long time, but he was desperate needed something on the spur At the moment, he went in and tried to rob a bank that that was an insurance company. Now it still said bank on the outside. But he walked in and everybody just kind of looked at him with a blank. Look, you know, this isn’t a bank anymore. This is an insurance company. And Raymond Hamilton told his brother Floyd that the same thing happened to him. clads mother who started to write a book, and only left an unfinished manuscript, in that unfinished manuscript, she says, Clyde, that did happen to Clyde, that he tried to rob a bank that had gone out of business. And that’s not surprising, you know, 5000 US banks closed in 1932 alone, just in that one year. So there are a lot of empty bank buildings. The time now after the East Ham raid, because of a deal that had been made with one of the people that helped them pull the radar clad in the escapees went on this bank robbing spree, all across the Midwest, I mean, all across the plains states. They hit two banks in Iowa, but all all to pay off this one guy, he was promised $5,000 And that was the quickest way to get him paid off and get him out of the picture there. But after that was over with clad stay away from banks, he hated doing that.


Dan LeFebvre  11:25

It’s interesting. It goes back to the movie. The first time that we see somebody joining Bonnie and Clyde is an attendant at a gas station named CW MOS. And sort of like how we saw Bonnie kind of egging on Clyde to use the gun when they first met this time. It’s Clyde who kind of starts egging on CW asking if he has what it takes to pull bank jobs. And so when CW says that he does, Clyde asked him to prove it. So he walks, CW walks into the gas station there grabs all the money out of the register, tosses it to Bonnie then he hops in and all of a sudden, now there’s three people in the gang. How well does the movie do showing the way that Bonnie and Clyde recruited CW Moss,


John Neal Phillips  12:07

again, not oil at all, sensing a trend. But first of all, there was no CW moss. That character is a composite of two different people. The early part of the film all the way up to the point where bucking Blanche get captured. That CW moss characters actually a fella named WD Jones, who was 16 at the time and run with them. He was in all the major gun battles there. And after that last gun battle, we’re booking Blanche were captured. WD Jones decided this is a little too exciting for me. I’m going to I’m going to retire for a while and he just disappeared. Later he was arrested down in Houston. The latter part of the film is after Buchan blancher out of the picture there. That CW moss characters based on a guy named Henry method. And Henry mythen in eth vi N Methvin. He is one of the ones that was broken out of Eastern Prison Farm by Bonnie and Clyde in January of 1934. And he wound up putting buying Platt on the spot over and Louisiana he and his father and his mother was involved too. So CW moss is two characters jam together. And WT Jones lived in West Dallas Jones and the Barrows had known each other for a long time. They both arrived in Dallas County at about the same time and they both lived in a free camp ground underneath one of the bridges over the turbine, Trinity River and got to know each other then, and Debbie Jones. He was much younger than Clyde and just kept pestering Clyde to take him out with him. You know, he just wanted to get out of town. And so the first clad finally said, Okay, jump in first time out, they kill a guy. And so WG these just kind of stuck with them, you know?


Dan LeFebvre  14:18

Okay, yeah, we see we almost see that happening, because soon afterwards CW Mohsen the movie soon after that, he’s the getaway driver. And as they’re trying to escape from a man from the bank that they just robbed hops onto the car and Clyde shoots him in the face. And that’s the first time we see them killing somebody in the movie. So it sounds like that part of it. They kind of pulled from history.


John Neal Phillips  14:39

Yes, in fact, the the details of that killing actually are pulled from the actual killing, which occurred on Christmas Day. 1932 WT Jones was really good at stealing cars. That was one reason why plaid took him along with because he was really good at stealing cars and so they were in temple Texas and saw this car parked in front of his house and WD Jones got out and and then clad got out and Bonnie took their car and went around the corner to wait for him. And Clyde and WD both slip into this, this car. And the owner of the car sees him doing it comes running out of the house and he jumps on the running board as they’re driving away. And he’s in clad, it appears is the one that was behind the wheel. And which makes sense. He usually likes to drive. So he probably was the one behind the wheel. And this man’s reached in and started choking and clad said more than once Turn Me Loose or I’ll shoot you, I’ll shoot you and he didn’t turn him loose of clouds shot him in the neck and he died the next morning. Real nice, great Christmas Day event. And after all of that they left the car. They figured the car was too hot, so they just jump back in the old car took off.


Dan LeFebvre  16:09

So end of the day that was pointless. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Wow. Well, you alluded to this a little bit earlier, and the next time we see somebody joining the gang in the movie, it’s Clyde’s brother, Buck and Blanche. And the way the movie sets this up, it starts when Buck and Blanche, join the other three for what Clyde calls a vacation to Missouri. They’re going to find a place to hole up and basically because nobody’s looking for them there. So they’re in Joplin, Missouri. And there’s the five in the barrel gang inside the house. And then all of a sudden police car blocks their driveway. Blanche starts screaming when she hears that the law is outside. Few seconds later, Clyde starts shooting at the cops who returned fire and it’s just turned into this huge shootout. They do end up getting out Clyde is driving and he rams police car to be able to get out. Others are in the car everywhere except for bland, she kind of catches and screaming and running away and manages to to catch up later on. But that’s how the movie shows this happening with buck and Blanche joining in in this big shootout in Missouri. Is that did that really happen?


John Neal Phillips  17:18

Oh, yeah, that did happen in March 1933. And the elements of the way the movie portrays that the elements most of them are pretty spot on. People who are into this sort of thing will notice that the weapons are all wrong, clad never use Thompson machine gun, because at the time, they were very unreliable, they would jam real easy. And he knew that he preferred the Brian automatic rifle which they had. They had a box full of those in that apartment. And it’s true. One of the police cars blocked the garage door they were living in a garage apartment behind the house of the owner of the garage apartment. They’d been there a while and they hadn’t been trying to conceal the fact that they were there that cladding book were up late at night. Partying, you know, playing cards and drinking beer. Beer had just been legalized after Prohibition. And so they had bought some beer of bucks really liked to drink. Clyde actually didn’t like to drink much. It didn’t seem like drink coffee. But when when he was with his brother, he’d become somebody else. So Blanche was kind of nervous about this in her book, you can see that she’s nervous about it. They’re making so damn much noise that she’s afraid that the neighbors are going to call the police. And that’s exactly what happened. The neighbors complained that there were these rowdy people living in this garage apartment. So the police showed up and blocked the garage door just like they showed in the movie. Bonnie and Blanche were upstairs. WD Jones book and clad were down in the garage when that car pulled up and they started shooting immediately. I think it was Buck went to close the garage door and one of the officers in the car jumped out to try and block him closing that door in either cloud or book killed him right there with a shotgun blast and then everybody started shooting. The problem was the police ran out of ammunition pretty quick. And which wasn’t a problem for buck and Clyde and WT Jones that they had robbed in National Guard Armory. And they had 1000s of rounds of ammunition. They had three or four Browning Automatic rifles in over 5045 caliber coat pistols, you know, cheese Wow. Yeah, they had gas masks and all kinds of things. And the planet Always was if the police ever showed up, everybody get to the car. So as soon as Blanche and Bonnie heard the shooting, they ran down to the car. Blanche had a dog named snowball with them. And she had trained snowball to run to the car on command. So she had told snowball run to the car and snowball ran down the stairs into the garage and then buying bunny and Blanche came right after Bonnie jumped into the car. But before Blanche jumped in the car, Clyde asked her to help him push that police car out of the way. And this is probably lamps, relays this story, but it’s also corroborated by the coroner’s inquest, that witnesses saw a man and a woman pushing the police car across the street. They it was on an incline they got it started. And it went right across the street and into a yard across the street. And Blanche said that she her sweater got caught on the bumper and pulled her all the way across the street there and that’s corroborated in that inquest also, but then she got her sweater and then she went back to the garage in Buck was waiting for out in the street shooting at the police officers who by then had run out of ammunition but Platon WD and Buck didn’t know that so they just kept shooting it the police officers, they had killed two police officers at that point. And they were both laying in front of that garage door.


John Neal Phillips  21:34

Blanche goes back into the garage and gets into the car and notices her dog is not in the car. So she gets back out of the car and just calmly walks out of the garage and starts walking down the street looking for a dog. This is corroborated in the police inquiry to the coroner’s inquiry. Also, one of the officers testified that all of a sudden they saw a woman they didn’t know where she came from. But she was just calmly walking down the street calling to someone and she was calling her dogs snowball. And of course that’s portrayed in the movie that Blanche freaked out and started to scream and run and down down the street. So I asked Blanche, what did you think about that? And she said, she said that movie made me look like a screaming horse’s ass. That was Blanche. That was the real Blanche. Blanche wasn’t a shrinking violet at all. She wasn’t anything the way Estelle Parsons portrays her in the movie, but which she portrays her beautifully. I love all the performances in that movie, but they’re not accurate at all. Blanche told me she was there because she wanted to be there. She said I was young and stupid and Clyde Barrow never held a gun to my head. I was there because I wanted to be there and that’s the way she said it too. And she was involved in the robberies and everything all the way down the line. She was a tough cookie but different than this tell parses for trailer. Yeah. So then clad, gets the car out of the garage and turns down the street looking for Blanche and then finds her down down at the corner and she just gets in the car and they drive off and they drove straight to Texarkana and robbed a filling station in Texarkana. Bonnie still had her nightgown on and it is about 40 degrees. Blanche remembers being super cold in that car. Oh klaten been shot superficially. Bullet had glanced off the button of of his silk shirt, which he was really proud of the silk shirt and he was pissed off really, really mad that he his button had gotten damaged and there was blood on the shirt. But WD Jones got hit pretty bad. Yet through and through shot through the shoulder. And he was in a lot of pain on the way to Texarkana. WD Jones tells the story. years later, he said he kept complaining. He thought he had been shot twice. And Clyde kept saying no so that’s a one shot is through and through your you’re going to be alright, no shot twice. So to prove it, clad stop the car, went out in the woods and cut a hickory branch that was straight enough and wrapped gauze around it and poured peroxide over it and just rammed it through that hole just to showing that it was a through and through shot. Now these are some tough people. And it’s amazing. They lived as long as they did.


Dan LeFebvre  24:36

I have to ask you mentioned the armory that they had robbed there. And I actually have a friend in Enid, Oklahoma, who mentioned that they were rumors that Bonnie and Clyde were responsible for robbing armory where there’s was that where


John Neal Phillips  24:45

it was? Yes, yes. Yeah. Yeah. Okay,


Dan LeFebvre  24:49

so that was the armory and there are a few the movie doesn’t really show that but there are a few little mentions here and there. Like I think there’s some references in the dialogue to an armory and we see it at one point later on in the movie we see CW MOS grabbing grenades from what looks like a military box like, you know, so obviously they’ve they’ve got some weapons there.


John Neal Phillips  25:08

Yeah, they just don’t explain where they came from. Yeah.


Dan LeFebvre  25:13

Well, after the shootout in Missouri, the movie shows Bob Bonnie’s blaming blanche for alerting the cops because she was screaming and then later on, Bonnie gets upset when Blanche asks for her share the take, was there any sort of bad blood between Blanche and Bonnie?


John Neal Phillips  25:29

I wouldn’t go bad blood. But there was a rivalry between the two. And it was, it didn’t have anything to do with money. It didn’t have anything to do with the police or anything like that. It was that they were both attractive. They like to wear really hot, expensive clothes. And they wanted to outdo each other. And they were trying to outdo each other as the most hip fashionable woman on the road that, you know, the way Blanche put it years later was said it was a situation where there were two cooks in the same kitchen. That’s the way she put it. And you just can’t have two cooks in the same kitchen. So they frequently were at each other’s throats. But there were extenuating circumstances to I mean, their lives were pretty miserable. You know, by choice, of course, but their lives were just long periods of absolute boredom, always looking over your shoulder, punctuated by sheer terror, moments of sheer terror. When Buck was finally captured, and he was being interviewed before he died, one of the interviewers asked him, How many gunfights Have you been in? He said, about one every week. So there’s a lot of melt that we don’t even know about that they were involved in.


Dan LeFebvre  26:54

Wow. Wow. When we talked a lot about the highwomen. You mentioned that Clyde Barrow was a fan of Jesse James. And if I recall from history, Jesse James kind of liked seeing himself in the newspapers and dime novels. But then earlier, you’re mentioning that Clyde didn’t like bank robberies because it made him hot. Was Was he not? Did he not like the attention that started to gather I’m sure after the shootout in Missouri, it only, you know, expanded even further. Beyond that.


John Neal Phillips  27:25

Yeah, after that shoot out in Missouri. Because it came on so quick. They had to leave everything behind. bucks. Parole papers were left behind his marriage license to Blanche was left behind, and several unprocess rolls of film that had very clear photographs of them were left behind. Several of Bonnie’s poems were left behind so that the authorities knew exactly who this was. This is the first time that the barrow brothers could be absolutely pinpointed to a particular crime. And Clyde didn’t like any of that. He wanted to stay out of the paper as much as possible, because as soon as you started making headlines, you started getting hotter and hotter and hotter. And it was harder to exist.


Dan LeFebvre  28:13

So when the cops showed up there initially they they didn’t know who it was there. They didn’t know. Okay, it was a noise complaint. They just showed up and then okay, okay. Yeah,


John Neal Phillips  28:23

the the search warrant was to search for illegal liquor. They thought they had boot vectors in the place, which made sense because they were bringing in a lot of beer and mostly for Buck. Buck, like hard liquor too. So they were probably in contact with some bootlegger in the area, because that was still illegal. Any hard liquor was still illegal. hard liquor and wine. Just beer was legal. So the Yeah, the search warrant was was for it was a liquor war is what it was. They did. Yeah, they didn’t have any idea who they had there. Yeah, the


Dan LeFebvre  29:01

impression I got in the movie, because I think I don’t remember how many cars there were. But there’s more than one placecard that shows up like there’s, there’s multiples this Archer. Yeah, there too. Yeah. So I got the impression that they knew that they were on something,


John Neal Phillips  29:13

huh? Yeah. There were two. I think there were six officers. And they were and the reason why the main reason why there were six officers was because because Joplin crosses two county jurisdictions. And so that in that house, that garage apartment was in one county, but the police station was in the other county so they actually had to get the county constable to serve the warrant because it was out of the job from Joplin police jurisdiction and there were two Missouri State patrolmen involved there too. All of them ran out of ammunition, except for the ones that were killed right away.


Dan LeFebvre  29:59

You mentioned the film roles and this in the there’s a big picture, a picture that plays a big part I should say in the movie and this happens when Frank Hamer sneaks up on them. And Clyde shoots the gun out of hammers hand. There’s they’re still in Missouri, this is after that. So obviously it wouldn’t have been a picture they found in the house there but Clyde notices that this is a Texas Ranger and they decided to take a picture, there’s a picture of Bonnie casing, Frank Hamer that ends up making it into newspapers. And with the impression that according the movie, Clyde wants to embarrass the Texas Rangers. Did that happen?


John Neal Phillips  30:37

No, not at all that Texas Ranger by the way played by Denver Pyle, he played that so well, that that actor, he could play anything his he could play comedy, you know, to the tee that he’s in a lot of episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, you know, and then he could play dramatic roles too. And he really plays this vindictive, nasty creature in that movie and he plays it so well and it’s really well written but it never happened. It never happened. The first time Frank Hamer ever saw Bonnie and Clyde was the morning he shot them he didn’t know he didn’t even know what they look like it was the to to Dallas officers that were there mainly to identify Bonnie and Clyde make sure they weren’t shooting some farmers driving up


Dan LeFebvre  31:25

they weren’t able to identify them from the film or all that they criminals that they got in


John Neal Phillips  31:30

No Not. Not not positively you know, it’s very difficult. You know, you do see in movies you’ll see some outlaws and hiding somewhere and the newspapers start printing photographs of you know, put yourself in the position of somebody just walking down the street. Are you going to think this guy passing you on the street is this person in in the newspaper you know, unless they’ve got a great big scar across their face or they get a big sign that says I’m the one you’re looking for? It’s just not going to happen you know? That those photos is as good as they are they they just aren’t quite good enough to be darn sure when you’re getting ready to kill somebody. They wanted to make darn sure this was buying Clyde not somebody else you know cuz they darn near killed somebody else in Louisiana at one at one point just barely stopped opening fire when they realized that they were going to hit the wrong people.


Dan LeFebvre  32:36

Oh, like a misidentification? Well,


John Neal Phillips  32:39

not exactly. They had buying Clyde in their sights in a place called Castor, Louisiana. And they were really set to open up on but there were people around lots of people around. And earlier, in November 1933. Here in Dallas County, there was an attempt to kill Bonnie and Clyde on what’s now called airport freeway. And one of the bullets traveled a mile and entered a farmhouse and hit a woman inside the house. And so that was the two Dallas officers were in that ambush that day. And they remembered that so when they were over in Louisiana, they wanted to make darn sure nobody else was around. Also, they wanted to make sure there were no witnesses to this thing. Because there wouldn’t be an attempt to arrest them. They just going to shoot them. That was it from the star. In the movie,


Dan LeFebvre  33:37

we see the barrel gang kidnapping a couple in there called Eugene Grizzard and Velma Davis in the movie, and they’re all driving long in one car. But before long, Buck starts cracking jokes with Eugene and Velma it’s almost no time at all before the court in the movies timeline, you would just assume that they were friends like you never know. They just kidnap the other laughing together. They get food as they’re eating. Bonnie asks what Eugene does, he says he’s an undertaker. And then immediately she turns around and says get them out of here. So Eugene Belmar dropped at the side of the road. Are there any accounts like this where people were kidnapped by the barrel gang and I’m going to send it up becoming friends with them so quickly.


John Neal Phillips  34:18

The abduction of people was a common practice with Clyde for a number of reasons just to prevent them from contacting the authorities before they could get out of the area to disorient a victim. Especially police that more than once they kidnap police who had stumbled across them and driven them down. Then they would drive the police officer 1000 miles away and leaving by the side of the road with with a few bucks to take the bus home and the officer would know where to hell they are usually leave out in the middle of nowhere between a couple of towns on main roads so they’d be found but with a A couple of bucks for the bus right at home but that was it. It usually there was no love loss between between the the victims and the perpetrators there, except for one time. There was this nasty shooting up in northeastern Oklahoma, between Miami and commerce, Oklahoma, and one constable was killed and a city Marshal was abducted in the city. Marshall had been wounded superficially at a flesh wound on his temple. But he was abducted and they drove him all the way to Missouri. And along the way, this city marshals started to kind of like Bonnie and Clyde. Henry method was with them too. But Henry method never said a word the whole time. This guy said so he couldn’t get a fix on him. But he talked a lot with Bonnie and Clyde. He he really grew kind of fond of Bonnie, because she was very friendly, joked a lot. And Clyde was very taciturn and he was really upset because of the the shooting and the messy way they had to get away and that this guy is still in the car with him. But they let him out. Up in Missouri. They let him out gave him a few bucks for a ride home. And this Marshal told them newspapers, he said, Clyde Barrow, oh, he is the coolest operator I’ve ever known. He kind of had this respect for barrel. I don’t know if that lasted or not. But at the moment, he was kind of an off Clyde Barrow and he really liked bonding. A lot. Couldn’t get a fix on you know the guy. But the the pardon the movie Bonnie and Clyde. The Grizzard character, you know is played by Gene Wilder is beautiful, you know, I actually interviewed Sophie stone is the woman’s real name. They changed the names of those two characters because both of those people were still alive when that movie was made. And they didn’t want any problems. It was it was hard and you know, Blanche was still alive. So it was hard enough using her name in the thing they paid her off for it. But they showed her a different script ahead of time and she said when the movie came out she didn’t recognize anything. It was all just so in she said they paid her just enough to buy her a new fence for


John Neal Phillips  37:39

But anyway, this fell on the man’s name he actually was an undertaker. The man’s name was Dillard Darby, Dillard Darby and Sophie stone. It was Darby his car that was stolen. He and Stone did not know each other. They just chanced to get involved in this. Clyde spotted Arby’s car in thought it was kind of a neat looking car and wanted it and as WD Jones. You think you could get that thing going pretty quick. He said, Oh, yeah, I get that thing going. So and sure enough, he does. But Darby sees him doing it comes running out. And another one of the jumping on the running board things but instead of getting shot, WD Jones turned a corner really quick and throw him off the car. And then Jones took off but sped out of town and this was in Ruston, Louisiana this happened. Bonnie Clyde and Buck and Blanche are in the car trying to catch up with WD Jones and he’s driving so fast. He loses them. They can’t find him at all which really makes Clyde mad. He’s really really mad. Then Clyde in his rearview mirror sees this other car coming. And what had happened was after Darby got thrown off, it was right near a school and a school teacher saw this and offered to give him a ride to try and get his car back and that was Sophie stone. So she got her car and the two of them take off after WT Jones but they wind up behind Bonnie and Clyde and plaid spots them and suspects who it is. But he’s he’s trying to find WT Jones and they spend more than an hour looking for WT John’s do not find him at all. And they keep running across this other car. And so finally, Clyde stops and flags the other car down. He said have you seen this car and the man Darby pretended like he didn’t know what he was talking about because I think Darby suspected who Clyde was that he was part of this this theft of his car. Darby said I don’t know what you’re talking about and clad opened up the door and jerked him out of out of the car and pulled him around behind the car and then hit him in the back with the butt of his gun and knocked him down. out, and then threw him in their car next to buck and Blanche. And then Bonnie got out and got Sophie stone and dragged her back to the car and threw her in with buck and Blanche. And Sophie Stone said, Buck was just full of grease. It must have been working on a car something is she said. He was very, very greasy. blash was pretty clean and biting Clower pretty clean, but Buck was just really, really greasy and really tiny, little tiny pea all these people were really tiny people. And she said, in that back seat with buck and Blanche were all these weapons, all these Browning Automatic rifles and 40 fives and all this ammunition. But she said none of that scared her as much as the way cloudberry drove. He took off like a bat out of hell. He was just flying through towns and he would take off across fields, he would leave the road and just go blast in across the field and pick up another road someplace else. And then they went all the way into Arkansas. And then just stopped and dropped. Darby and stone off and gave him $5 for bus ride home and then took off. But Sophie Stone says she was scared out of her mind. Oh, at one point they stopped. I remember this at one point they stopped because it was too crowded in the backseat and Sophie stone was brought up to the front seat. And so she’s sitting between Bonnie and Clyde. And that’s when she really got the full effect of how fast cloud was driving. These rutted dirt roads, he’d be doing 9095 100 on these rutted in the cars just vibrating and sliding all over the place. And on those rutted roads, the car was vibrating so much the glove compartment door would open up frequently. And these magazines for Browning Automatic rifles filled with ammunition would fall out onto the floor. While he’s still driving, I would reach across and pick them up off the floor and shove them back into the glove box and slam the door and then it opened up again. And that just scared the heck out of her because he’s taken his eye off the road and just flying down as he finally is kept happening and finally he just picked them all up and dumped him in Sophie stones lap and said here whole ways.


John Neal Phillips  42:25

She did not have a fun time at all. There was no hamburger eating. Jokes being told, however the the subject of Darby being an undertaker did come up. Bonnie started getting chatty. Clyde was still fuming. He never stopped being mad that whole trip but Bonnie, she started getting chatty and wanted to know who these people were. And so she asked Sophie stone, what do you do? And she said she taught Home Economics in school there. And Bonnie said, You mean like cooking things? Yeah. Oh, did you cook something today? If you did describe it to me because I’m so hungry. She said. Then she asked Darby what he did. And he said he was an undertaker. There’s a lot of conflict about who said what and what they said. Some sources say Clyde actually asked, wouldn’t you like to embalm me, but three sources including Clyde’s mother’s manuscripts said it was Bonnie that asked that question. Would you like to embalm clad in me, they did identify themselves, which was unusual. They usually didn’t do that. They did it would you like to embalm clad in me. And Darby said no, no, I hope you all live a long time, you know he was just trying to see. And apparently Barney thought it was funny and started laughing said oh yeah, you’d love them bomb us. But clad was not thinking it was funny at all. And it was not long after that. He stopped and dumped him out. And then drove off. Sophie Stone said they got dropped off. And then the car took off. And they were thinking Oh good. Because they really thought they’re going to be killed. But then the car stop. And it backed up a few feet and I thought Oh no, here comes here. Come here Come and a $5 bill sailed out the window landed on the side of the road and then the car took off. That was money for the bus ride home there. There was no love loss and that one that’s usually the way those deductions were. The unusual one was that city Marshal personally Boyd.


Dan LeFebvre  44:44

If we go back to the movie, there’s another big shootout that we see in this again, the gang is holed up somewhere this time it’s at some cabins in Platte City Iowa. Blanchett CW moss in the movie, guys some chicken dinners for the gang. Someone at the restaurant happens to see a gun And then so he calls Sheriff Smoot after the to leave. When this leads the law to the cabins where the barrel ganger spending the night, and this time it’s the law that shoots first in the movie in the shootout is seemed to be a lot bigger than the one. In Missouri. The law even comes with an armored vehicle. And this is where we kind of mentioned earlier the gang mentioned that they robbed an armory and we see them pulling out grenades and big machine guns, but the gang does manage to get away. Not before both block Hunter, Buck and Blanche are injured. Although bucks injury seems to be a lot worse than blanches. In the movie, how well did the movie do portraying this shootout in Iowa?


John Neal Phillips  45:44

Again, the essence of it is is spot on. A lot of the details are kind of rearranged or didn’t happen. But the the essence of is there just like most of the rest of the movie, the essence is there. This particular shoot out the Platte City, Missouri, which today we’re the Kansas City International Airport is what one of the runways is right up against where these cabins used to be. They don’t exist anymore, but you’ll go to visit the site. And there’s a roadway that’s been cut all through there. So it’s kind of hard to get a fix on where the place actually was but and planes are always flying real low over like you’re coming in but in Platte City, Missouri. This appears to be the first time law enforcement actually thought this was the barrow brothers. And that’s why all the armaments came out. That’s why there were so many officers involved. The way it’s portrayed in the movie like is said CWM Moss, who is actually WD Jones at this point, and Blanche would go into the where the little restaurant was and get food and bring it back to the cabins. Usually it was only Blanche that went out and got anything once in a while WT Jones went with her. But usually he stayed out of sight to no one ever saw Clyde or book or Bonnie and Bonnie was injured at the time she had been injured in a car wreck and darn near died actually,


Dan LeFebvre  47:32

with the way that Clyde apparently drives. That’s not


John Neal Phillips  47:36

That’s right. Yeah, he was to learn along in the Texas panhandle and did not notice a sign that said the bridge across the south Canadian River had been moved and he took the old route and and there was no bridge there. And he just drove right into the south Canadian River, which was dry at the time with the car overturned and caught fire and burnt WD Jones and him bad enough but darn near completely burned Bonnie up. She was trapped in the car. And it was only a couple of farmers came in and help lift the car so they could pull her out. And by then she had been really severely burned. How she survived that have no idea of blasts that when she saw the three of them. She thought all three of them were going to die. Especially Bonnie. So in Platte City, Bonnie can’t hardly move on her own. She has to be carried everywhere. And so that’s one reason why nobody ever saw her. And then Clyde and Buck just didn’t want to be seen. So mostly Blanche would go out and she always paid with coins, which mildly interested the proprietor there. He thought that was kind of unusual. I don’t know why it was unusual, but it must have been because he thought it was kind of unusual. And there are several other things that, you know, he kept looking at those cabins. And there were newspapers covering all the glass, which they had put up in Blanche in her books that she thought that was kind of a bad idea kind of really sent a weird message to this newspapers in the window. And sure enough that it didn’t make people suspicious. That name Sheriff smooth. Cracks me up. That’s a kind of a nod to the Dallas County Sheriff at the time, schmooze Schmidt But Clarence coffee was the the sheriff up in Platte City, Platte County up there. And so he was notified. And he actually saw Blanche in town. She was buying medical supplies at the pharmacy for Bonnie actually. And that was also kind of weird people were thinking and also Blanche is extremely good looking. She was dressed to the nines. She had this great hairstyle and she was Hollywood good looking, you know, you can see it in the photograph. And even an old age she was a really good looking old really was so that that alone caught everybody’s attention. Here’s this woman basically from Hollywood walking around Platte City buying all these medical supplies and pan for everything with coins. And nobody’s seen the car. Nobody’s seen anybody with her except this kid every now and then. So the sheriff starts wondering who the heck is this? And he starts to suspect it’s the barrel brothers. I can’t quite remember how you put all that together but he was sure right. And he contacted Kansas City which is not far away and ask them for some help. They brought this this vehicle out that is often described as an armored car. Local said it was an armored it was just a police vehicle. And in the way clad shot at the pieces approved, it wasn’t too armored, anyway. But there was so there were three buildings actually there was this main building of the red crown cabins, and the main building had a ballroom and had the offices and had a restaurant. And so Blanche would be seen in there. And occasionally WT Jones would be seen in there. And then there was a little filling station kind of convenience store across the street from the cabinets and there are only two cabins so they occupied the whole thing. Bonnie and Clyde and Buck and Blanche W. Jones. So there’s this little convenience store across the street that sold gas to WT Jones would go across there to get soft drinks. He always bought five soft drinks. The guy in that store is the only one that pegged there were five people in that place. Even 50 years later, locals thought there were four people in place when there was five, because he got a really clear look at WT Jones because he’d come across there. One time.


John Neal Phillips  52:09

It was getting late at night, and the restaurant in the red crown had closed. So apparently everybody in the cabins wanted something to eat. So D Jones went to the little convenience store and ordered five sandwiches and five soda pop. And deputy Jones kept looking over at the red crown, the main building, and so the proprietor there, looked over to and he noticed all these police cars on the other side of the building. And that was the night they were going to surround the cabins and they were hiding the police cars on the other side but they were kind of blended into a lot of other cars. That was a dance in the ballroom at night too. So there were a lot of people there. And but WT Jones apparently it spotted those police cars. So he took the sandwiches and went back to the cabins. And then the proprietor said he saw Sheriff coffee with an armor plated thing in front of him walk up to the cabin. So he stepped out near the road to take a look at what’s going on. And Sheriff coffee and another man knocked on bucking blanches door and Blanche and her book describes she hurt she and Buck heard the knock. And Blanche said Who is it and said it’s the police. Can you send the man out? And she said, Oh we’re all asleep. Let me get dressed and that was actually a signal. Let me get dressed and she said it loud enough that Clayton Bunyan W Jones could hear it and the other Kevin apparently clad, jumped out of bed in grab this Browning Automatic Rifle and just started shooting right through the garage door at Holt, coffee hit the shield clad would have been behind Hulk coffee, hit the shield. This fell across the street seeing all of this. He said all of a sudden flames about three feet long started flying out of all the windows of those cabins and a line of bullets raked right in front of him on there. And he decided I think I’ll go back in the year. So he goes back in the building. His sister’s there and his fiancee is there. And they actually go up on the roof or where they get behind some shelter and serve the whole thing from the roof of this convenience store there. He said by the time they got up to the roof. Several of the police officers had run to hide behind their building and stayed there the whole time. I asked this man I said Were you surprised by the firepower that suddenly erupt and he said You darn right I was in everybody else. There was two. There was a state highway patrol in there that night that This fella knew. And the next day I talked to him and he said, he said he was totally caught off guard. But they did think it was the barrel brothers. They just didn’t know how, how ferocious these people are. And so, cladding WD, John’s and Buck are shooting out all of the windows. And those running automatic rifles can go right through brick walls. They’re just powerful. This can be one of the slugs, penetrated the red crown, the main building there and went into the kitchen through a stove and struck somebody hiding behind that stove there. That’s how powerful those things are. In this vehicle, this police vehicle is often described as an armored car had been pulled up in front of the garage to try and block the garage. And Clyde started shooting at that thing. And he just tore it apart. And he hit the driver and the knees. And the driver instantly thought Yeah, I think I’ll back out of here, you know, and so he threw it reverse in the end he backed up and clouds still shooting and cloud hits the horn and he shorts out the horn and the horn just starts going and and a lot of the officers took that as a signal to stop shooting. And so the officer stopped shooting and that’s when Buchan blasts decided to come out. And officers then open fire on them. They actually they were holding mattresses up like they show in the movie. But the garage door was closed. Clyde and WD Jones were trying to load Bonnie into the car in the garage. And they heard the gunfire. And then this time Blanche does scream. She’s screaming above the sound of gunfire for Clyde to open up the garage door. And the witness across the street that US spoke with said he remembers a woman screaming and that was bland. She said she was screaming above the sound of gunfire to get clad open up the garage or cloud open up the garage door. And by then Buck had been shot through the head. It was a through and through shot right through the head. Blanche was unhurt at that point, but fell into blanches arms when he was struck that the man across the street saw this when he was struck. It started to fire as Browning Automatic Rifle and he went back and in the barrel up in the air fire straight up into the air and then fell back into blanches arms. And then cloud came out and cloud reached for buck and reached for bucks gun and grabbed by the barrel and burn the hell out of his hand and drop the gun right there. Just it was just an accident that kind of and they loaded him in the car at this point. Cloud knows bucks hit but he didn’t know how serious it is. Blow them in the car. And they back the car out. And by this time all the officers that stopped shooting. Although Blanche told me she said it didn’t seem like they stopped shooting to me but everybody else had talked to on the other side said they had stopped shooting because they just kind of wanted them to leave.


John Neal Phillips  58:16

It was that kind of thing that they were way over over a mash with weapons here. The one thing in the movie that they portray, they’re using those Thompson machine guns, which they use in the highwomen also and I even told the director I said nobody was using those things because they jammed really bad Thompson didn’t fix that till World War Two came out to the director said yeah, no, but thing looks so good. Yeah, I mean, it looks so good.


Dan LeFebvre  58:49

They I will say they are super recognizable. Oh, no


John Neal Phillips  58:52

kidding. Yeah. And it only really matters to somebody like me, you know, other people like it. But nevertheless, they’re in the car and they back out. And the evidence that they were still shooting is that one of the tires was hit. One or two of the tires was hit. As they drove off and but they kept driving. They kept driving and they had to stop more than once to fix the tires. In fact, until the morning, they never did get out of the area. They were within a few miles of the place the whole night. Trying to fix the tires trying it Oh, yeah. Other evidence that they were still shooting when the car backed out was a line of fire raked into the car and glass hit Blanche in the eye hit her in both eyes. One of her eyes was permanently damaged and a bullet fragment struck her in the forehead, just above the hairline, and that was that remained there the rest of her life. But she was blind in one eye and couldn’t see real well out of the other eye. either because of that glass that, but she can seal that until later. Because she didn’t want buck to be upset because he was conscious that this through through shot, he was absolutely conscious. She said the floorboard and the back seat was just, you know about an inch of blood down there. It was just, it wasn’t until they were trying to change one of the tires just a few miles from the shootout. That Clyde came to realize blash was injured to he didn’t realize it till then. So it took them all night to get out of the area there. But that’s the way that that story went. They the only reason why they got out of there was because they had superior firepower.


Dan LeFebvre  1:00:47

We do see him get out in the movie, but then afterwards they’re in a field out there when the law catches up to them and again at another shootout. This time I think Clyde is hitting the arm as they’re trying to escape there’s a ton of gunfire there they’re driving around it almost looks like Clyde is trying to go one direction and then there’s gunfire there so it goes in other directions like like they’re basically completely surrounded with this is when we see buck. Die. We see. Bucking Blanche blank as captured. Buck dies seems to die there right there. We don’t actually, we don’t really see him die, but you know, cameras kind of zooms in on his hand and it’s twitching and then it stops so you get the impression that that he didn’t make it. But then we do see that Bonnie Clyde and in this case in the movie CW moss Get away from there as everybody else kind of converging on on bucking Blanche. How well did the movie do showing that


John Neal Phillips  1:01:38

the chaos of it is pretty spot on in the fact that Clyde Jones and Bonnie got away. That’s That’s right. Bucking Blanche were captured. Buck lasted six days and died six days later. And he was apparently in and out of consciousness pretty coherent all the way to the end. And he was he had been shot there too, in addition to the through and through shot in Platte City. He was shot in the back in this Iowa gunfight. And he complained more about that than the than the hedge, you know. But Blanche, who was having great difficulty seeing she just stayed with him. One thing about the movie, though, you would think the whole Eighth Army had shown up for this. There were only six officers that were involved in this thing. In the Great Depression, there weren’t that many officers around. Not a lot of states had State Police in 1934. That year, Bonnie and Clyde were killed. The Texas State Highway Patrol was only two years old. That kind of statewide entity was the kind of a new thing. Most places there just weren’t that many lawman a lot of people would be volunteers and that sort of thing. There was a crowd there, though, it had become pretty well known in the area that there were these outlaws that that the local law were going to try and descend upon here. And so sort of like on a Saturday night date, you know, everybody was going out to watch the outlaws get captured. And a lot of them wish they hadn’t gone out there because the the gunfight was pretty ferocious. Apparently WD Jones spotted the officers walking toward them. It was just after daybreak, and Clyde grabbed a Browning Automatic Rifle and just opened up on him. He either deliberately or accidentally aim high. And he was saw in this tree limbs off these trees and they were falling on these on the officers and so they’re all ducking for cover. And then that gave them a chance to load into a car they had two cars buying they had stolen one from Perry, Iowa there and brought it down. And then they had the car from Platte City that was just completely shut up just completely but they still had that car. But they loaded into the Perry car the newer Perry car and the officers went for the tires. They’re knocked it out of commission. And so the bonding client everybody loaded into the old car to try and take off and clot by then had been shot in the shoulder. W Jones had been shot. Bonnie had been shot twice in the stomach. Bucket been shot in the back blast somehow avoided getting shot, but they all loaded into the Platte City Car clad because it showroom, operated he he steered the car over a tree stump and got it stuck. And so they all just dove out of the car and headed up this fence line toward the south Raccoon River is where they were going And somehow they got separated, probably because but just couldn’t keep up. And Blanche stayed with him. And finally she found this this large tree that had been felled, and she and Buck hid behind the stump of this tree all morning. And sporadically. She would hear gunfire here and there. In the meantime, Jones and Clyde and Bonnie took off and made it to the south Raccoon River, and they swam across in the movie they portrayed, bunting is shot, swimming across the river, but the shooting was long over by then, and by had already been shot, but she was shot in the abdomen, actually twice in the abdomen. In addition to this burn, she was recovering from and clouds shot in the shoulder and WT Jones is shot. There was a man across the river, a farmer named feller. He was 19 years old at the time. He said he was down in the field there when all of a sudden this this man covered in blood holding a 45. I was standing in front of him, said have you got a car? And he said, Yeah, but he didn’t have chance to say that the cars didn’t work. Well, one of them worked, but not too well. But anyway,


John Neal Phillips  1:06:31

he was so flabbergasted by this guy covered in blood. And then the guy turned around and whistled. And WT Jones came through a fence carrying bony embodying just totally red and blood. And WT Jones was covered in blood. And the three of them walked up to the farmhouse. And the first car they come to is up on blocks and clad gets pissed in and says, But you said you had a cola? Yeah, we do have a card and say at work, you know, he didn’t give me a chance. But then then there was this other car. And I forgot what make it was. But it was it was not one that Clyde was familiar with it may have been an older model of a make that he was unfit. Anyway, he got in the car and WD Jones and Bonnie got in the back seat. And he couldn’t figure out how to start the thing. So this kid, he leans into the window past cloud to showing where the ignition was and how the gears work. And he said that 45 was just sitting on that seat there. cladded set that 45 down. And he said the thought just briefly crossed his mind to grab that 45 and take off. So I was interviewing this fella and I said did you know that 45 didn’t have any ammunition? And if you said no, I wouldn’t have gone through with it and you


Dan LeFebvre  1:08:05

probably would not be a good idea.


John Neal Phillips  1:08:07

Cloud in bluffed his way in there. He was completely out ammunition, which is kind of unusual for cloud Berra. He had shot everything. He only had that 145 They left all the weapons, all the Browning Automatic rifles every all the 45 or 50, Colt 45 Automatic pistols, several 1000 rounds of ammunition all back at that campsite. before that happened, what led up to that they were there for five days at that camp site. And the camp site was at an old abandoned amusement park actually, it was an amusement park called Dixfield Park. And it was between Redfield and Dexter, Iowa. And it had gone bust in the depression. So there’s a baseball field, the remnant of old swimming pool and other equipment all around. But the loggers were in there frequently cutting timber, and that’s mostly what was happening there. It was a source of timber in the area. So they had camped near the timber line. And somebody was out walking his dog. And notice these this car with all these bullet holes in it, never saw any people but just saw this car the borehole so he reported that to the local police. And the meantime there was this. There was a pharmacy in in Dexter, Iowa, and a restaurant and the restaurant was blooms restaurant and I spoke to one of the owners is bloom and she remembered this very well dressed and the way she put it was very good looking young man came in there every day in order five chicken dinners, and the first time it came in He ordered the five chicken dinners and she brought out the order. And he said, What about plates and silverware? And she said, Oh, you need that too. And he said, Yeah. And all they had was China and real silver. And she gave it to him. And he, she said he brought it back every time. Every time he brought it back, of course, he didn’t want to call attention to himself. But he already had.


Dan LeFebvre  1:10:29

Yeah, well, I mean, the current bullet folds that kind of does it.


John Neal Phillips  1:10:34

Yeah, well, by then they’d stolen this new car from Paris. And Miss Bloom says she remembers a woman always sitting in the car. And that probably was Bonnie, she would ride with him. Buck and Blanche and WD Jones, were back at the campsite. So the five chicken dinner so Buck was doing well enough to eat, you know, he can move very slowly on his own is very, very interesting, his injury there. But five, four or five days, here he comes. And she said, everybody in the restaurant would hold their breath when he’d walk in because everybody knew he was some kind of outlaw. Nobody looked like him. In her experience, nobody. She had never seen anybody look like this guy, and acted like this guy. He’s always looking over his shoulder. And he was always feeling under his coat. But she, and everybody was, it was like, everybody’s holding their breath until he left. And then after he left, and then everybody be talking about this strange man and this woman came every day. And then occasionally he go to the pharmacy and buy a bunch of pharmaceutical items, you know, and that was mostly for buck fix him. But I never forget, she said, very nice looking man. But he always brought the silverware back always brought China and silverware back. Yeah, so that was that was that that thing? Now after that, they got that car across the river. And they drove to Nebraska. And they actually had to steal some sheets from like somebody’s house, they had sheets out drying on the line. They stole some sheets and poke holes through them to stick their heads through. Because their clothes were so bloody. They didn’t want people look in the car and see all these bloody people in the car. They sort of look like ghosts. The way WD Jones put it, they kind of look like ghosts and sadder. But it wasn’t long after that they somehow they started to recover. Jones had been wounded but not as bad as Bonnie and Clyde Jones said their technique was they hang around the hospital. And they’d wait for a doctor to leave. Then they’d follow the doctor home and then they steal the doctor’s car because his bag would be on the car. And then they’d leave the car and keep the bag. So they always had all this medical equipment, including all kinds of painkillers and everything. In fact, Bonnie got hooked on painkillers because of that burn. And Clyde made her go cold turkey off of it. He hated that kind of thing. He didn’t even like coffee. It didn’t. And he didn’t like drinking the beer with buck, but he would because it was his brother, but he didn’t like any kind of stimulus or depressant at all. And Bonnie got super hooked. And when that happened after that burn, that it was one of the extenuating circumstances that cause friction between Shin Blanche because Bonnie was just grumpy anyway, coming off off this painkillers. And she and Blanche kind of had this rivalry anyway. And so that kind of exacerbated that thing. But they they slowly recovered over the rest of the summer. And sometime in August, they were in Mississippi. And Clyde put Jones out to steal another car and Jones stole the car and drove back to Texas and he didn’t want to have anything more to do with Bonnie and Clyde. Clyde didn’t pursue it. He figured Yeah, he’s he’s, he’s done enough in class had always told Jones also, if you ever get arrested, tell him anything you want. I don’t care. I understand. Tell him anything you want. So WD Jones made up all this crap about class tying him up at night and stuff like that. It was all just to keep the law from coming down on him. So is that shootout? Yeah.


Dan LeFebvre  1:14:39

This is when we see it, at least in the movie. CW moss. Well, I guess it’s actually we see a brief scene where Frank hammers and Tony talks to CWS father Ivan moss, and then we see Ivan telling his son not to get back in the car with Bonnie and Clyde after they go into town the next day. And then the reason that we see in the movie showing the two leaving CW in town is because there’s a sheriff the parks next to Bonnie and Clyde at the store. And so they decide to leave without their friend. Don’t worry, we’re going to come back in 20 minutes and get him. How well did the movie do showing the events that were leading up to the ambush?


John Neal Phillips  1:15:18

Actually, this is where the movie gets kind of off the mark, because they left out the main ingredient that actually leads to the ambush. And that was the raid of the prison farm East Ham in Texas. That’s what actually put into motion all the events that led to the ambush over in Louisiana, because it was the general manager of the Texas prison system that hired Frank hamro. And this of course comes out in the hiring event. We’ve got the general manager of the Texas prison system Lee Lee Simmons, who hires Frank Hamer to as least Simmons in his own books. He’s these are his words. I told Frank Hamer put clad and bony on the spot and shoot everyone in sight. That’s his own words in his own book.


Dan LeFebvre  1:16:06

I like you’re saying they’re not going to take them captive. No, it


John Neal Phillips  1:16:09

was it was an execution and hammers credit. He asked if he couldn’t you know modify that a bit and just hone in on Bonnie and Clyde and not try and shoot everyone inside.


Dan LeFebvre  1:16:22

Oh, they wanted to shoot ever the entire gang not just Bonnie and Clyde But anybody that was there


John Neal Phillips  1:16:27

was anybody that was there. Anybody was there? Hammer worn focus really on Clyde actually he wasn’t all that interested in Bonnie. Nobody was really that interested in Bonnie. She wasn’t that big a target. Click it. Everyone that I ever spoke to thought that if Bonnie had been taken alive, she would have rehabilitated and going straight in straight as can be as Clyde was the one that was never going to change. Everybody I ever talked to that knew him said he was never going to give up live, they would have to kill him. And he had said that more than once. Of course a lot of outlaws see that kind of thing. But after what was it nine police officers are killed. You know, they started to take him seriously. Yeah, so the raid on East Ham in January 1934. That sets off the chain of events that leads to the ambush over in Louisiana. One of the guards was killed in that Bonnie and Clyde had engineered this raid and for life criminals were released there, including Raymond Hamilton. And this fella Henry meth and he was one of them. That was released their Clyde had known Henry meth and Joe Palmer was another one. And of course, he definitely knew Raymond Hamilton. But he’d know clouded known Joe Palmer and Henry meth. And when he was there, East him in prison. So they were all in on this, this raid that had actually been planned for a couple of years. And it just took that long to pull it off. And so they pulled it off, and it greatly embarrassed. The Texas prison system, especially the general manager, Lee Simmons, Lee sevens had been brought on as general manager just stop all the escapes from Texas prisons. I mean, there there were whole squads of prisoners that were literally just walking off the prison farms. You know, it was that bad. And he initiated all these really nasty programs to suppress that. And Clyde was caught up in some of those nasty programs and in Clyde was one his sister Marie told me that the breakdown of the kids of Clyde and his siblings was about half and half about half of them when they got mad that was it. It was over with Buck was one of those but but could get really really mad and very vicious. But as soon as he got it out, that was it. It never came. But the other half of the siblings including Clyde forgot mad never forgot it. never forgot it. So and cloud was a bit of a control freak so you can imagine what it’s like for a control freak to be in prison. And then to suffer under Jean that use torture and all kinds of nasty things. So clad conceived of this idea of going to East stem, and in his words, I’d like to turn everybody loose and shoot every damn one of these guards that that’s what his plan was from the story. So in body raid, Eastern prison farm with the help of a couple of other people there and these four convicts escape, and that’s when this spree of bank robberies takes place to get enough money. to pay off one of the ones that helped pull off the raid there. And then once that is over clads finished with bank robberies, and most of the other outlaws that escaped with them had gone off on their own, but Henry Methvin stayed with them. And Henry method winds up being involved in a double murder on Easter Sunday of two Texas Highway Patrolmen. And then six days later, this constable up in Oklahoma, which includes the abduction of Percy Boyd came to have this great admiration for Clyde bear on kind of like, Bonnie, they’ve ducted him and left him in Zuri there. So in a short period of six days, Henry methods involved in three murders. His family is trying to figure out a way to get him away from Bonnie and Clyde, and how to deal with these murders he’s now involved with and they can see this idea to offer up Bonnie and Clyde and exchange for a pardon for Henry. And the governor, mayor Ferguson goes along with it.


John Neal Phillips  1:21:09

They’re over Louisiana, the meth and family finds a man named John joiner, who knows the Sheriff of that, that parish there and asks this man joiner to be the go between so that there’s no face to face between the methods and the sheriff. So there’s no suspicion is Clyde Barrow’s really dangerous or really dangerous little character? And very suspicious always was suspicious. So as John joiner started going between the sheriff there and the methods, and the methods said, We want some kind of written deal for Henry. And so the sheriff, and by this time the FBI is involved, too. There’s an agent from New Orleans named Lester Kendall is involved in this. And also Frank Hamer has shown up in Louisiana that’s in the movie highwomen. They have him chasing Clyde all over the place, but he went straight to Louisiana, which would be the logical thing to do. He was from Louisiana. Let’s go find him in Louisiana. He’s going to go home eventually. And so hammers there. Lester kendal’s there with the sheriff Henderson Jordan with this John Joiner. And the sheriff writes up this handwritten deal that offers clemency for Henry. And heymer takes it back to Austin and Ferguson, the governor signs off on it. And hammer takes the thing back to Louisiana and Sheriff Jerden keeps it in his office there. And so the deal is underway. This is in February 1934. Because of the nature of Bonnie and Clyde and how they operate, it’s hard to pinpoint where they’re going to be. They ranged from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, and as far east as the Atlantic Ocean as far west as the Rocky Mountains that we know of. So and it was nothing for Barrow to drive 1200 miles in a day. And then turn right around and go back again, same way. Just to give you an idea how much this guy travel, the car he was killed, was stolen two weeks before the ambush, and it was brand new, it had 100 miles on it. And it had 7500 miles on it two weeks later. That’s how God drove drove that much. So this deal is underway. And in the meantime, Henry gets himself in these three murders. You can see the way it’s reported that there’s this concerted effort to keep the fact that there’s this third person involved out of this you look at the newspaper reports and in what what the law enforcement is feeding to the newspaper. They go out of their way to conceal that there’s a third person with Bonnie and Clyde because this third person’s the one that’s that’s involved in these these shootings and is Henry meth and the governor does he’s already made this deal to park in this guy and now he’s got three murders under his belt so everything gets blamed on Bonnie and Clyde course they’re very culpable. But nothing is ever mentioned about Henry method except by accident by accident. For instance, the Dallas Morning News after the double murder of these Texas Highway Patrol and Dallas Morning News makes a big deal about this fingerprint found on a whiskey bottle at the scene that it was clad Barrows thumbprint actually on there. And that’s on the headlines. Dallas Morning News and Daily Times Herald but over in Fort Worth, where the actual Fingerprint expert was because that’s in Tarrant County where they were killed. The Fort Worth paper, prints that the thumbprint is Henry methods and that’s the only time you see the name Henry method. It gets suppressed but after that you can you can imagine what Governor Ferguson’s thinking, Oh man, I’ve made this deal with this guy. And now he’s shooting at the state out. So she’s she’s after heymer to hurry up and get this, this.


John Neal Phillips  1:25:36

So anyway, so by this time, Bob Elkhorn from Dallas County and Ted Hinton are out there looking for Bonnie and Clyde to and they keep coming across hammer. So they join forces. And then hammer decides to get a partner to and he gets his colleague many gold to come along with him. And then Henderson Jordan and his deputy in it makes the six people there. They encounter Bonnie and Clyde frequently over there in Louisiana. Oh, one time Ted Hinton says they’re driving on the road and bear up past him. And of course, hammers behind the wheel and he doesn’t know because he didn’t know what they look like. And Hinton and alphorn said that there they go, right there and, and by the time they turned around, he was gone us out of there. And then this family of methods mother and father. They were so destitute, they were actually living in a tent at the time in this town called Castor in a public park in the middle of Castro. And this is where this six officers had this plan to try and take Bonnie and Clyde bear in the middle of Castor, but it was in a different parish. And that particular sheriff was on the take and couldn’t be trusted. And it’s possible that Clyde was paying him off to be able to stay there. So they they got the methods to move into Henderson Jordan’s parish into this abandoned farmhouse and setup business there and somehow it all escaped the scrutiny of Clyde clads usually really suspicious of things like that. And clad certainly wouldn’t have known this sheriff in Bienville parish. That’s Henderson Jordan, it seems kind of surprise. Clyde went along with it. I don’t know what the details were about how they convinced client this was a good idea, but they moved into a different parish there so that they have a better shot at them. And not in some public place where somebody else could get hurt, but more importantly, there would be witnesses to do. So then. Much of the rest of the movies pretty spot on old man meth and has this truck. It ironically, it’s a truck that Clyde bought for him as a cover clad was supposed to be a lumberjack. Everybody I spoke to him Bentonville, Paris that remember them said this everybody knew this guy wouldn’t lumber Jack. Nobody know lumber Jack they ever knew drove around a brand new Ford bat with silk shirts and battlements, tie pins and stuff. They knew this guy was some kind of outlaw. They didn’t know Bonnie and Clyde but they they knew this guy was somebody else. But anyway, that was the cover. They oh man had this truck. And of course that was the perfect decor.


John Neal Phillips  1:28:40

Because how on earth are you going to get somebody like Clyde Barrow to stop long enough to get yourself shot. And the idea was we’ll make it look like a truck broke down, way out on this this back road. So that’s what they did. And they were very clever about it. The officers set up this blind on one side of the road just like they show in the movie. And it’s on the east side of the road. And the truck is parked facing north on the on the west side of the road. Meaning that his clad approached from the north, he’d have to pull into the oncoming lane to get up next to that truck or to pass that truck which should put them real close to the ambush team and also because clad would know that truck he’d probably be looking at that truck and not officers that are on the other side. And then Henry’s father, IV was supposed to be out of the truck like like the truck had broken down. He took a wheel off the truck and land there on the ground. And that of course, did the trick. Clyde stopped and asked, you know started talking to him. And according to court transcripts, there was a signal Because only Ted Hinton and Bob Elkhorn knew it Bonnie and Clyde look like. But of course Henry i the method really knew what they look like. So Alcorn and Hinton, they would get ID if they could, but there was some issue then only on meth. And the signal was methadone was to act like maybe he was starting to get sick to his stomach and hold his stomach and run off into the trees like he was going to throw up. And that was the signal. Yeah, this is them. So he did that apparently, ran off into the trees, Bonnie and Clyde are looking toward him and toward the truck away from the officers. And they portrayed this in the movie a little bit differently. They have Clyde get out of the car in the movie, but he never did get out of the car, which would be natural for him. Even if he knew somebody you wouldn’t get out of the car unless he felt real comfortable about it. And it appears he had the car shifted into first it was a standard transmission. So he had the clutch depressed and it was shifted into first so he could get out of there real quick if he had to, and is just waiting there. Apparently one of the six officers, the deputy was so nervous. He jumped up before the signal was given. And he fired off two shots. And Ted Hinton said he saw clouds had snapped back the cloud was probably killed right there. But the jig was up Ben and so everybody else got up and just opened up on that car because they want to make sure they got this guy because he was really scary. He this guy was. And so what happened was when he was hit there, apparently had this thing shifted into first with a clutch depressed and when he was hit, he let the clutch go and the car goes rolling off down the road. And Ted Hinton said his first thought was my gosh, he’s kidding away. How does the car is full of bullet holes, and they’re still shooting at him and the car is rolling off down the road. But then it just kind of eased up against an embankment and stopped and they knew they finally had them there. McLeod never got out of the car. But the movie does portray the old truck in the wheel off of the truck is the decoy, and the blind that the officers had had built their to conceal themselves. Of course, the weapons are all wrong. But you know, that’s that’s, that’s neither here nor there. But the way it’s portrayed in the movie is a beautiful moment, because there’s this moment between Clyde and bony, which never happened. They didn’t have time for that, apparently. But two different accounts. Apparently, Bonnie may have seen the deputy standing up, because she screen she must have seen something just before those first two shots. And then then everybody opened up. I spoke with two farmers who are working nearby in the fields. And one of the farmers who was familiar with dynamite because he used to blow tree stumps. And he said He distinctly remembers hearing two shots. And then what he thought was dynamite going off. That was how powerful that sound was. Just when they all opened up. Yeah, when they all opened up, and then we walked over to see see what was going on in the road was just full of smoke, you know, that was back before smokeless tobacco. I mean,


John Neal Phillips  1:33:40

that was back before smokeless gunpowder. And even Ted Hinton describe it took several minutes for the air to clear before they could actually see anything. Because the smoke was so thick. They had only so so much gunpowder.


Dan LeFebvre  1:33:57

I wanted to ask because I know you’ve talked to members of the begging like you mentioned earlier, Blanche barrel getting to see herself portrayed in the movie, but you’ve also talked to Ralph folds. Did they ever talk more about the movie and


John Neal Phillips  1:34:10

how us or else and he went to see the movie because he when it first came out? And he said from from the moment it started, he couldn’t figure out what was going on. He said even he didn’t recognize anybody in that movie. And then one of the parts we’ve talked about already, when Bonnie and Clyde cohorts the kid at the filling station to join them. Ralph said you don’t walk up to a stranger and say we rob banks. We wouldn’t Alaska two weeks if we were broadcast and things like that around to perfect strangers was he was absolutely flabbergasted by the movie. But you know often think about this. Imagine a producer and a director making In a movie of your life, how much of it do you suppose you’d actually recognize?


Dan LeFebvre  1:35:06

Yeah, that’s fair. That’s fair.


John Neal Phillips  1:35:10

It’s it’s your life through someone else’s eyes. And it’s, it’s always the way it is, you know, but nevertheless, there’s so much evidence. I don’t I don’t know why writers and directors feel like they have to take absolutely exciting, very true story and alter it at all. I don’t know why. I don’t know why. Nevertheless, I really like that that 67 movie a lot. I like the performances, and I like the writing even though it’s not historically accurate. And man, the cinematography is fantastic. That cinematographer you know, he did all the king’s men, and here to eternity is a big deal and he just made that movie looks so rich. It’s a great movie. I like it. It’s just not historic.


Dan LeFebvre  1:36:00

But thank you so much for coming on a chat about Bonnie and Clyde. I know I mentioned Ralph Fulton and Blanche Barrows. Well, you’ve got a book called running with Bonnie and Clyde the 10 Fast years of Ralph Foltz. You also edited blanches memoir called My Life with Bonnie and Clyde. So let’s say that this is the first time that someone has heard the real story of Bonnie and Clyde which of your books would you recommend that they start with to learn more?


John Neal Phillips  1:36:26

Well, it depends on the viewpoint. If you want a real intense look at the most intense three months of Bonnie and Clyde go with Blanche book, because she puts you in the car with them. And she’s very descriptive. She didn’t pull many punches. She pulls the punches, she pulls us with Buck Mosley and you can usually see through those but she didn’t pull any punches with herself or with Bonnie and Clyde really. And then if you want the larger picture that includes those three months that starts before Bonnie met Clyde, and continues well after they’re killed. That’s running with Bonnie and Clyde in past years Ralph Fultz, which includes the only successful escape from the Texas Death House that ever occurred and that’s when Raymond Hamilton broke out of that place.


Dan LeFebvre  1:37:20

Thank you again so much for your time, John.


John Neal Phillips  1:37:22

You’re welcome, I enjoyed it!



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