When you want to conjure up glamour, drama, romance and danger you can hardly do better than to mention two names. In just two short years Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow perpetrated a crime spree spanning 8 states through countless rural villages over empty country roads. Before their end they had committed an unknown number of robberies and kidnappings as well as 13 murders.
Bonnie and Clyde were active during the peak of the Great Depression from 1932-1934. With jobs, money and stability scarce many American’s were suspicious of the government, law enforcement and the judicial process. As larger than life figures who took matters into their own hands, many viewed Bonnie and Clyde as heroes of the poor and vulnerable. And we shouldn’t forget the romanticized notion of a couple willing to stay together through gunfights, kidnapping and murder, only to die together in a hail of bullets.
Many think the story of Bonnie and Clyde is a romantic or even glamorous tale, but the truth was far different. At first, news of their crimes hadn’t spread outside of their Dallas home, making hotels, restaurants and laundries simple stops on their spree. But following a violent raid on their hide-out Bonnie and Clyde were forced to flee with only the clothes on their backs. Soon the entire country was on the look out for Bonnie and Clyde everyone hoping to claim a reward offered to catch them dead or alive. Most evenings the couple were forced to camp out, steal a little food and sleep in their car to survive. Clyde was shot several times and Bonnie’s leg was seriously burned in a car accident. But getting medical treatment would mean certain capture. After two years on the run relying on occasional help from their families, the end came…
Bonnie and Clyde have remained a strong part of our American mythology. New references to their life and death show up in pop culture all the time. I’ll leave you with this rather glamorous take on the Bonnie and Clyde myth and a few suggestions for books about other fugitives on the run.
-Brooke, CLP South Side