I have a personal interest in Bonnie and Clyde

Published: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 03:30 PM.

Although no instant social media existed outside of radios and telephones, word of the successful ambush spread like wildfire. Dad and Uncle Charlie drove down to Bienville Parish in Louisiana to check it out.

By then the “death” car had been towed to a funeral parlor in downtown Arcadia. Within a few hours after the shooting stopped, Arcadia’s population had swelled from 2,000 to more than 12,000.

A miniscule fraction of that 12,000 was the Gardner brothers. Dad satisfied his morbid curiosity about the car by sticking his head through the window to get a close-up look. He picked up a pair of sunglasses wedged behind a cushion.

One lens was missing. He stuck them in his pocket as a memento of the day. Based on pictures published later, he became more and more convinced they’d belonged to Bonnie.

He thought the glasses to be more curiosity than treasure. Having heard them mentioned in passing over the years, I asked about them in the 1960s when my age and historic curiosity finally intersected. He had no clue regarding their eventual fate, probably into some trash heap after an attic cleaning.

My third layer of interest is emotional. The car toured by tractor-trailer truck in the 1960s, charging the public admission to inspect it.

It came to a shopping center in Havelock, so naturally I went to see it. The emotion came when I leaned through the window and imagined my teenage father doing the same thing three decades earlier. Surreal.



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