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Bonnie and Clyde — Folk Heroes?

The Bonnie & Clyde death car on display at a museum in Primm, N.V. (sandwichgirl, Flickr)

There have been at least half a dozen movies, dozens of books, a Broadway show and even songs about Bonnie and Clyde. Merle Haggard did the “Legend of Bonnie & Clyde.” They all mostly glorify the lives of a couple of brutal robbers and killers.

Together with a few accomplices, they robbed banks and stores across Texas, New Mexico, Missouri, Oklahoma and Louisiana in the early 1930s and didn’t think twice about killing anybody who got in their way. They were suspected of killing 13 people during their crime spree, including nine police officers and they always managed to somehow get away.

Once when Clyde was in jail, Bonnie smuggled a gun in to him to help him escape. They once attacked a Texas prison to help free one of the members of their gang, using a machine gun to shoot several guards, killing one of them.

But to the public they were almost folk heroes, mainly because of Bonnie. Never had America known a woman involved in such brutal crimes.

But to police departments throughout the south they wanted Bonnie and Clyde in the worst way, especially Texas prison officials. They hired a retired police officer, Captain Frank Hamer to track them down and within three months he did. Along with a group of Texas and Louisiana police officers, they set a trap along a Louisiana country road. Hiding in the bushes as their car approached they opened fire killing them instantly. And even after their car crashed they put more bullets into the car to make sure they were dead.

It happened on this date in Sailes, Louisiana in 1934.

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