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The official website of Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades, low carb pioneers and authors of Protein Power.

Bonnie & Clyde

You can see me in the photo at the left kneeling by a headstone in a forlorn, weed-infested graveyard in a bad part of Dallas, Texas. The remains below that headstone are none other than those of Clyde Barrow, the male half of the notorious duo who ravaged the the southern states in the late 1920s/ early 1930s, and who were made famous to our generation by the hit movie Bonnie & Clyde, starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. In real life, just as in the movie, Bonnie and Clyde drove into an ambush in rural Louisiana where they met their ends in a hail of bullets on May 23, 1934.

How I came to be in this dreary place on a rainy day started with a story my dad told MD and me on our last trip to visit the folks in Michigan. I can’t remember now how it came up, but he started telling us about the time he saw the remains of Adam “Eddie” Richetti, the sidekick of Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd in a funeral home in Bolivar, Missouri. My father grew up on a farm near a little town called Halfway, which is ‘halfway’ between Bolivar and Buffalo. For the folks in Halfway, Bolivar was the closest ‘big’ town where everyone went to shop. At that time, Halfway was basically a wide spot in the road.

In June 1933 ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd and Adam Richetti (shown at right) stopped off to get their stolen car fixed at Bitzer Chevrolet where Richetti’s brother, Joe, worked as a mechanic. As they were cooling their heels there, the Polk County Sheriff who lived in Bolivar, William Killingsworth, wandered in. My dad didn’t know if he just happened in or if he had heard the gangsters might be there. I suspect the former since he didn’t come in with guns drawn. Floyd and Richetti took him captive at gun point, took Joe’s car and lit out for Kansas City. Along the way they ditched Joe’s car, stole another vehicle, switched their hostages (they had collected another along the way) over, and kept on traveling. Before they reached Kansas City, they let Killingsworth and the other hostage go by the side of the road, and drove off. They reached Kansas City, and there was where the story went murky.

At the same time Floyd and Richetti were driving to Kansas City, unknown to them, an escaped fugitive was on his way there as well. Federal agents had captured Frank Nash, an escapee from a federal prison, in a store in MD’s home town Hot Springs, Arkansas. The agents drove him from Hot Springs to Fort Smith, Arkansas where he was passed off to other agents who took him aboard a train bound for Kansas City. Upon arrival there, other agents arrived to transport him to the jail. As they were getting out of the car, they were fired upon by men who jumped out of a green Plymouth parked nearby. Nash and several of the lawmen were killed in the gun battle.

These murders took place right outside of Union Station in Kansas City and came to be known as the Kansas City Massacre. Prior to this event, federal agents were unarmed. As happens so often after many such tragic events, legislators stampede into making laws that are sometimes not well thought out. In this case they decided to pass a law authorizing federal agents to carry arms, and, in the process, made J. Edgar Hoover, who then commanded a national police force of armed agents, the most powerful man in the country.

With virtually no evidence on hand, the feds put it out that Floyd and Richetti were behind the Kansas City Massacre. By the time this announcement came out, the two were shacked up in Buffalo, NY with a couple of molls. When they got wind that they were the suspects, they grabbed their girls and took off for Oklahoma. On the way their car broke down in Ohio. While there, local lawmen captured Richetti, but Floyd escaped only to be gunned down a couple of days later.

Richetti was convicted of aiding and abetting an escape and was sentenced to two years in the federal pen. But, more seriously, he was also convicted of murder by the State of Missouri for his alleged part in the Kansas City Massacre. Although there was virtually no evidence linking either Floyd or Richetti to the event, Richetti was sentenced to the gallows. Instead of hanging, however, he got the dubious honor of becoming the first person to be executed in the new gas chamber at the Missouri State Penitentiary. After he was gassed, his body was sent to his brother in Bolivar and Richetti was finally laid to rest in a cemetery in Bolivar. During the viewing at the Boliver funeral home, my dad was one of the many people who lined up to see Richetti.

After my dad told me this story, I did a little online searching to see what I could find about Richetti and Floyd, and during my search, I came across information about other famous gangsters of the time. I discovered that both Bonnie and Clyde were laid to rest in Dallas, Texas after they were gunned down in Louisiana. I knew I was going to be in Dallas for our oldest grandchild’s grandparent’s day at school, so I decided to track down the final resting places of the infamous duo.

I discovered Bonnie had been laid to rest in a cemetery quite close to our son’s and DIL’s house. Bonnie Parker now resides in the Crown Hill Memorial Park, which is at the intersection of a couple of busy Dallas streets. MD and I set out on a gloomy, rainy day underneath a sullen sky to find her. With our never-travel-without-it GPS device, it was easy to find the cemetery, but took some time to find Bonnie’s grave.

The Crown Hill Memorial Park is a nicely kept cemetery and is large – at least if you’re looking stone by stone on a chilly rainy day for one in particular. After about 45 minutes of searching, we found Bonnie’s headstone tucked in behind a hedge. In the photo below, her stone is about halfway down the left side of the long hedge in the Sunset Garden section of the graveyard.

Bonnie graveyard

Bonnie’s mother was most surely responsible for the wording on Bonnie’s headstone and is buried next to Bonnie. In fact, it was Bonnie’s mother’s stone I found first because it stands up a little more than Bonnie’s and wasn’t covered with dirt.

Bonnie and mama

When I finally did find Bonnie’s marker, I had to sweep the dirt off of it in order to take the photo. As dirty as it was, it’s a wonder I was able to find it. As you can see from the inscription on the headstone, to her mother, Bonnie wasn’t the vicious outlaw she was in reality, but was Mamma’s little girl. Which, I suppose, is as it should be.

Bonnie's grave

I wonder how many of the people Bonnie terrorized, robbed and maybe even killed would share the sentiments her mother put on her stone?

After visiting Bonnie’s grave, we fired up the GPS and headed for Clyde’s final resting place. Our trip took us to a pretty dicey part of Dallas. I don’t know what it was like in Clyde’s day (probably not much different, I would imagine), but today his cemetery is in a neighborhood of falling down homes and jacked up house trailers all in various states of disrepair. The area is being encroached on all sides by various industrial operations.

The Western Heights Cemetery, Clyde’s place of interment, is as rundown as the area in which it exists. It was the perfect cemetery to roam through on a gray, chilly day. As you can see from the photo below, the graveyard is overgrown with knee high weeds and looks like the perfect setting for some kind of Halloween horror movie. We had to pull the car off of a busy street onto a muddy, rutted road with a chain across the entry way. It was a new chain, which begs the question: what happened to the old one?

Clyde graveyard

Although the Western Heights Cemetery is much smaller than the Crown Hill Memorial Park, it took longer to find the grave we were searching for because of the overgrowth of weeds. We finally found it near the edge of the graveyard overlooking the busy street we had come from.

As you can see from the headstone Clyde is buried next to his brother Marvin, aka ‘Buck,’ who was gunned down by lawmen about a year before Clyde.

Clyde grave

Due to the overcast day, it was difficult – even with a flash – to get good contrast on the photo of the headstone (which, like Bonnie’s, was also covered with dirt and had to be swept clean). The sentiment – Gone but not forgotten – isn’t nearly as from the heart as is the one on Bonnie’s stone.

The Western Hills Cemetery must be the final resting place of the entire Barrow clan because there were at least a half dozen Barrow stones all in the same area.

What had never occurred to me until I found these graves and subtracted dates is how young these two people were. Bonnie wasn’t quite 24 and Clyde had just turned 25. Because of the movie and their legend and larger-than-life status, it’s hard to believe that basically they were just kids. Mean kids, no doubt, but still, just kids. I guess much like with people who get involved with gangs today, those who chose gangsterism as a career in the early part of the 20th century didn’t need to worry about saving for their pensions either.

26 Comments

  1. Jeff Brand on November 2, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Dr. Eades, it’s Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd, There was a “Baby Face” Nelson.

    You are correct. I don’t know what kind of Freudian slip made me write ‘Baby Face’ when I knew it was ‘Pretty Boy.’ And while sitting right here with a photo on my screen of ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd, to boot. I fixed it. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. MT on November 2, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Not to drag this unneccessarily back to nutrition, but I do wonder whether inadequate in-utero, childhood, or adult nutrition might have played a role in their antisocial behaviour, and/or what role it might play in antisocial behaviour generally. I was interested to read the Barker Hypothesis research which shows infant birthweights predict trends in the manifestation of adult diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, separately from adult behaviours and environmental influences. Of course, given murder rates in paleolithic societies and modern hunter-gatherer societies were about 20% of the male population, I don’t suppose these outliers are a total condemnation of US diets of the day. Nonetheless, what effect might better nutrition have on mental health problems?

  3. Harry Smith on November 2, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Mike:

    This is a private msg to you. It’s part of my “intermittently and slowly wear Mike down so that he eventually writes a blog article refuting Joel Fuhrman” campaign.

    I have to admit, although I’m a loyal follower of yours, I do get a tad apprehensive about low-carbing when I read Fuhrman. Here’s a perfect sample of some anxiety-provoking prose of Fuhrman’s:

    http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/article2.aspx

    See, you don’t even have to buy and read “Eat to Live” by Fuhrman in order to review some of his basic premises. (Though if you gave me the go-ahead, I’d send it to you if you hinted that there was even the slightest chance you’d review it.)

    Anyway, I’ll cease and desist for the moment. But I’ll be lurking! It’s only a matter of time until you cry “Uncle!” and agree to write a review of something of Fuhrman’s.

    Best regards and best wishes for sous vide success and glory,

    Harry

  4. Steve G on November 2, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Interesting post Mike! I see Jeff corrected the ‘Baby Face Nelson’ part and you updated it.

    It reminded me of the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Have you seen that one?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_Brother,_Where_Art_Thou

    It had a scene where they wound up with Baby Face Nelson in their car performing a bank robbery.

    This movie was one that I was sure I would hate and just loved. The music is fantastic!

  5. Amy Dungan on November 3, 2009 at 6:40 am

    Very interesting! I love hearing the stories from the people who witnessed events like these. My grandfather used to tell me about the time he was walking home from school and a nice man picked him up and drove him to his farm. They chatted along the way and the man asked my grandfather what bank they used. My grandfather told him. (I guess he didn’t find the question odd.) The next day the mans photo was in the paper.. he’d robbed a bank, but not the one my grandfather told him about. It was Pretty Boy Floyd.

  6. Ellen on November 3, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Interesting, thanks for sharing. I wonder what Bonnie and Clyde would think of modern crime and the war on terror.

  7. KetoJim on November 3, 2009 at 8:21 am

    way off topic, but should be of interest.

    Topic: Consumption of Egg Yolks May Improve Macular Pigment Concentrations in Older Adults
    Keywords: STATINS, LOW MACULAR PIGMENT – Egg Yolk, Lutein, Zeaxanthin
    Reference: “Consumption of 2 and 4 egg yolks/d for 5 wk increases macular pigment concentrations in older adults with low macular pigment taking cholesterol-lowering statins,” Vishwanathan R, Nicolosi RJ, et al, Am J Clin Nutr, 2009; 90(5): 1272-9. (Address: Department of Clinical Laboratory and Nutritional Sciences, Center for Health and Disease Research, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA 01854-5125, USA).
    Summary: In a study involving older adults with low macular pigment taking cholesterol-lowering medications, results indicate that daily consumption of 4 egg yolks, and possibly 2 egg yolks, may improve macular health. The subjects consumed foods containing 2 egg yolks/day for 5 weeks. After a 4-week washout period the subjects consumed foods containing 4 egg yolks/day for another 5 weeks. Subjects with low-MPOD (macular pigment optical density) showed a 31% increase in MPOD with daily intake of 2 egg yolks and increases in MPOD (at most 50%) at the 3 retinal eccentricities with daily intake of 4 egg yolks. Serum lutein and zeaxanthin increases were also observed in the 2 (16% lutein, 36% zeaxanthin) and 4 egg yolks/day (24% lutein, 82% zeaxanthin) interventions. The interventions did not affect serum LDL cholesterol, but were associated with a 5% increase in serum HDL cholesterol. Thus, the authors of this study conclude, “Consumption of 4 egg yolks/d, and possibly of 2 egg yolks/d, for 5 wk benefited macular health in older adults with low MPOD. Serum HDL cholesterol increased without an increase in LDL cholesterol in this study population, most of whom were taking cholesterol-lowering statins.”

  8. Rita on November 3, 2009 at 9:03 am

    We lived in Dallas 9 years (Midway and Royal), never knew they were buried there. Too late now, not likely to go back.

  9. Chris Woods on November 3, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Interesting post. I grew up in Bolivar (yes, it is a small world) and am ashamed I wasn’t aware of the story. Thank you for giving me something to look up when I visit again–my parents are still there.

  10. Paul B. on November 3, 2009 at 11:57 am

    The whole story is interesting. It is unclear whether the officers who killed Bonnie and Clyde ever actually gave a verbal warning, or just opened fire immediately as their vehicle approached. Frank Hamer, one of those officers, was a most interesting individual.

  11. Wankie Dakar on November 3, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    ..the name BTW was the first African to give me a hitch in Africa..Lusaka precisely so there is someone out there or was in Zambia with a first name..ahem entitled “Wankie”..hence me diarizing it and remembering it.
    The other was Rassy Rassy Emula and when i see you next in person i shall regail you of the story about minerals, borders and massive fear for 2 days !

    Saw this post..wouldnt it be good if one could get a list of inumerable folks in history and find out what where their nutritional tendencies ?
    Say the Buddha liked fries with gravy
    Jesus..lamb off the bone

    Orf to UK tonight..if in Uk or France oer next 2 months drop an email

  12. Marilyn on November 3, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    You’re a great story teller. Fascinating! When you and MD run out of stuff to do, you can join the ranks of those wonderful people who photograph all the stones in a cemetery and make them available online for genealogists.

    I don’t think one can blame the behavior of such as Bonnie and Clyde on diet. I just read in a Mental Floss magazine that Louis Armstrong was born of a teenage prostitute and spent much of his childhood on the streets, often eating out of the garbage. If anybody had a reason to head down the wrong path, he surely did.

  13. Kyle on November 3, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    So since you don’t seem to mind having your readers point out typos, would you mind me pointing out a small but considerably misused phrase? “Begging the question” is actually a logical fallacy (specifically a circular argument) that is used by pretty much everyone when they mean “raising/prompting the question”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beg_the_question take it for what it’s worth.

  14. ethyl d on November 4, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    I love wandering around old cemeteries. The irony of that verse on Bonnie’s tombstone!

  15. Justin De Quim on November 4, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    ..well even though thats no what i was suggesting i’d say yes one could and no one can’t blame it one diet..its ways too linear and ways too simplistic and sometimes ironically thats spot on..Thus i reckon Mencken was only half right !
    It was used in the notorious Twinkies Defense if mem serves and various studies (one either just finished or about to be )in the UK seems to strongly suggest that if deficient in a variety of things due to poor nutrition
    some will act horrifically or not at all.
    Though anecdotal i’ve seen this with the folsk i work with….have seen inumerable times people wo are being massively aggro and30 mins later after large amounts of protein their behaviours flip to them being perfectly charming.
    No there’s no control and its only anecdotal but that doesnt mean the observation doesnt have total validity ableit not one scientifically verified.

  16. Tony M on November 5, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Interesting story. You would probably enjoy Bryan Burroughs’ Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34. I don’t know that it breaks the new ground it claims to (since I for one knew most everything included already) but it is an entertaining read. It was the basis of the recent movie of the same name.

  17. Justin De Quim on November 5, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    .. amd apologies for my shee-ite typo skills…atrocious

  18. Jamie on November 5, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Dr Eades,

    Cool post. I watched Bonnie and Clyde a couple of weeks ago.

    I have a somewhat related question/observation (and somewhat not). I’m a big fan of 30s and 40s movies. I’ve noticed that the majority of male stars are shaped differently than men today. These guys were born around the turn of the century, give or take 5 or 10 years. Most of them seem to be barrel-chested and have wider hips than the men today (or even matinee idols starting in the 50s and 60s) – modern men are more of the T or X shape (if they manage not to gain a lot of weight). The movie guys seem to be a bit doughier, or have less muscle mass than even an average guy today.

    However, if you go way back to Classical Greek statues (granted, this is an ideal, but still) you see the X or T shape again. I can only guess the difference is nutritional – but what would change the shape of the skeletal structure like that?

  19. RP on November 6, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Great post Doc. Next time you’re thru KC, let me know and I’ll be your tour guide down to Union Station and lunch at Jack Stack BBQ across the tracks!!

  20. mreades on November 6, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    @Harry Smith

    Fuhrman is easy to debunk. He doesn’t have a single study in his long list purporting to ‘prove’ meat eating causes problems that isn’t an observational study, and, as I’ve written, observational studies don’t mean squat.

    There was a huge (over half a million subjects) observational study in the European Journal of Nutrition a few years back showing that meat eating didn’t cause any problems and may, in fact, be protective. Why haven’t I ever posted about this? Because it’s an observational study, which means nothing.

    If Fuhrman can come up with any kind of controlled study in humans showing that meat consumption is problematic, I’m all ears.

  21. mreades on November 6, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    @ Chris Woods

    Here is an article from the Bolivar Herald from a few years back that you might find of interest. It’s an interview with the sheriff’s widow about his capture by Floyd and Richetti.

  22. mreades on November 6, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    @ Kyle

    I don’t mind at all. I’m aware of the classical meaning of ‘begging the question’ from a logic perspective, but I’ve fallen into the habit of using it in the more colloquial way as it really captures the essence of what I’m trying to say.

    @ Jamie

    Don’t know why the difference in bodies. In fact, I hadn’t really noticed it. If there is one, it’s probably because all those stars smoked constantly and drank like fish, both of which (for various reasons) tend to create a more female-like body habitus in males. Plus, stars of yesteryear didn’t have to remove their clothing as the ones now do, so not having a perfect body probably didn’t matter as much.

    @RP

    Will do. Haven’t neen in KC in years. Would love to have the tour.

  23. Chris Kanakaris on November 6, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    I’m seen the car that they died in. It used to be on display at one of hotels on the border of CA/Nevada. Those G-men weren’t messing around. Must have shot hundreds of rounds into that car. They used the B.A.R. , a 30 caliber “machine gun” that would rip someone apart.

    • richard vernon on March 12, 2011 at 8:05 pm

      Ripped apart is a fair description of their deaths. Clyde was struck just below the left ear with a 30.30 round which as the report stated;”Blew his head apart”. The bullet exited just above the right ear. Death was instantaneous. Bonnie had just enough time for cognitive reasoning to utter a scream :”Like a panther”, as it was described by the law officers before she to felt the bullets hit her.Brutal by allla ccounts. Just a side note to tell you. The fictiona;l account of Bonnie shooting 2 highway patrol officres was indeed that, FICTION. The law knew that bringing Clyde in alive was impossible and they needed an excuse when the bullets flew to rationalize, should Bonnie be killed, her death as well. So, Henry Methvin, partner in crime at the time, opened fire on the officers first, killing one. Clyde had no recourse but to fire as well, killing the other officer. So the story was changed to Bonnie killing the officer and that justified killing her.

  24. Mike Bannister on November 17, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Mike,

    Thanks for the history lesson. Had no idea that they were that young and resting in Dallas. It’s good to note that the intelligence and reactions on Capitol Hill haven’t changed much.

  25. Christina on July 7, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    The inscription on Bonnie Parker’s grave was actually taken from a poem she wrote herself. You can read it in its entirety at the http://texashideout.tripod.com/poem.html
    By the way, someone may have already posted this fact, but I’m too lazy to read them all. Sorry.

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