Bonnie And Clyde Weren't Really A Duo For The Ages
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We asked readers to name some criminals they'd like Hollywood to stop idolizing, and a surprising number of you mentioned The Hamburglar. Other readers, including Stephen H. and Dave G., named Bonnie and Clyde, and it's true that the pair were never quite the husband-and-wife kickass bank robbers that people picture.
For starters, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow hardly ever robbed banks or pulled off any large heists at all. They robbed small stores of small sums, and their infamy instead came from their many needless murders. They also weren't husband and wife. Bonnie was married when the two met their end, but to a different man.
If we really want to dispel some of the magic, we should tell you about how Clyde shot himself in the foot, both figuratively and almost literally. In 1930, caught stealing cars, Clyde was sentenced to The Ham, a farm/prison in Texas that ran on forced labor. Prison labor (or "convict leasing") is controversial, and The Ham was especially cruel and unusual—inmates there would go on to win a class-action lawsuit against the facility. Still, when you hear Clyde's plan to avoid work, you might think it went a little far.
He chopped off his big toe with an axe. Chopped off some of his second toe too. This maimed him for life, and yet the prison may still have forced him to work, which would now be even harder for him. We'll never know for certain, because just six days after the chopping, Clyde was paroled, thanks to an unrelated appeal from his mother.
Clyde could drive even with his new pointlessly hobbled foot (though, he now never wore shoes while behind the wheel). One night in 1933, with Bonnie in the car with him, he drove right through a wooden barricade at 70 miles an hour. The car crashed, and battery acid spilled on Bonnie's leg. Clyde spent days inexpertly treating the injury himself while delaying getting Bonnie to the hospital. Once real doctors finally got their hands on her leg, it was too late for a full recovery, and she could never really walk unaided again.
Now, we're not saying a little immobility was why the couple failed to escape the cops the following year and wound up shot 130 times. But it couldn't have helped.
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Top image: Library of Congress