10 Things You May Not Know About Bonnie and Clyde
1. Bonnie died wearing a wedding ring—but it wasn’t Clyde’s.
Six days before turning 16, Bonnie married high school classmate Roy Thornton. The marriage disintegrated within months, and Bonnie never again saw her husband after he was imprisoned for robbery in 1929. Soon after, Bonnie met Clyde, and although the pair fell in love, she never divorced Thornton. On the day Bonnie and Clyde were killed in 1934, she was still wearing Thornton’s wedding ring and had a tattoo on the inside of her right thigh with two interconnected hearts labeled “Bonnie” and “Roy.”
2. Bonnie wrote poetry.
During her school days, Bonnie excelled at creative writing and penning verses. While she was imprisoned in 1932 after a failed hardware store burglary, she penned a collection of 10 odes that she entitled “Poetry from Life’s Other Side,” which included “The Story of Suicide Sal,” a poem about an innocent country girl lured by her boyfriend into a life a crime. Two weeks before her death, Bonnie gave a prescient poem to her mother entitled “The Trail’s End” that finished with the verse:
Some day they’ll go down together;
And they’ll bury them side by side,
To a few it’ll be grief—
To the law a relief—
But it’s death for Bonnie and Clyde.
3. The Navy rejected Clyde.
As a teenager, Clyde attempted to enlist in the U.S. Navy, but lingering effects from a serious boyhood illness, possibly malaria or yellow fever, resulted in his medical rejection. It was a hard blow for Clyde, who had already tattooed “USN” on his left arm.
4. Clyde’s first arrest came from failing to return a rental car.
The notorious criminal was first arrested in 1926 for automobile theft after failing to return a car he had rented in Dallas to visit an estranged high school girlfriend. The rental car agency dropped the charges, but the incident remained on Clyde’s arrest record. Just three weeks later, he was arrested again alongside his older brother Ivan “Buck” Barrow for an even more farcical crime—possession of a truckload of stolen turkeys.
5. Bank robberies were not their specialties.
Although often depicted as Depression-era Robin Hoods who stole from rich and powerful financial institutions, Bonnie and Clyde staged far more robberies of mom-and-pop gas stations and grocery stores than bank heists. Oftentimes, their loot amounted to only $5 or $10.
6. Clyde chopped off two of his toes in prison.
While serving a 14-year sentence in Texas for robbery and automobile theft in January 1932, Clyde decided he could no longer endure the unforgiving work and brutal conditions at the notoriously tough Eastham Prison Farm. In the hopes of forcing a transfer to a less harsh facility, Clyde severed his left big toe and a portion of a second toe with an axe, although it is not known whether he or another prisoner wielded the sharp instrument. The self-mutilation, which permanently crippled his walking stride and prevented him from wearing shoes while driving, ultimately proved unnecessary as he was released on parole six days later.
7. A car accident impaired Bonnie’s walking.
On the night of June 10, 1933, Clyde, with Bonnie in the passenger seat, was speeding along the rural roads of north Texas so quickly that he missed a detour sign warning of a bridge under construction. The duo’s Ford V-8 smashed through a barricade at 70 miles per hour and sailed through the air before landing in a dry riverbed. Scalding acid poured out of the smashed car battery and severely burned Bonnie’s right leg, eating away at her flesh down to the bone in some places. As a result of the third-degree burns, Bonnie, like Clyde, walked with a pronounced limp for the rest of her life, and she had such difficulty walking that at times she hopped or needed Clyde to carry her.
8. Souvenir hunters tried to cut off parts of Bonnie and Clyde at the scene of their deaths.
On May 23, 1934, a six-man posse led by former Texas Ranger captain Frank Hamer ambushed Bonnie and Clyde and pumped more than 130 rounds of steel-jacketed bullets into their stolen Ford V-8 outside Sailes, Louisiana. With acrid gunsmoke still lingering in the air, gawkers descended upon the ambush site and attempted to leave with macabre souvenirs from the bodies of the outlaws still slumped in the front seat. According to Jeff Guinn’s book “Go Down Together,” one man tried to cut off Clyde’s ear with a pocket knife and another attempted to sever his trigger finger before the lawmen intervened. One person in the throng however managed to clip locks of Bonnie’s hair and swathes of her blood-soaked dress.
9. Their bullet-riddled “death car” is on display at a casino.
Following the ambush of Bonnie and Clyde, a Louisiana sheriff who was a member of Hamer’s six-man posse claimed the pockmarked Ford V-8 sedan, still coated with the outlaws’ blood and tissue. A federal judge, however, ruled that the automobile stolen by Bonnie and Clyde should return to its former owner, Ruth Warren of Topeka, Kansas. Warren leased and eventually sold the car to Charles Stanley, an anti-crime lecturer who toured fairgrounds with the “death car” and the mothers of Bonnie and Clyde in tow as sideshow attractions. Still speckled with bullet holes, the “death car” is now an attraction in the lobby of Whiskey Pete’s Casino in Primm, Nevada, a small resort town on the California border 40 miles south of Las Vegas.
10. Bonnie and Clyde were buried separately.
Although linked in life, Bonnie and Clyde were split in death. While the pair wished to be buried side-by-side, Bonnie’s mother, who had disapproved of her relationship with Clyde, had her daughter buried in a separate Dallas cemetery. Clyde was buried next to his brother Marvin underneath a gravestone with his hand-picked epitaph: “Gone but not forgotten.”