- Associated Press - Monday, January 27, 2014

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - Nearly 80 years ago the quiet Bienville Parish town of Gibsland became the focal point of one of the nation’s most infamous manhunts. On the morning of May 23, 1934, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were gunned down on Highway 154 by six lawmen, ending a bloody 27-month chase across the South and parts of the Midwest.

After their execution, legend shrouded fact. Books, movies and even a 2013 History Channel miniseries chose to tell the fable rather than the truth, says Shreveport filmmaker Rex Allison, who recently released his documentary “Until Death: The Barrow Gang,”

“I want to know what the draw is on Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. It’s so obvious and it’s so simple. It’s just a matter of dedication. Clyde was a dedicated man. So was she,” Allison said.

Much of his documentary is based on “Ambush: The Real Story of Bonnie and Clyde,” by Ted Hinton, the youngest Dallas County deputy sheriff in the ambush posse, and accounts from his son L.J. “Boots” Hinton. “Boots” Hinton was only 5 months and 23 days old at the time of the ambush but his life would forever be intertwined with the notorious criminals.

“You want a modern day equivalent, Clyde was a 7/11 bandit and Bonnie was a groupie,” Hinton said. “Clyde didn’t like to rob banks. He said that gave him too much press, and Bonnie she had her horse and she was going to ride it. She wasn’t going to turn him loose.”

Hinton followed his father’s footsteps into law and worked as a constable in Dallas. But in February 2005, he changed careers and fulfilled his late father’s lifelong dream of opening the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum in Gibsland. At 80, Hinton‘ health is frail, but he still works in the museum six days a week and shares his father’s story to visitors.

“My kids are all grown. I buried three wives, not looking for the fourth one. There ain’t no one but the two cats and me, so why not?” he said. “That’s it. I’m dedicated to running this museum.”

It’s not uncommon for Hinton to welcome hundreds visitors over the course a few days. People travel from all over to see the Bonnie and Clyde memorabilia and the ambush site 7 miles down the road. The museum, formerly the Ma Canfield’s Cafe where Bonnie and Clyde purchased their last meal of sandwiches, features artifacts from four different collections, including the Hinton family collection.

They include a Remington shotgun pulled from the death car, swatches from the pants Clyde was wearing when he was killed and replicas of the couple’s tombstones. The walls are covered with news clippings and photographs recounting their lives, crimes and demise. In the corner, a partition encloses an area for visitors to watch film footage taken near the ambush site moments after their death.

“My old man was a memorabilia pack rat,” Boot said.

Hinton and Allison are both quick to point out problems with other accounts. For instance, although movies often portray Parker as wielding a gun, there was no proof she ever shot anyone. Growing up, Bonnie was known for her singing talent and her generosity. As a schoolgirl, she would break her pencils and give the halves to students whose families couldn’t afford school supplies. As a waitress near Dallas, she often gave food to homeless people.

Clyde Barrow went to prison, was assaulted, killed a guy in prison and swore he’d never go back. He met Bonnie just previous to that, and they just got along. She followed him along head first into a whirlpool and an ending from which there was no escape. And it’s Clyde’s fault. He sealed his own fate,” Allison said. “The man was a murderer. No one is here to try to redeem him. No one is here to try to redeem Bonnie Parker; she made a bad decision. She followed the wrong guy.”

Ivy Methvin (known as Irvin), who is said to have helped the posse set up Bonnie and Clyde for the ambush, was set up by lawmen, they say. Methvin’s son Henry was involved with the Barrow Gang and became separated from the two a few days prior after they were recognized outside of a Shreveport diner and fled.

Lawmen put Ivy Methvin’s truck in the road to appear as though it had broken down, Hinton said.

“They took the old man down there, 75 feet behind the firing line and handcuffed him to a tree,” Hinton said. “The old man was not a willing participant. Definitely a unhappy camper. Had a voice like a bullfrog and was hollering at the top of his lungs, ‘Y’all kidnapped me! I’m going to the Feds!’”

The deaths of 12 people during the crime spree cannot all be pinned on Clyde, Hinton said: His father only had evidence that Clyde killed six.

Allison isn’t a Bonnie and Clyde fanatic. He said he wanted to tell the facts and dissect the psyches of Bonnie and Clyde to learn what led them down a path of crime.

Allison interviewed Shreveport licensed professional counselor David McMillian for insight about their personalities and the public’s continuing interest in their story.

McMillian said the story both repels and fascinates. “I truly believe that the vast majority of us are good,” he said. “We want to be good even if we stumble and make a lot of mistakes - and a lot of us do. There’s still an inherent goodness in us. And I think we’re fascinated when someone goes to the degree that Bonnie and Clyde went to.”

Allison also wanted to use the story as a cautionary example of where lawlessness can lead people.

“That’s why this movie needs to be viewed by young people because now we’re in an economy where crime is rampant. Crime is not an answer. It’s never been an answer,” he said. “But yet they idolize Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. You can’t do that. They were criminals.”

Proceeds from the documentary benefit the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum, Allison said.

“No other documentary has ever paid him anything and this one does,” Allison said. “The money goes here (to the museum). My job is not to let him down, and my job is not to let his father down or any of the lawmen or Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker for that matter. Though they may have been criminals, they were not evil.”



Movie site: www.untildeaththebarrowgang.com

Festival site: facebook.com/ambushfestival

Bonnie & Clyde site: https://texashideout.tripod.com/bc.htm

Henry Methvin site: https://www.tmethvin.com/henry/


Information from: The Times, https://www.shreveporttimes.com

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