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OPINION: Bonnie’s Poem “Sucide Sal”

by By Stan Fine, Columnist | August 25, 2022 at 5:00 a.m.

Knowing that her life was coming to an end, the young woman sat in the Joplin (Mo.) stone building with pen in hand and scribed what most later acknowledged was the story of Bonnie Parker's life. Bonnie knew that her escapades with Clyde would have to be paid for and paid for with her life.

Buck Barrow, Clyde's brother had led a villainous life, so he felt somewhat responsible for the lawless deeds committed by his brother. Buck was released from prison in April of 1933 and decided that he would try to talk to Clyde about the path he had chosen -- one of robbery and murder.

The two brothers agreed to meet in Joplin. Buck looked at the meeting as a time and place to meet with his brother. Clyde looked at the upcoming get-together as a sort of vacation from his work, the work of crime. Buck would bring his wife Blanche, and Clyde would bring, of course, his companion, Bonnie Parker. Another acquaintance of Clyde's and a partner in crime, W.D. Jones, would also be in attendance.

The irony of Buck's time spent with Clyde would soon become apparent to all. Rather than convince Clyde to give up his life of crime, Clyde talked Buck into participating in the theft of automatic weapons from the National Guard Armory.

Clyde's accidental discharge of one of the stolen guns brought unwanted attention to the apartment and to the five-some staying there, and soon the police began surveillance. On April 13th, law enforcement officers decided to raid the apartment believing that bootleggers were operating from that location.

Clyde was never one to go peacefully, so a shootout soon ensued. Law enforcement officers Wes Harryman and Harry McGinnis were killed, and W.D. Jones was severely wounded. The bandits eventually made their escape, leaving the carnage of the shootout and the apartment located at 3347 and 1/2 Oak Ridge Drive behind. Also left behind, due to the hastened departure, were photos of the group and some curious bits of paper with handwritten words, a poem possibly.

"Suicide Sal"

We each of us have a good "alibi"

For being down here in the "joint"

But few of them really are justified

If you get right down to the point.

You've heard of a woman's glory

Being spent on a "downright cur"

Still, you can't always judge the story

As true, being told by her.

As long as I've stayed on this "island"

And heard "confidence tales" from each "gal"

Only one seemed interesting and truthful-

The story of "Suicide Sal."

Now "Sal" was a gal of rare beauty,

Though her features were coarse and tough;

She never once faltered from duty

To play on the "up and up."

"Sal" told me this tale on the evening

Before she was turned out "free"

And I'll do my best to relate it

Just as she told it to me:

I was born on a ranch in Wyoming;

Not treated like Helen of Troy,

I was taught that "rods were rulers"

And "ranked" as a greasy cowboy.

Then I left my old home for the city

To play in its mad dizzy whirl,

Not knowing how little of pity

It holds for a country girl.

There I fell for "the line" of a "henchman"

A "professional killer" from "Chi"

I couldn't help loving him madly,

For him even I would die.

One year we were desperately happy

Our "ill-gotten gains" we spent free,

I was taught the ways of the "underworld"

Jack was just like a "god" to me.

I got on the "F.B.A." payroll

To get the "inside lay" of the "job"

The bank was "turning big money"!

It looked like a "cinch for the mob."

Eighty grand without even a "rumble" --

Jack was last with the "loot" in the door,

When the "teller" dead-aimed a revolver

From where they forced him to lie on the floor.

I knew I had only a moment --

He would surely get Jack as he ran,

So I "staged" a "big fade out" beside him

And knocked the forty-five out of his hand.

They "rapped me down big" at the station,

And informed me that I'd get the blame

For the "dramatic stunt" pulled on the "teller"

Looked to them too much like a "game."

The "police" called it a "frame-up"

Said it was an "inside job"

But I steadily denied any knowledge

Or dealings with "underworld mobs."

The "gang" hired a couple of lawyers,

The best "fixers" in any man's town,

But it takes more than lawyers and money

When Uncle Sam starts "shaking you down."

I was charged as a "scion of gangland"

And tried for my wages of sin,

The "dirty dozen" found me guilty --

From five to fifty years in the pen.

I took the "rap" like good people,

And never one "squawk" did I make.

Jack "dropped himself" on the promise

That we make a "sensational break."

Well, to shorten a sad lengthy story,

Five years have gone over my head

Without even so much as a letter --

At first, I thought he was dead.

But not long ago I discovered;

From a gal in the joint named Lyle,

That Jack and his "moll" had "got over"

And were living in true "gangster style."

If he had returned to me sometime,

Though he hadn't a cent to give,

I'd forget all the hell that he's caused me,

And love him as long as I lived.

But there's no chance of his ever coming,

For he and his moll have no fears

But that I will die in this prison,

Or "flatten" this fifty years.

Tomorrow I'll be on the "outside"

And I'll "drop myself" on it today,

I'll "bump 'em if they give me the "hot squat"

On this island out here in the bay...

The iron doors swung wide next morning

For a gruesome woman of waste,

Who at last had a chance to "fix it"

Murder showed in her cynical face.

Not long ago I read in the paper

That a gal on the East Side got "hot"

And when the smoke finally retreated,

Two of gangdom were found "on the spot."

It related the colorful story

Of a "jilted gangster gal."

Two days later, a "sub-gun" ended

The story of "Suicide Sal."

Just before dawn on the 23rd day of May in the year 1934, Texas lawman Frank Hamer and others lay in wait for a man and a woman who would soon drive down that deserted road near Sailes, Louisiana. The heavily armed men were waiting for Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker.

When the car came near, the lawmen opened fire, and after the last shot was fired, there was only silence. Clyde Champion Barrow and the would-be poet, Bonnie Parker, were dead.

Stan Fine is a retired police officer and Verizon Security Department investigator who, after retiring in 2006, moved from Tampa, Fla., to Noel. Stan's connection to Noel can be traced back to his grandparents who lived most of their lives there. Stan began writing after the passing of his wife Robin in 2013. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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