History collects vast facts and details that can piece together puzzles or add more pieces to put together. I’ve read the coroner’s list of what was on Bonnie Parker’s body at her death. She still wore her wedding rings and she had a Catholic cross around her neck that day. She was shot 25 to 52 times of the 130 or 167 shots fired depending on the report. Bonnie Parker was not wanted for any capitol crime. The car and contents seem well detailed but there is a legend of a head of lettuce being inside as well. And it’s backed up by the white rabbit on the scene around the time of the ambush named Sonny Boy. Not in the car at the time of the shooting he was one lucky rabbit. He did end up where he was intended, in Emma Parker’s home.
So what to think of a girl who bought an Easter rabbit in the middle of a crime wave for her mother? Bonnie was a poet and married her childhood sweetheart at 16. She was bright and gave speeches, even did a Shirley Temple impersonation. It is taken for granted she and Clyde were more than partners in crime . Yet all the reports of any sort of sexual dalliances pair Clyde with men and not with women. Her letters to Clyde and poems of their life together were romantic and myth making thanks to her skillful writing talent. There are colorful stories of how Bonnie shot one of the fallen officers and exclaimed, “look-a-there, his head bounced just like a rubber ball.” But there are other accounts too of how she killed none of the twelve people slaughtered on their spree. It has been suggested, the force used in the ambush was purposely aggressive and excessive enough, to assure both died so Bonnie Parker wouldn’t go to trial and be acquitted of murder. Another part may have been in response to an embarrassing escape orchestrated by the ‘gang’ that left law enforcement even more bruised in the public arena.
The death car is still on display and the marker placed where the ambush and shooting took place is notoriously haunted. Their bodies were displayed to the public who came in droves to see them. Their youth and daring against the establishment in the misery of the depression made them grisly heroes. Maybe their wasted lives and horrible crimes were the fruit of big business and government corruption. Maybe not. I can only see Bonnie feeding Sonny Boy on the side of the road watching as the rabbit ate the blades of grass. Her finger still encircled with symbol of the vow she made too young to her imprisoned husband, head full of poetry and a sign of faith around her neck. Afraid. Afraid of people thinking she smoked cigars, of Clyde and of what she had become. A pretty little monster.
St. Melangell of the 7th century, was a young girl too, daughter of an Irish king. Like Bonnie she had depth and yearning. It led her to seek a life of prayerful solitude in Tanat Valley Wales. Her epic tale is a hunt as well. The prince of Powys was hunting a small hare. The hare sought protection in the cloak of St. Melangell. The prince’s hunting dogs responded with calm and ceased chasing the rabbit. The prince was so impressed by her obvious mysticism he gave her the valley as a sanctuary. There she started a religious community. A small ancient Church has stood there for over 1200 years named for her and still a site for pilgrims. St. Melangell is a the patroness of rabbits and all small creatures.
One hopes that Sonny Boy had a happy life. And that all the men lost to the crimes of Bonnie and Clyde, many husbands and fathers doing their jobs, are at peace. And at the best moments one also spares some hope that the little creature standing at 4’11” finally found sanctuary too.