Robbed By Bonnie & Clyde: This Actually Happened In Amarillo
Just when you think you've heard it all, that's when you're most likely to come across something that stops you dead in your tracks.
Now, I know this is cliche, but I do enjoy reading whatever I can get my hands on about that bygone time when we had gangs of bank robbers and lawless ragamuffins running around the South--back sometime in the 1930s. You can think of it as the "Public Enemy" era. And of course, Public Enemy #1 for quite a while was the Barrow Gang.
Who was in the Barrow Gang?
Well, the leaders were none other than the notorious Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. If you haven't heard of these two lawless lovers, you've been living under a rock as well as missing out on one heck of an outlaw tale.
Now, the two had a revolving crew of sorts. but the pals who loved trouble as much as Bonnie and Clyde were a dynamic husband and wife team. They were none other than Clyde's Brother, Marvin Ivan "Buck" Barrow, and his blushing bride, Blanche Caldwell.
The Book With the Bombshell
I had come across a copy of the book that Blanche Caldwell wrote about her crusade against the laws of the land sometime after she was released from prison (because you know....once you go on a crime spree, the only way it ever ends is when you get busted).
Titled My Life With Bonnie and Clyde, this short book is a neat read of the Barrow Gang's adventures told from the perspective of someone who was actually there. The link I just provided is to the Google book listing, so you can do a few preliminary searches yourself if you don't believe what I'm about to tell you.....
According to Blanche, the Barrow Gang rolled into Amarillo on April 14, 1933. They found themselves pretty cold, tired, and in need of cash for food and lodgings.
So of course, Clyde and his brother Buck headed over to a Phillips 66 service station by 18th Ave & Polk Street and robbed it blind.
I read the footnotes that were intended to serve as corroboration, but I couldn't believe it. So I went digging into the newspaper archives myself and just look at this clipping dated April 15, 1933:
I was able to check a city directory for the year of 1933 and sure enough, there's a Phillips 66 service station with the address 1715 S. Polk.
I snagged a quick screenshot off Google Maps that shows what the corner of 18th Ave & Polk Street looks as it is today. I have a hunch that the service station they robbed was where that tan building on the left is now.
I was well acquainted with the gang's big showdown with a sheriff over in Wellington. But for some reason, it's inconceivable to me that the Barrow Gang not only came through Amarillo--they robbed it blind in true Public Enemy #1 fashion.
And....for whatever reason....everyone forgot about the time when Bonnie & Clyde came to town. But, now I know...and now you know.
It just goes to show that the truth will always be stranger than fiction.