“I Know Now It Was A Fool Thing To Do”

As you can tell from this classic 1933 photograph, when it came to love, Depression-era outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow only had eyes for each other. But there were a number of others they called on in a professional capacity. One such partner in crime was W.D. Jones, who ran roughshod with the pair for eight months in the early 1930s. In 1968, Jones shared his story of life on the lam with the infamous duo with Playboy. The opening of “Riding with Bonnie & Clyde“:

“BOY, YOU CAN’T GO HOME. You got murder on you, just like me.”

That’s what Clyde told me. That was what he said after I seen him kill Doyle Johnson in Temple, Texas, on Christmas Day, 1932. For me, that’s how it all started.

I had got with Clyde and Bonnie the night before in Dallas. Me and L. C., that’s Clyde’s younger brother, was driving home from a dance in his daddy’s old car. Here come Bonnie and Clyde. They honked their car horn and we pulled over. I stayed in the car. L. C. got out and went back to see what they wanted. Then he hollered at me, ‘Hey, come on back. Clyde wants to talk to you.’ Clyde was wanted then for murder and kidnaping, but I had knowed him all my life. So I got out and went to his car.

He told me, “We’re here to see Momma and Marie.” (That’s Clyde’s baby sister.) “You stay with us while L. C. gets them.” I was 16 years old and Clyde was only seven years older, but he always called me “Boy.”

Them was Prohibition days and about all there was to drink was home-brew. That’s what me and L. C. had been drinking that Christmas Eve and it was about all gone. Clyde had some moonshine in his car, so I stayed with him, like he said, while L. C. fetched his folks. They lived just down the road in back of the filling station Old Man Barrow run.

After the visiting was over, Clyde told me him and Bonnie had been driving a long ways and was tired. He wanted me to go with them so I could keep watch while they got some rest. I went. I know now it was a fool thing to do, but then it seemed sort of big to be out with two famous outlaws. I reckoned Clyde took me along because he had knowed me before and figured he could count on me.

It must have been two o’clock Christmas morning when we checked into a tourist court at Temple. They slept on the bed. I had a pallet on the floor.•

W.D. Jones, 1933.

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