From Sunday, July 21 through Friday, July 26, Sweetums and I drove 2,150 miles from Huntsville, Alabama, to Fort Worth, Texas, and back again. I am posting the stops in order of the trip. Most sites will be included in my upcoming Guide to Southern Oddities.
Road-Trip Stop No. 14: The grave of Clyde Barrow
Western Heights Cemetery is located on a small lot at the corner of Fort Worth Avenue and Neal Street in Dallas, not far from Interstate 30, behind an unadorned metal fence. The majority of the modest gravestones lay flat to the ground, dotting the close-cut grass. Established in 1848, it is also known as Struck, Troth or West Dallas cemetery.
The grave historians and photographers come here to see is located near the front of the cemetery, to the left after passing through the main gates.
A single headstone marks the graves of two men, Clyde and Buck Barrow, brothers who chose a criminal lifestyle that ended in both their deaths, and the deaths of many others. Clyde, of course, is half of the duo “Bonnie and Clyde,” one of the most infamous pairs of outlaws of all time.
His older brother, Buck, was also a member of the Barrow gang for a time and was killed by law officers nearly a year before his brother was ambushed and shot to death, alongside his lover, Bonnie Parker. The headstone includes Buck’s given name, Marvin I., for “Ivan,” and birth and death dates: March 14, 1905-July 29, 1933. On the other half of the stone is etched “Clyde C.” – Clyde’s middle name was Champion,” and the dates March 24, 1909-May 23, 1934. He was 25 years old the day he died.
The sentiment etched below the brothers’ names is meaningful, only not in the way it was likely meant: “Gone But Not Forgotten.” Visitors to their grave sometimes leave cigarettes in remembrance. Their parents and two of their four other siblings are buried nearby.
Bonnie Elizabeth Parker is also buried in Dallas, although not beside Clyde, as she’d hoped. She wrote in her most famous poem, published after her death:
They don’t think they’re tough or desperate
They know the law always wins
They’ve been shot at before,
but they do not ignore
That death is the wages of sin.
Some day they’ll go down together
And they’ll bury them side by side
To few it’ll be grief, to the law a relief
But it’s death for Bonnie and Clyde.”
In the end, their parents wanted Bonnie and Clyde buried in their family cemeteries. Bonnie is buried about 10 miles away in Crown Hill Memorial Park. Her headstone is also quite simple, etched with only her name, the dates Oct. 1, 1910-May 23, 1934.
Beneath that is the sentiment:
“The flowers are all made sweeter by the sunshine and the dew
so this old world is made brighter by the lives of folks like you.”
Her mother and brother are buried nearby.