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The Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum
2419 Main St.
Gibsland, LA 71028
The town consists of about four buildings (a gratuitous exaggeration but not by much) other than the Museum itself located in the former café wherein the desperate duo bought some sandwiches before heading out for their final rendezvous with the law.
We were shown in by a tall, weathered, cowboy hat wearing man who told us to watch the DVD playing before viewing the exhibits, advice we promptly ignored, instant gratification types that we are.
The exhibits were mostly short on actual artifacts but long on informative plaques explaining the duo’s back story. This included the harrowing tales of Clyde’s time in jail, an experience that changed him from a fairly sweet guy (per friends) to a “rattlesnake” determined never to return to prison, and shots of the shack-like houses his family occupied during his youth.
The rare artifacts were poignant, such as the brooch Bonnie was wearing when she was shot, a plastic set of acorns and leaves. Think about it; she was on the run and she took the time to pin on a brooch in the morning.
Back in the entry way, we continued talking to the operator, who said he thinks all the movie versions of this tale “got it wrong.” Why? “Because it’s really a love story,” he said.
We noted that the museum makes a point of explaining that there are conflicting stories about what happened that fateful day (except how they ended up “very, very dead”).
“There’s only one right one,” the man said, “and it’s the one by lawman Ted Hinton.”
We asked him if he had been a Bonnie and Clyde buff for a long time.
“Since I was five months old,” the man said.
Blink, was our response.
“You didn’t watch the DVD, did you?”
See, we don’t pay attention to the emergency evacuation instructions on airplanes anymore either and this is the kind of trouble you can get into.
So who is he, this guy with an interesting bias of compassion towards these outlaws? Why, the son of one of the men who shot them, Ten Hinton himself.
Boots Hinton, as he is called, explained that his father knew both Bonnie and Cldye in different capacities and also knew their families well enough so that Clyde’s own father said to him “Ted, I know you’re going to have to shoot my boy” because Clyde would refuse to return to prison and there was no other way to stop their spree.
He also told us stories of Bonnie’s brother coming over to visit his family and hang out while Boots was growing up. This illustrates a very different attitude toward justice and the role of the law than we have become accustomed to, and it is intriguing that the man who had a major role in their deaths would bring up his son to see them as people and to have empathy for their situation.
Boots talked about Bonnie’s single mom and described her kids thusly: “The brother was perfectly all right, he just couldn’t stay married. Bonnie was perfectly all right, she just had terrible taste in men—look at her first husband. And the other sister was all right, she just couldn’t stay married.”
Boots himself said that his friends wondered why he would leave Texas to live here and run this place, and he said “I’ve outlived three wives, my children are grown and it’s just me and the cats. So why not?”
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