A 14-Year-Old Who Aspired To Be The Youngest Mass Murderer Stained Glass and Clyde Barrow

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Stained Glass and Clyde Barrow

One evening in the fall of 1967, some friends and I, sophomores at North Texas State University, adjourned to the campus theater at Courthouse Square in Denton, Texas, to watch the then new Hollywood film “Bonnie and the Clyde”. The little but hugely popular production, which had its world premiere there a few days earlier, was filmed in small towns around Denton and Dallas counties, where many of the buildings still stand that were created by the original Bonnie and Clyde robbery of the bank. The film itself is a rather thin fashion show, with neither Warren Beatty nor Faye Dunaway being particularly convincing as 1930s outlaws Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. The film glorifies and romanticizes Barrow and Parker’s outlaws, a bit of a tribute to the rebellious “hippie” countercultural notion popular among bourgeois college students in the late ’60s.

While visiting my parents in Dallas the following weekend, I mentioned that I went to see Bonnie and Clyde. My mom replied, “He used to hold me on his lap.” “Really?!” I reacted. She nodded, smiling to herself. Years later, one thing after another, I finally figured out my unexpected addition to the notorious local couple’s initial experience.

Sometime in the 1980s, after doing some casual and interesting research at the Dallas Public Library, I discovered that the true stories of the Barrow Gang are often much more interesting and complex than the one-dimensional popular myths. To be sure, the true The sociological undercurrent of the story is rightly treated as important history. In the 1990s, I came across a fascinating and well-made little book called Running with Bonnie and Clyde: Ralph Rich by John Neal Phillips. A Decade of Rapid Development in Erz. One chapter in the book recounts the incredibly violent experiences of some members of Barrow’s Lake Dallas gang, and one chapter recounts Barrow’s experiences after his release from prison. After deciding to more or less try going straight, he started looking for work, hitchhiking and busing from Texas to Massachusetts. But his record and his timing (it was the Great Depression, when job opportunities were scarce) put him in the dark, and he became homesick and returned to Dallas.

A few years ago, during my visit to the owner of Molloy Glass and Mirror, a small store on Floyd Street in Dallas, one of the oldest businesses still operating in Dallas, I was surprised to learn from him that, For many years, Dallas has been a hotbed of art glassmaking for churches, commercial buildings, and homes. He pulls out a phone book of about a 19-year-old teenager in Dallas, and shows me that the most advertised company in the phone book is Dallas Art Glass, with about 100 employees.

During the Great Depression, there were at least two art glass stores besides Molloy’s on Floyd Street and the adjoining Swiss Street. One of these was the United Glass and Mirror Company. Clyde Barrow was hired by that company as a delivery driver when he returned from the North. Apparently he’s popular. I was told he would hang out at Molloy’s and hang out with the employees there. But back then in Dallas, if a criminal mischief happened, the local police would come out and round up the usual suspects. Clyde being in this category means there are police cars on the street in front of Union glass and mirrors. After a few episodes of the resulting negative publicity, United decided to let Barrow go. That was the last time a frustrated and distraught Barrow considered legal employment.

The Dallas Art Glass Company employed many immigrant artisans, most of them Czech or German. After immigrating to the United States from Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1913, my maternal grandfather worked in many stained glass shops in Texas until he was able to devote himself full time to his own studio. His first wife died in the early 1930s, leaving behind two young children. It’s not uncommon for these kids to work at their father’s workplaces, two of which are United Glass and Mirror and Molloy Glass and Mirror, where they may be exposed to the soon-to-be desperate, callous, wannabe killer Clyde Barrow.

Today’s postmodern cosmopolitan international crossroads Dallas, Texas retains some of the town’s character of yesteryear. In the old parts of the city, one encounters familiar places, often unchanged from days gone by. The building that was once Barrow’s father’s gas station/snack bar, with which Barrow is very closely related, stands in front of his earlier log cabin on Singleton Avenue in the West Dallas area. The small duplex where Barrow shot and killed a sheriff’s deputy is still nearby, on North Winnetka Avenue. The house where Bonnie Parker and her mother lived was on Douglass Street, south of Wycliff Avenue, near Maple Avenue. The building where Parker was a popular waitress before meeting Barrow now houses a grinding shop near the Baylor Hospital building in old East Dallas and a few blocks from the art glass shops on Floyd Street and Swiss Avenue. blocks, and one more blissful bike ride from the chair in which I sit typing.

I often pass buildings associated with Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, very much like the buildings in the Dallas neighborhood where I spent my childhood. It’s not hard for me to picture this genial future villain, in his honest workman’s clothes, bouncing my mother, and then a very young child, on his lap, strangely leaving pleasant memories.

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