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From genteel to outlaw

A day of contrasts today. We started at the Squire Creek Country Club, a relatively new golf course and residential housing development, where we were scheduled to present after lunch to a room of about 30 members. Lunch was first-rate, the decor was elegant, the ladies were all very nicely dressed, and after the creme brulee dessert I felt distinctly like I would be a disappointment to the audience. It was a hard act to follow.

Ruston Rich presenting.jpg

Yet either they were all being very polite, or I did well enough. Eleanor and I had picked 59 slides from our collection of 5,722 (today's count), and I stood up there and did my best to explain why someone would voluntarily sell their home and go out on the road in a trailer full-time. Emma chipped in her thoughts on the subject from time to time as well, much to the amusement of the audience, and we got lots of great questions.

After the talk we were approached by several members of the audience who owned RVs (two owned Airstreams!) who told us about their own adventures, and how much they loved traveling. The co-owner of the country club, a very nice lady, even went so far as to say we would be welcome to come back and park overnight! (I don't think that offer applies to all travelers, however.) And for classy touch, everyone who attended the speech got a cute little silver Airstream charm.

The rest of our day was not so upscale, but it was darned interesting. We met the affable Scott Terry, who runs the local Chamber of Commerce, and he took us to the quiet nearby town of Gibsland. Gibsland is not a tourist town, but this visit was by request. Gibsland is famous for only one thing, the deaths of Bonnie and Clyde in an ambush by local lawmen in 1934.

"Some day they'll go down together,
And they'll bury them side by side,
To few it'll be grief,
To the law relief,
But it's death for Bonnie and Clyde."

That prophetic poem was written by Bonnie Parker, a young girl who could foresee how her life of crime at Clyde Barrow's side would eventually turn out.

But they weren't buried side by side. Their bullet-riddled bodies were captured on 16mm movies, displayed to schoolchildren, photographed in the embalming room, and eventually interred miles apart in the Dallas area. Such was the notoriety of this couple that some of their personal possessions were stolen even as they were still warm, lockets of Bonnie's hair were clipped off, and 10,000 people came to their funerals.

Gibsville Boots.jpg
L.J. "Boots" Hinton

The Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum is the thing you would come to Gibsland for. Run by L.J. "Boots" Hinton, it is housed in the former "Ma Canfield's Cafe" where Bonnie and Clyde stopped for sandwiches just a few miles before driving into the police ambush that ended their bloody careers. The museum is encyclopedic: photos, movie memorabilia (from the 1967 film with Warren Beatty), guns, documents, 16mm film footage, books, and the car used in the movie.

Gibsville Emma car.jpg
Emma tries out the 1934 Ford, courtesy of "Boots" Hinton.

"Boots" will tell you everything you want to know -- and he has made a life's study of Bonnie and Clyde. His father was one of the two Sheriff's deputies who shot Bonnie and Clyde. Reading the guest register, the most common comment by visitors was "Sorry I didn't have more time!" I'd recommend at least an hour and preferably a couple of hours to really read and understand everything.

Another big day is planned for tomorrow. Would you believe a visit with the Governor? Stand by ... Ruston hasn't run out of surprises yet!



Glad to see that you enjoyed the B&C museum. It is very interesting but I am disappointed that you didn't actually go the site where they were killed. It is anticlimactic as it is a simple granite monument on the side of the road near Sailes, LA. This is about 15 miles South of Gibsland (yes, it is Gibsland, not Gibsville). Fittingly, the monument has been used by deer hunters for target practice so it is pitted with bullet impacts.

Glad to hear that you have enjoyed some typical Southern hospitality. BTW, we had a 30 bunkhouse until August of last year and enjoyed it very much but our needs dictated a move to 34 SO Classic.

Hope you and your family continue to enjoy Ruston and the surrounding area.

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