The Highwaymen vs. Bonnie & Clyde

Saturday night I couldn’t sleep, so I watched The Highwaymen.

It made me realize that despite being a history major in college, I knew surprisingly little about Bonnie and Clyde. I studied that time period fairly thoroughly. However, my reading took me to the big cities and to Europe. My attention was drawn to matters that I could see correlations to my life today. Prohibition, the rise of organized crime, the rise of Nazi Germany: these are the topics that always sucked me in.

But perhaps the era that produced Bonnie and Clyde is closer to most of us than we think.

Every one of us has some little peculiarity that our grandparents (parents or great-grandparents depending on your generation) continued on into our lives.

Many of the the carryovers include food. Meatloaf, shepherd’s pie, my grandparent’s bean soup … anything that could stretch the ingredients just a little farther.

Something else I remember from my childhood was my grandfather’s garage. He had jars with every conceivable nut, bolt, washer, and car piece you could imagine. My grandmother was the same way with scraps of every piece of household necessity, all of it carefully organized and tucked away. Thread, yarn, buttons, etc. were carefully stowed for later use.

Some of us might think it hoarding, but it was different. It wasn’t sentimental, it was pragmatic.

Another learned habit was keeping money at home, in the freezer, mattress, or tucked away in a teapot on the shelf. The Great Depression taught that banks could not be trusted.

How different from the era we live in now? How many people actually carry any cash with them?

The movie’s perspective shied away from the cult of Bonnie & Clyde, instead providing an interesting look into the lives of the men responsible for ending their reign of carnage. Hamer and Gault were crusty old gunslingers in an age of airplanes, shortwave radios, and the infancy of forensic science. I loved the clash of the old and the new. At the end of the day, experience and the gut can provide more insight than we give it credit for.

Any way about it, I found the movie both thought provoking and entertaining. Now I’m headed back to writing. But I might blow the dust off my copy of Grapes of Wrath and go down that rabbit-hole again.

In the meantime, keep on reading, keep studying our past, and keep on flying the Black.

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