Blanche Barrow was the wife of Buck Barrow, the older brother of the notorious outlaw Clyde Barrow. She joined her husband and his gang, which included Clyde and his girlfriend Bonnie Parker, on a crime spree that lasted for four months in 1933. But unlike Bonnie and Clyde, who died in a hail of bullets, Blanche Barrow survived and lived a quiet life until her death from cancer in 1988. How did she escape the fate of her infamous companions? Here is her story.
Blanche Barrow’s Early Life And Marriage To Buck Barrow
Blanche Barrow was born as Bennie Iva Caldwell on January 1, 1911, in Garvin, Oklahoma. She was the only child of a logger and a teenage mother, who divorced when she was young. She was raised by her father, who was a devoutly religious man and a lay preacher. Blanche was a good student and enjoyed writing poetry.
When she was 17, her mother arranged for her to marry John Calloway, a much older man who abused her physically and emotionally. Blanche was unhappy and unable to have children because of the violence she endured. She ran away from her husband and hid in Dallas, Texas, where she met Buck Barrow in 1929.
Buck Barrow was a twice-divorced criminal with children from a previous marriage. He was eight years older than Blanche and had a history of burglary and robbery. He was also the brother of Clyde Barrow, who was already involved in crime with his girlfriend Bonnie Parker. Blanche and Buck fell in love and got married in 1931, after Buck escaped from prison and convinced Blanche to hide him.
Blanche, however, did not want to live a life of crime. She persuaded Buck to surrender and serve the remainder of his prison sentence. She drove him to the gate of Huntsville penitentiary, where he told the surprised prison officials that he had escaped almost two years before and needed to resume his sentence. They welcomed him in.
Buck was released and pardoned in 1933, but his freedom was short-lived. Soon after his release, he reunited with his brother Clyde and his girlfriend Bonnie, who had been on a crime spree across the country. They invited Buck and Blanche to join them on their adventures. Buck agreed, but Blanche was reluctant. She only followed her husband out of love and loyalty.
Blanche Barrow’s Four Months With The Barrow Gang
For four months in 1933, Blanche Barrow accompanied her husband and the rest of the Barrow gang on a whirlwind trip of crime and debauchery. They robbed banks, gas stations, and stores, and killed several people, including law enforcement officers. They also stole cars, guns, and clothes, and moved from one town to another, evading the police and the media.
Blanche, however, was not a willing participant in the gang’s activities. She never used a gun, and often tried to dissuade her husband from committing crimes. She also suffered from anxiety and guilt, and prayed for their salvation. She was also afraid of Clyde, who she thought was a cold-blooded killer and a bad influence on Buck.
Blanche’s life with the gang was full of danger and violence. She was involved in several shootouts and car chases, and witnessed the death and injury of many people. She was also blinded in one eye by flying glass during a getaway. She suffered from burns, cuts, bruises, and infections, and had little access to medical care. She also had to endure the harsh living conditions of the gang, who often slept in cars, tents, or abandoned cabins.
Blanche’s loyalty to her husband was tested several times, as he was wounded and captured by the police on more than one occasion. She always stayed by his side, even risking her own life to rescue him. She hoped that they would eventually escape the gang and start a new life together. But her hopes were dashed on July 24, 1933, when the gang’s final shootout took place.
Blanche Barrow’s Capture And Imprisonment
On July 18, 1933, the Barrow gang rented two cabins at the Red Crown Tourist Court in Platte City, Missouri. They planned to stay there for a few days, but their presence aroused the suspicion of the local sheriff, Holt Coffey. He noticed that the gang had several guns and cars, and that they covered the windows of their cabins with newspapers. He also recognized Bonnie and Clyde from their wanted posters.
Sheriff Coffey gathered a posse of local men and surrounded the cabins on the night of July 19. He ordered the gang to surrender, but they refused and opened fire. A fierce gun battle ensued, which lasted for 15 minutes. The gang managed to escape, but not without casualties. Buck was shot in the head, and Blanche was hit by shrapnel in her face. They both lost a lot of blood and were in critical condition.
The gang drove to Dexfield Park, Iowa, where they set up a camp. They tried to treat their wounds, but they had no medical supplies or expertise. They also had no food or water, and were exhausted and hungry. They knew that the police were looking for them, and that they had little chance of survival.
On July 24, a local farmer spotted the gang’s camp and alerted the authorities. A large posse of armed men arrived and surrounded the gang. They demanded their surrender, but the gang resisted and fired back. Another shootout took place, which lasted for an hour. The gang was outnumbered and outgunned, and had no choice but to flee.
Bonnie and Clyde managed to escape in a stolen car, but Buck and Blanche were left behind. Buck was too weak to run, and Blanche refused to leave him. They were captured by the posse, who took them to a hospital. Buck died five days later from his wounds and pneumonia. Blanche was charged with assault with intent to kill the sheriff of Platte County, Missouri, who had led the attack on the cabins.
Blanche pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. She served six years at the Missouri State Penitentiary and the Iowa State Penitentiary for Women. She was a model prisoner, who worked as a seamstress and a librarian. She also wrote letters to her family and friends, and expressed remorse for her involvement with the gang. She was paroled in 1939, and moved to Dallas, Texas.
Blanche Barrow’s Later Life And Death
After her release from prison, Blanche Barrow tried to rebuild her life and forget her past. She married Eddie Frasure, a sales engineer, in 1940. They lived a quiet and respectable life, and were active members of their church. Blanche never had any children, but she was close to her nieces and nephews. She also wrote poetry and painted.
Blanche rarely spoke about her time with the Barrow gang, and avoided the media attention that surrounded them. She was unhappy with the way she was portrayed in the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde, which depicted her as a hysterical and dim-witted woman. She said that the film was inaccurate and unfair, and that it did not reflect the reality of her experience.
Blanche was also saddened by the death of Bonnie and Clyde, who were ambushed and killed by the police in Louisiana in 1934. She said that she felt sorry for them, and that they were not as bad as people thought. She said that they were victims of their circumstances, and that they had some good qualities. She also said that she forgave them for the harm they caused her and her husband.
Blanche Barrow died of cancer on December 24, 1988, at the age of 77. She was buried next to her husband Buck at the Dallas Crown Hill Cemetery. She left behind a memoir, titled My Life with Bonnie and Clyde, which was published posthumously in 2004. The memoir revealed her perspective on the events that made her a part of American history. It also showed her love for her husband, and her regret for her mistakes.