|ROBERT C. ELSTON AS FRANK HAMER.
Long time newsletter subscribers may recall
Alex Higbee's report on the 1994 Gibsland pageant ("That Blankety-Blank Thompson Goes
To Gibsland." October, 1994). This year, Alex and his father, Bob, portrayed peace
officers determined to foil a Barrow bank robbery. While Bonnie Parker (Michelle Groves)
took pot shots at them with Colt Thompson #2107, the Higbees returned fire, armed with a
Winchester Model 97 riot gun and Colt Thompson #6942.
These Reenactments, Etc. blank-firing Thompsons have been
perennial crowd pleasers. People clap and cheer when the guns swing into action. However,
at this year's festival, the classic submachine gun's primacy was challenged by the
introduction of a new player Jimmy Gillman of Pace, Florida, awed
spectators and reenactors alike with his blank-adapted Ohio Ordnance Works, Inc. Model
A-1918 self-loading rifle (BAR). Anyone who has read Rick Cartledge's, "The Rolling
Thirties," chapter in Thompson: The American Legend knows the real Clyde Barrow never
owned a Thompson. Instead, he relied upon Browning Automatic Rifles stolen from National
The presence of a "real' '-albeit semi-automatic only -BAR in
Gibsland created a sensation. Only the thundering drumbeat of Higbee's #6942 prevented
this saucy upstart from stealing the crowd's affections. If Gillman can successfully
install a Hell-fire trigger activator, allowing his rifle to approximate a full-auto rate
of fire, the firearm may really give the Thompsons fits next year The festival was awash
in dignitaries. Chief among them was Clyde's only living sibling, his sister, Marie. Boots
Hinton, son of ambush participant, Ted Hinton, was there. John Neal Phillips, author of
the book Running With Bonnie and Clyde accompanied Marie Barrow. Sandy Jones, caretaker of
one of the finest privately held collections of Bonnie and Clyde memorabilia in the
nation, led a contingent of crime aficionados who call themselves Partners In Crime.
On the evening preceding the festival, TCN's own Rick Cartledge mesmerized a congress of Bonnie and Clyde buffs with his musings on the
modus operandi of the Barrows and the lawmen who chased
them. By all accounts, his lecture was one of the high points of the entire weekend. Rick
knows how to spin a yarn and make history entertaining.
Since 1991, the "bullet-riddled" 1934 Ford sedan from the
motion picture, "Bonnie and Clyde," has served as a Reenactments, Etc. prop. At
Gibsland this year, ownership of the movie death car changed hands. Its new owner has
vowed to make the vehicle available to reenactors at next year's festival.
More than once, observers have remarked that it is the blank-firing Thompsons that make
these Reenactments, Etc. melodramas a success. Now that the movie Ford is gone, we'll find
out if that is true.
||S/N 6942 SPEAKS WITH AUTHORITY AS BOB HIGBEE BATTLES THE OUTLAWS.
BONNIE AND CLYDE SHOOT THEIR WAY OUT OF THE POLICE TRAP.