Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bonnie and Clyde's Letter to Henry Ford

Bonnie and Clyde
The era of the Public Enemy in America was from 1931 through 1935 during the depths of the Great Depression. Names like John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Machine Gun Kelly, and Baby Face Nelson blazed across the headlines, but none of these criminals captured the imagination of the American public more than Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, whose daring exploits were romanticized by Midwesterners down on their luck. The press glamorized them in newspapers, news reels, and pulp mystery magazines. Their hardscrabble life on the road was anything but glamorous.

When Clyde teamed up with his brother Buck and various other gang members, the press referred to them as the Barrow Gang. Originally, they were cast as underdogs fighting a corrupt banking system and developed the urban myth of robbing the rich and giving to the poor.

Bonnie Parker with cigar.
On March 22, 1933, the gang narrowly escaped capture and left a cache of stolen weapons, a handwritten poem by Bonnie entitled the "Story of Suicide Sal", and a camera with three rolls of undeveloped film. The staged photos led to Bonnie's glamorization. Some showed Bonnie pointing guns at Clyde and one had her smoking a cigar. W.D. Jones, surviving gang member, testified that Bonnie never smoked cigars or shot at any policeman. She did chain smoke Camel cigarettes.

Clyde's favorite weapon was the .30 caliber Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) stolen from an armory. The gang also favored "whippet" guns (sawed-off shotguns) they could conceal under overcoats, and a variety of hand guns. The gang is credited with twelve bank robberies, but they preferred to rob small stores and rural gas stations. They killed nine police officers and a number of civilians who were unfortunate enough to get in their way. Their cold-bloodedness eventually soured the public's perception of the outlaws.

The Texas Department of Corrections contacted retired legendary Texas Ranger Frank A. Hamer. It could be argued that Hamer was more lethal than his quarry Clyde Barrow. Hamer was credited with fifty-three kills and surviving seventeen gunshot wounds. Law enforcement investigators studied the gang's movements and determined to set an ambush for them. The gang swung in a circle of five Midwestern states exploiting the "state line" law that prevented police from pursuing fugitives from one jurisdiction into another. 


On March 23, 1934 at 9:15 am, a posse of four Texas Rangers and two Louisiana officers hid behind roadside bushes waiting for Bonnie and Clyde to drive by. The posse heard Barrow's stolen Ford V8 speeding down the country road. The car slowed down when Clyde recognized a truck broken down on the side of the dirt road as belonging to a gang member's father whose farm they were hiding out at. When Clyde stopped the car offering to help, the posse opened up on the couple. First they emptied their BARs into the Ford, then they let go with a shotgun barrage, and finally they emptied their handguns. Though legend holds that each body was riddled with as many as fifty rounds apiece, coroner Dr. J.L. Wade's autopsy report documents seventeen bullet wounds on Clyde's body and twenty-six on Bonnie's body. Their remains were buried separately in Texas cemeteries.

A mere month before their deaths, automobile magnate Henry Ford received a letter proported to be from Clyde himself praising Mr. Ford's new V8 models. This letter is on display at the (Henry) Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.


Handwriting experts dispute the authenticity of the Barrow letter. The cursive does not compare favorably with a letter Clyde wrote to his mother two years earlier, but the letter compares more favorably with Bonnie's handwriting. You be the judge! Compare the writing samples in the link listed below that includes a letter reputed to be sent to Henry Ford by John Dillinger.

Ford letter handwriting samples: http://texashideout.tripod.com/comparison.html

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Gaslighting--A Sociopath's Favorite Tool

The psychological phenomenon known as gaslighting has become a colloquial term to describe a form of mental abuse where a dominant individual manipulates a weaker person's sense of psychological well-being to undermine the victim's mental stability. It is the manipulation of external reality to make someone doubt their sanity.

The term derives from the popular 1944 American film entitled Gaslight--based on a 1938 British stage play. Frenchman Charles Boyer plays the sociopathic husband of the psychologically frail Ingrid Bergman. This memorable film portrays a husband's attempt to destroy his wife's sanity by manipulating her perception of reality, so he can steal her jewels.

Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman
Sociopaths instill a high level of anxiety and confusion to disorient their victims. Information is twisted and spun by them so victims begin to doubt themselves. Targets lose faith in their ability to make judgments and become insecure about their decision-making abilities.

Gaslighting describes an antisocial personality disorder that relies on deception, denial, mind games, sabotage, isolation, and destabilization. It is a form of narcissistic abuse that occurs in all types of relationships and every walk of life. This syndrome is often associated with marital relationships, but anyone can be a victim. Gaslighting can be seen in abusive parent-child relationships and in the workplace with an aggressive boss brow-beating his employees. It is mental bullying that can escalate into physical violence. These narcissists are puppet masters who often manipulate people for their own personal gain or to play twisted power and control games.

Gaslighting is a deliberate and progressive method of covert control that imposes a form of psychosis on its victims. Brainwashing, interrogation, isolation, and torture are all forms of psychological warfare used by the military, intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and terrorist organizations. On any level, it is a human and civil rights violation. 



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For more detailed information on gaslighting and a link to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, view the following link: http://www.thehotline.org/2014/05/what-is-gaslighting/

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Scarab Club--Heart of Detroit's Arts Scene

Despite celebrating its one-hundred and tenth anniversary as the center of Detroit, Michigan's artist community, the Scarab Club is relatively unknown to many people in the greater Detroit area. In its heyday, the club held themed costume balls annually from 1917 through the 1950s, with as many as 1,800 Detroiters in attendance. 

To revitalize the club, current Executive Director Ashley Hennen told me when I visited in October that the club is rebranding itself to attract more local artists, art lovers, and the general public. In spring of 2016, the Mars Agency was hired to update the club's logo, their website, and their outreach programs. The club's new motto is We Know Detroit by Art.

The original club was named for master marine and landscape painter Robert Hopkins (1832-1909). After a successful showing of his work at The Detroit Museum of Art in 1907, Hopkins and his fellow artists formed an artists' club. They named the Hopkins Club in his honor. The original mission of the club has changed little over the years.
  • promote the mutual acquaintance of art lovers and artists
  • stimulate and guide the artistic sense of the people of Detroit
  • advance the knowledge and love of the fine arts
  • maintain a clubhouse for entertainment and social purposes
  • and provide working and exhibit facilities for artist members

Scarab detail over club entrance.
In 1913, the club changed its name to the Scarab Club and adopted the Egyptian symbol of rebirth--the scarab beetle--as its mascot. The three story brick building that currently houses the Scarab Club was designed by member architect Lancelot Sukert and opened in October of 1928. It is located at 217 Farnsworth Street amidst Detroit's Historic Museum District.

The exterior architecture of the building is Renaissance Revival. A glazed terracotta scarab emblem adorns the south facade. The club has a great deal of history and tradition. The building is listed on the United States National Registry of Historic Places, it is designated a Michigan Historical Site, and it is entered on the Register of Historic Buildings for Detroit.

Signing in on October 20, 2017.
The interior of the clubhouse is finished in the Arts and Craft style popular in the early twentieth-century. Club member Alfred Nygard carved and painted the scarab panel poised above the guest book as visitors enter the front lobby. The main floor is used as a gallery and performance area. The second floor was a members-only lounge in its early days. Above the fireplace is a mural painted on pine planks by Paul Honore in 1928 entitled "The Scarab Club Family Tree."

Early in the club's history, the ceiling beams of the members only lounge served as the club's guest book. Poet Vachel Lindsay is said to be the first to sign. Over two-hundred and thirty others have signed the beams including Norman Rockwell, Diego Rivera, Marcel Duchamp, William Milliken (Michigan governor), and John Sinclair. The third floor has six working studios not open to the public.

William (Bill) Bostick in 1980.
The Scarab Club was originally a men's-only organization. Women were not permitted above the first floor gallery. William Bostick joined the club in 1937 and acted as president and chairman of various committees. He was to become administrator of the Detroit Institute of Arts from 1946 until his retirement in1976. Bostick championed inclusion of women into the club. He remembered his mothers' disappointment when she was not allowed to practice her profession as an archeologist because women were forbidden to go on digs with men. Bostick shamed the club's board to include women for auxillary membership. Women were given full membership rights in 1962.

Scarab panel detail.
The Scarab Club serves the visual, the literary, and the musical arts. Since 1998, the club has instituted Chamber Music at the Scarab Club and the Blues Heritage Concert Series, but the original mission remains intact. The Scarab Club "continues to be a driving force in the artistic community and is proud to serve Michigan as a cultural stimulant for artistic diversity in the 21st century."

For more information contact: www.scarabclub.org

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

WEMU "Hidden In Plain Sight" Broadcast--John Norman Collins

Photo taken by Nicole Fribourg.
On October 18th, 2017, WEMU in Ypsilanti, Michigan asked me to record my observations while touring some of the landmarks of John Norman Collins's serial killing spree in Washtenaw County in the late 1960s. One link takes you to the internet article; the other takes you to the audio.

My remarks are based on my true crime book Terror In Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked available in a paperback edition, all ebook formats, and an audiobook at http://www.amazon.com/Gregory-A.-Fournier/e/B00BDNEG1C

Link to the WEMU article: http://wemu.org/post/hidden-plain-sight-terror-ypsilanti#stream/0

Link to MP3 audio: https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wemu/audio/2017/10/terror_in_ypsi.mp3

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

WEMU to Air Terror In Ypsilanti Audio Tour


Last week, Eastern Michigan University's NPR radio station in Ypsilanti serving Washtenaw County recorded my observations on several sites important to the John Norman Collins killing spree of 1967-1969. WEMU will air an eight-minute feature on Monday, October 30th. If you can't listen to the program when it airs, I'll run a link on this blog and route it on my social media outlets.


Patrick Campion
Program Director Patrick Campion and I stopped at the boarding house where Collins lived and sexually harassed a number of young women; then, we went to the wig shop where Karen Sue Beineman was last seen alive getting onto the back of Collins's stolen Triumph motorcycle; next, we stopped outside the David Leik house where Collins tortured and killed Miss Beineman in the basement; and finally, we drove to the gully in Ann Arbor where Miss Beineman's body was found.

Special thanks to Lisa Powers--University of Michigan Office of Student Publications--for taking photographs of this outing.

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2017 has been a great year for Terror In Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked (TIY). In addition to winning an International Book Award and a Literary Classics Silver Award, TIY just won an Independent Author Network finalist award. I'd like to thank my loyal readers for their support, especially those who wrote Amazon book reviews.

http://www.amazon.com/Gregory-A.-Fournier/e/B00BDNEG1C 
  

Friday, October 13, 2017

Detroit's Historic Fort Wayne Namesake--"Mad" Anthony Wayne

General Anthony Wayne--AKA Dapper.
Throughout the Midwestern states of Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan the name "Mad" Anthony Wayne resonates in communities far and wide. Scores of towns, cities, counties, schools, parks, hospitals, streets, and businesses have been named after this Revolutionary War general.

General Anthony Wayne led his soldiers in essentially rear guard actions harassing the British behind their lines. In several successful skirmishes with the enemy, he ordered surprise "bayonet only" attacks at night that inflicted many casualties. He was known as a courageous general--decisive and quick to act.

The legend behind the sobriquet "Mad" Anthony Wayne owes little to the general's military achievements. It has more to do with a drunk and disorderly colonist--known as Jemmy the Rover--who the general sometimes used as a spy. A constable arrested the man who began to drop the general's name. When the general heard this, he threatened Jemmy with "twenty-nine lashes well laid on if this happens again."

In disbelief, the now sober Jemmy replied, "He must be mad or else he would help me. Mad Anthony, that's what he is. Mad Anthony Wayne." The story made its way around town and became a favorite among the troops. The general's nickname had a rhythm and bravado that was repeated in the ranks until it stuck.

President George Washington called Major-General Wayne out of retirement to command the newly formed Legion of the United States. Wayne established the first basic training facility to prepare professional soldiers from regular army recruits.

Wayne mustered and trained a fighting force of 1,350 American soldiers and led them to the Northwest Territory (Ohio and Michigan) where they won a decisive victory against British forces and the Indian Confederacy at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, just south of modern-day Toledo, Ohio. The war ended and Major-General Wayne negotiated the Treaty of Greenville between the tribal confederacy and the United States signed on August 3, 1795.

Returning to Pennsylvania after the conflict, Wayne died from complications of gout on December 15, 1796. He was buried at Fort Presque Isle. His body was disinterred in 1809 at the request of his family--to be buried in a family plot. His bones make the journey to Radnor, Pennsylvania in saddlebags. For that grisly bit of history, consult the link below.

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Aerial View of Old Fort Wayne.

The star-shaped fort in Detroit, Michigan--which bears Anthony Wayne's name--began construction in 1842 at the Detroit River's narrowest point with Canada. Fear of a territorial war with British Canada prompted the fort's building. It was named to honor Major-General Wayne's defeat of the British at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. The victory resulted in the United States occupation of the Northwest Territories. Diplomats were able to settle territorial disputes, and the war with Canada never materialized. The new fort never fired a shot.

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Fort Wayne was first used by Michigan troops in 1861 at the outbreak of the Civil War. It became the primary induction center for Michigan troops for every field of American combat from the Civil War through Vietnam.

During World War II, every truck, Jeep, tank, tire, spare part, or war ordinance manufactured in Detroit went through the docks of Fort Wayne to the battlefronts. Also, Italian prisoners of war from the North Africa Campaign were housed at the fort. After Italy's surrender, Italian POWs were given the chance to return home. Many chose to settle in Detroit where there was an established Italian-American community and greater opportunities awaiting them.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Fort Wayne's grounds were open to assist and house homeless families. During the Cold War of the 1950s, Nike-Ajax missiles were installed to prepare for a nuclear war that never came. During the Detroit riots in 1967, the fort was again used to house displaced families, the last leaving in 1971.

Today, the Detroit Recreation Department operates the fort with the help of the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition, the Friends of Fort Wayne, and the Detroit Historical Society. The grounds are the home of the Tuskegee Airmen Museum, the Great Lakes Indian Museum, and historic Civil War reenactments. Special events are held throughout the year.

Fort Wayne was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1958 and entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. The State of Michigan wants to upgrade the property into a multi-use facility while maintaining the fort's historical significance. Once the new International Transport Bridge is built in old Delray, the United States customs plaza will be located near the historic site. More information on restoration plans can be found in the Detroit News link below.

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Bruce Wayne--Millionaire Industrialist
While researching this post, I discovered that Batman's alter ego--Bruce Wayne--was named after Scottish patriot Robert Bruce and "Mad" Anthony Wayne. In DC Comics, Bruce Wayne is said to be General Wayne's direct descendant, and stately Wayne Manor is built on ground given to General Wayne for his Revolutionary War service.

Another little known fact is that in 1930, stunt man and young actor Marion Michael Morrison was originally given the stage name of Anthony Wayne by director Raoul Walsh. Fox Studios changed his name to John Wayne because Anthony sounded too Italian.


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For more information on preservation plans for Historic Fort Wayne:
The story of General Anthony Wayne's exhumation may be more noteworthy than his military achievements. For more details, check out this link: http://www.americanrevolution.org/wayne.php

Thursday, October 12, 2017

What Is Madness Anyway? Simply a Personality Disorder?


My research into the minds of mass murderers and serial killers informs me that if a person feels he or she can take the lives of innocent people without guilt or remorse, that individual is incurably a psychopath and a permanent danger to society.

Extreme behaviors the average person might simply call insane, the legal and mental health communities call personality disorders representing a wide range of aberrant behaviors, but despite the euphemism they all spell grief and tragedy for the victims and the people who love them.

Mental illness is rampant in America. We see it in our families, in society at large, and on the nightly news. No sector of society is immune from it. To better recognize and understand what personality disorders are and how the mental health community categorizes them, I've attached a link from the National Mental Health Foundation. This is a national crisis.

http://www.nmha.org/go/information/get-info/personality-disorders