Few have ever seen the blood-caked glasses belonging to Bonnie Parker. The grim keepsake, taken off the gangster from West Dallas the day she and Clyde Barrow were ambushed on a Louisiana road in May 1934, have long belonged to faraway guardian collectors, passed down through an unlikely chain of ownership. Never auctioned, never publicly displayed, Bonnie Parker’s glasses weren’t even believed to be authentic until a few years ago.
The story goes that after Bonnie Parker, the next owner of the glasses was Sheriff Thomas R. Hughes of Caddo Parish, Louisiana. Caddo Parish includes the Shreveport area of the state, which is located approximately 50 miles from the ambush site. How Sheriff Hughes obtained them, I’m not sure is known. In 1938 Sheriff Hughes was said to have presented the glasses to Art Olson of East Tulsa, Oklahoma. To my knowledge, what connection these 2 men shared is also a mystery. There was also an intermediary noted within that transaction named Cecil Harberson. Mr. Olson was then said to have given Bonnie Parker’s glasses to a man named D. A. Bryce. Upon the death of Bryce, his niece in settling his estate– returned the glasses to A. O. Olson in 1976. The current owner of the glasses is a man from Massachusetts known as Steve E. At least one photo of Bonnie’s Death Glasses, depicts the glasses within a case from the Southern Optical Company– which if this case was found along with the glasses, may well indicate these to have been prescription eyeglasses.
Interestingly– Clyde’s sunglasses were most conspicuously noted at the time of the ambush, and can be seen still dangling from his face both when Clyde was removed from the Warren car– and also when photographed upon 1st being displayed in Congers. Mention of Clyde’s sunglasses, is also written of within Professor Carroll Rich’s Bonnie & Clyde accounts. There are also accounts known of Bonnie having had a road map in her lap when killed. If so, then glasses would make perfect sense with which to read the fine print of that road map.
A close examination of Bonnie Parker’s glasses shows perhaps a small crack within the right lens– but otherwise sans the obvious blood present along with a missing nose guard– these glasses seem in remarkably good shape for the number of shots Bonnie took to the head. Whether or not they were still resting upon Bonnie’s face when the shooting stopped, or found later within the car and by whom would be interesting to know– as no clear image of Bonnie’s face in death, seems to exist prior to those taken at Congers.