Friday, May 22

Dropping the Hamer

By Art Cashin

On this day (+1) in 1934, a young couple laughed as they drove in the early morning daylight near Arcadia, Louisiana. They had just picked up something to eat and were munching and laughing as they sped through the brightening sunrise. As they pulled around a curve, they were met by a surprise.

The surprise was delivered by a Texas Ranger named Frank Hamer and a group of Louisiana troopers and local cops. Their method of delivery was 10 shotguns, 5 Thompson sub machine guns, and 2 Browning Automatic rifles. A bit much for some post-prom sportsters you might think.

Well it wasn't "post-prom" and the "sportsters" in the car were a couple named Bonnie and Clyde. And, fearing that there might be a video-cam van behind the fugitives….Ranger Hamer ordered his boys to open fire rather than stop, debate or beat the occupants of the car. So they proceeded to pump over 160 bullets into said car. Many apparently struck the car's occupants….Bonnie's corpse was said to have half an uneaten sandwich in its mouth.

When word that Hamer and his crew had killed the famous "Bonnie & Clyde" began to filter out, crowds from the area rushed to the scene. Of course, they were better behaved than today's ruffians. These folks simply began by tearing off the bumper, headlights and fenders of the bullet-riddled car. As the car was stripped, the souvenir seekers got more aggressive....some began to cut off locks of Bonnie's hair....finally someone tried to amputate Clyde's "trigger finger" as a trophy. That was a bit too much even for these cops and they closed off the area.

But if Bonnie and Clyde lacked of sympathy at the site of their death; they also lacked sympathy even among their supposed peers. John Dillinger, rather famous in his own right, hearing of the ambush of Bonnie and Clyde was reported to say --- "Hell, they were just kill-crazy punks and clodhoppers. They gave us decent bank robbers a bad name!"

What a shame Dillinger never lived to see what a well lobbied Congress would do to the Bailouts of 2008/2009. By them - Dillinger was a dilettante!!

Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.

Saturday, May 16

Lucille and the Blues Boy

image = picshark
By Grant Davies

On this day (-2) one of the most iconic figures of our time passed into history.

This story is about his love affairs. He had many, and they gave him the blues. In fact, he had a love affair with the blues. If none of this makes sense, just stick with me, I'll do my best to further confuse you.

His name was Riley B. King (nickname - The Blues Boy) and the longest affair he had was with his beloved Lucille. He fell in love with her even before she had a name. He actually named her himself. He did so right after he ran into a burning building to save her from the flames. At least that's the legend, and like much of the stuff on this site, it's probably true.

Lucille was named after a girl who, one evening in a dance hall, was the object of admiration of several suitors. So enamored of her were these two men that they took to fighting over her. Such rash behavior rarely ends well and this time was no exception. During the melee a barrel of fuel was knocked over and the resulting conflagration set the stage for Riley's courageous rescue.

He ran into the building, grabbed his guitar, and successfully retreated. Guitar? What about the girl and the combatants? Um,,I don't know. It's said that she made it out, but the two men didn't.

Anyway, he said he named the guitar Lucille to remind himself not to fight over women or run into any burning buildings. Lucille (the guitar, not the girl) became famous when he became famous. And he called every guitar he ever owned by the same name after that.

By now you have figured out that the Blues Boy's nickname was shortened to B.B. and he is known to music fans everywhere as B.B. King. Seems like he did pretty well for a guy who started out working in a cotton field in Mississippi.

Other than his love of Lucille and the blues genre, he loved performing. He averaged about 200 concerts per year well into his 70s and was performing regularly until last October when his health finally caught up to him. He also loved Frank Sinatra who he said opened the Vegas entertainment doors for black musicians. He claimed that he went to sleep every night to Sinatra's song, "The Wee Small Hours of the Morning."

To celebrate his life and music, stop down at the "Dance Hall Blues Club" and stay until the wee hours. And be sure to buy a drink for any girl named Lucille. But if she asks how you are doing, tell her that ever since B.B. died, the thrill is gone.

Much of the information for this story was gleaned from an article by Spencer Kornhaber in the Atlantic Magazine. The rest was gathered from a Wikipedia entry.  The inspiration for writing it was provided by a sometime reader of Cheeky History, Veronica Then.
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