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Temple murder cited in Bonnie, Clyde book

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Just when you thought the world has published more than enough books about Depression-era psychopaths Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, along comes a new book, "On The Trail Of Bonnie and Clyde."

The book was researched and edited by English historian Winston Ramsey, who takes a long overdue approach Bonnie and Clyde's larcenous and murderous biography: the book is written largely from the viewpoint of Bonnie and Clyde's victims.

The murder of Doyle Johnson in Temple on Christmas Day in 1932 is given five pages in the book.

Johnson was one of several honest and hard-working men and women left dead in the wake of Bonnie and Clyde's robbing and killing sprees. Heretofore, the victims were mere footnotes to Bonnie and Clyde's bloodstained history.

Even with all the territory covered by this book, no mention is made of the fact that the Barrow gang in 1932 robbed the Buckholts State Bank, nor that the same bank was robbed 48 years later in a similar manner.

One man, Leo Fuchs, witnessed both robberies. He was a teller when the Barrow gang made its unauthorized withdrawal. In 1980, he was 75 years old and the bank's chairman of the board.

No one was injured but no one was arrested for the crime either. Life soon returned to normal in the small Milam County town.

Life returned to normal for the Barrow gang too; they went on robbing banks and killing people. Law enforcement officers were most often the targets, but not always.

Doyle Johnson, a 27-year old employee of Strasburger Grocery, was gunned down in front of his house on South 13th on Christmas Day, 1932, trying to prevent Clyde Barrow and an accomplice from stealing his Ford Roadster.

Ramsey researched Doyle Johnson's murder last year at the Temple library and at Hillcrest Cemetery, where Johnson is buried. Hillcrest caretaker and local historian Patty Benoit shared cemetery records with Ramsey and showed him Johnson's grave.

"He was very thorough," Ms. Benoit said of Ramsey.

The Buckholts robbery lacked the required blood-and-gore usually required of most Bonnie and Clyde histories and movies.

The murder in Temple puts the characters -- murderers and victims -- in a more proper perspective. That it happened on Christmas Day -- a day of giving and sharing -- is gruesomely ironic.

Family members first spotted Johnson's roadster being taken on that fateful Christmas afternoon while Doyle Johnson was taking a nap. They created enough of a ruckus to rouse Johnson from his nap. He ran to the car as it was being driven away and is believed to have jumped on the car's running board in an attempt to stop the robbery by choking Barrow.

At least two shots were fired from inside the car. One of the shots hit Johnson in the neck and killed him.

W.D. Jones, a member of the Barrow gang, recounted the story a number of times, but details of the story changed each time. It appears now that Jones himself probably fired the fatal shot, but his testimonies always insisted Barrow was the gunman.

The Buckholts robbery also took place in 1932. "Of course, that was back in the Depression and everybody was desperate back then," Fuchs said.

Fuchs and three other bank employees were locked in the bank vault as the thieves took $3,000 in cash and $1,000 in travelers' checks.

The robbers hadn't bothered to lock the vault, so the employees walked out as soon as the perpetrators were gone. Still, they were not caught.

In April 1980, the Buckholts bank was robbed again. This time the employees were put in the bathroom and left there while a lone robber made his getaway. Chairs were placed in front of the doors, like that would keep the employees from getting out.

In the aftermath of the second robbery, Fuchs said one bank robbery every 48 years was enough.

Not everybody agreed.

The bank was robbed again in June 1987.