I chose my first Dallas 100 activity to do on a whim, at brunch, on Father’s Day. It was a lovely (if not hot) day and that Bloody Mary I had with my meal incited me to get out and do something a bit different.
To be honest, I knew little about Bonnie and Clyde’s history upon venturing to their graves. I knew they were iconic gangsters, I knew they died young, and I knew there were buried somewhere in Dallas.
Cursory Googling led me first to Clyde’s grave, in Western Heights Cemetery. Off Fort Worth Avenue, it’s not far from the Belmont Hotel. I parked on a side street and was disappointed when I saw that the entrance gate was locked. Undeterred, I decided to hop the fence. I didn’t see any “No Trespassing” signs, so I assumed the cemetery was closed because it was a Sunday.
Brief pause in the narrative to describe the difference between a “cemetery” and “graveyard”: A graveyard is attached to a church, while a cemetery is completely independent. Thanks for that bit of knowledge, carriage rides in Charleston!
Western Heights Cemetery reminds me of a Dallas version of an old Charleston cemetery. Meaning: it’s quiet, overgrown, and charmingly timeworn. There are graves from the mid-1800s, which, for this town, is positively ancient. Though it’s surrounded by a somewhat transitional neighborhood in a big city, standing in the middle of the grounds, it’s really quite tranquil.
That is, it was tranquil until a man in a tan pickup truck pulled up to the curb and slowed to a stop. I was in the middle of the cemetery at this point, so I couldn’t hear what he was yelling, but I could see him gesturing to me. I assumed he was telling me to get out of there because the cemetery was closed on Sundays. I tried to play it cool, pretend I didn’t notice him, and kept towards the center of the cemetery. However, he kept slowly circling the perimeter of the grounds for a good ten minutes. It was disconcerting, to say the least. He finally gave up and drove off.
The next day, as I relayed my adventures to coworkers, I learned the man in the pickup truck may have had some unsavory intentions. “The cemetery off Fort Worth Avenue?” my coworker questioned. “You know that it’s locked because prostitutes used to conduct business there, right?”
After that unpleasantness, I found Clyde’s grave. It’s near the edge of cemetery; in a privileged place…under a billboard. It is a simple, unassuming grave, shared with his brother. I spent another 15 minutes looking for Bonnie, before realizing she’s buried separately from Clyde. Lesson learned: do your research more than 15 minutes before setting out, Paige.
Bonnie is buried in a newer cemetery, Crown Hill Memorial Park, off Webb Chapel. Driving in, I realized participating in this activity on Father’s Day was a poor choice. Unlike Clyde’s burial grounds, which were deserted and peaceful, Bonnie’s resting place was full of people honoring their fathers. The cemetery was thick with large groups and couples and individuals paying their respects. It was a sobering experience and made me all the more grateful for my Daddy.
Thanks to some Google sleuthing, it didn’t take me too long to find Bonnie’s grave. Hers has many more mementos than Clyde’s; the toy pistol, lip gloss, and handwritten note stood out to me.
All in all, I’d consider this a successful first “100 Things to Do in Dallas” activity, being mistaken for a prostitute notwithstanding. Here’s to 99 more Dallas adventures!
Western Heights Cemetery 1617 Fort Worth Ave, Dallas, TX
Crown Hill Memorial Park 9700 Webb Chapel Rd, Dallas, TX 75220
Posted: Monday, June 30th, 2014 @ 10:00 am
Categories: 100 Things to Do in Dallas.
Tags: 100 things to do in dallas, bonnie and clyde, bonnie parker, clyde barrow, crown hill memorial park, western heights cemetery.
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