The Thompson Car Heist

Barrow helps himself to another car
A black 1934 Pontaic 4-door Sedan

Clyde Barrow had stolen George Thompson's car from the driveway in front of his
home on Walnut Street in Springfield, Missouri. Barrow was spotted rolling the car
down the long sloping driveway, with plans to start it up after being out of earshot.
George's son happened to look outside, saw the car rolling away, and called his dad.
George had hurried outside and spotted the theft - in progress. Later, he was able to
identify Barrow through photographs. Milton B. Thompson, is still around today, and
is now "Chairman of the Board" at Thompson Sales. He had previously been sitting in
the car, listening to the radio, and when he was finished, had inadvertantly left
the keys in the ignition. The Pontiac was later recovered near Galena, Missouri,
with no apparent damage to it and it was then sold to a retail customer.

Thompson Residence - today
1304 East Walnut Street (1933 address)

Photo above, shows the Thompson residence from which Barrow had heisted
the Thompson car. On the west side of the house, is a long, sloping driveway.
Today, this neighborhood is in an "Historic District", so, unlike, back in
the 1930's, a modern "residential security" system is now in force there!

Story, as told by Milton B. Thompson

Mr. Thompson said that the car was a Black 1934 Pontaic 4-door Sedan, and that,
he (Milton), was seven at the time and in the second grade. George Thompson Sr.
had picked his sons, George II and Milton at Greenwood, a private school, and 
arrived at the home for lunch. Dad had told young Milt, "bring in the keys." but
Milt wanted to listen to the radio and forgot. He said he couldn't remember if his
father or his mother had gone down to look at mugshots, but he said the Highway
Patrol came out that night with photos and Mr. Thompson recognized the picture
of Clyde. The Highway Patrol said, they (Barrow Gang) had just robbed the Humansville
Bank and that he was lucky he stopped in the driveway when he did. Mr. Thompson said
the car rolled down the driveway, across Walnut St., and then into the driveway of
the neighbor across the street. Then Clyde "thumbed his nose" at George and drove off.
Milton said they got the car back three days later. He said the car was overheated,
but there was no damage, whatsoever to it. Milton said his mother told him they
had sold the car to a Matt Prater, William Prater's dad.

Robert Gibbons had talked to Prater family members, Dr. Thomas Prater and William Prater.
Here's their story - Matt Prater was a traveling salesman for Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals
and Biologicals Company where he was a pharmacist. He (Matt Prater) had bought Pontaics
for use in his sales business. William Prater was 10 years old in 1934 and was in the
4th grade. He said that his father had bought the black 1934 Pontaic sedan, that Bonnie
and Clyde had stolen from George Thompson's driveway. They were not aware at the time,
of the "test drive" Clyde Barrow had given it, before Thompson cleaned it up and sold
it, as "new". Only later, did they learn the story behind the car's history. William Prater
is a couple of years older than Milton Thompson, who had left the keys in the car in the
Thompson driveway, making it simple for Clyde to let off the brake and coast down the
long driveway to Walnut Street, before taking off with the car. Dr. Thomas Prater,
William Prater's son, seemed to know more about the incident, probably hearing the
story from the Thompson boys. The car was traded in after being used by Matt Prater
in his sales business.
Robert Gibbons contributor

Hideout Note

Several photos, do exist, showing Clyde Barrow and his associates, posing
in front of a 1934 Pontiac Sedan. Although research into this Pontiac
is still ongoing, Clyde was known to have had a 1934 Pontiac Sedan
(link below) even if not Mr. Thompson's 1934 Pontiac Sedan.

The Barrow Gang's Pontiac Sedan photo

Brief news Clipping

The Thompsons' owned a Pontiac/Cadillac car dealership in Springfield at the time