Historic Bank Robbery Comes To Life

Clovis Dry Creek Museum reenacts 90-year-old bank heist

Matt Vieira / The Collegian An outside look of Clovis Dry Creek Museum where bank robbery reenactment took place on Saturday, Feb. 22.

Matt Vieira / The Collegian
An outside look of Clovis Dry Creek Museum where a bank robbery reenactment took place on Saturday, Feb. 22.

By Roger Munoz

Two notorious criminals—Felix “The Lone Wolf” Sloper and Thomas “The Owl” Griffin robbed the Clovis First State Bank on Feb. 5, 1924.

For the past 10 years, the Clovis Dry Creek Museum has made it a tradition to reenact the infamous crime every February.

Museum President Peggy Bos, who wrote the 15-minute melodrama, said the reenactment has served as a great family experience over the years.

The melodrama performance chronicles the daring robbery and escape that garnered huge media attention.

“This building [Clovis Dry Creek Museum] was a bank in 1912,” Bos said.  “In 1924, the Owl and the Lone Wolf came in and they robbed us of $31,800.  No one was hurt, but they locked the cashier in the vault.  They ran out and threw tacks as they were pursued in their car out on Clovis Avenue.”

The museum still has the original vault from the bank robbery for audience members to go inside and see where cashier Thomas Howlson was tied up and thrown into by the two criminals.

The interactive performance on Feb. 22 allowed the audience to not only learn about the historical event, but also enjoy themselves in the process.

Bos encouraged the audience to cheer throughout the performance.

The Owl and the Lone Wolf were met with boos from the audience, but when it came to their capture, the audience roared in approval.

Jack Richie, a retired deputy sheriff, said that he and his wife were intrigued by the bank robbery story.

“We just like downtown Clovis and anything to do with it,” Richie said.  “The history of Clovis, we’re always into history.

Charldene Cluff, a fan of melodrama performances, said she enjoyed the production and the history it told.

“The show is fun to watch,” Cluff said. “It’s fun to see the actors getting into their performance when they’re getting into the old 1924 type of entertainment and they put on a good job.”

The crime ultimately didn’t pay off in the end as both the Owl and the Lone Wolf were captured.

“They were traced. One was found in Oakland and they brought him back with his girlfriend and they sent him to Folsom Prison,” Bos said.  “The other one was a bad dude. He went out and shot and killed a police officer.  So crime doesn’t pay off in Clovis because one of them died of pneumonia and the other one was hanged.”

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