Friday, August 03, 2007

Weird Vacation Spot.

Every summer Penny and I take off with my family on a week long get away. This year we are heading to central Florida in the lakes region, Lake Weir in particular. You won't believe the history of the place we are going. Just think old lady gangster, thuggery, FBI. I would tell you more about it, but I just couldn't describe it as well as my sister does. From her post "Vacation Countdown":

This year the destination is Lake Weir in Oklawaha, Florida. Yes, it's another one of those funny names you find on signs all over the peninsula! Never heard of it? Well here's my chance, as a home school mom, to give you all a little history lesson!

During the Depression years when people were reeling from the disastrous stock market crash, gangs erupted. Not gangs like we know them today. I'm referring to the bank robbers and kidnappers of the "Bonnie & Clyde" era. One infamous gang in particular was the Barker-Karpis gang, headed up by Kate "Ma" Barker. She and her four sons terrorized the midwest up until the time when the FBI started clamping down and caught up with one of the sons, imprisoning him and scaring the rest of them into hiding. In 1934 Ma and her son Fred, as well as some of the other gang members, found a quaint little town in Florida that was an ideal place to disappear - or so they thought.

They rented a retreat in Oklawaha on Lake Weir, pretending to be vacationers enjoying a getaway. The FBI finally caught up with them and on January 16, 1935 when Ma Barker answered the tap on their front door, she was faced with an agent looking for Fred. She slammed the door and the struggle ensued!

Mother and son were home alone, but had an arsenal at their fingertips and were able to hold their own for hours. Eventually the large number of lawmen and no small amount of tear gas finally prevailed.

Upon entering the home, agents found Ma and Fred dead from "massive gunshot wounds" still holding their guns.

So the legend of "Ma Barker" is still strong in Oklawaha, and the house we're renting, just a stone's throw from the fugitives' famed hideaway!

Beat that for a vacation spot! So what is the most interesting place you have been for a vacation? Bizarre place? Scary place? Do tell!



At 8/03/2007, Blogger Bryon Mondok said...

Stuart, FL, was home to a gang like that. Go downtown to a restaurant called the Ashley. It used to be a bank that the Ashley gang robbed. They were gunned down up in Sebastian I think. Go to the Ashley in Stuart and get the details...

At 8/04/2007, Anonymous Victor Estrada said...

I love weird stuff like that!


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