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John Dillinger

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John Dillinger

 

BY Allan May and Marilyn Bardsley

 

Little Bohemia

 

 

Banks were having miserable public relations problems during the Depression. Many of them failed, sweeping away the life savings of millions of hard working people. Those that stayed in business foreclosed on people's homes, farms and businesses as the economy went from bad to worse.

So bank robbers were not particularly viewed as terrible criminals by the average American. There was even a touch of Robin Hood when bank robbers destroyed all of the mortgage records at the banks they hit. The daring daytime robberies and skillful getaways were glamorous and exciting, especially if the robbers were handsome, polite and photogenic.

And so, John Dillinger and Harry Pierpont, Baby Face Nelson and the rest of the Dillinger Gang were celebrities whose exploits were followed closely by a Depression-weary American public that followed their every adventure like a running television series.

Not everyone was entertained by America's new folk hero outlaws who sprang up during what would come to be known as the Mid-West Crime Wave. In Washington, D.C., J. Edgar Hoover and his fledgling Bureau of Investigation were outraged that American citizens had come to idolize the new breed of outlaw Dillinger, "Pretty Boy" Floyd, "Machine Gun" Kelly, Bonnie and Clyde and others and

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Scissors-32x32.png Read More http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/gangsters_outlaws/outlaws/dillinger/1.html

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When I was just a lad, my folks moved us from Chicago to Manitowish Waters Wisconsin where Little Bohemia Lodge was located, just off highway 51. We used to go there for dinner frequently and I remember my dad talking with Emil Wanatka and the stories they shared of the people that they both knew. My dad was a meat cutter at a Kroger store on the South Side and met many of the gangsters that came into the store to buy their meat from "Eddie", my dad.

 

Mr. Wanatka used to have a little museum in a small out building containing remnants of the shootout and subsequent escape of Dillinger and his gang. Newspaper articles, personal items that were left behind by the gang, receipts signed by Dillinger etc. It was open to the public and paid for by donations on the honor system in a jar inside the museum. I used to ride my bike out there to visit with Mr. Wanatka and visit the museum once or twice a week. He could really spin a tale, especially of the gangsters that frequented the lodge, so to a boy of 7 I was mezmerized by his stories and remember many of them to this day.

 

Unfortunately, things began disappearing from the museum and Mr. Wanatka was forced to close it in order to save what few historical items remained but he did keep them in a case in the tavern part of the lodge which also bears the scars and bullet holes inside the building and in the windows which he had covered in plexiglass.

 

John Dillinger, Machine Gun Kelly, Harry Pierpont and many other names have been a part of my life ever since.

 

I haven't been back to Little Bohemia for many years but I understand that it is pretty much the same as I remember it.

 

If you ever get a chance to visit the Northwoods of Wisconsin, be sure to visit Little Bohemia and take in a little bit of "gangster history".

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@Valin

 

Well, you can read our sil's book Family Secrets and see how the geriatric Chicago outfit/mob ends their days. These are the same guys the movie Casino was based on in their younger days.

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@Valin

 

Well, you can read our sil's book Family Secrets and see how the geriatric Chicago outfit/mob ends their days. These are the same guys the movie Casino was based on in their younger days.

 

Casino is a really good movie (I will say it could have been edited down /nit picking). It has the + of being pretty actuate (for a movie)

In it there is a character called The Senator played by Dick Smothers, three guesses who this person is in real life? (hint some people call him Dingy Harry)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7ZR8oyCJPg

 

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