After we pulled out of Melbourne Beach on Saturday, we stopped in Summerfield (near Ocala) to see Diana’s brother, our niece, and her children. We also were able to meet our niece’s new boyfriend and his son. Sunday was spent at Carney Island Park on Lake Weir, which was absolutely beautiful! We were so busy talking and watching the kids, we failed to take photos. And get ready for this shocker; I went swimming in an inland body of water in Florida. Never thought I’d ever do that. 😉 Back on the beach, I mentioned to our niece Danielle that I try to incorporate the history of a place we visit when I write about it. We chuckled that even Lake Weir probably had something interesting that had happened there. Well, that turned out to be an understatement! I did a little research after we left. Turns out that in the 1920’s and 30’s…during the Al Capone days in the Midwest…there was a family known as the Barker Gang. They hailed from Missouri, had moved up to St. Paul, Minnesota and proceeded to carry out numerous major crimes. Heading up the family was a tough gal named Ma Barker. J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, described her back then as “the most vicious, dangerous and resourceful criminal brain of the last decade”. When the law started closing in on them, they found their way to Florida and a house on Lake Weir. In correspondence to one of her sons, Ma mentioned a legendary alligator nicknamed Gator Joe that lived in the lake. The FBI found the letter on the son when they arrested him, and soon found Ma’s hideout. They surrounded the house and ordered them to surrender. Turns out that only Ma and another son were there. A four hour long shootout ensued, which resulted in Ma and her boy’s demise. Supposedly the locals showed up to watch the melee, even going as far as having picnics while it happened. And this all took place just up the shore from where Danielle and I wondered about the lake’s history. And..wait a minute. Gator Joe? I was swimming in that water!
Monday morning saw us heading for Tallahassee. Our destination for the day was the Tallahassee Automobile and Collectables Museum.
This facility, located at the junction of I-10 and US-90, is a member of Harvest Hosts. We got there early enough to visit the museum before their 5 PM closing. There were severe weather warnings for the evening, so we set up before we went inside.
With well over 100 cars, this place was an automotive collector’s dream.
That wasn’t all they had. Boat motors, dolls, Steinway pianos, Case knives, brass-blade fans…you name it.
This 1934 Ford school bus was in amazing shape.
They even had a Divco milk truck, which I remember from Twin Pines Dairy in Detroit when I was young. It turns out there were only 221 ever built.
And remember the Batmobile from the 1960’s Batman TV series? They had that too, along with some of the cars from the newer movies.
With that all being said, there were a number of things that bothered me about this museum. I personally thought that even though it had a lot of great items, there was a certain cheesiness to it. Sometimes less is more, if you catch my drift. They also wear their politics on their sleeve, which is evident as soon as you start the tour. No matter what side of the aisle you are on, I’ve never felt it to be a good business practice. There were racially demeaning mannequins, which we found odd. But the biggest turnoff was the KKK display case near the office. It really had no place here. This is obviously one man’s collectibles and not a historical museum, so I question the motive of the display. We will leave it up to you to decide if this is a place that you want to drop $17 ($30 for two).
So on to more positive things! The storm ended up being a long, summertime thundershower, complete with plenty of rain and chain lightning. We pulled up our jacks Tuesday morning and headed west from Tallahassee across Florida’s panhandle. Driving along Interstate 10, we were reminded just how big Florida really is.
It took us four hours to reach the western border! When we finally got there, we were greeted with this beautiful sign, which we thought was very nice. We enjoyed our stay in the Sunshine State and we look forward to our return. Next up, a two night stay in Mobile, Alabama. Stay tuned to see what vistas we explore there!
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