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Famous Visitors


Famous (and Infamous) Visitors to the Barbee Lakes Area


"Clark Gable and Carole Lombard visit Barbee Lake"
We were a little bit bigger than anyone else, we thought, because when Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were there—we didn’t even care. That’s the truth. The area where they lived has just got famous in the last few years because they were there, but we didn’t care. Uncle Rex used to play cards with Carole Lombard’s uncle all the time. They lived in a log cabin by the Barbee Hotel. Carole Lombard was from Fort Wayne.

"Hoosier Hotshots sing at grocery stores"
There were two grocery stores down the street: The Answer was on one side, and The Question Mark was right across the street. The Hoosier Hotshots—you probably have never heard of them but they were pretty popular at one time—used to sing in front of the grocery stores, they were a barbershop quartet. The Hoosier Hotshots went into the movies, and they were friends of ours. They were once in a movie with Red Skelton. They sang, well, sort of country and western music—cruddy music I thought.

"Hoagy Carmichael performs at Wawasee"
Betty:  Ted Weems used to come to Tippe [nearby lake], and Perry Como sang with him. Ella Fitzgerald—I saw her at Wawasee. Boy, she was good. She sang normal, then, and she really could sing. And who else did I see—oh Hoagy Carmichael. We didn’t have enough money to see him, so we stood outside the Wawasee dance hall and looked in the windows. This guy came by, and he said "What are you looking at?" and we said "Hoagy Carmichael." And that was Hoagy Carmichael we were talking to. He was a really nice man.

Gangsters at the lakes?

"Gangsters visit Barbee Lake"
Betty Sheridan:  Al Capone and John Dillinger were all there. Like I told you, the cottage was padlocked for one whole summer because John Dillinger and his gang stayed there. It was around 1928 or ’29.
P.V. Sheridan: Was "Pretty Boy" Floyd there?
Betty: They all were, P.V. The ones that Donald Jean and your grandma [Opal] worried about the most were Bonnie and Clyde. We thought they would come because all the rest of them came. We figured they would come and just shoot us. We were scared to death to get out of the house. And that’s no lie; that’s true!

"John Dillinger’s gang members rent lake cottages"
Betty Sheridan: 
Did you know about John Dillinger? He was at the lakes a lot. When we owned cottages at the lakes, my mom rented cottages to three of John Dillinger’s gang. One was named Marley or Modley, * I’m not sure which, and Pierpont, and the other one I don’t know. And the sheriff came out and got them. We had to have our cottage padlocked for the rest of the summer because of that. It was around the years when John Dillinger was running around. You see, John Dillinger escaped from jail up at the lakes; he escaped from Warsaw jail and then he came to North Webster and knocked out the doctor up there. He had a head injury, and the doctor helped him, and Dillinger knocked him out.
* One of Dillinger's gang members was named "Makely;" perhaps this is the one referred to in this story.

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Sunday, June 24, 2001