The Snack Shack Stories:
The Snack Shack was owned by Vernon and Opal Walburn from the 1920ís to the early 1950ís. It was a restaurant that sold "fast food" (in the days before McDonaldís) of hamburgers and ice cream and "ice cold soda pop." There was a beach located in front of the Shack; that was part of the property. There were diving boards at the beach, as well as a toboggan slide. The slide was enormous; it extended above the roof of the Shack. The slider would climb two flights of stairs and slide down the slide on a toboggan. They would shoot out in the middle of Big Barbee Lake. The dance hall was always crowded with local teenagers and young adults, and sometimes movies were shown there, free of charge. The Shack was located across the street and down the lane from the Tumble Inn. According to P.V. Sheridan, Betty worked at the Shack from about 1929 until it closed in about 1969. Today, the area is filled with trailers, with a private beach at the end of the lane where the Shack used to be located.
The Shack was sold by Vernon Walburn in the early 1950ís. There are a couple of variations on the story of why this happened. "Snack Shack sold because of diving board accident" is P.V.ís variation. In this variation, the Shack was closed because a boy diving in too shallow of water. He broke his neck and was paralyzed. His family sued, therefore forcing the Shack to be closed. Betty has a similar story, except in hers, a girl fell off the slide instead of the diving board. Bob Sheridan has a different, more dramatic version of the story. In his story, "Ghost of accident victim still haunts Snack Shack site," he claims that a girl fell off the slide, broke her neck, and died. The slide was torn down, but the people who lived in the cottages next to the Shack "would sometimes hear a "sled going down the slide (which they didnít even know existed), and a scream . . ." This story contains several folklore motifs. It suggests "Ghost reenacts scene from own lifetime" (E337), and more specifically, motifs found in a New York collection of stories: "Reenactment of a tragedy seen" (E337.2), and "Sounds of accident reenact tragedy" (E337.1.2). Two more motifs in this story are "Ghost of person who died in fall or act of jumping" (E334.2.2), and "Ghost haunts place of great accident or misfortune" (275) which are found in stories collected in the United States and England.
Famous (and Infamous) Visitors to the Barbee Lakes Area:
Back in the 1920ís, stories were everywhere about gangsters and the mob. Betty recalls a few stories about some of these gangsters. She claims that her father rented a lake cottage to the infamous John Dillinger. John Dillinger was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and he became infamous for the all of the crimes, robberies, and murders he committed. In September 1933, he and members of his gang (including Harry Pierpont) escaped from prison in the largest prison break in Indiana history ("John Dillinger"). Stories about him are told all over Indiana. In Bettyís story, Vernon Walburn rented Dillinger and a few of his gang members a lake cottage one summer. Betty also remembers being scared that other gangsters of the time, Al Capone, "Pretty Boy" Floyd, and Bonnie and Clyde would visit Barbee Lakes.
Famous actors and musical groups visited Barbee Lakes. Actors Clark Gable and Carole Lombard rented a cottage there. Hoosier Hotshots, a popular jug band of the time, sang there. The famous song writer Hoagy Carmichael also sang at the lakes. Ella Fitzgerald and Perry Como also performed in the Barbee Lakes area.
The Barbee Hotel was a popular hangout at the time. Bob tells a story about it being haunted by the ghost of an unfaithful girlfriend murdered by her boyfriend. Bob claims that patrons of the Barbee Hotel can hear her spirit moaning at night. This motif "Ghost moans" (E402.1.1.2) is from the United States.
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