Monday, May 6, 2013


4/22/1934 - Alerted that lawmen are outside by the Federals mistaken shooting of Morris, Hoffman, and Boiseneau, the Dillinger Gang almost instantly springs into action ... Van Meter, Dillinger, and Hamilton follow the agreed to plan, firing their pistols and a machine gun at the movement and shadows at the front of the lodge from the second floor, then exiting the back of the lodge via an upstairs window, crawling along the roof, and jumping down into a three foot tall embankment of snow.  Once down, the men make their way to the lake, then turn right, following the lake shore away from the lodge.  Carroll, in the cabin he is sharing with Nelson, also makes his exit down to the lake and flees right.  

Dine, Dance, Swim ... and SHOOTING!

As usual, only Baby Face Nelson doesn't stick to the plan ... either from not paying attention when escape was discussed on Friday due to boredom, or anger with Dillinger's room assignment, or just because his blood is up and he enjoys a good fight, Nelson comes out of his cabin, and with his automatic pistol spewing bullets about in the darkness, engages in a shootout first with Purvis, and then with Inspector William Rorer ... in the melee no one is hit, but it isn't for want of trying.  Finally realizing he is alone and totally outgunned, the crazed gunman enters his cabin, grabs more ammo, and exits the back of the unit and makes his way down to the lake ... but turns left instead of right, a decision that will have fatal consequences.


And of course, as the chaos is breaking out around the lodge, Reilly and Cherrington show up again to finally marry up with the gang, but are instead met by the two agents at the car blockade closing the road into and out of the property.  Ordered to step out of his vehicle and identify himself, the gopher goes gangster and foolishly does just the opposite; throwing the car into reverse, killing the headlights, hitting a tree and then backing down the road at high speed as his Ford is hit by a load of buckshot that shatters the front window and almost takes off Cherrington's head (she escapes with only a glass cut to the forehead ... and a fractured left shoulder when Reilly's violent maneuvering temporarily flings her out of the car), and by a rifle bullet that flatten's the right rear tire.  Shaking with nerves at the close call, Reilly drives on the rim of his flat tire all the way to the nearby town of Mercer where new rubber is acquired, along with a full tank of gas ... in an evening filled with mistakes, there is no pursuit by any of the Federals at the lodge. Off again after a thirty minute wait, the pair's driving adventure is not quite over though ... later in the night the Ford will become bogged down in a washed out road and have to be pulled out of the mud by a local farmer's tractor.  Finally back in St. Paul late the next night, scared straight, after dropping Cherrington off at her apartment, the twenty-seven-year-old bartender will return to his home and tell his anxious wife that he wants nothing further to do with the Dillinger Gang.

The Lodge

Not realizing their prey has flown the coop, thanks to the shooting out front and the Federals inability to completely encircle the lodge because of a ditch and a barbed-wire fence on the property, and the embankment behind the structure accessing the lake, Purvis and Clegg have their men pound Emil Wanatka's business off-and-on with machine gun blasts, shotgun pellets, rifle bullets, and tear-gas canisters into the early morning hours of the next day (despite repeatedly being told all the outlaws have fled), when the extent of the fiasco that has taken place begins to become evident.  At dawn, when the lodge is again attacked with bullets and chemical fumes, the building's occupants finally surrender to the Federal authorities and into custody go Helen Gillis (Nelson's wife), Marie Conforti (Van Meter's girl), Jean Delaney Crompton (the paramour of Carroll), and Conforti's puppy, Rex (the Feds also take possession of an assortment of clothes, a .45 automatic located in Nelson's cabin, a .351 Winchester rifle found under Dillinger's bed, and in Carroll's Buick and Hamilton's Ford, six sub-machine guns, four pistols, two shotguns, two revolvers, a rifle, five bulletproof vests, and lots and lots of ammo).  Not surprisingly, Hoover is livid when the news is received in Washington D.C. 

The Little Bohemia Lodge
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The Captured Females

One more Houdini moment for Dillinger's criminal resume, after making his way to the Little Star Lake behind the lodge, and reuniting with Hamilton and Van Meter, the trio of outlaws make their way across U.S. 51 to the edge of Rest Lake and the home of seventy-year-old Mr. Edward J. Mitchell and his ill wife, a journey of about a mile.  "I'm Dillinger.  The government is after me and I need your car," Public Enemy #1 tells the couple as he forces his way into the house behind Hamilton's request for a glass of water, tears out the phone, and then to show he isn't all bad, drapes a blanket over the shoulders of the flu suffering Mrs. Mitchell, telling the old lady he just wants to be on his way and will do her no harm. Unfortunately for the outlaws though, the Mitchell's Model T has spent all winter on blocks and can't be used, and the vehicle of their German handyman (a former pilot of WWI), a Model A truck, won't start.  Desperate for a car to leave the region, the bandits run with their third choice of transportation, a small, dark green 1930 Model-A V4 Ford coupe parked in front of a cabin a hundred feet away, the property of a young carpenter named Robert Johnson. Rousted from his sleep, a still yawning Johnson, wearing bedroom slippers, is forced to slowly drive the bandits out of the area (odd man out, Hamilton has to shiver in the frosty rumble seat of the vehicle) ... a journey of fifty rough miles on dark country roads that includes a stop in the town of Springstead for ten dollars worth of gas.  Finally, at around midnight, the men give their reluctant guest seven dollars and leave Johnson about three miles from the Pixley power station (it will take him about an hour to reach a phone and notify authorities about the theft of his car), then with Hamilton now inside the warmth of the vehicle, and Van Meter driving, the group vanishes into the night, south down Wisconsin Route 13.  
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Slow Escape

Only a few minutes behind his friends, Carroll never catches up with Dillinger and company.  Arriving at the Mitchell property, he does not like all the activity he sees, and keeping to the trees along the main road, the outlaw continues north to Manitowish Waters. There, at the Northern Lights Resort on the southwest tip of Rice Lake, he hot wires a Packard sedan belonging to Henry Kuhnert and heads out for the refuge of St. Paul, Minnesota (it will not be an uneventful journey though ... turning right at a fork on the road to Mercer, Carroll drives up a dead-end lumber road, has to abandon the sedan when it breaks down, and hoofing with his thumb out, eventually hitchhikes his way back home the next day).

Carroll, Dillinger, Hamilton, and Van Meter are now all vacating the area in stolen automobiles, with only Baby Face Nelson still afoot.  It is a little after 10:00 in the evening and the maniacal gunman is not happy about his situation at all!   


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