EXPIRED: 09/08/09 – Emil Wanatka, 83, had fond memories of the resort he grew up in. Like when he’d play catch with paying guests, two of whom turned out to be Baby Face Nelson & John Dillinger and when the FBI came and there was a big shoot up!
Yeah, those were good times.
Dillinger, Nelson and three other gangsters fled the resort in the Little Bohemia section of in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin on the night of April 22, 1934, after the FBI, tipped off by Wanatka’s mother, descended in the darkness and fired at a car with three men, killing one of them. The men were bystanders who stopped at the lodge for dinner and happened to drive off just as the G-men arrived. Hearing the gunshots, Dillinger escaped out the back. He was gunned down in Chicago 3 months later.
About two decades ago, Wanatka sold the resort where souvenirs of the shootout such as Dillinger’s clothes and tooth powder were kept in a glass case and the windows and walls are still bullet-pocked. Filmmakers of the Johnny Depp movie “Public Enemies” spent a week at Little Bohemia in 2008 filming scenes of the shootout.
Wanatka lived long enough to meet Depp and watch the movie after selling the resort.
“We knew Johnny Depp was gong to be there,” said his wife, Janet Wanatka. “They wanted to interview my husband anyway, so we went down. We just waited around at the lodge, and he had the opportunity to talk to Johnny Depp. He really thought that was wonderful.”