Outlaws And Hideouts Revisited

Posted in games on September 27th, 2009 and tagged , , , , ,

All of this talk of hideouts and outlaws (see my previous post about Robber’s Cave) makes me think about a really fun card game we’ve recently discovered – it’s easy to become a Bandits junkie!

delete bandits

Bandits is a card game by Buffalo Games, and it’s fun for the entire family.  It accommodates 2-6 players and is recommended for ages 10+, but we’ve found that our 9-year-old daughter and her friends can learn it and play quite easily.

Basically, a player begins with a hand of six cards, and he has 3 options on his turn: start a gunfight, draw a card, or stash loot in his Hideaway.  Many shoot-outs and much thievery ensues until the deck runs out of cards, and players count their stash in their Hideaways to determine the winner.  Those are the basics – there are many other fun cards that offer various twists on the game play (double-crossing lawmen and outlaws, booby traps, backfires, to name a few), and I’m just skimming the surface of the game; you really should play to appreciate it.  I don’t know that I’ve ever played such a fun card game (I like Pit a lot, but it’s another type pf game altogether), and each game of Bandits is unique dependent upon the number of players – a 2-player game plays out much more differently than does a 4-player game.  I’d like to try it with 6 players, but we can never haul it out at game night since we always have more than 6 players.  However many players there are, Bandits is definitely worth playing and highly recommended by this game collector!

Lincoln Legends Part II – Robber’s Cave

Posted in History, Travel on September 26th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Living in Lincoln Nebraska was really cool; it was interesting to be in the western part of the midwest and away from the Great Lakes region – there are differences both in culture and in topography.  The story of Robber’s Cave in Lincoln interested me for a few reasons, but especially for the wild-west themes; sandstone bluffs, outlaw hideouts – ok, so I’ve eaten dinner at one of Al Capone’s old hideouts in the Chicago area which is now a steakhouse, but I was talking Jesse James-type outlaws…  Hmmm, interesting, old Lincoln had outlaws, and old Chicago had gangsters, there’s one comparison…

Back from the minor tangent and onto Robber’s Cave – the entrance is a now a sandstone bluff located behind a Subway restaurant.  We did get a chance to visit it and found it quite easily, but by 2002 when we were there, it had been sealed.  In the 1970’s, there was a little old lady who would open up Robber’s Cave for explorers who paid the admission fee.  You would then follow her down a small rickety staircase and be on your own to explore the cave.  I’ve read various reports on the internet about people who grew up on Lincoln and used to go down into the cave all the time –  one person even talks of having kids’ birthday parties down there!  There are tunnels, rooms, a well, and even a natural fireplace with a chimney!  There are also legends of western outlaws (like Jesse James, supposedly, though his presence at the cave hasn’t been proven) that used to use Robber’s Cave as a hideout to count their loot and evade law enforcement after robbing trains, stage coaches, etc.  Before the outlaws took over, it’s said that Native Americans used the cave for spiritual ceremonies.  Robber’s Cave also carries legends of being a stop on the Underground Railroad, an underground brewery, and a tunnel that connected the state penitentiary with the State Hospital for the Insane.  Hmm, that almost sounds TOO haunted to be true – supposedly patients and convicts would use the tunnels to escape.  Then again, when we were there, I did note the State Penitentiary within view of the entrance to Robber’s Cave.   And speaking of Nebraska’s death row, I’ll note that NE is the only state in the country to still have the electric chair as the exclusive means of carrying out the death penalty.

But anyway, Robber’s Cave is a neat place, steeped in many decades of history.  And the reason I’m bringing this up now?  Robber’s Cave is for sale! Well, at least the lot that includes the sealed entrance is for sale – I’m not sure if that then entitles the owner to free roam of all the caves or not if they continue onto other parcels underground.  If you’d like more details about the legends of Robber’s Cave, this is an interesting read.

Lincoln Legends

Posted in true crime on September 14th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Just in time for the Halloween season, as I mull over costume choices for myself and my two youngest, haunted places have come up in conversations recently.  These recent topics have reminded me of a few such places in Lincoln Nebraska…

Back when we were a little family with only one toddler, we lived in Lincoln for a year.  It was a great city – large yet rurally isolated and without the sprawling suburbs we had grown accustomed to after growing up in the Chicago area.  After a few months in Lincoln, I was charmed by the city and began reading up on local history, which is where I found out about the interesting stories of Charles Starkweather and Robber’s Cave.

delete charles-starkweather-and-carol-fugate(Caril Fugate and Charles Starkweather before the murder spree)

Charles Starkweather was a young, lower-class, James Dean wannabe who dated a younger girl named Caril Fugate in Lincoln in the 1950’s.  There is some debate about Caril’s role in the horrific events for which the pair is known, but Starkweather was convicted of the murders of 11 people in Nebraska and Wyoming during a 1958 eight-day-long murder spree.  Starkweather was executed by the state in 1959 at the age of 20, while Caril served some time and is now presumably living a quiet life.  I think it would be interesting to see an interview with the now 68-year-old Fugate, but like everyone else involved in the horror, she deserves her privacy and probably guards it.  So anyway, Starkweather is buried in a large, beautiful cemetery nestled amongst rolling hills in the heart of Lincoln called Wyuka Cemetery, and has the unusual (however macabre) distinction of being buried in the same cemetery as some of his victims.  Caril’s dilapidated house (where the first murders, those of her family, took place) no longer stands.  But Starkweather had a huge grudge against upper class folks, and the beautiful house of the Ward family, a wealthy couple who along with their maid fell victim to Starkweather’s massacre, still stands.  Also interesting are the many works of pop culture inspired by the rampage; movies such as Natural Born Killers (though this one is very loosely based), Badlands, and books: characters in both Stephen King’s The Stand as well as Outside Valentine are based upon Starkweather, Caril and some of the victims.  Interestingly, the author of Outside Valentine, Liza Ward, is the granddaughter of the wealthy couple that were victims of Starkweather in 1958.

So anyway, if you’re into that kind of thing, plenty to see in Lincoln based upon the Starkweather case alone, but that was actually a super-huge tangent that took me away from the original reason I wanted to write this post!  Guess I’ll save Robber’s Cave for my next post…