Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Following Elvis Presley to the end of the road in Florida

Follow That Dream Parkway leads to a boat ramp and beach on the Gulf of Mexico.
How many times have you wondered where a little side road went? Or spotted an arrow pointing the way to a small town with an intriguing name, and you thought you'd like to visit it someday?

It happens to me every time I take a road trip.

Recently my wife Bonnie and I drove to the tiny Florida Gulf-coast town of Matlacha so she could do an item for her blog FloridaRambler.com

Matlacha (pronounced mat-la-SHAY) has a fascinating history; supposedly it was "founded" by squatters who exploited a little-known aspect of the law to create a hard-scrabble fishing village in the 1920s. Today it's still a precious time-piece, preserved from the rampant development that has transformed much of the rest of the state.

Later we discovered, to our surprise, that the 1962 Elvis Presley movie "Follow That Dream" is based on the story of Matlacha.

Elvis followed his dream to a Florida side road in 1961.
Except, of course, that the movie had to be filmed in a place that was even less developed than Matlacha had become by 1962. The film makers chose a tiny community up the coast with the intriguing name "Yankeetown."

Thanksgiving week, finding ourselves once again on the Gulf Coast of Florida, I casually proposed taking a side trip to Yankeetown.

"There's nothing there," Bonnie replied. Subject closed. Almost.

Driving past on the highway I noticed that the road to Yankeetown is named "Follow That Dream Parkway." I couldn't resist.

I couldn't resist seeing where Follow That Dream Parkway led.
The next day, Bonnie squeezed a trip to Yankeetown into our schedule. I was glad she did.

We quickly found the bridge where Elvis and the rest of the cast set up their squatter's village in the movie. There IS only one bridge! The site is a bit more overgrown than the movie makers found it, but it's still vacant land.

You'll see this site — less overgrown — in the movie.
Not far beyond is, literally, the end of the road, where Follow That Dream Parkway plunges down a boat ramp into the Gulf of Mexico.

Mission accomplished.

If you can stand watching Elvis pout for 90 minutes, the movie treats you to Florida scenery that is still there.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12/02/2015

    Good story. Makes me want to get out the Road Atlas and see where this is. Maybe head out there next time I'm in Florida.


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