Matlacha Goes Hollywood

The 1962 movie Follow That Dream, staring Elvis Presley, is based on the book Pioneer Go Home by Richard P Powel.  The novel is about a New Jersey family, The Kwimpers, who relocate to Columbiana, a fictional state that resembles Florida.  When their car runs out of gas they set up a shack alongside of the the highway, where a new bridge is being built, to await assistance.  When confronted by angry officials and treated poorly, Pop Kwimper decides that the family will settle on the side of the roadway permanently.  Pop learns of old squatting statutes in the state and determines that he has a legal right to occupy the land.

The novel is based on a true story.  After World War II, Powell moved to Fort Myers, Florida, where he learned that the state of Florida had just built a bridge to Pine Island, at Matlacha.  The fill dirt used to build the approach to the bridge, inadvertently created a tract of land that did not exist on maps.  A group of squatters moved onto the land, erecting shacks and starting small businesses, as portrayed in the novel.  Eventually the state granted property titles to the squatters.

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