The Mystery of the Bathing Beauty

Tommylyle Swope
It all started with a photograph – a photo that hung in the hallway that led to the French Lick Springs Hotel’s indoor swimming pool. As a guest walked past one day, she recognized that it was her mother in the photo – albeit, a much younger version.
Guest Cindy Whitledge approached the Front Desk to learn more about the picture.

Cindy Whitledge
“A cousin told me that he thought he saw a picture of mom hanging in one of the hallway but he wasn’t sure,” Cindy said. “I had to come and see, and there wasn’t any 'not sure' about it – it was mom! I was just amazed – what a beauty. And she never told us anything about being a model. That’s a part she kept quiet about.”

When Cindy returned home to southern Indiana, she phoned her mom who lives in Nevada and questioned her about the picture; did she remember it? “No! I had to describe where she was and the pose before she remembered that it was for a contest she won with DeJonge’s Department Store in Evansville. She was 17 at the time, so it was around 1953. She received a trip to French Lick to pose for swimsuit photos, and then lunch – in Evansville,” Cindy laughed.

Tommylyle's Wedding Photo
But this photo excursion wasn’t Tommylyle’s only visit to the resort – far from it.  ”Mom and my step-father would come here and meet friends all the time. They were always out having fun. If it wasn’t something they’d started, they’d see a group having a good time and join in with them. Her and Diz, my step-father (Laforrest Dizotell), were passionate about Indiana University games –football, basketball – it didn’t matter. And when the games were blacked out at home, they would drive over here to see them.”

Tommylyle Swope Dizotell
Cindy and her mom are still close, although Tommylyle now lives in Nevada with her two other daughters. Mother and daughter used to travel the country together playing in national bowling tourneys. Cindy remembers her step-father outfitting a van so her mom and her friends could travel in comfort. “It had bunk beds, a card table, and lots of girly stuff –hair dryers, makeup, long formal gowns for dinner,” Cindy remembered. “It was always a fun road-trip for them.”

Cindy decided to surprise her mom with a copy of the photo for her upcoming birthday, and what better place to do it than at the place where it all happened. So this weekend they will be celebrating Tommylyle's 80th birthday at the hotel were she once posed for an iconc pool shot back in the '50s.

Happy 80th Birthday to  the Bathing Beauty.

By Joy Neighbors

Check out the visit and interview with Tommylyle Dizotell