Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Twins Celebrate 80th Birthday at French Lick Resort


Jan Craig and Ann Wright
Last weekend about a dozen guests threw a spectacular birthday party for twin sisters Jan Craig and Ann Wright as they celebrated their 80th birthday at French Lick Resort.

On January 11, 1937 at St Edwards Catholic Hospital in New Albany Indiana, the twins were born during the 1937 flood. The Main girls, and their mother, were evacuated from the hospital and moved to a relative’s home in Fredericksburg where they stayed for several weeks. (Over one million people were left homeless during the flood with property losses reaching $500 million - $8.7 billion dollars today.)

Flood in Indiana - Filson Historical Photo
According to the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, “In January 1937 one of the largest floods in American history inundated the Ohio River Valley.  Many cities and towns on the Ohio and its tributaries were affected. Louisville and Southern Indiana were among those most devastated.  Torrential rain together with some sleet and freezing rain fell from January 9 to January 23, raising the Ohio River to its highest recorded level.  On January 23 the river at Louisville crested at 51.1 feet, and eventually reached 57.15 feet above flood stage on the upper gauge.”

Jazz Festival
Jan still lives in New Albany, Indiana but Ann now resides in Houston, Texas where she is a nursing director. Both twins remembered the first time they were at the resort. According to Jan, “We attended a jazz concert when we were I.U. students. Dizzy Gillespie and Peter Fountain played and we sat out on the lawn and listened. It was great! Then I came back about two years ago and celebrated my birthday here.”

Dancing Waiter
For Ann, “It was long before the renovations were done. I came with friends and we had a spa and massage. It was a great day away. It was back when the waiters put the trays on their heads – they had such showmanship.”

But coming to French Lick Resort has always been something of a family tradition. “Mom has been coming here for a very long time, since she was about 5-years-old,” Jan said. “Her family drove over from New Albany on Sunday outings. She remembers seeing people sitting on the porch and being told that they were wealthy movie stars.”

1950 Silver Dollar
Ann continued the story, “When our parents came here years ago, they would always tip their servers a silver dollar. Everyone knew them. When mom came back about 10 years ago, she met some of people who had worked here back in the 1950s. She remembered them and was so happy that they were still employed here."

Although the twins can’t always celebrate their birthday together, they try to spend a few days celebrating. “We went to Paris when we turned 50,” Jan said. “Ann called me and said ‘I’m going to Paris for our birthday. Want to come along?’ So I thought for a few minutes and said, ‘Sure.’ We have always enjoyed being together and we try to see each other a couple of times a year. We have the same trend of mind. We buy the same furniture, the same clothes.”

Ann laughs, “And we don’t know what the other one bought; she lives in Indiana and I live in Houston – in fact, I have those shoes, Jan.”
Jan smiled, “We’ve bought the same gift for someone’s birthday. We’ve given the same greeting card to the same person.”

Ann nods, “We even went into the same profession. – We were both nurses” But there was a drawback when Ann had to move to Houston for her job. She remembers it being rough, “It was a difficult move; pulling up those roots … and Jan continues the story, “Because before that we were always close by. I lived in New Albany and she lived in Jeffersonville.” At least for this weekend, the two could celebrate their milestone birthday together with their daughters, grand-daughters and nieces.

The Spa at West Baden Springs Hotel
So what was on the birthday agenda? “Oh we’ll be spontaneous,” Jan said as Ann replied, “The spa and the casino.” Jan nodded, “Okay, and some shopping. Just having everyone together will be fun.” “This group always has fun,” Ann replied. “We’ll just spend time talking and catching up.”





West Baden Springs Hotel
As the two prepared to start their day, Jan remarked, “Turning 80 is special and we wanted a special place to celebrate, so we decided on this special hotel.” Ann smiled, “It’s such a vintage hotel and it has such charm … “ “It reminds me of the hotels in Europe,” Jan continued, “where the service … “ “The service is wonderful and everyone here is always so friendly and attentive,” Ann finished. 

Wishing a Happy Birthday Jan and Ann from all of the staff at French Lick Resort!

By Joy Neighbors