Visting my Grandparents' and my parents' stomping ground.


The French Lick Hotel is amazing!  It is absolutely beautiful. I think most people that go there are excited about all the hotel has to offer, but that isn't the main reason I love going.  It is because of where it is more than what it is.  I spent a large part of my childhood in French Lick. 


I'm not from French Lick, but a lot of my family, including my Mom and Dad, were born and raised there.  While my parents moved to Indy before I was born, my grandparents and many of my aunts and uncles lived in French Lick their whole life. So while I was growing up, we were constantly taking trips to French Lick. 

French Lick hotel

Of course, we didn't have the money to stay at this grand old Historical Hotel when I was a kid.  I did always marvel at it as we passed it by on the way to my Mom's parents' house out in the country.  My Dad's Mom lived in French Lick too. She lived right in town not very far down the road from the hotel.  In fact, her land came right up to the Hotel's land!  Her house has been torn down and now a pizza place is there.  : - ((((


The French Lick Hotel was built in 1901.  French Lick was one of America’s most famous, and infamous, party towns.   It was a lawless hangout for a generation of politicians, entertainers, sports idols and gangsters.  

It used to be said the road to the White House ran through French Lick.  Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Adlai E. Stevenson were among those who came prior to their presidential nominations.  Other famous guests from the town’s more fascinating days were the Marx Brothers, Joe Louis, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.


I forgot my camera and had to take pics with my cell. : - ((((





French Lick Pluto

French Lick is also famous for its Pluto Water, and there is a spring on the hotel's property.  Pluto Water was very popular as a strong laxative.  In 1919, it took 450 railroad cars to transport the bottles of Pluto Water to all the irregular customers--when you're selling a laxative, you don't have any "regular customers"!  I don't know whether Pluto Water has any medicinal value, but unlike other spring water, it had to be marketed for something besides its fresh taste.  I'll never forget visiting the hotel with my little sister (below on the right) when we were kids.  My sister was a toddler, and my Dad's brother gave her a drink of Pluto Water.  I never tasted it (it smells like rotten eggs literally) but my sister started crying as soon as she tasted it!!




Night out!


My sister and I ate dinner at the West Baden Hotel.



And it started with this...


Pretty butter


Iceberg Wedge : - )


Becki's salad


Lobster Bisque : - ))


Filet Mignon and garlic mashed potatoes!  : - ))))  I ordered it medium well.  Are you not supposed to do that?  Oh well, the waiter knew I was country anyway. 


OMGoodness!!!!!  Creme Brulee.  It was so, so good!  I kept texting pics of my food during dinner to Remi Adria.  She said, "You don't have to keep bragging about it."  Well, actually, I do.   


Texting Remi Adria.  The restaurant was cold, which is why I'm wearing a man's suit jacket.


I forget the name of this...chocolate, chocolate something Dome dessert. I guess it is named after the West Baden Dome.  My Creme Brulee was much better.  


I have to put a disclaimer here.  I don't drink alcohol.  About once or twice a year, I might taste it.

The West Baden Hotel was built in 1902, one year after the French Lick Hotel.  With its dome roof, it was dubbed the “The Eighth Wonder of the World.”   I told my husband that several years ago, and he didn't believe me.  Then he googled it and came back with a sheepish, "guess what, you were right."  Back then, the West Baden Hotel was not only known as the Eighth Wonder of the World, it was also nicknamed "The Monte Carlo of America."  It is just a stone's throw down the road from the French Lick Hotel.


The West Baden's dome reigned as the the largest in the world (hence its "8th Wonder" title) until the Houston Astrodome was built in the 1960s.

Growing up, we spent what seemed like half our childhood in French Lick, even though we were raised in the suburbs of Indianapolis.   Both my parents were born and raised in French Lick.  I LOVED visiting my grandparents . . . and lots of cousins.  Some of the cousins that weren't raised there lived in far away in places like Louisiana and California.  But they too would come to French Lick in the summer.  My Mom loved all her sisters and brothers and when her siblings who lived other places would come home for a visit, she would throw us in the car and head straight to French Lick. 

We were the middle of the road cousins, and that is just what you want to be growing up when it comes to cousins!  By this I mean we were not wealthy like some of my cousins (or at least they seemed wealthy to me), but we were not the wrong side of the track cousins either.  We were considered just right.  No one was jealous of us, since we didn't come close to having as much as most of them, and yet we knew how to act, dress and behave . . . unlike some of the wrong side of the track cousins.  So we were accepted by all our aunts, uncles and cousins since we we knew how to behave but also have fun.  In other words, both the wealthier cousins and the less fortunate cousins liked us. 


There are a lot of colorful names in this part of southern Indiana — places like Beanblossom, Pumpkin Center, Santa Claus, Hindustan, Buddha and Gnaw Bone. But none has a name or a history as colorful as French Lick’s.  None may have a future as bright either.  Since the Cook family bought both hotels, they have invested heavily in renovating them.  They also have invested money in other parts of the town to try and attract people to the hotels and casinos.  It is still a small town, but, who knows, it may eventually become the destination it once was.



The West Baden Hotel was set up for a big event it was hosting the next day.  We heard a lot of talk about it. 




The rooms are very Vintage.




I'm not ashamed to admit that food is very important to me!  This looked awfully good when it came out--a catfish sandwich and cole slaw.


This was my lunch before that fancy dinner!  OK, maybe I should be a bit ashamed. 


I know this looks like it came out of no where, but this is Cane Creek Cemetery right outside French Lick and a lot of my family are buried there.  My sister and I visited it before we headed home.  

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My Mom's Dad and one of the sweetest men I've ever, ever known.  A Man who never said an unkind word to anyone or about anyone.  A man who gave and gave even when he had little to give.  A Man that never was heard saying a swear word and, most importantly, a man that loved Jesus.

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Funny, if you didn't know better you would think Grandpa was checking his cell, but he was actually just looking at his tie. : - )

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My Mom's oldest sister who taught school in California, but retired and moved back to French Lick.  

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My Dad's siblings.  They are all gone, but one.  I'm sure my Grandma was thrilled to be surrounded by her kids!  She raised them all by herself!  Her no good, no account husband ran off and left them all when my Dad had barely started school.  Can you imagine?!  She raised them without a man, and I don't think they had welfare back then.  My Mom's side of the family always told me she managed to keep her house and kids clean.  My goodness, how did she do it?! 

My Dad only saw the man about one time after he left them all.  The man kidnapped my Dad and his younger brother.  The boys were not happy and wanted to go back to their shack and be with their Mom so they threw mud balls at the man's house.  The man got mad and eventually took them back home.  I don't think my Dad ever saw him after that.    

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My Dad's Mom with my older sister.  She was a sweet lady.  I think she was poor, but I didn't know it growing up.  All her kids had moved out of French Lick, because it can be a tough place to make a living unless you own your own business or farm.  I know she was always glad to see us--she was probably lonely.  We had a certain ritual we went through EVERY time we visited French Lick.  We raced (I mean raced) to the porch, banged (I mean banged) on the door and she would answer it smiling.  We would then sit down on her couch (just to be polite) wait maybe 5 minutes and then sweetly say, "Grandma can we have some candy?"  Her house was always stocked with goodies and we would spend the next hour doing nothing but raiding her of candy, cookies and pop!!  Then, my Mom would pack us up and head for my Mom's parents' farm.  We would repeat the exact same routine on our way back home to Indianapolis.  I don't think ever once did my Mom fail on her way in or on her way out of French Lick to stop by her mother-in-law's house--no matter how short of time we were in French Lick.     

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My Dad's Mom, my sister, me and Patches.  Patches kept my Grandma company and boy did she love that dog!  I don't know if my Grandma was that religious; though I know she was a very moral person.  I worry a lot that she wasn't saved and I won't see her in Heaven, because I loved her a lot.  

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My Mom's sister Anita on the right.  She is one of the few left now on my Mom's side.  We stopped and saw her in French Lick this trip.  You can barely see her husband on the right.  I enjoyed seeing them so much.   I spent many a night at their house when I was a kid and they were really good to us.  Today the hotel runs a train "right" by their house several times a week, and it is way out in the woods.  Aunt Nita said, "It must be the most boring train ride ever!  We are their main attraction."  They stayed in French Lick because they owned a  grocery store. 

Aunt Nita adopted an Indian baby boy when I was a kid.  Maybe that is just one of the things that influenced me in adoption.

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My Grandpa's farm.  I'm in the front center with family and cousins.  My sister who drank the Pluto water is the baby.

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My Grandpa's farm house that he built.

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My brother, my little sister and me at the farm.

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My Mom's family.  My Mom was standing in the front far right next to her Dad.  Two of the boys graduated from Anderson and became Church of God ministers and two of the girls were school teachers.  Out of this picture only 4 people are still alive.  The baby (my Uncle Danny, whom I of course never met) died at age 18 y.o. of Leukemia.   

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My Grandpa's French Lick farm was 140 acres and had cool places on it with names like "the Indian Rock" (a huge rock you could slide down and where they had actually found carved Indian weapons made out of rocks) and "the Johnny Place" that was a deep little valley surrounded by rocks.  I guess my Grandparents named the places so they would know where to look for their kids.  

I'm in the middle on the left with shoes on, my older sister had shoes on too, and my youngest sister was the baby --the rest were just a few of my cousins.

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My Mom's oldest brother and his pretty family.

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My Mom's youngest sister Adria who I named Remi after - Remi Adria. 

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 Aunt Adria married young (the first time : - )) and moved to Louisiana, and stayed.   I thought Aunt Adria had movie star qualities and when I was a kid I loved to watch her every move.  She died last year of cancer and this summer is about the only summer I never got to see her.  I think the only time I didn't was once when I was in China.  

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Grandma is holding my cousin, Jeannie and me-- I am on the right.  Luckily, Jeannie ended up being much bigger than me and I got all her hand-me-downs.  Her Dad owned a sawmill near French Lick and it did quite well!  

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