Mike and I decided it would be nice to spend some time with the boys... and not the girls.
We stayed at The French Lick Springs Hotel in southern Indiana. The Town of French Lick is a special place to me. Both my parents were born and raised here. So I made the boys do a lot of walking around town. I made the boys listen to stories of my childhood. Growing up, I spent many, many weekends in French Lick visiting both sets of my Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins. On this trip, we visited my Aunt Nita and Uncle Leon. I also got to see their kids, my cousins Susan and Jody.
Of course, since 1979, French Lick has been most associated with Larry Bird aka "the Hick from Lick." (sidenote: Larry Bird's Mom attended my Grandfather's visitation when he passed away). But long before Larry Bird burst onto the national basketball scene, the French Lick Casino and its sister hotel, the West Baden Springs, were Indiana's claim to fame.
In their heyday, the French Lick Springs Hotel and the West Baden Springs Hotel, each a stone's throw from the other, attracted some of the country's most famous celebrities, including Bing Crosby, Cole Porter, the Marx Brothers, Joe Louis, Irving Berlin, "Diamond" Jim Brady and even President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The hotels (and gambling that took place there) were also a favorite destination of some of the country's most infamous characters like Al Capone and John Dillinger.
The West Baden Hotel was at one time considered the "Eighth Wonder of the World." The building boasted the world's largest free-standing dome when it was built.
The French Lick Springs Hotel, built in 1901, and the West Baden Springs Hotel, built in 1902 are both listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
After the Great Depression, both hotels fell on hard times and eventually into disrepair. The fate of the buildings, especially the West Baden hotel, remained in jeopardy until Hoosier billionaire Bill Cook took an interest and restored them to their earlier glory. The buildings are once again sights to behold, and I would encourage anyone looking for a historic getaway to stay at one or the other. But whichever one you choose, make sure you visit and walk around the lobbies and grounds of both hotels.
Combined they have four golf courses, including a course designed by the legendary Pete Dye, horse stables, pools, spas, 16 dining venues, 13 retail outlets, a conference center, hospitality and event catering and more.
Boone can dish it out, but he can't take it.
Shepard wants to be a builder or an architect.
Shepard: "If they ever rebuild this place I think they should..." I don't think Mr. Cook (now passed away) would appreciate that comment. I can't imagine how many millions he invested in both buildings.
Every time Boone would get on the elevator, he would quickly position himself in front of the buttons. He would then look up at the other guests and say,"number please?" He is an in charge kind of boy. Boone can carry it off and people respond with respect. : - )
This really was relaxing.
Me: "Pryor, stop acting like you've never been let out of the house. You sit your butt right over there on that couch and if you move I'll..."
This is just the right side of the porch...veranda.
And, the left side of the veranda.
Ice cream on the veranda, and Starbucks. : - )
The weather was gorgeous while we were there.
One night, Mike and I ate dinner at "1875: The Steak House." Did you know you can get onion soup served in an onion as the dish?! Well if that don't beat all! Blend of five onion varietals served in a colossal onion bowl topped with melted gruyere and Parmesan cheese. Hip hip hooray! Seriously, I thought it was cool!
One of my sides was a Blackened Tomato. It was amazing, and I don't use the word lightly. We also ordered Mushroom Napoleon. Never had that before either. Probably won't get to ever again. : - ((((
While we enjoyed some fine dining, the boys ate pizza and wings from Chicago's Pizza. I think they enjoyed their pizza party as much as Mike and I enjoyed our dinner.
The boys stayed in the room and ate pizza and wings. Stafan was in charge.
Me: "Boone you had better mind him, because if you ruin my weekend I promise I'll ruin yours."
They were engrossed in the history channel. I'm not kidding. It was trappers "literally" skinning animals. Yuck
Don't you guys get near my bed. Don't even touch it.
Boone is my photographer.
Vintage doors to die for.
Boone: "Aaah... look there is an old guy with a towel on top of him."
Shepard: "Can I have some coffee?!"
Stafan: "I'm not having any till I'm 18 y.o."
Did you know??????? The birth of tomato juice occurred at the French Lick Springs Hotel. It is a classic story of necessity being the mother of invention. World famous Chef Louis Perrin had been lured to the hotel by then-owner and former Indianapolis Mayor James Taggart, who wanted to impress his powerful and influential guests. The story goes that in 1917, the legendary chef ran out of oranges for orange juice, so he squeezed tomatoes instead, preparing a concoction of fresh tomatoes, sugar and a splash of a special sauce he created. The recipe was an instant success. Chicago businessmen and others began spreading the word about the chef's new tomato cocktail, and tomato juice threatened to overtake orange juice as the preferred staple for a breakfast drink.
Beautiful and absolutely perfect.
Don't touch it! I'm sure they'll kick us to the curb if we so much as even put a smudge on it.
Check out the crank!!
I parked next to this car, but I did not key it!!!
This is actually the entrance from a lower level. To the left was a very nice water bar for our kind of people. Ha! The only kids I saw the entire time around the hotels were mine. Sigh... I'm used to it.
Okay, we were in French Lick and they do get hundred of tourists every summer, but the locals I guess aren't used to... well, us.
McDonald's server: "I'm sorry I'm staring, but they are sooo cute."
Me: "I know. That is why they cost so much."
No, I didn't really say that. I said "thank you."
Hurry up and eat Boone. I'm eating lunch with Dad. : - )
The French Lick Hotel also has a less-pricey restaurant, the PowerPlant Bar and Grill. Mike had the catfish sandwich. No comparison to 1875: The Steakhouse, but not bad for the price.
My maiden name, Flick, is a common name in French Lick and West Baden. I gave my son Stafan "Flick" as his middle name. Flick is a German name, as German immigrants settled in this area. In fact, the town of West Baden was named after Weisbaden, Germany, because both places are famous for spring waters flush with minerals and thought by many to have healing powers.
As I was writing this blog, I ran across a couple of articles quoting a "Parke Flick." I suspect he is at least a distant relative of mine, and I thought the views he shared after living almost a century in French Lick were interesting and ultimately uplifting. The first article was a 2003 article in the Cincinnati Enquirer reporting on attempts to legalize casino gambling in French Lick in an effort to revitalize the town. It quoted then 89-year old Parke, who seemed sad about his lifelong home. "French Lick is dead," he was quoted, "You don't see a soul. You've got two bars and a dime store." A few years and a few hundred million dollars later, Mr. Parke Flick, now age 94, seemed pleased the hotels had been saved. This time he was quoted in a 2007 New York Times article.
"My father kept up the grounds around the West Baden resort--they were like the gardens of Versailles. I worked my way into a front office job, and ended up as the auditor. Dad and I were probably the last two people out before they closed years ago. I never thought it would open again. No sir. I thought they'd tear it down, if it didn't fall down first."
Parke Flick died about a year after the New York Times article was published. Even though I never knew him and am not even sure if we're related, it made me feel better that he lived long enough to see the hotels restored.