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You never know who you will be seeing.

 

West Baden Springs Hotel

I grew up in West Baden Springs, a small town in southern Indiana. We were overshadowed by French Lick, but we had our own claims to fame. They had Pluto water, but we had Sprudel water. It smelled just as bad, and it had the same effect. They had Larry Bird “the Hick from French Lick” but long before he came along Babe Ruth was a frequent visitor and Joe Louis came to West Baden Springs to train for big fights.

West Baden Springs had a hotel that was a unique structure. Built six stories high in a circle it was covered with a self-supporting glass Dome said to be second only to Saint Peters in Rome. The hotel was a gathering place for the rich, famous, and infamous, during its glory days. When the Great Depression came along, the hotel faded and was eventually given to the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and became a seminary. The structure was costly to operate and began to show signs of age and lack of proper upkeep.

When I was in high school, I was a soda jerk in a drugstore that faced the lane leading to the beautiful old building. One afternoon I was working alone when four men, all wearing white suits, came into the store. They sat at a table near the front windows and carried on an animated discussion while looking toward the seminary.

Walt Disney 1946
[Source: Wikipedia]

They ordered coffee and continued talking and drawing on paper napkins. As I approached the table carrying a tray with four cups of black coffee, one of the men threw up his arms, gesturing toward the Dome, bumping my tray. Four cups of black coffee dumped on the shoulder of his pristine white suit, and he jumped up from his chair. I grabbed a dish towel and dabbed at the stains.

The man apologized profusely, sat down, and ordered four more cups of coffee. The four continued talking, drawing on napkins, and drinking numerous cups of coffee for another two hours before getting up from the table, leaving the store.

They did leave a nice tip.

Sometime later I learned the men in the white suits were from California and were looking at a site to build a theme park. The man I spilled the coffee on was Walt Disney.

 

Contributed by: Margaret Hall Simpson

 

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