Emily C. Roush
The Ashland Beacon
Identical twins Carrie Jarrell and Alice Robinson, with a maiden name of Barker, celebrated their 94th birthday together on Sunday. Carrie and Alice were born on August 11, 1925, in Cannonsburg. According to the women, their mother, Lucretia Barker, did not realize she was pregnant with twins. “She had us at home. After I was born, she hollered and told [her family] there was another one coming. They said ‘no’ that was just after birth. [Mom] said ‘it keeps kicking awfully hard for afterbirth,” oldest twin Carrie laughed while recalling. Within the next 10 minutes, Alice was born.
Growing up, the twins looked and sounded so much alike that they were able to switch places and trick people. Sometimes even their closest friends were unable to tell the difference. “We pranked quite a few of them,” Alice remembered. Being confused for each other is still a familiar experience, even in their 90s. “It still happens now. I will be out somewhere, and someone will walk up to me and start talking. I won’t know who they are. At the end they will say ‘well, aren’t you Carrie?’” said Alice.
The twin’s childhood was spent working hard and doing chores on the family farm in Catlettsburg where the family moved when they were four. “We fed the chickens and milked the cows. We picked beans, strawberries, and blackberries,” Carrie reminisced. Alice added, “we loved living on the farm.” The twins attended Grassland School, a one-room schoolhouse. After finishing the eighth grade, they left school at the direction of their father to work on the farm full-time.
In their late teens, Carrie and Alice moved off the farm to begin their adult lives. Carrie married Grover Cleveland Jarrell and started a family of her own. When one of their brother’s was killed during World War II, Alice moved in with his widow to help care for his children. She then married William “Bill” Earl Robinson.
Despite beginning new chapters, the twins always remained close and continued to live in Catlettsburg. According to Carrie, “We’ve always lived close together. We never lived far apart.” The proximity allowed the pair to maintain their tight bond as they had children of their own. “We often babysat each other’s kids. [Carrie] watched my daughter while I was at work.” said Alice. Carrie’s daughter, Carol White and Alice’s daughter, Louella Fairchild (who were both present during the interview) laughed when their mothers talked about this. “We grew up having two moms,” Carol remembered. Louella echoed, “we were always at each other’s houses.” Today, the twins’ homes are just over one mile away from each other.
Both twins have been active members in their community over the last 94 years, using the strong work ethic they cultivated on the family farm. According to Alice, “I worked a lot of years.” She got her first job in a restaurant, then worked at the Sylvania plant in Huntington during World War II and later a shoe factory. She retired in 1994 after 20 years with Craycraft’s Foodland.
Carrie, along with her husband, fostered 400 children over the course of two decades, adopting three of them. “The most we had at one time was 12, but they were not with us for long. Many of the kids were in some kind of an emergency.” Carrie and her husband loved providing help and a safe home to children in their time of need. Because of her work, she was recognized as a “Hometown Hero” by WSAZ News Channel 3. Both Carrie and Alice were named Kentucky Colonels, the highest title given by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, because of their accomplishments and outstanding community service.
Today, Carrie and Alice continue to be inseparable. They enjoy taking vacations together with Myrtle Beach being a favorite destination. During basketball season, the two always watch their beloved University of Kentucky team and compare notes on the games. Even if they cannot be in the same room, the sisters are just a phone call away. “I try not to scream at the TV. I get really uptight when they are about to lose. I’ll call up my sister, and we’ll exchange tips for Coach Cal,” Alice joked.
When asked about the secret to such long and happy lives, Alice said that she and her sister owe it to a higher power. “We thank the Lord each and every day.” Both women continue to play active roles in their church communities, Alice at Oakland Avenue Baptist and Carrie at Burnaugh Baptist. Alice continued, “We give him all the credit.”