Twins mark 90 years being best friends
Like many twins, Herb and Al Park are best friends. They talk on the phone every other day, they have inside jokes and they reminisce together about the trouble they got into as kids.
What makes the Park brothers’ friendship unusual is its longevity.
On Monday, Herb and Al, both Second World War veterans, will celebrate their 90th birthdays together, a milestone of which both they and their families are proud.
“I think it’s significant because while twins have become quite common nowadays because of fertility drugs and everything else, they were a lot less common back then. So for a set of twins to reach 90 together is pretty great,” Al’s son Don Park said Friday.
“These last few years, they seem to be even closer than they were when they were younger and everyone was really busy. Retirement seems to have given them more time to catch up.”
While the brothers’ birthday celebration will have to take place in a room at the Rockyview Hospital in Calgary, where Herb is recovering from a recent illness, that doesn’t mean it won’t be festive.
Al has come from his home in Selkirk, Man., to mark his birthday with his twin, and other family members have
Our mother and dad were very poor. We were lucky to have clothes on our back.
travelled from Winnipeg, Victoria and Idaho to be part of the party.
The brothers, who refer to themselves as “unidentical twins,” grew up in Moose Jaw, Sask., during the height of the Dirty ’30s.
“Our mother and dad were very poor. We were lucky to have clothes on our back,” said Herb, who is younger than his brother by 30 minutes, “but they were still good times.”
“Growing up, we were always together,” Al said. “We always dressed alike, and I think we got into our fair share of trouble.”
Typical Prairie boyhood pastimes — such as picking chokecherries and shooting gophers — kept the Park brothers occupied until the outbreak of the Second World War.
In 1943 they went to Regina together to enlist, but they had very different wartime experiences.
Herb ended up in the navy and spent most of the war in Newfoundland as a “landlocked sailor” doing maintenance on wireless sets aboard ships. Al, on the other hand, joined the army and saw action in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.
“We volunteered our lives for our country, and we don’t regret it,” Herb said.
After the war, Herb became a salesman. He and his wife Lillian moved to Calgary in 1948, and have been married for 66 years.
Al served a year in Germany with the Allied occupational forces before returning to Canada with his Scottish war bride, Dorothy, and taking a job with the T. Eaton Co.
In retirement, both brothers are still avid gardeners and sports fans — Al is even known for his expertise in selecting picks for his local hockey pool.
Like everyone, the Parks have encountered ups and downs, good times and bad throughout the course of their long lives. But what has made everything better, the brothers say, is sharing it with each other — and knowing that when they blow out the candles on their 90th birthday cake, their best friend will be by their side.
“We’ve had our quarrels for sure,” Herb said. “But we have a close relationship.”
According to the Guinness Book of Records, the oldest living twins are Edith Ritchie and Evelyn Middleton of the U.K., who turned 102 in November.