Identical twins Kitty Brandt (right in photo) and Lois Vaughn (left) have called Masonic Village at Elizabethtown home for longer than most residents. First moving on campus at just 13 years old, the sisters have since returned for retirement – as neighbors!
“The big question always is, ‘How do you like being twins?’ Well, we don’t know anything else,” Kitty said. Lois agreed, saying, “We were the only children in the family, so there was nobody else to bother but each other.”
Originally from Palmyra, Kitty and Lois were first introduced to Masonic Village at Elizabethtown when their father was hired as a chef in Grand Lodge Hall. The family of four moved to a cottage on Bainbridge Road, now the location of the Sycamore Apartments.
“The bungalows weren’t anything to write home about. They were really small, but we were 13, and we each got our own bedroom, so we thought that was pretty cool,” Lois recalled.
The girls attended school in Elizabethtown, after which Lois spent the evenings in organ and piano lessons. Both girls spent their summers working part-time in the dining halls as servers, Lois in Grand Lodge Hall and Kitty in the Allegheny Building, which at the time housed a dining area.
“They never put us together. I don’t know if there was a reason,” Lois laughed. “When I think back on life, that was my favorite job.”
Families and careers of their own took them their separate ways after graduating from Elizabethtown Area High School, but the two made sure to stay in touch and visit when they could.
“We just always stayed together — that’s a trait of identical twins. You really are the same thing,” Lois explained. “I’m the same as you?” Kitty asked in mock horror.
After several decades working in the insurance industry, Kitty was the first of the twins to retire to Masonic Village in October 2021.
“It was the only place I considered,” she said. Lois, who joined her in March 2022, agreed. “We were raised here,” she said. “I could’ve gone other places, but this was home.”
Kitty, who had not been back on campus to visit since she had moved out at age 18, felt the campus was “the same, but different. I was surprised at just how large it had gotten,” she recalled.
While Kitty enjoyed the “peaceful” months before her sister arrived, she initially felt somewhat out of place in her new environment.
“The first night after I moved in, once everything had calmed down, I stood in the middle of the room and thought, ‘What the heck did I do?’” she said.
However, once Kitty found a circle of friends, she quickly settled in. Lois, who lived just 40 minutes away, made weekly visits, but found it difficult leaving her sister.
“I always wondered what she was doing, and I think she was probably the same way,” Lois said. “Nope,” Kitty laughed.
Despite their joking, when the apartment next door to Kitty’s suddenly became available, she called Lois and urged her to apply.
“She really wanted me up here,” Lois smiled. “We’re back here to take care of each other.”
Lois’s transition was smooth, thanks to Kitty’s involvement on campus. “I made all the friends, and all she had to do was move in,” Kitty joked. “But we just picked up where we left off.”
Seemingly back in their Bainbridge bungalow, the sisters have a new morning routine, which involves “rapping on the wall” to see if the other is awake. Though Lois is rarely up before breakfast, the two enjoy eating meals together and spending time in conversation.
“We were lucky for [becoming neighbors],” Lois said. “Very lucky,” Kitty smiled.
Their story is certainly sentimental, but anyone who knows the sisters can also attest to their complementary wits, which both residents and staff find very entertaining.
“I’ve always been the quiet twin. Never had a chance,” Kitty laughed. “She never took a chance,” Lois corrected.
While the two maintain that they didn’t get into much trouble growing up, today they frequently enjoy pulling shenanigans, especially in the dining rooms.
“We never traded places with each other until we got here. Now we trade our ID cards, we switch chairs on the servers,” Lois said. “That went around the dining room real quick,” Kitty added.
Today, the twins can often be found lunching with friends at Franklin’s Press, as well as volunteering to wrap silverware in Grand Lodge Hall, a task with which they are all too familiar.
Continuing their legacy at Masonic Villages has evidently been a blessing for both sisters, as it gives them an opportunity to revisit childhood memories, like walks around what is now the Veterans Grove and shifts in the Grand Lodge Hall dining room.
While the twins tend to be comically at odds on most topics, they agree on one thing: “Being back on campus feels just like coming home.”
Feel at home like Kitty and Lois and hundreds of other interesting residents at the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown.