The Davis twins turn 86
by WILLIAM WRIGHT, Lifestyles Editor
Jul 17, 2011 | 1259 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THE DAVIS TWINS, Jane Lorraine Villarreal, left, and Martha Irene Cavitt, right, turned 86 July 13. The fraternal twins, seen as infants, 6-year-olds, 13-year-olds and 86-year-old seniors, seem as happy today as they did when they were kids. The Cleveland-born twins are the remaining two of six siblings of the late Tom and Abbie Davis. Their special bond has spanned nearly nine decades. In each photo Jane Lorraine is on the left while Martha Irene is on the right.
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Martha Irene Cavitt and Jane Lorraine Villarreal, better known as “The Davis Twins,” turned 86 last week. Judging from their good humor and rolling laughter, one would not suspect they were a day over 30, what with their young-at-heart attitudes.

The friendly Cleveland natives were born at home on South Ocoee near the Hilcrest Memorial Gardens and Mausoleums cemetery. Irene arrived first. But when her twin sister arrived, rumor has it that Lorraine was already close to death.

“When they laid Lorraine out they thought she wasn’t going to live,” Irene said.

“They said I was dead,” Lorraine interjected. “Aunt Liddy picked me up, put me on a towel, opened the oven, turned it on and warmed me up. Then I came to life. That’s what we heard.”

Their proud parents, Tom and Abbie Davis, insisted on the fraternal twins dressing alike, and everywhere they went people became familiar with the Davis twins.

“We went to every school in Cleveland,” Lorraine said jokingly. “We went to Allen (Elementary) Mayfield (Elementary) Arnold (Elementary), Tempton Hills — then we went to Bradley Central High School. Daddy moved around a lot.”

So did the Davis twins as they reached adolescence. The two fun-loving girls were known for “walking all over Cleveland,” according to Lorraine, who candidly, but comically, admits she and her sister had eyes on the same young man when they were ready to court.

“We were just walking around and we saw Carl Cavitt. I wanted him and she wanted him, but she got him,” Lorraine said.

“We picked him up at the filling station he worked at,” Irene explained. “I sat on the left and Lorraine sat on the right. I said, ‘Let’s get him.’ So we called him over. I said, ‘Whoever he sits down by that’s the one who gets him.’ After that — that’s all she wrote. I got him! He didn’t have a say-so.” Both started laughing.

In 1945, it was not unheard of for young girls to become teenage “war brides,” which is what the Davis twins became. Irene married Carl, who served in the U.S. Army, and Lorraine married Owen, who served in the U.S. Navy.

“We didn’t really know what we were getting into but it didn’t take long for us to find out,” Irene said, as they started laughing again.

“I was 17 when I married,” Irene said.

“I married when I was 17 too and I moved to Florida,” Lorrained added. “We divorced. Then I met that one over there (pointing to her husband). His name is Leopoldo. We call him ‘Polo.’ In October we’ll be married 64 years.”

Although the sisters moved away over the years — Lorraine and her husband lived in Texas for 45 years, while Irene and her husband lived in Chattanooga for 12 years — they always stayed in touch.

“We talk every day,” Irene said.

Having returned to Cleveland years ago and being surrounded by family and friends, Lorraine and Irene are closer than ever.

Although not identical, the fraternal twins will often finish each other’s sentences and can recall a few incidents where they felt a sixth sense about the other.

“When I lived in Texas it came to me that Irene had something,” Lorraine recalled. “I didn’t know exactly what it was but I knew it was something wrong.”

Lorraine was right. It was a medical condition that needed professional attention.

While the 86-year-old sisters no longer dress alike, they still share many things in common. Both still enjoy music, laughter and good comedy shows. Both are in remarkable health for their age. They also share a love for God, although they do not attend the same church.

“We attend the Central Church of Christ in Cleveland,” Lorraine said. “I know all the people in church and there are about 300 of us.”

“I belong to Asbury United Methodist Church,” Irene said. “But we get along real well — all of us.”

Irene and Carl were married 70 years before he died 13 years ago. Still Irene said she is not lonely, adding, “I have my three children (one died), Lorraine and Polo, my seven grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. That’s all I need.”

Lorraine has one daughter, one granddaughter, three great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.

According to the twins, the last remaining siblings of two older brothers, one older sister and a younger sister, “We came in together and we’re going out together.” Again they started laughing as they sat side-by-side during the entire interview.

“We’re happy and we’re blessed that we’ve been here this long,” Irene said. “I just love her. Our feelings for each other are different than our feelings for our other brothers and sisters.”

“We’re a loving family,” Lorraine said.

On the third Sunday in May each year, the Davis twins can be seen laughing at their annual family reunion. Don’t be surprised if you hear someone say, “Conceived together, achieved together, two sisters more than friends — through thick and thin, until the end, you won’t forget those Davis twins.”