Article on wife of John T. Donahoe, Lou, born 1901, daughter of Adam Zender
INTERVIEW WITH LU LUX, CENTENARIAN!
Lucille Rose Zender Lux celebrated her 100th birthday on March 30,2001. Having lived in the Rogers Park community for all but 5 years, she tells stories about the house she was born in on land now occupied by the Dominic's store on Ridge Avenue just south of Pratt, of taking "adventure outings" on a horse (they had two horses!) and buggy - a sleigh in the winter! - "all the way up to Howard Street, " and of the second house her father had built on the southeast comer of Prat and Ridge, site of the present Greek restaurant.
Lu's parents were from Germany and Luxembourg, and the family spoke German and English at home. She was the eighth of nine children, the siblings being Amy, Annie, Rini, Loni, Bert, Celi, Eddie, Lucy, and Willie, in that order. At St. Henry Church, Lu received the sacraments of baptism, communion, and confirmation. In those days, she said, kids would walk from as far as Toughy and Western to attend St. Henry School. In the winter, many of the kids would stop at her house to get warm. After graduating from the Church school - classes were taught in German and English. Lu attended Josephinum High School, then a boarding school where she stayed over night, returning home on the weekends.
She was also married at St. Henry, to John Donahoe of St. Gertrude Parish, although, as Lu tells it, their "courtship" was rather spontaneous and anecdotal. An old boyfriend introduced her to John, and a short time later both she and John were walking up Devon in easy amble toward Ridge when Lu remembered it was John's birthday. "I'm sorry I didn't get you anything for your birthday," said she, "...but you can have me!" In those days, the priest's house was right where they were walking, so they went in and were married on the spot by the priest. Lu then has to go home to tell her parents of the event. Later, St. Henry's pastor, the German priest Fr. Rodesdorf, said that "Only an Irishman could get away with that." Lu and John were married for 35 years and raised five boys, Jay (lived in Hawaii), Bert (Mundelein, IL), Dick (Florida), Patrick (Lake Geneva, WI), and Bill (Gurnee, IL). John and the five sons all worked at the Chicago Board of Trade at one time.
Lu's father was a florist and owned some of the greenhouses at Devon and Ridge. It was he, in fact, who saw to it that Ridge Avenue was renamed Ridge Boulevard. (In those days, the street now called Damen was called Robey Street). One year, her parents and four other couples, parishioners at St. Henry, paid off the entire Parish debt.
In earlier days, Lu bowled, roller-skated, biked, and played golf She still plays bridge every Wednesday afternoons with her nieces. For a time during early days she had worked at the Phillip State Bank. As she let us into her apartment, she turned off the Cubs game she'd been watching on television; she admitted openly to being a Cubs fan.
Asked whether she had a led a "genteel life", Lu told of her family's large kitchen and the "big table" service for dinner every night. Everyone in the neighborhood knew everyone else. Taking a walk to Rosemont Beach was popular. Her father was one of the first in the neighborhood to own an automobile.
The streetcar barn was at the comer of Devon and Clark Street, and the fare was a nickel. On Saturday night, young people would go to the dance hall - where the Devon Theater once was. One late evening, Lu says, she became frightened because she was being followed - as she hurried, the follower's footsteps would hurry, as she slowed, they would slow - until she reached her house, when the follower nipped her heel with his foot. As it turned out, the follower was her eldest bother, Ed, who simply wanted to warn her that she should not travel the streets alone at night.
Never a "big eater", Lu said she had never smoked. Nonetheless, when she was almost 24 years of age, she said she was among four couples who dined out together and ... she had a screwdriver" (orange juice and vodka). In her current routine, she has an "old fashioned" by herself every Saturday night. Her meals conform to the modest but modern American system: cereal and a banana for breakfast, soup for lunch, and a TV dinner for the day's finale.
Some years after the death of her first husband, Lu married Alfred Lux, a retired Chicago businessman she met while vacationing in Florida. They were married in 1964. Mr. Lux's brother, Michael, a priest, served at Old St. Mary's church, and his sister, Agnes, was a nun.
At this time, Lu has about 25 grandchildren and many great grandchildren. In previous years, she did some traveling, mostly to Florida. Now, she says, she's more or less content to sit in her apartment - she's lived there for 20 years - and catch the Cubs on TV, play bridge with her nieces, or receive an occasional visitor. Recently, though, her family and friends took her out to the Studio Restaurant in Morton Grove for her "special birthday".
Before we left her gracious company, she kindly showed us the flowers and commemorative letter she had received from Mayor Richard M. Daley for her 100th birthday. Her handshake at parting was firm and her smile felicitous.