Kathy Headley

Kathy Headley

Ada Hook was a Chicago Lawn original

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By Kathy Headley

Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor

6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778

Last week we learned about the passing of two ladies with ties to the community: Mary Ellen St. Aubin and Harriet Jendrach. On the heels of that news, I just learned of the recent passing of another special lady who spent most of her life here in Chicago Lawn: Ada Hook.

I first met Ada when she contacted me after I began writing this column almost 30 years ago. At that time she wrote and edited The Bugle, the monthly publication describing the happenings and events at Thomas Memorial Congregational Church.

From the beginning, we kept in contact. She was always a joy to speak with and learn from about the neighborhood. She was a longtime member of the Chicago Lawn Historical Society. Ada was one of the board members that invited me to join.

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Kathy Headley

So, if I may, I’d like to share a snippet of some of our conversations I think you might enjoy.

Ada was born in the house at 3253 W. 61st St. in 1924. Her mom had lived in Chicago Lawn since 1904. Mom went to Eberhart School, as did Ada and her siblings and later Ada’s children: Ruth, Catherine, Norma and Paul.

Her dad was a postal clerk downtown, taking the streetcar to work everyday. He died in 1930, and her mom went to work part-time at Lakeside Press, proofreading telephone books. (Now that sounds like a grueling job, doesn’t it?) She took the Grand Trunk train and got to work in 15 minutes. It cost her 5 cents each way.

As a child, Ada and her friends played regular games like kick-the-can and hopscotch, but Ada really liked the baseball game known as piggy move-up. They played at the intersection of 61st and Spaulding using the four corners as bases and the sewer in the middle for the pitcher’s mound. She readily admitted that they broke a lot of windows back then, and some of them were in her own house.

In the summer the kids liked to walk over to Marquette Park, spending the day at the playground and in the wading pool. Ada’s grandma lived at 63rd Place and Spaulding. They would stop there first. She’d pack them a lunch and off they’d go.

Another bit of summer fun involved grabbing a potato and an orange from home and going to the prairie next to the house. Here they’d build a fire and roast their potatoes. “It took a long time because you had to wait until the skin was really black for it to be really good,” I remember her saying. “But that was our picnic.”

Interestingly, Ada and her husband, Curtis, got married on the same date in the same year as my mom and dad. By coincidence, several years later that was also my birthday. So every year, I would send the Hooks an anniversary card and Ada would send me a birthday card with a note on the bottom: “Say Happy Anniversary to your folks!”

Ada and Curt bought her grandparents’ house and that’s where they raised their four kids. I learned of her passing from her son, Paul.

“She was a gifted storyteller,” he said. “Through her stories about family and growing up in ‘The Lawn’ we learned who we are, who we came from and who God (and she) expected us to be. She taught us by example that to be of service to others, to be able to give of yourself, is a great gift. Not everyone grows up to admire and respect their mother. I am a lucky son.”

What a wonderful testament.

Just so you are aware, the Southwest Organizing Project has put this notice on their website: “Unfortunately, someone is using SWOP’s name for an employment scam. SWOP is not hiring remote workers and would never charge a potential employee a fee for anything. Please do not fall for this scam.”

The Greater Southwest Development Corporation has sent out the following notice: “In light of recent events, the current surge in COVID-19 infections and with the extremely contagious nature of the new variant, Omicron, we are taking some mandatory precautionary steps. Our Main Office will be closed until further notice. Our staff is working hard from their homes so you can still reach us. Make sure to call (773) 436-1000.”

As of this writing (which is several days before you read this column), the availability of the Chicago Lawn Branch Library, the bingo and exercise at the Southwest Regional Senior Center across the street and the activities I mentioned last week at Marquette Park are still taking place. I sure hope that is still the case. However, as we experienced last year, things can change in an instant; so I would think calling ahead might be a good idea right now.

Back to 1972. Oneida W. was the first to recognize White Hen as the new building being erected at 3500 W. 63rd St. Before we move on to a new year, let’s try one more from 1972. Fifty years ago this month, the store at 3007 W. 63rd St. was being remodeled into a restaurant by owner Dennis Xenos. What was the name of the restaurant? The name hanging on the front of the building just came down this year.

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