Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

What's Cooking: 95-Year-Old Still Makes Her Favorite Dishes

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

What's Cooking: 95-Year-Old Still Makes Her Favorite Dishes

Article excerpt

Helen Alu may be nearing the century mark according to the calendar, but you'd never know it. Instead of acting her age, Alu is frequently on the go, maintaining a schedule folks years younger might consider grueling. She loves bowling has enjoyed the sport since she was in her 20s and has belonged to the same league since 1984 (the other members are two or three decades younger, she concedes with a smile). Her husband, Thomas, shared her love of bowling, she says. He died 25 years ago.

Alu bowls with her league every week and is proud of her "highest score ever" of 249. Her league has been to numerous national championships, she says. This year may be the first time she doesn't attend (though her family is trying to change her mind) for fear of "holding back her team." That would be because of a fall a couple of years ago that dislocated her left shoulder. Deciding against surgery, she now doesn't have full use of that arm, which is also why after more than seven decades as a hairdresser, Alu retired two years ago.

The youngest of nine children, she grew up on a farm outside New Bloomfield, Mo. She attended beauty school in Jefferson City. Then, after promising her father that she would get an education, she moved to Columbia to attend Mizzou and study home economics, intending to become a dietitian. But World War II intervened, and Alu went to Baltimore, planning to work for the war effort as a "Rosie the Riveter" on airplanes. But instead, she stayed with hairdressing and in 1944 married her boss, Thomas Alu, who owned the salon where she worked.

When the war ended, they moved to St. Louis and eventually owned four beauty shops, one in Clayton, two in Creve Coeur and one in the old Jefferson Hotel. But 15 years before retiring, Alu went to work at the Susan Roberts Salon in Creve Coeur, where she still goes regularly "to get her nails and hair done," she says.

Has cooking also been an important part of your activities? It used to be I learned how to cook when I was at Mizzou, studying home economics. That's been more than 70 years ago. Of course I cooked for my family. My husband was Italian, so I made a lot of the dishes he loved lasagna, spaghetti, eggplant parmigiana.

How often do you cook now? …

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