Yearbooks ranging from 1924 to 1932 lie across the coffee table in Lorraine Storek’s living room at the Magnolia retirement home in Millbrae. These thin volumes are relatively plain, with only the year and a small picture of a tiger or some trees embossed on their covers.
Lorraine Storek turned 100 years old on May 11. She attended the Lux School for Industrial Training for Girls from 1929 to 1932, which was situated in walking distance from the California School of the Industrial Arts, commonly known as Lick, and the Wilmerding School of Industrial Arts. One Saturday afternoon, she gave me an idea of what it was like at what was to become the Lick-Wilmerding High School we know today.
Storek was born Lorraine Biniarz and grew up in the Mission, later moving to Burlingame and then Hillsborough. When she attended high school, Lux was the “preferred” school for girls and had an excellent reputation. They would only accept two girls from any given middle school. Storek said, “If you went to Lux or Wilmerding that was the best you could do.”
While the three schools were separate, they did have a relationship. Storek remembers walking to Lick for math, as well as for rallies and other social events. She says, “I think they were well known for their football…and we used to go in a group of girls, if they cared for football, some didn’t go. We would go after school to their practice or a game and we knew all of the players and they knew us.”
According to Storek, Lux was known to be one of the strictest schools in the city. She recalls that the Dean of Girls “used to stand at the bottom of the stairs and the girls would go up… and if your dress was too short, ‘Go to the millinery room and let your hem down!’ She would pull you right out.”
The girls of Lux took classes we would all recognize, such as math, English, chemistry and art, but their course selection was certainly quite different from ours. Additional classes included sewing, interior decorating and millinery (hat-making). Storek reminisced about making graduation outfits with her fellow students as well as the layettes, or baby clothes for their future children.
They were being prepared for motherhood. In many ways, Lux was more of a finishing school. Storek was always partial to sewing, stating that it was one of her favorite classes. The courses at Lick and Wilmerding were similarly practical, as young men took classes such as plumbing, cabinet-making and stonework.
While today Lick prides itself on diversity, when Storek attended, the three schools would only accept white students. However, Storek does remember one African-American student who attended at the same time as she, who may have been the first to attend any of the three schools. She remembers, “I was told that they did not take in any black students. That’s just what I heard but I don’t know. They found out later she got in, she didn’t send a photo or something. But we all loved her. And they kept her.” However, the decision to let the girl stay was not uncontested, as Storek says that at one point “they were going to take her out.”
Storek seems to have many fond memories of Lick: eating lunch on a rooftop with her friends, being asked to prom by a senior her freshman year, participating in school plays and watching Lick’s football practice. After high school, Storek got a job from a friend of her mother sewing in the leather industry, making clothes for children. There, she met the son of her mother’s friend who had attended Lick, and they were later married. She now has 26 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.
One point that Storek stressed throughout the interview was how much everyone loved going to Lux. She said that all of her friends “thought we had a good education and they were very pleased.” She repeated, “We all loved it.” Many things may have changed since Lorraine Storek attended Lux, but hopefully this sentiment will remain the same.