By Burt Constable
When Jane Kenehan married in 1970 and took her husband's unusual last name, she often had to spell it for people: T-R-U-M-P. When John and Jane Trump were expecting their first child, bridge-playing friends jokingly suggested that they name the baby "One No." A decade ago, the popularity of "The Apprentice" TV show with host Donald Trump put a new spin on the Trump name.
"Back then, it was all joking, all funny. People would say, 'Don't fire me.' That was always the line," John Trump says.
"It got old after a while. It was so predictable: 'You're fired,'" Jane Trump recalls. "But in those days, it was kind of lighthearted. We didn't have to take it seriously."
These days, John and Jane Trump of Grayslake and their adult children, Daniel and Michelle, grow weary of the serious reactions their name elicits.
"Now, it's all love or hate," John Trump says. "Wherever I go now, somebody says something to me. You get both sides. It's just a little awkward because I don't want to get into a conversation about politics with everybody."
When daughter Michelle, 42, got married, she kept the Trump name to make a statement.
"It's ironic that my feminist gesture results in being associated with a misogynist," Michelle Trump says, recalling the president's infamous comments about women. "I'm a progressive feminist. I kind of cringe when I give my name."
The supervisor of administrative services for a medical supply company, Michelle Trump recently made a vacation reservation in Mexico with her husband, Scott, and their 6-year-old son, Sebastian, only to call back to put the reservation in her husband's last name.
"It's probably not the best idea to travel to Mexico with the name of an unpopular billionaire," Michelle Trump notes.
She participated in the Women's March in Chicago, and she and her mom attended a similar meeting in Libertyville. When they told people their name, "everyone had a good laugh," Michelle Trump says.
John Trump, who turns 71 today, is an accomplished United States Professional Tennis Association Elite Professional who teaches at Schaumburg Tennis Plus through the Schaumburg Park District. Jane Trump retired last year from the Cook Memorial Library in Libertyville, but she still fills in on the reference desk when needed.
They avoid giving a direct opinion of the president who shares their name.
"I want it to be positive and not derogative," Jane Trump says of her interactions with people who treat her name as an invitation to debate.
"Everywhere we go. somebody wants our opinion or wants to vent to us. When they see our name, they generally give us a lecture, for or against," John Trump says.
His mother, Jean Priscilla Gaskell Trump, who died less than a month after President Obama was elected in 2008, was the first Trump to make it to our nation's capital. Active in the Democratic Party during an award-winning career as a high school teacher in Muskegon, Michigan, Jean Trump, widowed from her husband, Jack, retired from teaching and became an intern for then-Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.
The Muskegon Chronicle touted her accomplishment with a story headlined, "Mrs. Trump Goes to Washington," Jane Trump remembers.
It was with his mother during a trip to New York City in the 1980s that John Trump first realized his name took on extra meaning in some circles.
"When we visited Coney Island, we had dinner at an old Italian restaurant called Gargiulo's. When the waiter learned our name, we were treated to a tour of the facility, heard the story of its history and were introduced to everyone working in the kitchen," John Trump says. "But it wasn't because of Donald. It was because Fred Trump, his father, used to have his driver bring him there for lunch every day."
The anger and controversy surrounding our new president does have an attractive flip side, these Trumps note.
"Everybody at least is interested again," John Trump says, noting that he roots for the president to do a good job whether he voted for the candidate or not.
"Getting people involved in politics is good. Now, at least we have motivation for change."
In the library, where patrons often come to weed out "alternative facts" and "fake news," Jane Trump sees that, too.
"This has really awakened a lot of people who have been very blasé about politics," she says.
Michelle Trump could avoid all the Trump baggage by taking her husband's last name, but that isn't going to happen.
"I don't want to give him (the president) that power," Michelle Trump says, noting that she's working to help groups that stand up for women. "It's going to be a long four years."
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