Angelina Heynen was born in Merxem Belgium, which is just outside of Antwerp. Her birth date was January 6, 1890. She was the third of five children. Her older brother, sister, and also a younger brother were also born in Belgium. Another younger sister was born later in the United States.
Her mother unfortunately only had a limited education. She was keep out of school because her father had a rope making business needed a helper and she was a willing worker. This was in the era of the tall sailing ships each of which required tons of rope.
Her grandfather was a brick layer and building contractor.
At that time rumor was that there were unlimited opportunities in the Unites States and her grandfather offered to loan her father enough money to make the trip with the understanding he would repay the loan after he made enough money to re-settle his wife and children.
After arriving the America her father, who by trade was a carpenter and barrel maker, was able to find a job in mines in Michigan and after about a year he had saved enough to send for his family.
So in 1894 Maria Heynen, a barely literate mother with a baby in her arms and three more kids in tow, tearfully said goodbye to friends and family and set sail for the promise land. After being cleared and leaving Ellis Island her mother was set upon by a thief who grabbed her purse and ran. Her mother screamed bloody murder, and a man passing by took up the chase, which caused the thief to drop the purse and flee. She was indeed grateful because that purse contained all her paper, money and also the tickets for the rest of the trip.
The family then settled in Chicago where the last of the five children (Matilda) was born. Over the next few years her mother became desperately home sick and upon the five of the family doctor her father agreed to let her go back for an extended visit with the family. So accompanied by Angelina and her four siblings she returned to Merxem.
In just three weeks she wrote saying that she was ready to return. He explained to her that she would have to wait until he could save enough for the return trip. This took about six months so the children were placed in the local school.
Upon arriving back in the United States meant that Angelina had sailed across the Atlantic three times and was not yet ten years old.
After completing her schooling in Chicago (eighth grade) Angelina went on to business school where she learned to become a stenographer. At the age of fifteen she obtained a job with the Chicago Mail order Company and she stayed with that firm for eleven years.
While attending a dance she met Robert Anear and after a years courtship she agreed to become his bride. They were married on October 14, 1912 in Crown Point Indiana. She was twenty-two and her husband was thirty-one.
After the marriage Angelina did not leave her job which was the custom in those days and so after a few years they were able to save enough to purchase a three-story twenty-two-room mansion. They then set about converting it into three rental apartments. Because the lower floor commanded the highest rent they decided to live on the top floor. The coal furnace naturally was located in the basement and had to stoke it every few hours, which meant plenty of exercise in the wintertime.
Her first child, a son (Robert) was born in this house in Mark 16 1916. Her second son Girard was born on the same house on April 7 1919.
In 1920 she and her husband decided that they had enough of the cold winters and stoking the basement furnace so they decided to relocate in sunny California. In 1920 they purchased their first automobile, a slightly use 1918 four cylinder Buick touring car with canvas top and isinglass sides. They sold the apartment, loaded the Buick with their most valuable possessions and along with the two children headed west on the Lincoln highway.
This was to be their belated honeymoon and being in no hurry they stopped and camped along the way. For a stove they pout a blow torn inside a five gallon can and put the pots on top. They did their laundry along the way and hung the diapers on the side of the car to dry. It must have been quite a sight. One evening having not seen another car all day they decided to just park on the road and camp. About midnight a horn honking awakened them and they had to creak camp to let the car go by. Another time the tire came off the rim and then because the road was so band they had no indication of it until a passing motorist notified them of their misfortune. The trip took six weeks and consumed eight tired however the indefatigable Buick never once faltered and in early fall they had at last arrived in sunny Los Angeles.
In1921 her husband who did not like working for others, decided to purchase a gar station and thus be his own boss. He located one at sixty-sixth and Main Street in the south part of town. It was on a large corned lot and had attached living quarters. At that time it was the only station on Main Street between Los Angeles and San Pedro harbor. The property had a huge back yard, which became the largest flower garden in the neighborhood. Part of the large garage became a small apartment, which was the summer home for her parents.
In 1921 a daughter (Lorraine) was born and eighteen months later another child (Marshall) arrived. Business was good and in 1928 they purchased ten lots in the area on 106th and Avalon Blvd. The plan was to put up houses for resale. Unfortunately after only two houses were built the 29 depression arrived and everything came to a standstill.
Her husband managed to get part time work at his trade, which was paper ruling. That along with some rental income and payments on a house that had been sold to keep to the family reasonably well off.
In 1941 her youngest son joined the Navy and her oldest son was drafted in the army. Later in the war her other son also served in Europe. During the war her husband worked steady and she operated the gas station and grew a victory garden in the adjacent vacant lot.
Her parents who resided in Chicago used to spend the winter months in a small house on the rear of the lot. In the spring on 1944 her parents were ready to return to Chicago for the summer but her father’s eyesight was so poor that he was no longer able to drive. This being the case her husband volunteered to drive them there and then return by bus. However as they neared Cheyenne Wyoming her husband who had a heart problem was driving the car when he suddenly lost consciousness and slumped over the wheel. Her parents flagged down a passing motorist who arranged to have him taken to the hospital. Upon hearing the new Angelina immediately close the gas station and was somehow able to secure a flight to Cheyenne (no small feat during the war) .
When she arrived her husband had not yet regained consciousness and so she decided to drive her elderly parents as fast as possible to their home in Chicago. She would then immediately take a bus back to Cheyenne. This meant that she had to travel some seventeen hundred miles with little or no sleep. Luckily when she returned to Cheyenne, her husband had recovered consciousness and after a few days she was able to take him home by bus.
In October 1949 her husband who was in poor health passes away in November. In November tragedy again struck when she son Robert working as a landscape gardener for the Department of water and power was accidentally electrocuted. He had been on a roof doing some tree trimming and on his way across the roof the long metal trimming tool he had been carrying over his shoulder touched a high voltage power line and he was instantly electrocuted.
In January her mother who had been staying in the small apartment died and six months later her father passed away as well. By that time her other two sons had marred and moved into their own homes so she was left alone in the house she had lived in for 30 years.
One afternoon she answered the doorbell and a man asked her if she would be interested in selling the home. This is how she became acquainted with Joe Solar a realtor. After a brief period he asked her to marry him and she accepted. The marriage lasted about six months. It seemed that Joe was more interested in three hots and a cot rather than being a provider.
Her son Girard who lived in Sherman Oaks then offered to rent her an attached garage into a small apartment, which she could occupy. She accepted and made the move.
About this time she heard about some person who were looking for someone to look after their children in their home while they vacationed in Europe. This sounded interesting and so she took the job. One thing led to another and soon she had a fairly steady job of children sitting for vacationers. She used her earnings to take annual trips and in the next twenty-five years she had traveled a good deal of the world.
In the early seventies her son Girdard was offered the job of fire chief for the city of Carlsband which he accepted. Girard found a nice condominium for sale in the Ocean Development, which he purchased and the rented to her. She really enjoyed living there.
During this period she regularly visited with her other son (Marshall) in Torrance and during these visits the family would frequently go to the Y.M.C.A Senior center for lunch. They made quite a fuss over her because she was the oldest person to ever eaten there. At the age of 102 it became apparent that she could no longer have the energy to take care of herself. Over her strenuous protests she was moved to Hesperia where she lived with her sisters and granddaughter.
After six months it became apparent that this was no longer working out. She the decided that she would live to be moved to Villa Sorennto in Torrance where she would be close to most of her family. One of the requirements of the Villa Sorennto was that she must be able to walk to the dining room. In October of 1994 she was no longer able to do this so she was moved to a six patient home called Portia’s Guest Home. She remained there until her demise February 5th 1997. Her remains were cremated and the urn was placed in her husband’s grave in the Inglewood Cemetery in Inglewood CA.
She was a hardworking woman who could always find something that needed to be done. When the children were young she sometimes be up until midnight ironing or sewing something. During the summer she would often pile all of the kids (including the neighbor’s) in the Willys Knight and head for the beach. Once a year she would take the kids camping either in the mountains or at Newport Beach.
Although she never was one for coffee clutching when somebody had problems she was there to help. She was active in the P.T.A. (To be continued) Brief History of Angelina Heynen.
From Annette Maichen great niece of Aunt Lena
By: (Irving) Marshall Aner…rewritten and corrected by Shannon Eickhoff…great great niece of Angelina Heynen (Anear)
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