Anabel Anderson: Mother of eight turns 90
The Late Vicki Parfait
For The Record
Revised and Reprinted
Anabel Anderson, soon to be 90, married the late Arthur Anderson when she was 16. They had been married 67 years when he passed away and the marriage produced eight children who are, she insists, the best and most beautiful in the world, along with her grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
“Don’t forget the two on the way,” Anabel reminded.
She was born in Abbeville, La. Aug. 23, 1921 to Felix and Edna DeMary. She was an only child, whose parents moved to Beaumont while she was young. She grew up there.
Her parents had Purity Bakery at 1334 Magnolia Ave. Her parents were not terribly strict, she said, but she was not ‘spoiled’ either. She recalled a time when she was small and told not to go around the corner, because a man had died there. She immediately went around the corner to see the dead man, she said. The next thing she knew, her nose was in the corner. She was expected to do what she was told.
Her father, although he owned the bakery, was not the baker. He managed it. Her mother took care of the books. Her daddy, Anabel said, had the first place right on the border of Texas and Louisiana, too. It was a little cafe on the Louisiana side called DeMary’s Border Cafe. He built a club and a gambling casino. Everyone could get their Pabst Blue Ribbon beer at DeMary’s place.
“The couldn’t sell beer on the Texas side,” Anabel recalled, “but it was just a quick jump across the river.”
At one point, in Orange, DeMary had a brood mare farm. He raised thoroughbreds there, but also had a three-quarters of a mile race track where quarter horses ran races on Sundays, just off Tulane Road, she said.
“He had a horse there named Anabel’s Girl,” Anabel reported. “And she won a race!”
Anabel met Arthur when he was working for her dad, she said. His sister was a hostess at the cafe and introduced them. Arthur was 21 or 22, Anabel related, and her dad needed someone to help build a parking lot. Anabel was only 14 or 15, she said, but she didn’t need a license to drive, and brought French bread from the bakery to the cafe with a friend. They planned to eat a broiled flounder while they were there, and then Arthur came in and his sister introduced them.
She suggested he take her friend and Anabel for a ride. He did. They spent the afternoon with his sister. When it got late, Anabel called her mother to let her know where she was. They rode some more and went to other clubs like The Grove. He then drove back to his sister’s home and they stayed the night.
“We courted a year,” Anabel said. “We married Feb. 3, 1938 on his 25th birthday. He never formally proposed. Arthur was a country boy. We talked about it and just decided to marry.
“I didn’t finish my senior year at St. Anthony High School. We got married and moved to Beaumont.
“He worked in Orange, so after two and a half months, we moved to 708 Green in Orange. It was a two story apartment, like an efficiency apartment. We moved to one more convenient next to a park.
“W.L. Daniels was running for Governor and was out in the park with a big band, singing and politicizing,” she said. “We watched it all from upstairs.”
Five years later, in 1942, Anabel had her first son, Arthur Jr., Felix Thomas showed up three years later. After another three years, Anabel had Richard Carl. She thought she was done, but in two years, Mary came. She was a Thanksgiving morning answer to her prayer for a girl. It was five years before she gave birth to Sherry Ann. Jeri Lynn showed up less that two years later. In less that two years again, she had Bobbie Jean. All 9 pounds 10 ounces of Tina Marie became the caboose 18 months later.
“She was like a baby elephant. That’s why I named her Tina,” Anabel laughed. “I stayed at home and raised them and ended up at 904 Cherry where I live now. I’ve been here for 66 years now. I have 24 grandchildren. There are 24 great-grandchildren, with one on the way. Two great-great-grandchildren and one on the way. Referring to how most people know the sex of their child before they are born, “I never knew what mine were until they got here. I kept ‘em anyway.”
In 1969 or 1970, Arthur had an inoperable aneurysm, and money got short. Anabel went to work at Orange Memorial for 20 years. She started as a switchboard operator for 10 years. Bob Montagne, one of the Regents at Lamar also worked at the hospital. He asked her to work for him as his secretary. She got her own office, and stayed with him until he passed away of a heart attack. She then retired.
“My mother, Edna DeMary, was a wonderful person. I couldn’t have done it without her,” Anabel said. “She helped at the church, was member of the Altar Society and my children loved her. She stayed with me until she died at 90, God bless her.”
Advice to mothers today? Anabel said she wasn’t a perfect mother. She just enjoyed her children. She suggests that young moms be as close as they can to their children, talk things out and like her mother, be patient and always answer any question a child asks. Each child is different. Treat them all the same but in a different manner according to their own personality and feelings
Anabel said she is fortunate. Her husband ran heavy equipment and taught all his boys how to work hard. They are all good cooks. The girls were taught to be hard workers, too. She carries pictures of her children with her, as well as her “outlaws.” That’s what she calls the in-laws, the grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
Anabel looks on her eight children as a great blessing, she said. They all get along and respect each other. If one needs something, the others are there to help. When their father died, all eight were there with Anabel when he passed on. She had him for a long time and always loved him dearly. Their children loved them both, Anabel said. If she needs anything, they all pitch in to help, she said. They are family oriented.
I’m not the only mother of eight in the world,” she said, “But I am proud of every one of them. God has been good to me.”
Anabel loves when the whole family shows up, she said. There will be a celebration of her 90th birthday at her home on Aug. 27. All eight children and spouses will be in attendance along with as many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren as possible.