by: Mildred Swanson
Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. Anderson moved into the community between 1900 and 1911. They were one of three minority families living in the area.
Mr. Anderson was a former slave and was very religious. He was about six feet tall and very robust. Mr. Anderson did labor work and farmed his small garden plot as well as was a general handy man. The Anderson home was on Broad Street (Reams Noodle site). He was able to make a comfortable living for those days. This gardening was a family affair. Mrs. Anderson would take her family on Saturday and Wednesday to “peddle” her garden produce in West Des Moines (Valley Junction). This would be an all-day chase.
At that time, the main source of energy was coal and there were several coal mines in the vicinity. There were no trucks in those days to haul the coal from the mines to the consumer and it was all delivered by horse and wagon or shipped by railroad. In the winter when his gardening was slack, Mr. Anderson drove a coal wagon. It was a dirty and cold job, as well as hard work. He put in long hours leaving home early in the morning in order to get in line at the mine and get loaded and get on his way to delivery.
He had a small stable which enabled him to have his own horses. (I can still see the old spring wagon they used in their delivery of vegetables). This was also used as the work shed where they cleaned and prepared their vegetables for delivery.
Mr. and Mrs. Anderson were the parents of two children. Leonard and Maxine. Both children attended Clive School. Leonard attended East High were he is in the Hall of Fame for outstanding sport participation. After graduation he attended Des Moines University where he studied engineering. He graduated around 1920. He moved to Kansas City to teach. He later furthered his education by attending the University of Iowa. After receiving his degree he went back to Kansas to teach in a colored college, where he taught until his death.
He always visited our town each summer. He was treated like one of us.
Maxine was several years younger. She attended Roosevelt High School, later graduating from Drake University. During World War II, she got into Government Welfare work and the Red Cross. She served in the Peace Corps and eventually went overseas. She was married to an Army Officer.
Our homes were close so we children grew up together and were friends for years.