Home > The Depression and World War II (1930-1945) > A Parishioner’s Earliest Memories

A Parishioner’s Earliest Memories

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photoBetty Heytens (b. 1931) and long-time parishioner of St. Anthony Church recalls her childhood growing up in the depression. Betty’s earliest memories were of her grandmother Nathalia Van Landschoot (who came from Belgium), a “hardworking soul” who not only raised her own nine children but also her granddaughter Betty. Nathalia’s youngest daughter was Erma (who later married Peter Gaynor). Erma was ten years older than Betty.

As the youngest in the family, Betty describes herself as spoiled, but “a good kid.” When her aunts an uncles would return from church and be talking about how strict Fr. Kubelbeck was, Betty would dress up with a blanket around her shoulders and pretend to be the priest.

Growing up Betty was a shy girl who enjoyed spending time alone with her cats. She would often go outside. The photo above shows Betty as a young girl picking daisies in the cow’s pasture. The photo below shows Betty next to a large fish which Tony Van Landschoot (Betty’s uncle who lived with her).

betty-tony_vanSister Assisi Froehlich was Betty’s first grade teacher who helped Betty adjust to school. Betty was not accustomed to being with a lot children because “at grandma’s house everyone was a lot older.”

For lunch, the children either brought their brown bag/lunch box or go home for lunch. There was no hot lunch served at school during the early years. While Betty walked to and from school (which took 30 minutes, round trip) other children had recess.

Betty joined the church’s children choir in the 5th grade. There were approximately 30 children in the choir during the depression. All girls, no boys. The boy helped out by being altar servers.

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