Twenty five years ago the front page story on the Sun’Sailor newspaper covering St. Louis Park, Minnesota reads Minnetonka Woman Unveils Mystery. The date was March 2, 1994 and Jeanine Shesterkin nee Anderson was pictured holding photos of her mother and four half-siblings who she discovered in 1993. My father’s sister, June, mailed the newspaper copy to me recently after visiting with their cousin Jeanine whom she had not seen in many, many years.
Vyvyan Anderson abandoned Jack Anderson and Jeanine when Jeanine was about 2 years old. The only memento Jeanine had of her mother, Vyvyan, was a piece of paper with her handwriting on it. For more than 50 years, that piece of paper was the most tangible evidence Jeanine had of her mother.
Jack was 22 years older than Vyvyan when they married in 1937 or 1938, and he was a successful business man who owned a soda shop and car dealership. He never drank or smoked. Jack had two brothers who were pastors and their Norwegian mother, my great grandmother, Signe Anderson was a devoted Christian.
In 1942 a business opportunity enticed Jack and Vyvyan to move to New York City. Vyvyan apparently became bored with the life of a homemaker and had an affair with a high-ranking Marine. She became pregnant and the two of them left New York City for Florida. The Marine had been stationed at NAS Pensacola. Jack divorced Vyvyan and she married her Marine in 1942.
What always touched Jeanine was her dad never married again. He never even dated. He went to his grave loving Vyvyan. He never said one bad word about her.
Jack and Jeanine moved to Southern California to build a new life. Jack worked as an engineer with Lockheed Corporation. When she was 10, they returned to Minneapolis where Jack took a job with Honeywell.
Jeanine’s memories of her childhood were warm and positive. She said he taught her to ride horses, to shoot, cook and wash clothes. As she grew older Jeanine said she started to inquire more about her mother and encouraged her father to see other women. He told her one heartache like that was enough for a lifetime. In her late teens they moved back to the Enchanted Lake area of Lake Minnetonka where her father retired and died in 1982.
Unfortunately Jeanine learned her new found siblings were not so lucky. Their father suffered from mental illness, abusing both physically and mentally his wife and children. In 1994 at the siblings family reunion her half sister Jacquelyn was unable to attend and Jeanine met her later in Georgia. The Douglas County Sentinel in Douglasville, Georgia reported on February 26, 1994, the story of Jacqueline meeting with Jeanine and the joy she felt at finding her long lost sister.
Vyvyan died in 1988, five years before Jeanine started her search.