Biography of Nat Lena
Alameda County, CA Biographies





Nat Lena, of Alameda, deserves much credit for reaching the splendid position which he now occupies in business circles, for he began his career in this country without money or influential friends and through capability, gradually forged ahead despite obstacles and discouragements and is now one of the successful men of his community. Mr. Lena was born on a farm near Lucca, Italy, on the 21st of December, 1885, and is a son of Barto and Anena Lena. He had but limited opportunity for a school education, for, at the age of eight years he was following the plow on the home farm. At the age of ten years he was taking contracts for farm plowing, and was working from three o'clock in the morning until nine o'clock at night. He started to do odd jobs on his father's farm in Italy when very young and when about seven years of age began looking after the stock on the farm. One day his father sent him to hunt the cows and drive them home for milking. He became lost in the forest and wandered about over the hills for two weeks, at the end of which time he met a man who took him home to his parents.

In 1902 Mr. Lena emigrated to the United States, landing at New York, and there obtained work in a laundry and as a dish washer in a restaurant. During this period he was endeavoring to make up for his previous lack of education by attending night school in New York. In the hope of bettering his condition he went to West Virginia where, for a few years, he worked in coal mines, but decided to return to New York. Not having money for carfare, he walked from West Virginia to New York, working his way as he went, and made the trip in thirty six days. He now turned his attention to the cement industry, being employed in carrying buckets of cement used in the construction of large sky scrapers. From New York Mr. Lena went to Ohio, where he obtained work in drilling railroad tunnels, and from there went to St. Louis, Missouri, where he was employed as a cement worker on the world's fair grounds. He arrived in San Francisco, California, March 5, 1907, with a cash capital of seven dollars and fifty cents, and was fortunate in quickly finding employment with the Oakland Concrete Company. While on that job he worked on the construction of the city hall, the Bank of Italy building on Eleventh street, and other important buildings, and then, coming to Alameda, became a foreman for A. LaPlant, with whom he remained for six years. In 1914 Mr. Lena started in business on his own account, under the name of N. Lena, and has been very successful. He has done a large amount of contracting throughout this section of the county, among the buildings erected by him being the Alta Bates sanitarium, the Oakland-Scavanger building, Cochran & Celli garage Oakland, the buildings on the Fairmede Golf Club grounds, the Jewish synagogue in Alameda, and a number of buildings in Burlingame and Walnut Creek. Thorough and painstaking in everything he does, the high quality of his work has been his best recommendation and he is regarded as a trustworthy and dependable man in all of his engagements. When he started in business for himself in Alameda he began in a small way. All concrete at that time was mixed on boards with a shovel, and a wheelbarrow was used to transport it to the concrete forms. The people of Alameda can well remember Nat Lena and his start in the cement contracting business but he laid a fine foundation for his future enterprise, and today he ranks as one of the largest and best known cement contractors in the Bay cities, while his equipment is modern and up to date in his line.

Mr. Lena is a member of the board of directors of the Bank of Italy in Alameda. Fraternally he is identified with Speranza Lodge, No. 219, A. F. & A. M.; Oakland Consistory, A. A. S. R., Aahines Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S.; is treasurer of the Foresters of America and belongs to the Knights of Pythias, the Druids, the Foresters of America, the Alameda Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce. He was made a citizen of this country in 1912 and has loyally upheld its institutions and best interests. He is one of the prominent members of the Cheese rollers Club of San Francisco, an Italian organization, in which the members play a game similar to the American game of bowling, excepting that they use balls of cheese instead of wooden balls. Mr. Lena is an expert player and has won a number of prizes at this game. He is a man of high business ideals, always giving a fair deal, and among his stanchest friends are those who have done business with him. He has shown a keen interest in the progress and welfare of his community and is well worthy the respect and confidence which are accorded him by his fellowmen.

From:
History of Alameda County, California
BY: Frank Clinton Merritt
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chicago, Ill 1928


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