“The Lee Joseph and Anna ‘Gertrude’ Hensgens-Monlezun Special Collection!”
‘The Original Bedroom!’
This is Mom and Dad’s small, very small master bedroom…theirs from 1943 ~ 1984! The crucifix over the original bed was a wedding gift August 13, 1941 and was removed only from September 1999 through December 2000 where it hung over her bed in her Lake Charles 8th Street home and beneath it she died Tuesday November 28, 2000. Mom was taught handwork by her mother; the marvelous crochet bedspread and tablecloth were lovingly made by her hand for her marriage trousseau! The four photographs above the bed are their baby pictures and their last photograph on this side! The Knights of Columbus and Catholic Daughter of America magazines have never stopped arriving in this spot! The stack of National Geographic magazines was as Daddy left them in his nook for this is where he would relish them at attention just waiting for his hungry mind to take it all in before lights out! He loved to read! Mom kept on her side of the bed nook the little ‘Catholic Book of Names!’ and yes, used it ten times!! It is wonderful to imagine them lying there excitingly reading the names; it came down to this…Daddy named the 6 boys (all middle names are Joseph so that was a given!) and Mom named the 4 girls! This is the bed by which they knelt on their knees side by side each night and fervently prayed in supplication and thanksgiving!
One Christmas Daddy found a set of his children’s baby shoes under the tree! The shoes on the right were worn by my two older brothers 1943 through 1945 and had already been given to Daddy a few years before. The bronzed pair on the left worn by the next seven children 1946 through 1959! The tenth child had his very own pair of brand new shoes!! Mom’s loving and grateful Christmas card which lives between the sets of shoes is to Daddy whom she called “Hon…!”
…cherished they are.
The wall clockwise is filled with family photographs in order of year taken all the way to our last with Mom in 2000. The center of the circle is of their earliest adult photos and their wedding day!
The wonderful and cherished little baby bed is where the ten little ones slept as infants (1943-1961) right next to Mom who had the outside side of the bed; if we were fussy she would reach over and rock the cradle! If the baby continued with its’ vocal chorus she would flip around in the bed, slip her foot through a slat and rock while she slumbered!!
To live in this genesis room I worked this wonderful organizing detail January 2000 to Spring 2013!!
(Original Bedroom’/Baby Bed!)
Also a Baby Book filled in by Mom and Dad on the birth of their first child ~ the other nine never made it into the book except for the ‘Shots’ page for the entry of the first to have the measles, chicken pox, etc.!!! Shortly after that entry were five or so more names with the same malady and more shots!! It’s called the domino effect or getting- little- sleep-time…bless their hearts!
The closet under the stairs was the second of two and was filled with Dad’s work clothes and currently their coats. It is quaint and deep! The envelope on the door frame is a list of all to be cleaned (per room) for our at-one-time a year Anniversary-Tidy-up-Day on Arthur Avenue…the way I was taught to clean… totally from top to bottom! One of our Christening Dresses is in a shadow box with the tatted cap on top!
My eldest nephew and his wife spent the night once and while she was in the shower he was reading the list. He immediately called to her to hurry and finish for there was much to do before they could leave!!!! Now I giggle every time I see the list!!
Next to this well used table is a working rotary phone which my youngest niece loves to use because it is so old and unusual; she calls her friends from the ‘round phone’!!! She was thrilled to discover this antique and amazed that we could remember how to use it!!
The beautiful kerosene lamp holder was also found on the back shelf of the closet which means…you’re right…it is of the 1904 vintage!! It draws many a comment! (I was recently visiting in the 71 year old plus ‘Worthmore’ on Main Street in Rayne, LA and saw almost this exact vintage piece with the lamp but without the shiny back!) Mon Dieu!!
This special collection is of their First Communion treasures; rosaries, prayer books and cards. Mom’s rosary was carried in the bridal bouquet for the wedding of my niece Katherine Anne! I love that! This is the place fervent prayer was offered in thanksgiving, anticipation, sorrow all woven in the magnificent tapestry of their lives. There is always someone sitting in this room for Silent Retreats.
My parents lived their faith all of their fruitful lives. The framed document at the very top is a “Diploma of Promoter Apostleship of Prayer in League with the Sacred Heart, Miss Gertrude Hensgens was approved as Promoter of the Apostleship of Prayer at Lake Arthur, La. Centre Sacred Heart on the second day of Jan. in the year 1941” ~ Local Director, Rev. L. de Monsabert. She was 19 years of age and this was the year she married, August 13, 1941! Wonderful and the most beautiful and intricate designs on this document of old but true!
Also, her “Diploma Sodality of Our Blessed Lady certifies that Miss Gertrude Hensgens was received September, the 15th in the year 1940 as a member of the Sodality duly erected in the Church of Our Lady of the Lake under the title of The Visitation and of St. Theresa the Little Flower and is therefore entitled to all the indulgences, favors, graces and privileges which other Sodalities enjoy, and when she departs this life should receive from our Sodality all the suffrages which are of custom offered for Sodalists departed.”
“Holy Mary, Immaculate Virgin, Mother of God, I choose thee this day to be my Queen, my Patroness, my Advocate, and Mother; and I firmly resolve never to desert thee and never to say or do anything against thee and never to permit others to do anything against thy honor. Receive me, therefore, I pray thee, for thy devoted servant forever; assist me in all the actions of my life and forsake me not at the hour of my death. Amen.”
Director, Rev. Louis de Monsabert and Prefect, Irene Broussard. Her sodality medal rest here along with mine! I love her little booklet entitled, “The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, Sept. 15, 1940 and her Certificate of Membership in the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary October 6, 1940.
Jotted on a notepad sheet in her handwriting tucked into the Catholic Daughter of the Americas Yearly Planning Book:
1951 – 3 yr. trustee 1959 – 3 yrs. Trustee
1953 – 1 yr. trustee 1960 – Catholic Mother - baby
1954 – baby 1963, ’64, ‘65 – F. Chairman
1955 Grand Regent 1970 – Vice Regent
’56, ’57 – baby Gertrude Monlezun
’58-’59 – F. chairman Charter Member
And, from her notes: 1994 Church Work:
Pink Lady 234 hours
Choir, Sat. 4:30 p.m. 78 hours
Rosary for wakes 39 hours
Folding bulletins 78 hours
Social ministry 104 hours
Candles 52 hours
Funeral Mass 69 hours
Thanksgiving baskets 300 yrs. 5 yrs.
Lay ministry 78 hours
The crocheted disc displays her various CDA medals and pins earned over a lifetime.
How wonderfully inspiring! I want to be just like her when I grow up!!
Daddy’s offers a precious part of his Knights of Columbus uniform to include the sword with pictures to match inside the little closet. The little boys love the sword!
A favorite holy card is in this Special Collection…”Remembrance of the Mission given by Rev. A.O. Sigur in Our Lady of the Lake Church, Lake Arthur, La. Feb. 18 to 24, 1951.
Christian only one thing is necessary: SAVE YOUR SOUL.
1. Receive regularly the Sacraments of Confession and Communion.
2. Say your morning and evening prayers. Make acts of Faith, Hope and Charity every day; at night, before retiring, examine your conscience and make an act of Contrition.
3. Attend Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.
4. If there exists any Church Societies in your parish join at least one of them.
5. It is an obligation binding under sin to contribute to the support of the church.
6. You are obliged to avoid the Occasions of Sin; an occasion of sin is any person, place or thing which will likely lead you into sin.
7. Practice Daily Devotion to the Blessed Virgin; pray to her particularly for the grace of a Happy Death.
8. Remember: Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell, and you will preserve unto the end.
Rev. Wilton J. Labbe, Pastor
WONDERFUL…FOR THE GOOD OF OUR SOULS ALL THE YEARS LONG!
The larger-but-not-by-much-closet was THE closet which no one can believe but when you washed every day, daily manual labor and homemaking chores you just didn’t need many clothes!! And when you did, you made them and the used clothes were cut up for rags! The belt rack is as old as the Book of Genesis; the wall paper is original to the home!! You just have to love it! Each time Mom was with child Daddy would order a beautiful Sunday maternity outfit from the Spiegel catalogue! She was able to hold on to seven of these classics and they are wonderful to behold as they hang ironed and all in a row in this closet. Daddy’s seersucker suit, his double-breasted linen wedding suit is here along with their wedding shoes. The razor strap on the shelf is broken from age not from whipping (!) and Lee Joseph wants me to take it in for repair!!! It is older than he is but I will try!!! Mom’s shoes from the 40’s are a grand hit with the young girls on Tour! They can’t believe how stylish they are!!!!
The dresser is surrounding by two original windows of the home. Mom had sixty-three windows replaced in this home and two are here holding photos of old in black and white with labels! Everything is labeled!! The miniature man and woman with the original veil sat on top of their wedding cake and peer out from the little shadow box as well as Mom’s glasses which she wore at nineteen years of age, a cuff link of
Dad’s…lovely little strings-of-things that pluck the heart I’ll say!
Interestingly enough two pictures ‘At the Foot of the Cross’ and the ‘Holy Family’ were found in the back of the clothes closet facing the wall. There condition suggests they are original to this home or pretty close to it!! I love them, framed them and now they smile upon all now that they are free and out of the closet!!!
Framed document on the dresser…
“MOTHER” Like the song ‘the word that means the world to me’, like my mother of whom I have so many thoughts I remember while taking care of my children. To give details would require many book volumes. I have been asked so many times, ‘how do you do it?’ Remember they come one at a time, everyday you know what you are going to do, that makes life easy. Staying home and taking care of your children can be joy. When you think about it, it is for a short time they are with you and if God calls some back to Him, at least you had some time to enjoy them. Our children are only loaned to us, now we know where they are and that is a goal every mother hopes to achieve. Don’t worry about the parties or miss vacations you cannot take. There is always time for those things. When God calls your children back to Him, at least you had time to enjoy them, so our children are only on loan to us.
Written by Gertrude Monlezun, Mother of the Year 1984, Catholic Daughters of America. (My Silent Retreat ladies, especially the Home School Moms, read and re-read these loveliest and truest of words.)
In 2008 the walls, ceiling and trim were painted in the original colors and the 1950’s shag carpet was pulled up to reveal 109 year old pine floor planks in perfect condition!! Thank God!
I left a piece of the carpet in the closet just for the memories as Mom and Dad knelt on this carpet for prayer all the years long!
To read, think and Journal in this wonderful room is beyond description.