1) As a young adult, Daddy was quite the dapper wearer of excellent threads and had a wonderful eye for color, Mom would say! He wore her favorite, a white linen suit with white shoes to church on Sundays. He wore starched shirts of color, the first she had ever seen! But when he married and Lee Joseph Jr. was born, he donned khaki shirts and pants, put his hand to the plow as is said and lived the tenet of putting his family first. ‘He didn’t care about all that anymore.’
2) J.T. ‘Junior’ Monlezun, my Godfather, died peacefully in the early morning Friday, 29 January 2004 in his Lake Arthur home. Six Knights of Columbus were pallbearers and Dominique Joseph was one of them; I was humbled to be asked to read, ‘The Lord is My Shepherd’ scripture passage for the service. Constance Victoria and I visited with Margaret (83 years of age) and her daughter, Yvonne Monlezun-Guillory (56 years of age) the night of the morning he died. Yvonne’s husband Carol died of cancer two years ago. We had the best visit catching up on family, children, grandchildren and memories and ate sandwiches which Cousin Anne Fautt had brought earlier in the day after visiting on Arthur Avenue. Margaret told of how she and Parran would drink coffee at 2:30 am every morning, she would bring it to the bedroom, and would talk, laugh and then, go back to sleep!! And, how Mom picked her up in a jeep once, leaving Lee J.. Robert, Charles and Bernadette with Daddy and Yvonne with Parran, and they headed for the new Lakeshore Club to play Bingo. However, they had to stop at some service station to put a dollar’s worth of petro in to get there and home… ‘We had a good time together; your Mama loved to go!!!’ ’ Yvonne has been doing Monlezun genealogy for years and found that there were four Monlezun brothers from France; she was most helpful for Constance as she discussed she and Vics' imminent trip to France and the Tarbes region, March 2004! They will have more for us later!! Margaret showed us around their home of which the original center was Bill Dupruis’ home!! I rocked in ‘TaTa-Ments’ chair and we were given napkins made by Grandma Monlezun which she wanted us all to have – there were exactly eight in the pile! While departing through the back door, the clothes had been washed and Parran’s dark blue pajamas were neatly folded…years of washing and folding and making memories in the daily and now, like Mom on July 31, 1985 in the early morning hours, it’s her turn. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen!
3) Sunday 7:30 AM 7-11-80 (Written on the back of another card!!)…
Happy Mother’s Day!
I love you. Your Mother’s Day gift will be a nice canopy, from the garage to the back door, plus, a light so that you can switch on or off at the garage & for the house. With much love. Dad
(At age 19, I worked the 6:00 am to 10:00 am shift as a KPLC FM announcer while enrolled at McNeese State University. Daddy would call the station when he heard my voice and it was usually within hours of Valentine’s Day, Mom’s birthday or Christmas and say, “Bette, get the biggest card in Lake Charles that you can find and bring it on in when you come home!!!” But, as you can see, he sometimes did not make the deadline and had to improvise! During every shift, he would listen for the song “I’ll Be Seeing You” which I would play just for him! It was one of his favorite songs)
4) Years ago I was sitting at Mass in the pew in Lake Arthur next to Daddy about 5 pews up from the confessional, left side! The priests’ homily was about The Father loving us all and I leaned over and asked Daddy how could he love us all the same? He thought for a moment and said, “Bette, it’s like taking a knife with soft butter,” as he gesticulated spreading it on a slice of bread. He continued “It is even, even. That’s how I love each one of you. Now, sometimes some need more attention than others.” At that point Mom gave me the look and I ceased fire!
5) Many years ago when I was quite young, Daddy and I were visiting with Grandpa Monlezun at his workshop in his garage. He had 3 different type wooden crosses over his work table which upon inquiring was told they were at one time used as forms to make crosses for the old Shell Beach cemetery; people selected from their choice of three! In that they were retired I hesitantly asked if I could have them for I was drawn to them and grandpa said yes; Daddy then said, “I’ll take them Papa and save them for her and Bette, when you get settled, I’ll have them for you.” When I visited Daddy at the office every trip home, he would sometimes take me to the oil shed and point out the crosses on the back wall. When Dominique Joseph bought the business, he kindly assured me that the crosses were just fine and in place. In that I had moved twenty-seven times and upon retiring to Spring Street for forever and ever, I happily called for my crosses for I had become settled! One day I hear a horn from my driveway, look out the window and there is Charles slowly and reverently (!) crossing my front lawn carrying one of my three crosses on his shoulders like it was originally portrayed! I should have called Mel Gibson! I sent him back to carry the other two, and home my very old crosses came to live! At one time they hung on my back fence and many women sat in front of them during my Silent Retreats and wept and pondered…the power of love, mercy and everlasting life made by the hands of another carpenter, my Grandfather Antoine after whom I named my only son.
6) State High School, State of Louisiana Department of Education Diploma. This certifies that ‘Joseph Lee Monlezun’ (!) has satisfactorily completed the required units of high school work assigned for the State Board of Education as evidenced of scholastic attainments and good character. We therefore award this Diploma as a testimonial of graduation for Lake Arthur High School, a State approved Senior High School of Louisiana. Given this 26th day of May A.D. 1936. (Six signatures on the diploma.)
7) LAKE ARTHUR YOUTH WINS SCHOLARSHIP TO LOUISIANA STATE
LAKE ARTHUR, LA. June 20, 1936 (Special)
Lee Monlezun, son of Mr. and Mrs. Antoine Monlezun of Lake Arthur, has been awarded a scholarship to Louisiana State University on the strength of an audition with Pasquale Aamato, associate professor of voice, and H.W. Stopher, head of the L.S.U. school of music, held in Baton Rouge. Monlezun, one of the 1936 graduates of Lake Arthur High School, has studied voice for several years. Of more than 140 applicants who have had auditions since June 1, only 19 passed satisfactorily. Monlezun expects to enter L.S.U. in September. During the audition, he sang “Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes,” and “Little Man, You’ve Had a Busy Day.” Monlezun has been the Lake Arthur Agent for The Journal for the past eight years.
(Daddy stayed only one semester deciding that he couldn’t make a living and raise a large family as a musician. His heart and mind was for business and family and was so very successful at both! Mom played by ear the banjo, guitar, organ, piano, accordion, harmonica, washboard and spoons(!), and their sang so very well together - Daddy sang melody and Mom sang harmony! What gifts to us they are: faith, family, the business of living and making music!)
8) Vincent Business College 1937
This certifies that Lee Joseph Monlezun satisfactorily completed Business and Typewriting Course of Study prescribed for graduation in this school and is therefore to receive this Diploma given the 11th day of August in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and thirty seven at Lake Charles, Louisiana.
L. Vincent, President
9) 1. From 1942-1944, Daddy wrote editorials for the newspaper in Jennings, LA entitled People’s Forum. In 1942 he was 23 years of age and single. In time, his two brothers served in the Second World War. Due to his back having been broken at age 19, he was not able to serve. It is my humble conviction that circa 1944, he found his way to serve honoring his brothers and our beloved country. He wrote from the deepest recesses of his heart with passionate belief and fervor. His youngest brother, Alvin Joseph Monlezun was killed October 10, 1944 in the Battle of the Bulge; Daddy was 27 years of age.
The first and last editorialsl are as follows,
WE MUST LOOK INTO THE FUTURE by Lee J. Monlezun
As I sit at my typewriter to bring you the first of my editorials, I don’t think about the future, but if you or I were to shut ourselves in a room and concentrate on the future – just what kind of mental picture could we draw. I venture to say that even an optimist could not look at it on the sunny side.
I only wish that I could look into the future as my grandfather did. At the age of 35, he predicted our fast airplanes and cars. He once made the statement, “This world would be ruined with the means of SPEED.” Thank God he lived to see the airplanes and cars but not the corrupt world.
Why must we live so fast? Can’t we see that it is injurious to our beloved children? After all, what have we got to live for if it isn’t for our continual work and striving to provide for their future. Surely we do not want these warlords, dictators and big-shots politicians to take them away from us when they are just at the age of enjoying life. The answer, of course, is NO but still every 20 or 30 years we have to lose the cream of the crop.
Just who are these warlords, dictators, etc.? These people are humans just as you and I but sometime or other, before their present position, they had a chance to put some crooked deal over, either by speech or in writing, to their fellow man. From this successful experience, they got swell-headed and began to get into the real swing of dishonesty. They continued to gain power and advancements by speeches and misrepresentations, until the poor ignorant public thought they were sent to us by God. After they win their goal, the poor and ignorant continue to suffer but these big-shots get the best that money can buy, such as, mansions, yachts and all the graft money they can spend – to buy more power. Who pays for this? WE DO – from the sweat of our brow. AMERICA, you, you, you and you, we MUST WAKE UP.
We must not be too hasty about making decisions. Let’s sleep and study over them before signing away our lives. Before signing any deals, be sure to look into the FUTURE and ask yourself this question, “Just what will I benefit by this decision, in the years to come and PRINCIPALLY, will little Junior and Mary benefit from my decision?”
AMERICA we must learn to say NO and not always yes. We must learn to choose our great leaders with VISION, because WITHOUT VISION, we are LOST.
2- PEOPLE’S FORUM Circa 1944
We, in Jennings, and the balance of our great country, AMERICA, do not want dictatorship. We must continue to make it known to the whole world that we are independent. We are not asking for trouble or either are we making trouble. We must bear in mind, that when our forefathers came to this country, they came here to make a new world of independence, a country where they could live in peace and happiness. They fought for what they received and we must continue to fight to preserve it. This home loving country belongs to us and no other country has a mortgage on it. Are we going to let them take it away from us? Friends, we must realize that our President Roosevelt is an able man. He has proved and is proving his abilities. There is no doubt a lot of you do not agree with some of his ’laws’ but surely you understand we all have ideas, but we can’t all be President at the same time.
Where a government, whether State or National becomes a basis for compromises such as suffered in Britain and France during the early period of this war, nothing can be expected by the great rank but failure and disgrace. Britain caught this treason to the interest of the people, as a whole, in time, to get rid of the principles that would serve their own selfish interests, regardless of the general welfare of the people, in time to save the great Empire from suffering the same Fate as that were suffered to France, Belgium, Holland, Norway and other people that failed to listen to the wishes and welfare of their neighborhood countries. If their so-called leaders had the welfare and interest of their people at heart, a far different story might have resulted; instead of the shame and disgrace that those splendid people are now the victims of. This should be an example to all free loving people the world over, especially our own United States.
This fellow Hitler made promises to the people of Germany during their weakness and despair and at their time of depression after the First World War. This is the reason the German people expected the doctrines of this man to lead them out of their troubles. What were the results? To the writer’s opinion, their troubles have only begun. This is what we Americans must guard against. We must not become depressed over the war situation. Let’s keep our chins above the water. After an individual looses his courage, things begin to happen mighty fast. Remember when you yourself became discouraged over some personal situation – how your mind began to wander, how your body and soul became weak, how you lost weight because you couldn’t eat. Well, suppose this were to happen to all of us at the same time? Just what kind of predicament would we be in? Let’s remain optimistic and repeat the pledge daily: I pledge allegiance to the Flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands; one nation under God, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all.
Lee J. Monlezunm (Between the ages of 24 & 27!)
The very day that I was typing the above for you, I received by post a newspaper clipping (November 2004) from our son titled, “ULM (University of Louisiana at Monroe) Students React to Re-election of Bush.” Different students were queried as to the election, their voting and being a part of history. “Regardless of the outcome, Antoine Ponton (Lake Charles speech communications senior) realizes a student’s patriotic duty. ‘As American citizens we need to support and respect our president, because it is our responsibility as citizens,’ said Ponton. ‘The democracy has spoken.’”
10) “Hon, as years have gone by, you will never know how many pairs of shoes you have put
on the children. Not so much on weekdays for you were too busy but on Sunday morning so we could all go to church which you take pride in doing. So here is a remembrance. Here are the shoes Charles, Bernadette, Constance, Malcolm, Alvin, Ione and Veronica wore at 3 months. Something to cherish for the rest of our lives. Gertrude
(Mom had our little Buster Brown Sunday shoes bronzed and they and her card with the above words at Christmas 1959 rest on Arthur Avenue. Dominique was born in 1960; Lee J. and Robert’s pair is also there!)
11) Dear Customer, February 24, 1961
It is with great reluctance that I take time out to write this letter to all of my customers, some thousand in number. Things being as they are, however, and being at the same time very anxious to do my part in keeping the economy of the country sound, I believe it is time for us to re-evaluate our position, now that we are being told that the fat years are over and the lean years lie ahead.
Since I entered into my present business in 1945, during what were known as the boom years, at first I did not find it difficult to expand. And even as late as last year, I sought to extend myself always with the good of the customer in mind, as well as my own natural anxiety for the welfare of my family. Whatever I thought would serve the needs of the customer, I did not hesitate to add, nor have I hesitated to be of service to all of you when you were in need. I have never known it to be easy to say “no” to anyone, simply because I believed that I was merely the custodian of what I owned and the better I used what I owned to the advantage of others, the more I would receive in return. For that reason, trucks, tools, and heavy equipment were always ready to serve you.
Knowing that every business man who sells on credit has many problems keeping the business going and this business of its very nature always involves an investment of thousands of dollars, I shall take this opportunity to address myself to both my cash customers and those whose accounts are kept up to date, as well as those who are now in arrears.
My sincerest thanks go to those who are current in their payments. They constitute the backbone of every good business. The owner, as well as the little man who must ask for credit, owe a great debt of gratitude to these because they help us all to keep going.
Our economy is built, however, upon credit, and by and large the biggest part of American business is built on credit. On our own books we have $40,000.00 of credit, $30,000.00 of which is now sixty days or over past due. At this time of year we should have not more than ten or twelve thousand dollars on the books because we are now approaching planting season, when many farmers will be seeking credit to put in their next crop. Unless I am able to collect at least $20,000.00 of this, I will be hard put to make advances. Naturally I am interested in my business because it is my livelihood, but I cannot continue the business unless the bills are paid so that my own credit will be acceptable.
It is not of infrequent occurrence that we will find customers who have bills over due for a year or more, who will seek advances, even though they have made no effort, or even given an explanation for their delinquency. Such must be refused further credit. We feel that most of the accounts on our books are good and we also feel that this appeal will not go unheard and that most of our customers will do everything in their power to respond. I need all the money that these customers can arrange to bring me, so that I can continue to be a good servant to all.
With all good wishes and a prayer that all things will work out for our mutual benefit, I remain, sincerely yours,
Lee J. Monlezun, Sr.
(Dominique Joseph, the tenth child, was one year of age in 1961. Daddy was in the process of acquiring, what came to be, a total of ten businesses “The Lee J. Monlezun Interests, Inc.!”)
12) DADDY IS FIFTY IN 1967!
“One fine day some fifty years ago
Antoine and Victoria really made a show!
For on that day, the twenty-fourth of April,
A tiny infant, Lee, was laid in a cradle.
His honest boyhood gained him fame
And all the town knew the wavy-haired boy’s name;
It was from him they got their vegetables,
His little red wagon never emptied of eatables.
He grew to manhood and married Anna G.,
I guess it was the muscles or the hair that was so curly.
He was employed by everything from slot machines to cooking
But in the year of ’49 things really got to booming.
The business grew to Interests and the family grew to Ten,
Nothing was too much to ask, when it was asked of him.
He was a public servant, from their cars to fishing trips,
And now I think he wants to try a little cement mix.
So here he is at 50, 2 more daughters, a grandson too,
So Daddy – all we’re trying to say is, we are proud and we love you!”
Happy Birthday! Constance Victoria, Fifth child, second daughter age 17!
13) “Reasons for Liking Lake Charles.
“When a person reaches the age of 66, there is ample time to reminisce of days gone by. Vincent Business College comes to mind (1935). These were the days when work & more work was the solution to all problems, on Friday afternoons when Jessie Knowles & I would pluck about one hundred chickens for Saturday sale for his father’s meat mkt. at the old Capital store on north Ryan. Later I worked at Lloyd’s Ice Cream Parlor (where Coco’s Shoe Store is now located) scooping ice cream til 11pm each nite. After finishing Vincents, worked for Mr. Morris at Wilkens-Beihl Steamsip Agency in the Weber Bldg. Lake Charles has been good to me.
Came back to my home town, Lake Arthur and settled down, married in 1941 and reared a large family but never forgot Lake Charles. McNeese was there for the education of our children. 1961 was the year our eldest entered McNeese and more followed. Was able to get five of the children settled in L. Charles.
Why do I like Lake Charles, because of its many attractions, especially the Civic Center. I recall when the Civic Center was proposed and the turmoil and obstacles our then governing body had to overcome in order to put this project over. Our Civic Center “is” Lake Charles today. We should all be proud of it as well as support it. I venture to say year 2020, Lake Charles will boost a population of over 200,000 people. Our governing body has its eyes on the present & future generations. Support them, if they should make mistakes do not persecute them. He who makes no mistakes does nothing.”
Lee Joseph Monlezun Sr. 1983… found among the ‘papers’ on Arthur Avenue by his hand on yellow legal size paper with wonderful stains and spots for he probably penned from his desk at The Office! Wonderful!!
14) …upon the death of our father, a submission for the parish bulletin August 1985…
Dear Msgr. Dubois and Parishioners of Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church Parish:
It is with deep gratitude and affection that we thank you for the tribute paid to a member of this community, a husband and a father, Lee Joseph Monlezun. His untimely death on the morning of July 31st began a series of events for our family that were shrouded in grief, then gradually unfolded into an experience of love and ‘community’ that has sustained all of us and lifted our sorrow.
The overwhelming outpouring of friends and relatives at the funeral home and funeral itself, the wonderful stories about our father and husband, sharing of sorrows and joys, the giving of memorials, flowers, food, babysitting, cards, and Masses continue to be a blessing to us and are cherished memories.
Thank you, Msgr. Dubois for your support and as main celebrant at the funeral Mass. You were a comfort and a joy to listen to and pray with. The Lord touched you with a spiritual gift of healing and we are grateful to have you among us. Thank you to the many priests who concelebrated the beautiful funeral Mass. And to Bishop Jude Speyrer for his presence and supportive role as Shepherd of the Flock. All who attended were blessed.
Thank you members of the Choir for your inspiring and beautiful songs of hope and joy. With Dad’s love of music, that we all share, your songs were most appropriate and will long be cherished memory.
Thank you members of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus for the wonderful Honor Guard and the beautiful rosary. Also, thank you Catholic Daughters for leading a rosary. Thank you to the representatives of the Knights of St. Gregory who attended the funeral.
We are most grateful to Segura-Matthews Funeral Home and Staff for the professional manner in which the services were rendered.
Many thanks to the people of Lake Arthur, and members of Our Lady of the Lake Parish for your outpouring of love and support through your presence and prayer. We are grateful for the many blessings God bestowed and continues to bestow upon us. Our heritage of love from our parents is intertwined in the history and people of Lake Arthur, the town where our father and mother raised us and who enabled Dad to make his living among the people he loved and respected. So let us continue to love one another, and to act in evidence of that love in the town we call home.
The Family of Lee Joseph Monlezun
15) “Mom 1979 Mother’s Day Dad” May 13, 1979
As I lift this pin to address the package to you, I am unable to wrap the gift because I can’t put “love’ in a box and wrap it.
Today, my heart is filled w/ joy, love, thanksgiving, pride and a feeling of a lot of accomplishments which we both have strived for and succeeded.
Success is ours. It has been earned thru much hard work, praying and careful planning.
Our 38 years together has been the perfect example of what our Lord expects from all his followers. We have abided by his teachings. Our love for each other has never failed nor was it ever questioned.
The fruits of our labor are all about us. Our children have been our joy; and our joy have been our children.
They are all on the road to success. Our two angels are there to guide them and see that none falter on the way to their success. This I believe.
Mom, as of this day, our hardest job has been completed and that is the end of cooking, washing, waiting til 1 AM for the children to come home. Our last born is about the take his leave to pursue his course in life. You have done a beautiful job for them all.
The next reason for me to be so happy today is because all our children love and respect us. Your rearing of the family is truly a success. None have caused the name of Monlezun or Hensgens to be tarnished with ill deeds.
As we grow old together and rock away our pains and ills we can hold hands and say “wonder how so & so (name a child) is doing”! We will always have so much to talk about and think of by-gone days when they were growing up.
Now Mom, as of today, I ask that you “slow down” and live for yourself and I only. When the children need, they will call, when we get too lonesome for them, we will go but, let’s just fall in love again you and I.
Shortly, we will begin to travel our great country and see all the sights Our Lord has given us to see, ‘time’ is ours. No schedule. No deadline to meet. No weekly or monthly reports to fill out, just you and I.
Love you Mom, Dad