Franco-Fete 2012 – Remembering Our Lady of Lourdes. B. Marshall West with Dick Bernard

UPDATE Jan. 22, 2013: At the time of Franco-Fete, Sep 28-30, 2012, I cobbled together an earlier version of this post conveying spontaneous thoughts of B. Marshall West (Marshall) of Petaluma CA about his family roots at Our Lady Of Lourdes in Minneapolis. What follows is an edited version of the original.
A few days ago Marshall sent a note as follows: “Karen and I watched an old movie last night on our Comcast system.
It is “Untamed Heart”. Cast includes Marisa Tomei, Rosie Perez, and Christian Slater. Good movie, and very watchable. It is a tenderhearted movie.
It was filmed entirely in Minneapolis, and had a lot of scenes of our Lady of Lourdes and Nicolet Island, Riverplace, and the residential neighborhoods nearby. It was set in the 60’s or 70’s, with a lot of nostalgia for that period, the cars, dress, and mores.
Marisa Tomei had the Minnesota accent down pat.”

Dick, Jan 22: We watched the film (which is free if you have Comcast On Demand.) We concur with Marshall’s review.
Original Post: Oct. 7, 2012:
Dick: In the early 1980s I was a member of Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Minneapolis. At the time I was a novice in my family history and I believed my Collette family, who had migrated to then-St. Anthony in about 1864, was one of the root French-Canadian families who formed Our Lady of Lourdes from nearby St. Anthony of Padua in 1877.
Years later I learned that Collette’s had left what had become Minneapolis by 1875, with an intermediate stop in Dayton-Otsego MN area.
So, Lourdes was not my ancestral church after all.
Nonetheless, ca 1982, I cooked tourtiere and did the other things parish men did at Lourdes. And thought Lourdes was my ancestral home.

Our Lady of Lourdes 1982

Back then I wrote my first wife, Barbara’s, niece in California and in part told her about my new parish. Karen, from the Los Angeles area and, like my wife, 100% Norwegian, wrote back almost immediately that her husbands grandmother was a Bernard, and had been active at Lourdes. It was an exciting moment, soon tempered: husbands Bernard relation was a dit name replacing the real root name Brouillet. Nonetheless, we connected, and in the summer of 1982 my father and I, the Wests, and two other friends piled into my old Van and we spent a delightful vacation in Quebec.
Dad, 100% French-Canadian, and then a couple of years older than I am now, had never been to his root home in lower Canada, and it was a heavenly experience for him: a peak experience for his then-74 years.
(click on all photos to enlarge them)

Marshall West (bearded, at right) at St. Henri QC June 26, 1982. Seated next to Marshall is Henry Bernard. Photo by Dick Bernard.

Trip over, we went our separate ways, keeping in touch in the assorted ways distant relatives in distant places do, until January, 2012, when I sent out the first notice about Franco-Fete and mentioned Our Lady of Lourdes to Karen and B. Marshall (The “B” in his name is, of course, “Bernard”).
What follows, essentially verbatim, is the ensuing conversation, which helps bring into focus the ties that make community, and the extraordinary influence of the Catholic Church in the French-Canadian community.
Consider this parts of an on-line conversation, more than a piece of prose.
Most likely, it may trigger your own memories of family and church and community….

Our Lady of Lourdes, Minneapolis MN ca 1968

Marshall, January 9, 2012: “OMG would I love to attend [Franco-Fete], since it is at Our Lady of Lourdes church. I was baptized there (in 1936), and of course attended many masses there — where the liturgy was in Latin and the sermon was in French. I remember those long sermons that started “Bon jour, mesdames and monsieurs” and then about 20 minutes of a sermon that my brother and I could not understand one word of. My mother died in 1967 and the funeral was held there, and I remember so well that event as our whole family attended.” (Note: in the end, he/they could not attend Franco-Fete….)
Here’s what Marshall West had to say Sep 24 – Oct 7, 2012:
My Meme (Laura Bernard Dumas, grandmother) was the organist [at Lourdes for] over 50 years (from circa 1910 to 1960) and received a commendation from the then Pope [probably Pius XII or John XXIII].

The organ at Lourdes, Sep 28, 2012. Richard Dirlam, who gave us a tour, said this organ had been in use since the 1930s, and thus was the same organ Marshall's meme played.

My parents were married in that church (1932), and both my brother and I were baptized there (1934 and 1936 respectively), and my mother’s funeral in 1967 was there also. Mother’s maiden name was Carmen Marie Dumas (DOB 2/22/1905).
My brother and I were born in Minneapolis, although my parents lived elsewhere.
The Dumas/Bernard family all went to a certain French doctor, and trusted only him. Those non-French doctors were suspect, I guess.
In the summer, my mother and father would make a trip to Minneapolis and we would all go to Mass there. The liturgy was in Latin, of course, and the sermon and homily would be in French. My brother and I, as well as my father, would be mystified and did not get much out of the Mass. But, I absorbed some of it by osmosis.
I hear that my Great Aunt Rachel (Bernard) [later Gaudette], who you knew, was an originator of the meat pie recipe, the famous tourtieres. Those meat pies, by the way, I remember were for sale next door at the priest’s home in a freezer on the front porch and all you had to do was to pick one up and take it home and heat it. Ummmm.
My wife Karen has that very recipe and has made one several times but you know it is labor intensive and complicated and no non-Frenchman should attempt to replicate that.

Tourtieres made at Lourdes in 1982 (typed caption by Henry Bernard)

Later September 24: My grandparents were Dumas, like “doo-ma”, like Alexander Dumas.
Yes, Rachel was a Gaudette. Both my brother, nephew, and Stephanie bear the Dumas name as their middle name. Neither liked it, as the other kids would say “dumb-ass” just to be funny. Now, Stephanie loves the name, it is French, and sets her apart from all the Stephanies of the world.
Grandmother (Meme) was Laura Bernard, and she married Calixte Honore Dumas (my grandfather) probably around 1890 [likely at Lourdes].
The [first home] address [for my] grandparents was listed as 246 20th Avenue SE [note: this address, today, would be about where Mariucci Arena is at the University of Minnesota].
[In my memory] they lived nearby, as you suggest. It is a large house near the University [320 4th S SE] and within smelling distance of the Pillsbury baking facility. You are correct, my father was non-Catholic but did convert and I don’t know when that was.
My grandfather (Calixte Dumas) was a physician, died at the age of 45 [ca 1906], and my grandmother then converted their large home into a rooming house to make ends meet. She made her living by giving piano lessons in her home, and like I mentioned had a job playing the organ at Lourdes. I am sure she got a small salary or stipend for doing so. My grandparents (and all the cousins) spoke French in the home, much to the consternation of my brother and I. They could freely discuss us boys and we only knew that when they would intersperse “Marshall” or “Stephen” in their conversations. Our ears would perk up, but to no avail.
Brouillet was the name of the original family member coming from France as part of the Carignan regiment to Fort Chambly around 1660. Fort Chambly was originally called Fort St. Louis but later Chambly after one of the commanders there. That fort, if you remember [I do], is nicely preserved and now a Canadian Historic Site. He married a “Filles de Roi”, and over time there were many Brouillets as a result, so many in fact that a Bernard Brouillet began to use “Bernard” as a surname. So, the family split then into two different surnames but had the same origin.
Calixte (grandfather) was born in Canada in 1861 and baptized in St. Anselme, Quebec same year. Married in 1892 at age of 31. Immigrated to US in 1884, so it is possible they too were married at Lourdes.
Laura Bernard was born in Quebec (province) in 1874.
My own father’s name was Francis Leon West (DOB 1/22/1905) and he was a CPA during his lifetime.
I found out that Laura resided, in 1930, at 320 4th Street SE in 1930. That is the house on 4th Street SE I remember. [NOTE: here is the map of the House (B) in relation to Our Lady of Lourdes (A) ]
Zillow currently shows an apartment building, built in 1900, with multiple addresses on the door. I believe that is actually the site of the house I remember, and it is possible that the house was modernized later with a new facade. Zillow shows encroachment on the part of the University, and now there is a modern park across from that house. Also gone are the streetcars (duh!) that I used to take to the Minnesota State Fair in the summer. The church down on the corner in the next block is still there, and we could hear the singing coming from that church. My grandmother called them “Holy Rollers” and I thought that sounded evil.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane. It takes me way back.

Marshall's ancestral house, as it appeared Sep 30, 2012

The church on the corner of 4th and 4th, two houses down from Meme's house, pictured Oct 2, 2012

Yes, that is the house.
The address fits exactly, and the general shape of the current house is the same as it was, well, 100 years ago. The facade is completely different now, but the configuration is the same. In the lower left, there is a window. That window then was a bay window, a bump out from the house. The bay window was big enough for a seat cushion, and when I was really little that is where I slept as our family of four would be visiting Meme and I did not have the luxury of my own bedroom. At night, the street cars ran up and down 4th, and when the trolley pole hit an intersection where the wires met, it would spark, like lightning. Sometimes the light and noise would wake me up, but in retrospect, the clickety-clack of the trolley was quite charming. I forgot what it cost to ride a trolley then, but it was probably a nickel. You could get a transfer to other trolleys too, and thus you could go all the way to the fair grounds for the state fair for that price.
Zillow puts that very house as being “built in 1900”, and that would fit my time frame. Of course, all surrounding structures are now different. I mentioned to you the church on the corner, and you probably saw it when you were there. [see photo above]
My grandmother, Laura, converted the original one family house to a multi-family house and there were boarders then, even in the 40’s. The apartments were in the right half of the structure. I remember there were doors and staircases that were sealed up in order to create other living apace.
Somewhere in our family photos, we have a nice picture of Meme at Lourdes, playing that very organ you took a picture of. If I can find it, I will scan it and send it along. I also have a picture taken in the side yard of the house, in a glider [sled?]. It is me as a baby, my mother, my grandmother, and my great grandmother, four generations in all. That was probably at my baptism, as we lived in Washington, DC at the time and were headed back home.
Yes, that is the one [the church].
I suppose if one did some investigation, you could trace back who owned the church in the 30’s and 40’s. Of course, my meme and her family were all staunch Catholics, and hearing the loud singing and carrying on coming from that church must have been alarming to them, not like the more conservative Roman Catholics at Lourdes.
My mother told me they were “Holy Rollers”, whatever that meant, but my brother and I imagined perhaps they were some kind of satanic cult just down the street so we kept our distance.
October 7, 2012, Marshall sent what is probably the final e-mail for inclusion in this post: Sure, go ahead with this. I don’t mind sharing my “Frenchness” with any and all.
BTW, with your recent efforts in the Franco-Fete, it energized my own interest in my own family tree. I had done a lot before, but stopped for awhile. My daughter and I subscribe to and I found it with a little effort you can find out great detail about your own family. One new feature is they have digitized the entire US census sheets for 1890, 1900, and on through 1940. You can read the original documents to see who was living in the house, and it gives names, ages, professions, and relationships.
As a result, I have now tracked the Bernard Brouillet string one generation before Michel Brouillet, and know his father and mother back in France. Never knew that. On the Dumas side, I am still working on that tree with names and dates. It is exciting to find out such detail.
PS: it may come to pass that I am going to link “my” Bernards with “your” Bernards, if I go back far enough. I have found one Bernard who was born in a little village near the town of St. Henri. Hmmmmm!
Dick: a final note: In 1982, we six intrepid voyageurs attended a Festival at St. Henri QC, just to the south of Quebec City. The odds are more than even that his Bernard may be connected to my Bernard. As the saying goes, all French-Canadians are, indeed, related!

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