From Central Park Historical Society Encyclopedia
The following story appeared in THE BETHPAGE NEWSGRAM, March 22, 1956:
The Jens family, Henry and Elizabeth with their 15 children prove that a big family makes a house a good home where all the children play musical instruments and a new basement room provided a "music hall" for the family. Not only music occupies the family activities, but scouts, homework, a going business (Jen's Florist), a prospective archaeologist all cooperate in household chores at 104 Harrison Avenue, Bethpage.
Henry Jens came to Bethpage with his family in 1921 and he was the original member of Boy Scout Troop #118 and achieved rank of Eagle Scout. He was also involved in 4H activities. He was directed in 4H by George Burkhardt and won a trip to Chicago for achievement in raising bees, rabbits, chickens, pigs, cotton, nursery stock and flowers. In 1933 Henry married Elizabeth Erb, of Hicksville, where she grew up on a farm with chickens, cows, ducks and pigs. They both held the dream of once having their own business. After scrimping and saving they realized their dream with a stocked greenhouse ready for the flower business. Elizabeth also served on the Girl Scout Town Committee for five years and also taught Sunday School, involved in the Dorcas Guild and keeping Sunday school records.
A list of the children, each interesting in their own pursuits, in 1956 follows: Arthur 22, a first year student at Farmingdale Tech, interested in metallurgy, and has talent in writing. Dorothy 20, was a Girl Scout for 10 years and earned the curved bar, now married, and living in Pennsylvania. Albert 19, is with the Air Force in Denver. He said he could never rate the other ports visited as high as Bethpage. Robert 17, a senior at Bethpage High School when he eloped only to return home to work with his dad. Helen 16, is in the Jr. High School and plays the French Horn in the band and piano and violin at home. She will receive her 10 year pin and the curved bar in Girl Scouting. She plans to teach the French horn. John 15, a freshman and plays on the Walther League Basketball team and a member of the track team. He plays string base violin in the dance band and the Sousaphone in the High School band. He plans a career as a music teacher. Betty, 14 is in the 8th grade at Central Boulevard School and plays clarinet. She plans to be a kindergarten teacher. Walter 13, is the prospective archaeologist interested in "the deep dark ages." He plays trombone and violin. Fred 12, a sixth grade student is interested in everything, but school and is a handy man with the trumpet. Joan 10, works hard at fifth grade work, and her struggles may find her leading the class someday. William 9, is doing well in school, and waiting until next year when he hopes to play the flute. He is interested in growing things, "anything." Susan 8, is "quite the nice girl" with a desire to be prettied up all the time. She is exceptionally good in writing. Henry 5, a kindergarten pupil has "the green thumb" and carefully picks up discarded seed and makes it grow. His 9 foot sunflower was measured by a ruler every day. Christine 3, loves new dresses and pleads "make me one too" when her mother is sewing. Nancy 15 months is the sweetheart of the Jens family. With the attention she gets from her older brothers and sisters she returns with a smile.
How is order kept in the Jens home? "We have no routine, we just live." As the boys and girls get older they take over cleaning, cooking and general housework under the direction of Grandma Jens. There is always at least 4 lines of laundry plus what is sent out. The ironing is done by everyone when they are not busy. Elizabeth makes all the children's clothes.
A family meal may consist of 10 lbs of potatoes, 5 lbs chop meat, four packages of frozen beans, two pounds of onions, 3 jars of applesauce and a cake made by grandma. 16 quarts of milk are delivered.
The Jens believe in a strict routine of "school, church and home" until the youngster reaches 15 years of age and they can handle themselves better and allowed more freedom. Elizabeth comments that you can hear a pin drop when the children are watching TV, but she feels it is not the best thing in the world for them and will be the downfall of the American Home.
One might say the Jens nurseries are well stocked, in the greenhouse as well as in the home. Each child is given a great amount of personal attention which makes them self reliant and well developed. When some children require more attention the other children are ready to help out. This is what makes a large family special, unfortunately, large families do not exist today which is a loss to family life. The sharing, working together, the family fun, and companionship they enjoy as a large family is what makes this family so special.
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