Graduating Again

Pierre Fontenot Thursday, May 2, 2019 Comments Off on Graduating Again
Graduating Again

I have a nephew who is graduating high school.  “That” is on my mind, the whole kicked-out-of-the-nest moment, where you can’t stay, gotta go, but go where, go how, go for what ‘n why…

The humble beginnings… It’s just a big metal box, and nowhere to go, but up.


My lease for Eighty-one is up in July.  For a month I kept asking the same question, “What if I left?” to which I felt no clarity.  And then, one Sunday morning my subconscious changed the question to, “What if I stayed?” 

I pictured myself with pen in hand, about to John Hancock away my next three years.  For that, I got an answer.

As Unique As An Answered Prayer

When customers asked how the store came to be called Eighty-one, we said, “It’s named after the owner’s IQ.”  (For those of a certain age, we’d add, “It’s one more than Jethro Bodine.”)

My father hated the name, “Tell them what you sell!” he said, but it’s a sentimental number, and I liked that it didn’t box me in.  It started with an emphasis on primitive antiques, then evolved into folk art, hardware, architectural salvage, and who’d-a-thunk.  I could start selling burritos or Mardi Gras beads and not have to change the name.  It’s a fine store, completely unique, a place where locals took their out of town guests, to show them something they’d surely not have back home.

Eighty-one was also an answered prayer.  It was good for me.  But now, I feel the nudge of God, the internal whisper, that it’s time, for a different prayer, for a different life stage.   

Don’t Chase Money

Years ago I attended another nephew’s high school graduation.  The this, the that, the 1-2-3-4, same words, same speeches that I heard, that my father heard, that George Washington heard, a great noise of unoriginal thinking.

Creativity, labor, creativity, labor, it’s like a big wheel that gets you from From to To.


I came home, opened up a blank document, and typed Advice For Graduates – What I Wish I’d Been Told.  1, 2, 3, here comes, first sentence, “Don’t chase money.”

It was me preaching to me.  “Don’t pick a career that reminds you of buzzards.  Don’t pick a career that reminds you of spiders.”

I wrote this: “As you enter the Land of Adults you’ve got to answer, for yourself, what the point of life is.  You don’t have to know it right now, but you have to know that you need to know it, and sooner the better…  This answer is your religion.  It’ll drive your behavior, your ambitions, your conscience and all your choices, and throughout your life, especially in your gray years, you’ll measure yourself against your religion, and feel respect, or shame.”

… and now, six decades in the School of Life, I’m graduating again.  That’s what growth does.    

Who Am I?

It’s everybody’s question.  In my life I’ve had many answers, the best I could do with the little I knew at 18, 28, 40, 50.  So many of the answers were wrong, for lack of all I lacked, including facts.

…at 62 I answer it, “I am a thinker, who writes.”

The Parable Of The Talents is a Biblical mirror to me.  In Luke 12, there’s that oomph line, To whom much is given, much is required… I’m on the get-to-it or give-it-up end of life.  Inside, for a certainty, I believe He gave me something-to-do, that is not yet done, something-to-be, which is yet to be.  I don’t want to meet my Maker feeling like I lived cowardly, don’t want to hand Him back the tools He gave me, still all shiny and slightly used…

Everything I do at the store is self-taught.  I can make, build, assemble, create, out of wood and metal.  But for a long time I’ve had this inner whisper, ‘This is not your best thing.’  For many years, the best stuff I’ve built were assemblages of words, and they were all done after work, with whatever energy I had left.

It’s time to give the best of my day to the best of me. I feel a peace, like head on pillow.  What He put in me, He put for a reason.  It is for me to step from the known to the unknown, to follow the feel, to labor and be led, to get to the sweet spot, a tool in the hand of the Master.  

Come While You Can

We’re aiming to finalize retail sales at the end of June.  We know that many of you have a sentimental and practical attachment to Eighty-one, and encourage you to visit soon and often.  Daily we are putting out stashes of inventory that we held for ourselves, including a great collection of salvage wood and curious objects for those with the creative gene.  You could visit once a week and find, find, find, while it’s here, here, here.

We’ve appreciated your patronage over the years.  Many of you would count Eighty-one items as among your favorite household objects.  It was an honor to be of service.  

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This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is brought to you by Eighty-one, where creativity is always in season.

Copies of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories book can be purchased at Eighty-one, 3507 Ryan St, Lake Charles.  He can be reached at

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