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Retirement, a Column and an Exhibit

Retirement, a Column and an Exhibit

On January 31, 2000, I retired as Lafourche Parish Assessor after sixteen years which ended my 47 years of employment in that office. My son, Michael, succeeded me and served until his untimely death in 2014. He was succeeded by his chief deputy, current Assessor Wendy Thibodeaux.

The assessor is one of four courthouse officials along with the parish president, sheriff and clerk of court. Other parish-wide officials are judges, district attorney and coroner.

Sometimes called ‘tax’ assessors, they are not. Their job is to appraise property by guidelines set by law and those appraisals are the basis used to levy Ad Valorem (value added) taxes levied by and to fund local government entities. There’s the bell ending “Local Government 101”. Class dismissed.

After retiring, I continued my civic and charitable activities, but as my musical and political reputation faded with age and time I found myself with more spare time that I wanted or that my wife could endure. So at the behest of my family I bought a state-of-the-art computer and my grandchildren hooked me up to Wi-Fi, sy-fy, high five, facebook, Gmail, email, google, oogle, ITunes, Utunes, Wetunes, Amazon, cortisone (strike that) Hulu and Lulu (that, too).

I was in school again, being taught by my grandchildren. Embarrassing! The machine, a beeping, blinking, flashing, correcting, talking thing is now part of the family. God help us all.

The spare time I disliked I now had no more of. Here’s what happened. I used my new toy for a three-year project writing a thirty-page booklet of my memoirs for a double C.D. of my old recordings that Flat Town/Jin/Soileau, Inc. wanted to release.

One day as a lark, I visited Vicki Chaisson, editor of the Lafourche Gazette, which you are now reading, a bi-weekly newspaper delivered free to every business and home from Central Lafourche to Grand Isle. I asked her to view a flash drive thinking there might be a story in it. Fate intervened and that visit evolved into a weekly column, “In a Small Pond” which started June 2014. You are now reading column number 101. The title came from an old saying “a big fish in a small pond”. Being humble, I only used half the line.

I thank Vicki and the Legendre family who publish T.L.G. for allowing me this opportunity.

Driving back home and feeling good about what had transpired, I decided to stop at the South Lafourche Library to say hello to my old friend Paul Chiquet, Library Area Administrator.

“Just the man I wanted to see,” he said as I entered his office. “I am building a glass exhibit to permanently display your political and musically memorabilia as I have done on special occasions.”

I was flabbergasted! After I came back to earth, Paul and I went to my home where he inspected my guitars, pictures, plaques, 45 rpm records and CDs, desk plates, commendations and certificates and loaded them in his car.

About a month later he called me and said, “Come take a look”. I did and as I entered there, to my left stood a huge glass exhibit with my name on top and all my prized possessions beautifully arranged by Paul and his crew. It was an eerie moment to see all my stuff, which had been stored haphazardly throughout my house now organized and exquisitely displayed.

I question whether I am worthy, but I wish to thank Mr. Paul Chiquet and the Library Board for the honor. There are two other glass exhibits at the library, Richard “Dick” Guidry, deceased, and Ervin “Vin” Bruce, my two best lifelong friends. Theirs are bigger, and rightly so because Dick was, and Vin is. My other two BFFs, Dudley Bernard and Harry Anselmi, both deceased, are well represented in my exhibit. What an honor! Sometimes, it is hard to be humble.

Actually, Paul’s first idea was to take me to a taxidermist, have me stuffed and displayed in the case. Thinking it would not be fun, and maybe even painful, I declined and we settled for this. I will be eternally grateful.

LOL and bye now!

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