In the fall of 1965, Ricky Richardson went away forever. I decided that “Ricky” was a childish and immature name for a diminutive boy. I was a man, according to Dad and me, and I was starting high school. Not wanting to be called Ricky anymore, I dropped the “y” and I became Rick. It took a while for my family and friends to get used to the name change. I had to remind them often. “My name is Rick,” I said. “R-I-C-K… RICK.” Dad and my newer friends had no problem with my new name. Mom and Kriste would stop calling me Ricky about the time I turned forty. Continue reading
It was Friday, and I was looking forward to school getting out so I would have the weekend for pizza at Paul’s Friday night, work Saturday, and a little fun Sunday. I thought I was due some fun, because just three-days earlier, November 19, 1963, we had buried my great-grandmother, Frances Livinia Johnson Swain. Granny died at the age of ninety-two, and my family had been living with the sadness since.
At school that Friday, I had just returned to my seventh-grade classroom from lunch when we received shocking news. As I was digging under my cluttered desk searching for the book needed for our next lesson, the principal’s voice came on over the loud speaker hanging above the blackboard. Sister Mary Iratus’ voice, usually commanding and menacing was soft and halting. She said, “Boys and girls, a few minutes ago President Kennedy was shot in Texas. Please get on your knees and offer a prayer for our President.” Continue reading
I’ll never forget my first home run. I can’t. No one hearing the story would believe it, except that one of the mothers recorded the whole event with a movie camera. On this particular afternoon at a game, Mom, who was at every game, was hollering, cheering all the boys on my team, and giving the umpire hell when she thought he made a bad call—just like she always did. You could hear Mom all over the field. She stood up in the bleachers, yelled encouragement to all of our players, waved her arms, clapped her hands, and swung her hips to celebrate a hit or a run. As usual, Mom was at least as entertaining as the ball players were, and the rest of the fans loved her and howled at her antics. Continue reading