Many times, depending on my intoxication level, as I made my way home each afternoon, I might decide to stop by one of my favorite watering holes for a few more drinks. I loved going to bars. In bars, you could be who you wanted to be, you could make friends quickly, and just as importantly, you could drop them quickly if you needed to do so. Besides, I was often in no hurry to get home only to greet Angela’s inevitable, and likely understandable, tight-lipped frown.
When I stopped somewhere for a “few” drinks was when I tended to get into trouble. One afternoon I was sitting with a friend at a bar, and we were watching some people parasailing on the beach. I thought that was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I said to my friend Ted, “Let’s go down there. I’ve got to do that.” Continue reading
After working two years as a wholesale liquor salesman, I was offered a job working for Jack Daniel Distillery as a sales representative. I had a connection at Jack Daniel, and one of their regional managers contacted me and asked if I would be interested in a position they had open. They had heard of my success from their distributor in Memphis—my competition, and I was flattered by their compliment. It was the goal of most wholesale liquor sales representatives to go to work for a major distillery. Now, I was going to be working for the BMW/Mercedes Benz of liquor manufacturers. Continue reading
NOW THAT I WASN’T GOING INTO THE MILITARY, I was free to get married as planned. On March 6, 1971, Angela and I were married in a huge Italian/Irish wedding at St. Ann Catholic Church and Horse Barn in Bartlett, TN, a suburb of Memphis. I thought the church was just an ultramodern, ugly building. I had wanted to get married at Immaculate Conception, in my opinion, the most beautiful church in Memphis, but Angela’s father insisted on their parish church. Period. Continue reading
In September, Angela [my girlfriend and soon to be fiancée] began her senior year at Immaculate Conception, and I began my freshman year at Memphis State University as a pre-med student. I decided my lack of mechanical skills wouldn’t be a detriment, because I had no intention of becoming a surgeon. Practicing medicine, in the most blood-free, death-free specialty I could find, seemed at least as good a job as selling insurance or being an accountant. I didn’t particularly want to be a doctor; I wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t know any full-time writers, and it didn’t occur to me to ask the university admissions counselor. Writing seemed to be frivolous, risky, and low paying, so I packed my dreams of literary glory away. Medicine would have to do. Continue reading
In 1967, the summer I turned sixteen and started to drive, I discovered the raw power of alcohol, quite by surprise. Like my ancestors before me and like most kids I knew, I had experimented a little with alcohol. The first time was at Camille’s wedding, which was an unplanned, one-of-a-kind occurrence. I got knee-walking drunk sneaking glasses of champagne and became violently ill later. I thought only an idiot would ever drink this stuff, and I vowed I would never drink alcohol again. But, I did drink again. Continue reading
Normally, Dad’s drinking was quiet and subdued, but sometimes there was unexpected drama. At Christmas, when I was sixteen, Dad and I went shopping for a Christmas tree. Each year, this was a major production and massive effort on Dad’s part. He loved Christmas more than anyone I knew. Planning and searching for just the right tree was a welcomed ritual for him. Because we placed the tree in our den, the tree had to be just right. Our den was large and beautiful; sixteen feet by thirty-two feet, and it had a twelve-foot high ceiling. Its walls were planks of pecky cypress and stained a dark, red oak color. Each of the giant beams that spanned the ceiling had been hand-hewed by Dad. The den had a 14-foot long bar made of red oak and a solid brass foot rail. The den was featured in several newspapers and magazines, and when Mom was questioned about the solid brass foot rail, ever frugal, she replied, “Had we known in advance the price of brass, we might have used something cheaper—like gold.” Continue reading
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