Rick breathed his first breath on a very cold morning in the city of Chicago, January 11, 1958.
This little creature was the first child and only son of Bill & Christine Vickery.
We named him Richard Lee. The "Richard" was for absolutely no particular reason - but the middle name was one he shared
with his father. I wanted to call him "Ricky" as a nickname and so it was going to have to be either Eric or Richard. My favorite singer at the
time was of course "Ricky Nelson". His father said no to the name Eric and wasn't particularly happy with Richard eith but he liked "Ricky" so Richard it became.
He was a chubby, little blonde headed (though not much of it), blue eyed and noisy little guy. He came into this world crying and
spent the first 6 months practicing to make it perfect.
I was only 17 when Rick was born - his father was just 19, so you all have to
realize that we didn't have any idea how to be parents. I've always felt that I "grew up" with
Rick. We taught each other. So there we were, young, practically broke and wondering what to do next with this
little human being entrusted to our care. But we were happy with our baby, so we played it by ear and things seemed to
work out okay.
Rick is enjoying a sunny spring/summer day in this photo. I believe we were at one of the parks
near where we lived in the city and by now his colic is gone.. he's laughing more than he's crying and he was showing
every sign of being on the "daring" side. Our little two room apartment in the city was getting way to small and we
had to move. It was important to us to get our little man out of the city and so what else to do but move into his
mom and dads place while we searched for a place to live.
This proved to be the best thing that we could have done. Grandma & Grandpa Vickery just spoiled Rick rotten. But he grew into
a very happy, well adjusted little person and I still think to this day it was the influence of those two special people that pretty much made him into the man
he is today. Living with Grandma was a special time for me too.. she taught me to cook and for that one thing my family can always be grateful. She taught me how to raise a
child by her example. She said to keep the warm, well fed and hug them at least once or twice a day and thats exactly what I did.
We lived with them for about 6 months but found a house close by so grandma continued to take care of Rick while I worked. You spent your first years
in grandma's care nearly every day. She catered to him - no doubt about that. But he was never selfish and we never saw very many temper tantrums. Grandpa taught him to
watch TV and ther's no doubt in my mind that Rick's love for football stems from all those days of hearing Grandpa talk about the "Razorbacks".
In January of 1960 we decided to move to Arkansas. Your dad was offered a job in construction, we decided to do it.
So when you were 3 years old off we went to Arkansas. I still remember how broken-hearted your grandpa & grandma Vickery were.
I don't think she ever got over "losing" you. Arkansas was "different" and we adjusted quite well to "southern" living. We went to
Church every Sunday just like we did back in IL. Rick always made a fuss in church. I don't think there was ever a Sunday that his dad didn't have to take him out
and "have a little talk" with him. We could usually hear Rick crying outside the church windows. Your dad played baseball while we lived there and every Sunday afternoon found us
going somewhere for a ball game. Your love of baseball probably developed during that summer. When we got to Arkansas I found out that a
little brother or sister was coming your way.. and your dad wasn't happy with the money he was making there - so we moved back to IL in August that same year.
Back home again in Illinois life settled down to two children in the family. You welcomed your little sister Tami with a watchful eye. Rick was the #1 in our lives for a long time and he was #1 in his grandparents
eyes as well. They were so happy to have him back home again. But after a fashion Rick said "Okay - she can stay" and life went on. We eventually bought a
house in Wheeling.. you started school and we lived there for nine years. During this time your little sister Denise made her appearance. This baby barely got a passing glance from you.. "she's cute" was
all you had time to say. Its Easter in this photo - 1968. It was about the last year you were ever going to tolerate the "Easter Bunny". The expression on your face is priceless - it says a thousand words.. not very good ones.
You reached your teens here in Wheeling. The girls followed you home - literally. You were very popular.
The summer of
1970 found us on a trip to Effingham IL to visit my Aunt & Uncle. They lived in a
trailer on the property of their nephew Harvey. Harvey had a farm and you kids were
usually willing to go there. There was lots of experimenting and lots of learning, since none of you had ever been on a farm.
I have no idea why the two of us are in this wagon but it looks like we're having
fun -- dad and Uncle Cluster found it entertaining. In later years went camping around this
area, I'm sure you will remember Lake Shelbyville.
The next stop on this trip in 1970 was in Arkansas, where Grandpa & Grandma Vickery had retired. You were doing your
"patriotic" and "cowboy" thing on this particular day. There was never much to do on our visits to AR - they lived far out in
the country at this time. Their were cotton fields on all four sides of their house. This is you and your grandpa and you were were nearly as
tall as he was this year. I remember this made you very proud. You always tried to "copy" grandpa and one of the traits you have of his today.. is standing
around with your hands in your pockets, looking "manly". In this picture you are both doing your "serious thinking" with the hands behind the back. You learned so much from your grandpa.. all of it worthwhile.
What can I say? This is the new, improved Rick. Junior High Graduation was the occassion. Up until this day we had
seen you in nothing but ragged jeans, torn, too-big, tee-shirts, scruffy gym shoes with holes in them, and hair that you refused to comb. We are still living on Norman Lane - the house that you literaly grew up in. We would soon move "uptown"
to Buffalo Grove - but for this time point in history, your roots were still intact.
You looked so handsome this day.. and we were both so proud of you. I can't quite make out who is in the door behind you, perhaps your "guardian angel?" We had no idea at this time
how your future would turn out but we did have a lot of faith and confidence in you, that no matter what you chose to do, you would do it well. You tripped and fell a time or two, but you had
two people always there to help you back up again and you never let us down..
The teens years are really upon us now. Our lives were busy, active, always on the go and we rarely had time to do anything together.
This was probably our last vacation as a family. We went to my moms place in Tampa. She was the other grandma in your life that spoiled you in your very
early years. She used to always buy you a new Easter Outfit. All three of you enjoyed Florida.. so many things to see, so many place to go. This has got to about 1974 and no doubt a trip to Disney World. Then back to grandmas's for good eating
and more boating.
I guess if anyone would ask Rick what he has loved the most in his life he will say the normal things, like God, County, Family, and Apple Pie....
but also at the top of that list will go this very special dog. His name was "Roach" (remember - a teen-aged boy named him).
Roach came to live with us one day when Rick was 16 years old. I can see that day in my mind as if it were yesterday. I was sitting on the couch and Rick came up behind me, he put this little black furball in my lap and said -
"Can I keep him mom? Can I please". No - was my answer, because we already had a dog. We had a little Toy Poodle that everyone loved but that nobody fed but me.
Immediately the girls were screaming and everyone agreed that he just had to stay. So stay he did and he lived in our family for 16 years. I could write a book on Roach because he really was the "perfect" dog. His love for us, as a family, was good, true and loyal -- but his love for Rick knew no bounds. Rick & Roach were a team that lasted 16 years. When Rick finally had to put him down he had loved this dog for half of his life. It was the worst time for all of us.. not a single dry eye in the family that day.
Tami took Roach to a Photographer and had his portrait done for Christmas presents for all of us. There has never been a dog as well loved as the Vickery kids loved this one.