Digression - loss of a friend 

Nothing to do with Cubberley, but this IS a blog, and in writing about my move to Palo Alto, it reminds me of some sad things that happened just prior to our move.
I had lost my best friend, Ricky Kieschnick, to a brain tumor just before we moved to California, which, in some ways, made it easier to move, but it meant that California was even a bigger change than I had ever thought possible. I think Ricky's name was "William Richard", but I'm not sure if I'm remembering that right. His dad went by "Bill".

It occurs to me that probably not too many people remember Ricky, and my becoming friends with him is an unusual story - I'm surprised that I remember as much as I do. Reaching WAY back into pre-kindergarten days, we attended the same nursery school (as 4 year olds) at some church (Baptist, I think) in the Letot area of Dallas, Texas. Rickey and I couldn't stand each other... he always struck me as pretty aggressive and noisy. The next year we were not in Kindergarten together, which I took at a Methodist Church in Dallas - (there was none in the public schools in Texas then).

Anyway, much to my initial chagrin, we ended up in the same class in first grade at "FP Caillet" school. It was an accelerated class, and all the kids were pretty smart. I was (and still am) a total athletic klutz, and I didn't really understand how many of the games worked. But I remember being totally clueless about how softball worked (why do we need so many bases?)... and much to my surprise, Rickey, instead of hassling me about it, as he would have certainly been *able* to, invited me over to his house, where he sat me down at the kitchen table, drew me a picture of a baseball diamond, and explained the whole game. I don't know why they didn't do that at school.

The important thing here for me is that the kid who I didn't get along with initially actually had a very kind character that came out as we got a bit older. His kindness still reminds me of our good times together. We were both interested in science as we soon found out, especially chemistry... and we became fast friends. His father took us through some of the chemistry labs at the Atlantic Refinery (later ARCO) facility in Dallas, and I also saw my first computer there (it was being fixed the day we were there - they had a burned out tube or something - I remember big green cabinets full of vacuum tubes, (probably a Burroughs machine) and there was a lady in a white coat with a tube tester in there trying to fix it).

Ricky and I (and our dads) were in "Y" Indian Guides together ("Pals Forever" was the theme song). Our "tribe" was called "AZTEC", and I think Ricky and his dad came up with that name. Each "brave" and his father had to make a wooden cube, about 9" on a side, with one letter of the name of the "tribe" on it, and we stacked them up as a "totem pole" when we got together for a meeting. You had to deliver invitations personally (dad and son) to the other braves when a meeting was going to be at your house.

I remember once when I "ditched" my carpool and walked with Ricky to his house after school - I got in a *lot* of trouble about that - but he wanted to show me a place in a field on the way to his house - basically a ruin of an old cement building that he and the kids over there called "the shack", which was razed during the building of Sparkman Club Estates. It was mysterious and had some legends about people having been killed there - I remember one kid saying he "found some girl bones" there... I hadn't seen it before, and there *was* a red stain there that might've been blood. So... I ditched the carpool - got in trouble - but it was worth it to have the memory today.

I don't know what all was going on with Ricky's health, but he started going to a special doctor of some sort, I believe about some perception issues. He told me that she didn't give him medicine or anything, that they "just talked". Shortly after that he was rather suddenly hospitalized "for some tests", and died rather suddenly during a surgery, which I believe was exploratory. A malignancy was found, and he died on the table. I was told that if he had survived the surgery, he would have most likely been in a lot of pain, and with the cancer being malignant... it may have been better for him that he passed on quickly rather than have to suffer.

I remember that their family, and ours, were devastated, but life goes on, and through some interesting circumstances, I knew a few things about the rest of the family in future years.

I don't have but one photo with Ricky in it, he's on the left (the sweater was sky blue) - then me, then my brother on the right.



I didn't have much contact with the family for several years after we moved to California. I think my parents exchanged Christmas cards with them. After I was in College, Ricky's his younger brother Michael came out to Stanford when we were living in Palo Alto, and when he came out as a Freshman, I went and got him at the airport, and got him situated in his dorm. I remember calling some dean over at Stanford to try to figure out how to find the particular dorm he was in, so I wouldn't get lost taking him over to campus. After that, the parents and younger sister (Jane - now a doctor) came out several times, and we kind of got re-acquainted.

Interestingly, Rickey's dad went on to become president of ARCO, and last I knew he had retired from ARCO, was living in Napa growing wine grapes, and on the board of the local opera.

It just seemed like it would be a good idea to write something to remember this was a kind little soul - and was helpful to me in my early klutziness in sports. I never got very good at any sport, in baseball, I still usually got to "play outfield" which meant I chased the balls that went the farthest, but at least I knew about strikes, balls, and outs, and knew when to go in to bat, etc.

I don't know if anyone else would even remember him, but just in case someone decides to "google", from an old memory or whatever, it seemed appropriate to mention the kindness.

But this is supposed to be a Catamount website, and this predates my high school years by about 6... so I should probably get some more scanned material online. Onward.

I could scan an old Caillet PTA book my mom kept - boy we were packrats!
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