.... was in my 6th grade class in the late 70's. He was one of only 6 boys in the class - there were 18 girls - it made discipline issues so easy and I had a wonderful year. Ricky was enormously popular with the girls - good looking, charming beyond his years, liked by teachers even though he was not an angel, somewhat rambunctious. I had a great relationship with his mom. I haven't thought of Ricky in years but was reminded of him when today's NY Times had an article about a boy who died after some horseplay in the playground that led to his being in the head by another boy, one of his friends.

    The summer after Ricky graduated, he was playing with his best friend, another student at my school. They were fixing up their bikes. One of them had a flat. They were using a knife to cut a patch. They started horsing around with the knife. Ricky started tossing it from hand to hand like they did in movies - remember West Side Story - saying something like "come on Chickie." His friend came at him, tripped over the bike and fell into the knife and died.

    I heard this version from Ricky himself when he came back to school to visit the next year. It was considered an accident and Ricky as far as I know never had to face the criminal justice system. His family was a supportive one (thank goodness) and the other boy's family from what I heard did not call for Ricky's head and may have even forgiven him. Maybe it was Ricky's charm. Or maybe times were just different then.

    The last time I saw Ricky he was in his late 20's and doing well in life. Still charming, the same old little boy smile. No obvious scars left from a few moments of foolish folly when he was 11 years old.

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