Sometimes the littlest things uncover greater knowledge, and sometimes the knowledge hits deep.
A few days ago emjayandthem‘s blog published an item that led me to write a comment about the movie Billy Jack and going to see it half a dozen times at the Rialto Theatre, at that time a single screen venue in my home town of Westfield – these were the days when movies were seventy-five cents. This got me to thinking about writing a post about my hometown, as it was then, and I started nosing around on the ‘net for pictures of the Rialto, preferably in its single screen days. The theater still exists but is now a “multi-plex’, well as plexed as it can be in a downtown location. I also started looking for images of The Music Staff (remember this post from a year ago where I rambled about my high school dream job?) and I was surprised to see that the only picture of the long-gone record store on the internet is the one I published as part of that post. Switching over from image search to web site searches for The Music Staff, a link caught my eye and my chest immediately tightened.
What I had stumbled across was an obituary for Ric Miller – he was the son of the family I worked for at The Staff. It hit me hard, one because he was young but after some introspection I realized that outside of my grandfather, Ric was the only male I unconditionally trusted during that time of my life. A more kind and decent family I didn’t know; I realized The Staff was my refuge during those wonderful (yeah right) high-school years. Ric was fresh from Kent State at the time (no, he wasn’t there for the shootings) and had this quiet energy. I watched him deal with all sorts of people in the store and he always had a smile for everyone. He was the first person to make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on RYE…i won’t eat one any other way now. He was the first person to get me pleasantly stoned, driving around in his VW bus with his good buddy Bob (what a risk that was…but hey, this was the 70’s). I was always comfortable being in the store, but especially when Ric was around.
I hadn’t seen Ric in probably twenty-five years, and the fact that he died three years ago stung a little bit, but there is a part of me that is glad that I know. There was a piece of him lodged deep inside me and seeing this brought tears to my eyes. Besides being one of the more decent human beings I ever met, he meant a lot to me at a time when there was little stability in my life.