Ricki Thomas Peter

Episode #788

March 9, 2024

I am small for my age.
My father hands me a 32” wooden baseball bat.



I test the balance, the bat is heavy. Dad tosses me an easy, arching under-hander. I swing so far under the ball that it strikes the top of the bat and dribbles onto the ground. “Choke up,” says Dad. He walks over to me and says, “Like this,” pushing my grip up from the end of the bat.

A practice swing is flat and smooth. Dad tosses another one. I swing hard and true. The bat meets the ball with a CRACK. The ball flies across the street to my friend Grant’s house. A day later Dad comes up to me smiling, with something behind his back. He swings out his arm and hands me a 28” wooden Louisville Slugger baseball bat. It balances perfectly in one fist. My swing is flat, smooth, hard and true.

4th graders are cruel. I am out in the play yard playing dodgeball with some friends. The bullies appear out of nowhere and grab the ball away from me. “Ricki, Ricki, Ricki,” they taunt as they throw the ball hard at my head. Through the ringing of the impact I hear the bullies walking away saying, “What a girly name, Ricki… R-I-C-K-I-I-I…”

“I am NOT RICKI,” I yell after them. “My name is RICK.” And so it is. And so it will be.

Our fifth grade-class is on a field trip to the Hunt Wesson Foods public library. It is walking distance from the school. We are free to read any book we want. I have discovered the Space Cat series and the Doctor Doolittle books.  I have already read everything by Dr. Seuss.

I am absorbed in the first Space Cat book:

“A little gray kitten with a taste for adventure stows away on an airplane, and the daring stunt turns out to be his first step toward becoming … Space Cat! The plane’s pilot, Captain Fred Stone, names his fuzzy new friend Flyball and welcomes him to an experimental station set up in the middle of the desert. Flyball enjoys supervising the station’s workers and takes particular interest in the big rocket ship that he’s not allowed to explore. Regardless of the rules, the kitty is determined to hitch another ride, and before you know it, Flyball is wearing a custom-made pressurized suit and headed for the Moon.”

I am doodling in 5th grade. On my notebook is a Flash Gordon style rocket ship with stars and moon surrounding it. Tethered to the ship is an astronaut floating in freefall. I think that this is like my flying dream. I will never be a Top Gun jet pilot superstar which is necessary to become an astronaut, but I can dream. I do not want to be an astronaut to fly in a rocket. I want to float in space weightless.

My flying dream changes tonight. I am hovering over my neighborhood when a daylight moon catches my eye. I reach one arm out, Superman style, and streak toward the moon. Everything darkens. Stars poke out of the darkness strangely illuminating space. I fly around the Moon. It’s knowing face winks at me. As I come around the dark side the blue orb of the Earth centers in my view. I zoom toward the Earth at tremendous speed. I fly past a space ship with Flyball spacewalking. He waves and I wave back. The globe, North America, California, Orange County, Fullerton, my neighborhood. I glide through my bedroom’s open window, hover over my bed, settle down to my pillow and open my eyes. The dawn sun greets me with a wink and a smile.

My mother and father have no religion. They describe themselves as agnostic, having neither faith nor disbelief in God. My father has encouraged me to look at different religions to see if any of them appeal to me. I am 10 years old, yet I understand what he is saying. Dad takes me to different services to expose me to religion. We have visited a Protestant church. The message was cruel and frightening. The Jewish temple spoke of service to your fellow man and charity to all. The Mormons were a kind of exclusive club which allowed their members onto a ladder to heaven. If you were not Mormon, you were not even on the ladder. My sister, Debbi, is 6 years old and in the second grade. She plays with her neighbor friend, Sally. Sally goes to CCD class at Saint Mary’s church on Saturdays. Debbi wants to go with her. My father thinks this is a good idea and suggests that I go too.

It is two weeks before our first communion. My sister and I are not baptized, nor have we ever been to a Catholic Church mass. Our parents decide to take us to mass this coming Sunday. The church service is a requiem mass for President John F. Kennedy. The sermon is:

Matthew 22:37-40

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

The next day, at my urging, my parents arrange a meeting with my CCD teacher. She agrees to be my sister’s and my god mother at our baptism next week.

Orange County bishop Timothy Manning leans over me at the baptismal bowl. 

“God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into his holy people.”

My Baptismal name is Thomas after my middle name and for Saint Thomas, the doubter.

A week later my sister and I are standing with our fellow students, wearing a white dress and a black suit. We receive the sacrament of communion and are now officially Catholic. I advance to 5th grade where later this year I am confirmed. My confirmation name is Peter. I am now Ricki Thomas Peter Thues, but I still go by Rick. While I can’t really claim to be saved, my becoming Catholic will be a key that unlocks the rest of my life.

I have become a very good student. Voracious reading has opened my eyes to the possibilities that surround me. Today, however, in my 6th grade class, I am bored. My teacher drones on about something. No one likes this teacher for his habit of twisting students’ ears to get their attention. The class behind me is restless. I turn to face my friend in the desk behind me. I make a face and twist one of my ears. My friend giggles. I twist my ear again and the kids behind my friend laugh. My inner class clown is joyous. Then I feel my other ear being twisted. As I turn toward the pain I am horrified to see my teacher with my ear between his fingers.

“They are not laughing with you Rick. They are laughing at you,” says Mr. Eagly. Visions of 3rd grade flash in my mind. As Mr. Eagly lets go of my ear I say, “I am sorry.” I shake the sting from my ear and the fool out of my mind, an important lesson learned.

I have scored very well in my two Junior High School years. I have earned a reputation as a studious nerd. Some of the athletes in the school are cruel to the “smart kids” like me. Trevor Daniels is one of those bullies.

Trevor pushes me out of his way entering a junior high classroom. “Excuse me?” I ask. “Stay out of my way Poindexter or I’ll excuse you with my fist,” he responds. I snort a laugh. “Ok, piggy. You think this is funny? Meet me at the baseball diamond after school or you will regret it.” I have never been in a fight and I really don’t know how. I ask my friend Joey what I should do. He says, “Better go or Trevor will beat on you for the rest of the year.”

I go to the diamond after school. A small crowd of my friends and Trevor’s friends are there. I walk up to Trevor. He pushes me. “Didn’t think Poindexter would come.” I push him back. He swings a fist and I duck under it. I watch my right arm carving through the air to make solid impact on Trevor’s jaw. Startled, he stumbles to the ground, rubs this jaw and smiles. He stands, brushes the dust off his knees and says, “You’re OK Rick. Come here,” he says, extending his hand. I inch forward, flanked by my friends and take his hand. We shake and amazingly we are friends. Strange, I think to myself.

My father and I are playing catch in the front yard when my neighbor friend, Grant, walks across the street. Grant is a couple years older than me and a student at Servite High School. Servite is a college prep private Catholic school with a reputation for excellent academics. Grant says, “I was talking to your mom the other day about going to Servite High School. Just wanted to say that a smart kid like you might do really well there.”

Dad and Mom and I are sitting in the living room talking about Servite. It is really a lot of money for my sheet metal working father to afford. The cost is not an issue to them. “If you want to go to Servite, you should go,” says Dad. “We want the best for you, Ricki,” says Mom.
I want to go to a good college, so I say yes.


“Skydivers Know Why Birds Sing” by Ricki T Thues is now available on Amazon.
It is a Love story of Rick and Paula Thues and their 35 years of Skydiving.

Click HERE to buy the paperback or Kindle ebook at Amazon.

Follow Ricki T Thues on Amazon HERE.

“Technically Human” by Ricki T Thues, the iMentor, is available on Amazon.
It is a compilation of selected episodes from this bLog which tell the story of Humanity through the eyes of the iMentor.

Click HERE to buy the paperback or Kindle ebook at Amazon.
The ebook version of “Technically Human” is also available on Kobo. Click HERE.
For you Barnes and Noble Nook readers it is available for Nook. Click HERE.
The “Technically Human” ebook is also available on Apple Books . Click HERE.



One Response

  1. Danielle L BARLOW March 9, 2024

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