Remembering Aunt Ricky


Trying to write something about Aunt Ricky, I feel so inapt.  Through tears and laughter, I have tried to compile some thoughts about some of my memories.  I cannot think of anyone who has has impacted my life more than Aunt Ricky.  The way she remembered birthdays and anniversaries, the way she spoke kindly to everyone, her smile, her cheerful voice, her love of all things fine and beautiful…HAPPY NEW YEAR phone call at midnight of the new year.  Oh Darling, I love you!  She left an impression on everyone she met and will forever live on in our hearts.

Every year with the anticipation of Christmas, we also looked forward to Aunt Ricky’s annual visit.

You would find her in her sister Marilyn’s kitchen cutting up a fruit salad for Mark, knowing it was his favorite.  There would be a stack of correspondence ready to send out to those she loved, and of course the annual roses from Harry.

We visited the Botanical Garden, the Swan House and The High Museum, along with other historical places around Atlanta.  She always wore her signature leopard coat, hat and had several bags with her wherever we traveled.   We made our annual trip to Everybody’s Pizza.  There were big tables and they sat strangers at your table. Aunt Rick would immediately make new friends. 

Atlanta Botanical Garden

We ate in the Tea Room at the Swan House, stopping in the gift shop to pick up something special to remember her trip.  That day she bought “Beatrix Potter’s Art, full of stories and illustrations from the artist”.  Aunt Ricky always loved rabbits, and she loved having books to read to the children.

We walked through the High Museum together, children in tow.  They all acted like they didn’t want to go to the museum, but everyone enjoyed seeing the art through Aunt Ricky’s eyes.  My love of art came from spending time with her. We saw a Monet Exhibition at the High one year.  It is so different seeing art in person and not in a book.   

On our family outings, we were either in Jeff’s VW bus or my van.  Aunt Ricky preferred to sit in the back with the kids, entertaining them with stories, reading books, and giving them something sweet from her purse.  She loved being with the children.  On Christmas Day we all opened presents at Marilyn’s house.  She had the perfect gift for everyone, brought all the way from NJ in one of her heavy bags, along with the delicious cinnamon rolls made in Haddonfield. 

When we visited Aunt Ricky, she took us to so many interesting places:  Wanamaker’s to touch the eagle’s feathers, the Reading Terminal to eat, and to see the Tiffany Mosaic wall in the Curtis Publishing Building in Philadelphia.  She showed us how we could whisper into the corner of the station at the Oyster house and the person on the other side could hear you.  We saw where pennies were made.  Every year she made sure Daniel had the newly issued state quarter. We all received envelopes full of newspaper clippings that related to our special interests, along with a note saying she loved us. 

When visiting her, we would walk down the street in Haddonfield to the pizza house; she would introduce her nephew to everyone, “this is my nephew Mark from Atlanta”.  No matter where we went in Haddonfield, everyone knew Aunt Ricky, and her boys, Mark and Jeff from Atlanta. 

She loved the singing plant, “HELLO”, echoing throughout the house.  It was typical Aunt Ricky.  She made a point to know about your interests and also about your family and friends.  Anyone that knows me, knows about Aunt Ricky.  When you visited Aunt Ricky, she always had a “don’t cry” prize to give you as you were leaving.  On my first visit, she gave me a green Wedgwood Jasper ware Trinket box.  One year we took Mrs. Klein to visit Aunt Ricky.  She said her home was like a museum, and it was.  Aunt Ricky had beautiful crewel work and art on the walls.  She had needlepoint chairs that she and her mother had done.  I asked her how she was able to do so much hand work, she said it was in all those long hours praying for her family during the war, and when she cared for her family when they were sick. Every stitch holds a prayer for someone she loved.  Everything in her house held a special memory to Aunt Ricky, whether it was time spent with people she loved or places she had traveled. She worked hard, and every year went on a big trip.  She took Weezy, her baby sister Marilyn with her on many trips.  She rode a donkey down the Grand Canyon, skied the slopes in Colorado, all the while with her little black camera with the flash bulbs.  She was the one who documented the family events. 

Aunt Ricky kept wonderful records of her father’s experience in WWI and her ancestors.  History and family were very important to her.  She was very active in the DAR and had accumulated wonderful pictures and stories of her relatives.  I wouldn’t say Aunt Ricky was stubborn, perhaps a better word would be persistent.  If she wanted something, she would write letters, and she WOULD get an answer.  She wanted an autograph copy of “Rickenbacker, An Autobiography”.  She didn’t get a response from Prentice-Hall so she wrote to Edward Rickenbacker and made her request.  He responded, “My dear Miss Horton…I am terribly sorry to hear that Prentice-Hall had failed to this degree.”  Needless to say, Aunt Ricky got her autographed copy of his book.

She must have been old when I met her, but she never seemed old to me.  One time during a summer visit she wanted to ride on Mark’s tractor.  She wore a big overcoat, even in the summer, and always a hat.  She fell off, got up and brushed it off, and had Georgia red clay all over her coat.  I think that coat always bore the stain of Georgia’s red clay and became another memory for Aunt Ricky.

Aunt Ricky had a wonderful way of diverting the conversation.  She would not be drawn into any topic that was negative.  “OH REALLY” and the conversation would be abruptly changed.  I have found that technique quite useful. Another Aunt Rickyism was “What was the best thing that happened to you today? It was a conversation we all had after every outing with Aunt Ricky, and still have today with family and friends.

Having a Blue Moon at the Pub
Philadelphia Flower Show with Mark and Jeff
Always an adventure with Aunt Ricky

Some other phrases and things I remember about Aunt Ricky: 

In all things be thankful

More time to pray

Ricky’s Blue Moon

Pink bathroom

She always smelled of roses

Soft Hands

Walking to the Pub

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

This is the way Aunt Ricky lived her life.  In her own words Aunt Ricky would leave you with this:

LIVE     LOVE     LAUGH    




Day Trip to the Big Apple

I don’t know how many of my cousins remember, but Aunt Ricky was the one who took us to the Big Apple for a day trip. Not all at once, but I believe it was a special birthday gift. I know for me it was my first train ride and still love riding them.

I got to go atop the Empire State Building and see the Rockettes in Radio City Music Hall. The movie we saw was “Jumbo” with Jimmy Durante.

It was the perfect movie for that HUGE screen and being a musical the sound was wonderful. I can still remember how the film really came to life for me, and yes I still enjoy the Rockettes.

Chestnut St in Philadelphia

There weren’t any McDonalds back then, but she introduced me to Horn and Hardarts. It was a great day over 60 years ago and one of my view vivid memories of my childhood.

Thanks again, Aunt Rick!


Coolest Lady Ever!

I met Aunt Ricky through Derrick when she was at Haddonfield Commons. She seemed so excited to see Derrick and to meet me, and gave me the biggest hug even though I had never even met her before! She was incredibly warm and bubbly, bouncing around and talking a mile a minute.

I would always ask about her and hear she was well, and I was told that she had asked about me on occasion! I have heard so many stories about her rich, full, and exciting life, and what a fabulous socialite she had been in her heyday and what a fun and spontaneous life she had.

I hope to live a life as rich and exciting and full of love and joy as hers was! Such a pleasure to have met her!


Please Report to the Railroad Desk

Back in 1972, I was in the Navy. I was finally able to fly home on leave after being overseas for over a year. I had made my own flight arrangements, and my Mom and Dad were supposed to pick me up at LaGuardia. It was a long flight, but I knew that once I landed in New York, I was home free.

I had offered one of my buddies a ride from LaGuardia to JFK for his adjoining flight to Iowa. We were two sailors departing from an 8 hour flight after being treated quite well by the airline with plenty of food and drink.

There wasn’t any TSA back then and people could meet you as you left the plane. You can’t imagine my shock and disappointment when Mom and Dad weren’t there. I called home and was told Mom and Dad had left hours ago. Cell phones didn’t exist, so my friend and I were unsure of what to do. That’s when I heard my name paged over the airport speaker telling me to report to the Railroad Desk. At the desk I was told I had a phone call. To my surprise, it was my Aunt Ricky.

She informed me that my Dad had gone to the wrong airport. She then went on to tell me how to get my friend over to JFK. She then told me to put the Railroad man back on the phone. He then gave my friend and me tickets for the train.

He walked us down to the depot and made sure we both got on the right trains. My train took me to 30th Street Station where I was met by my brother Joe and Aunt Ricky. After a short ride home we waited for my parents who were returning from NY. I was never quite sure how Aunt Ricky had pulled this all together, but I will never forgot the thrill of hearing her voice that evening. She took charge of everything while still having a calming effect. 


Photography Award

The baby in the mirror picture is me taken by AR.  Reason it’s out today is not because I was extra cute again. Word is it won AR some kind of photography award. It’s saved from a slide. I’m guessing the actual award winning photo was better.


Ricky’s Moon or Joey’s Moon

AR took me to Chicago. I’m sure it was free, and I’m sure I was quite young as I only vaguely remember the train and naming the state capitals to my rather impressed AR. I remember not a thing in Chicago and wonder still if we didn’t just ride out and back! 

What I was told a large number of times for years all the way from perhaps 1970 to 1995 was this:

We were on the train at night looking up at the moon. AR apparently told me it was her moon and I’m told I replied it was mine. I’m told she begged to differ. At which point I apparently said,

“It’s OK, I have one at home.”

For roughly that 25 year period, I was asked if I remembered this.  I did not and still have no recollection. But I guess I was cute!


Fainting in Church

I fainted in church while singing some hymn. No idea why other than it was hot and God thought it might be funny. Or I overdid it on the high notes. I’ve never passed out again in my life. I don’t blame the church. 

I know it was AR at my side when I came to. Looking back, I think my Dad pawned me off on her for church more than once! 

Just thought of that now – 60+ years later.


10 Spot to Replace the Storm Windows

Each fall, and for several years after, my grandfather either could not — or simply cared not to — I would carry from the behind the heater in the basement these heavy wooden storm windows and replace the heavy wooden screen versions. (run on sentence, but). 

I’m pretty sure my grandfather made them and each was marked (Weezies’ back window, or Ricky’s bedroom) Never saw anything for Fred or Joe. Not sure where they slept. In the spring reverse the process. 

I actually looked forward to this. Why? Because AR paid me like $10 cash and I’d live off that for weeks or more. Back on the bike and home we go flush with a ten spot.


Feeding the Lichtmans’ Horse

Post church most Sundays I would often get to go to Pop Pop, Mom Mom, ARs house two blocks south. From there AR would take me to a nearby neighbors (Lichtmans) who owned a horse. Out would come the sugar cubes from AR’s pocket and that horse slobbered all over my palm taking one after another like they were free.  


Uplifting Spirit

George E. Morris, Retired Pastor:

It was my privilege to serve the Haddonfield United Methodist Church for eleven years and during that pastorate was blessed to know Dorothy. She was faithful to her church! When I visited her at her apartment in the Commons I always left with an uplifted spirit.  She was graceful and gracious. She was kind. She had a wonderful smile and an uplifting spirit! What a blessing to have known her and to have had my life touched by this dear woman.

Rest in peace, Dorothy!!