(pic) The 3 Musketeers of Armstrong Nursery
Rickie Oliver, Annie Sprague & Mitch Armstrong
This pic was taken about 3 years ago when we all took a vacation to the mountains. The waterfall in the background is Ruby Falls, at Unicoi State Park near Helen, Georgia.
Here, we are playing tourist....note, the field glasses around Rickie's neck..something he always had with him..you never know when he would see an interesting bird !
This past Sat & Sunday, we vended at both our markets with our hearts heavy from Rickie's passing Friday night, but we knew he would want us to keep working and stay busy. The best thing about the markets was all the love and heartfelt hugs we received on behalf of Rickie and his family.
We had fun remembering many market stories of Rickie, especially of his early days, when he doing his spice booth.
(Annie remembers: ) -> He had this old blue van and of course, not all the tables, crates and product would fit entirely inside so the doors and windows couldn't always be shut entirely. Plus, he had to make a drive up to market over a very tall and windy bridge (the Sunshine Skyway), so you can imagine how many bungees, ropes and prayers it took to keep it all intact ! Of course, Rickie had it all packed with precision and I don't think he ever lost anything...maybe a few rolling tomatoes :)
As was his way, he was always running a bit behind after getting little sleep the night before, then getting up at 4am to get the veggies out the cooler, grab an hour of shut-eye, than head up to St. Pete from Wimauma (a good hour drive). At the time, I was market manager and knew I had to keep an opening till the last minute to fit Rickie in. Finally, he would come whizzing in, and madly dash about to set up his booth, which was located smack in the middle of the street.
Market day would progress, then he would have to pack it all up again. He was always the last to finish and I couldn't reopen the street until he was out of the way, so I would stand there with a bit of a frustration, but couldn't help grinning as he would shove everything in, then set about putting as many bungee cords and ropes on and about for the trip home.....we always joked that he looked like the Beverly Hillbillies with all his belongings strapped on for dear life !
More stories to come from others in the near future !
For now, Kathy and her family picked the date of March 20, which is just after Rickie's birthday, to have a celebration of his life, at their farm in Wimauma and all are welcome to a pot lock dinner and maybe a roaring fire, to sit around and share our memories. More details of the get-together will come from Kathy as the date gets nearer.
For now, it is still so odd to not having Rickie calling Mitch at 8am every morning during the week to get him going, and for the late evening calls, where they would commiserate about their day, current events, TV shows and just yak. Rickie also had the habit, when he was not with us, of ringing us up alot.....we would pick up the cellphone, and all we would hear was some old loud, rock & roll song that he wanted to share with us. He sure loved his old rock & roll :)