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STORIES

Included in this section are stories from my life that I thought might be of interest to others.

I've had a lot of great experiences, and I'd like to tell you about a few.

1. Ancestry

2. Early Years

3. Primary/Secondary

4. Georgia Tech

5. USAF

6. Marriage and Family

7. Harvard

8. TRW

9. SDS/XDS

10. Later Years

11. Grandchildren

12. Nature

13. Technology and the Future

14. Musings

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From Preston Stevens regarding the most exclusive neighborhood in Atlanta (2023):

 

DEAR EBEN )AND NANCY (Tilley - old friends from N. Fulton High, now living in Colorado),

I HAVE NEVER SEEN THE VIDEO.  IT BRINGS BACK MEMORIES.

DODIE'S DAD WAS A CONTEMPORARY OF MY PARENTS BUT I NEVER HEARD THAT THEY WERE ANY MORE THAN ACQUAINTANCES. THOSE 600 ACRES HE BOUGHT WERE TURNED INTO ONE OF THE BEST DEVELOPMENTS IN ATLANTA. I HEARD OF CHARLIE BLACK ALL MY LIFE BUT I DID NOT REALIZE THE EXTENT OF HIS HOLDINGS. WE ARE ALL LUCKY HE WAS SENSITIVE TO WHO BOUGHT FROM HIM BECAUSE MANY OF THE HOUSES WERE DESIGNED BY FINE ARCHITECTS AND MUNROE WAS A GOOD CHOICE FOR LANDSCAPING AS WELL.

 

RIGDON HAD A QUESTION ABOUT DODO-OR DODIE-OWENS. THEY WERE FAIRLY DISTANT COUSINS I THINK.

WHEN MARIAN CAME TO TOWN AFTER WE WED SHE WAS CONFUSED BY ALL THE NICK NAMES. GEORGIA SEEMS TO BE A BIG PLACE FOR THAT. THE GIRLS SHE MET WERE DODO, DODIE ,DEE DEE,PEACHES, EDIE B, JODY,--AND SO ON. SOON OUR GOVERNOR WAS TO BE JIMMY. THE STATE OFFICE BUILDING WAS THE SLOPPY FLOYD BLDG.

 

DODIE OWENS WAS FRANK'S SISTER. FRANKLY, SHE WAS NOT VERY SEXY SO I CAN'T FIGURE OUT IF IT WAS THAT DODIE HAM STOCKTON WAS REJECTED BY.

I ALWAYS KNEW DODIE BLACK AS DODO BLACK. SHE WAS AN EXCELLENT GOLFER AND HORSE WOMAN. A NICE LITTLE LADY.

I WILL FORWARD THE VIDEO TO THE BUCKHEAD HERITAGE SOCIETY.

 

STEVE

From me to Preston Stevens on 9/30/2023:

 

Steve,

Which of our friends had a Model A? I remember a car, I think, but not who owned it.

Thanks,

Bubba

Reply from Preston Stevens same day:

MANRY STARTED THE MODEL A THING WITH "THE POWER", A RODESTER. THEN I HAD TO GET ONE. I PAID $35 FOR A TWO DOOR. THEN HENRY JACKSON GOT A '29 MODEL A. WE GOT TO BRAGGING AND SET UP A RACE ON THE 4 LANE. COULDN'T DO THAT TODAY BUT BACK THEN IT WAS ALMOST DESERTED. SECRETLY R.E. FREEMAN AND HENRY RE-BUILT HENRY'S ENGINE. I THOUGHT PUTTING MOTHBALLS IN TH E GAS WOULD DO IT. WE STARTED ON A FLAG HELD BY A STORE KEEPER NEAR BARFIELDS. THE END WAS UP NEAR MORES MILL. HE EASILY PASSED ME AND IT COST ME$10.

S

Family* - Carlsbad - written in 2018

 

I’d like to give you an idea of life at 74 and 88 in our little home in Carlsbad: I generally rise at 6 AM, watch Morning Joe while completing cleaning of the kitchen, then make coffee and my breakfast which often is a $0.50 fruit pie from Walmart. Trish usually rises later and has a yogurt/fruit/flax combo. We have a wonderful woman who walks Dudley several mornings a week. 

 

I go to “Light Exercise” classes at the Y three mornings a week - if you saw us moving to music you would swear we were dancing. I am one of three or four males who performed again for the class before Christmas as ”Les Danseurs” to rave reviews… 

 

We generally lunch at home, nap, walk Dudley again before enjoying a Scotch (Trish) or gin & tonic (me) before dinner which each of us prepares. We watch the news and a recorded TV program or movie before bed by 10ish.

 

We don’t go out to eat as much as Trish would like but have settled on several local restaurants that we like. We enjoy excellent local theatre and movies.

 

We spend more time with the medical establishment thane would like but have aligned with several excellent doctors to treat our various health issues.

 

We miss family and friends in the Bay Area but have made several friends here and are so fortunate to have Trish’s sister Gina's and my son Steve’s family nearby.

Family* - Charles James Currie:

 

“Big Charlie”, or as Charles and I called him during our teens in his absence: “Bic”, was our father. Life had not been easy for him. Born in Kemper County, MS, on August 28, 1892, to Frances Neville and James Hector Currie, who was a lawyer and district attorney. He was in his freshman year at Mississippi State College when his father died and he had to drop out of school and go to work to help support his mother.

 

He found a job as a clerk in a timber business in southern Mississippi. One day he went into the closest town to conduct business for the timber company. He came back to camp to a strange, threatening, quiet. He walked on the dirt road into the camp

office building. As soon as he entered the building, shots rang out from both sides of the road he had just passed over. A full blown race riot was underway. Fortunately for my dad (& me!), he was liked by both sides.

 

In later life, he proved that he still had the trait of moderation. Both of my parents were ardent Democrats & supporters of FDR & Truman while most of their friends were Republicans or Southern Democrats. But this difference never got in the way of their friendships.

 

Big Charlie won several thousand dollars, including $15 from his younger son, as a result of the Truman-Dewey campaign. The betting odds were 15:1 in favor of Dewey. 

 

After his retirement, the Truman’s returned to Independence, MO. Mr. Truman had an office in Kansas City. My father arranged a meeting and took a train from Atlanta to Kansas City, stayed overnight in a hotel and went to Mr. Truman’s Office the next morning. He was ushered into the President’s office. Mr. Truman looked up at him and said “Currie, why in the hell did you come all the way from Atlanta to see me? I thought that all of you fellows in South hated me”. 

 

My father looked him in the eye and replied “Not all is, Mr. President”. From this point they had a 45 minute chat which was a high point in my father’s life.

 

Though our mother gave Charles & me 1st stage punishment for misdeeds, the really egregious acts justified waiting for our father to come home in the evenings. One or the other or both of us would be invited to join him in his ”office”, the bathroom adjoining our parents bedroom. He would ask us to “assume the position” and he would then whack our fannies a few times. As a rather well-behaved little boy I got far fewer invitations to the “office” than did my more rambunctious older brother.

 

Above read to Memoir Group on 05/22/20

 

Over the years Charles started calling me “The Favorite” because I was always much easier to manage. This was partially because I was sneakier in my escapades than he. 

 

Charles always got caught. Any misbehavior that he did always cane to light - he made sure of it if I didn’t. He must have liked the disruption even if he got punished for it. 

 

One factor in our family was that Charles was more popular with the Currie side and I with the Berry side. It worked both ways too. My mother’s family was quite different than my father’s. Both of her brother’s were early engineering graduates of Georgia Tech. Francis Rigdon Berry, the older, was the Chief Engineer of the American Waterworks in New York City. His family lived in New Rochelle.

 

Her other older brother, Maxwell Rufous Berry, started his own company, The Electric Products Company in Cleveland, Ohio. He was my favorite uncle and probably the main reason I went to Georgia Tech and became an engineer myself. Whenever Uncle Max came to town (see letter to Mark Berry), I was delighted.

Pandemic & Me, Part 1:

 

Trish and I have been on lockdown since the first of March, she a month earlier because of a health condition.

 

I am amazed at how well we have adapted. Fortunately we each have our own space, she in her sewing room or more likely at her desk in the kitchen and I in my “Lab” (grandson Patric’s name which stuck). She spends a lot of time on the Internet shopping and looking at things of interest to her. I do a lot of email with friends and have made great headway in organizing my video and image libraries.

 

I completed editing all of my bird trip videos with the help of Trevor Jackson, a young man who had recently graduated from San Diego State. All are available on my YouTube Channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4JVuogvAkBKQ8Q_GtOa2VQ/playlists and in this memoir website.

 

Included in this collection are 63 video programs of trips all over the world. I was drawn to the natural, scenic and cultural features of the places I visited, not just the birds. These programs are available to anyone and have received over 200,000 views.

 

Also included in my YouTube Channel are 47 programs of events and trips with family and friends which did not have a nature focus. These videos are also available on this memoir website.

 

Altogether, this collection comprises many of my more enjoyable and exciting moments.

 

My more recent focus has been organizing the photographs taken over 70 years including over 2000 scanned slides which go back 70+ years. I find that image-based programs are more difficult to organize in an interesting manner but have produced a few programs which are included in this memoir.

 

I have also enjoyed taking up the culinary arts. I have collected recipes for years but seldom cooked more than simple ones, such as microwaving scrambled eggs in a coffee cup. The self-quarantining has given me the opportunity to actually prepare some of the more complicated ones. 

 

Updated, June 2021

Pandemic & Me, Part 2 :

 

I last wrote about Trish’s and my reaction to the Covid pandemic in October. It was a very positive note and focused on what we had done to enjoy our lives. I will now bring my pandemic history up to date. 

 

I note that I did not mention that my Apple Watch, unprovoked, suggested to me last August that I probably had AFIB (atrial fibrillation) and to “check with your doctor”. I then entered into what was an unpleasant period. 

 

The Apple Watch AFIB diagnosis was verified by my Scripps’s cardiologist. It continued. On September 1st I underwent a “cardioversion”, an in-hospital procedure that sends a jolt through the chest that literally burned my skin such that I could not wear a shirt with any comfort for several days - you have undoubtedly seen similar devices on walls at airports. It stopped the AFIB but just for a couple of weeks when it returned and was then proclaimed as “persistent” (24/7). My cardiologist then recommended the implant of a “Watchman” device, a minute screen that is inserted through the femoral vein into the atrial region of the heart to cover a small hollow where clots form that too often break loose and cause strokes. The Watchman was inserted on November 2nd and gave me relief that a stroke was unlikely.

 

But the AFIB continued. Its affect was to slow me down in many ways: less energy in general, higher pulse rate which went much higher during exercise, general malaise. Since exercise has been very important for me for most of my adult life, I found this inhibiting and discouraging. Though not what I would call depressed, I felt increasingly bummed. I consulted my cardiologists and “radio frequency ablation” was recommended as the only real option for possible cure. Though I was older than most who get this procedure, because of my attitude and general good health, the procedure was scheduled for Friday February 19. The procedure was similar to that for the Watchman.

 

The ablation went well. I stayed over-night in the hospital and came home the next day. As I write this on March 15th, I am still recovering, not from the operation but from the anesthesia. Apparently, this was a longer process than the Watchman. My energy is coming back but I tire easily. AFIB is known to reoccur after the first ablation and another may be necessary. I hope that this will not be my experience. (So far, so good as of April 15, 2023

 

I am convinced that my first AFIB “attack” was at Abra Patricia Lodge, at high altitude in Northern Peru in 2012, after taking Larium a malaria-preventing drug. I had never experienced a reaction to Larium (which I had taken for several years to prevent malaria during tropical birding trips) but one night I seemed to get every negative side-affect: delirium, where I found myself off of the bed and on the floor by my bed believing I was trying to keep from falling into writhing naked bodies I was standing on!, hives and worst of all: losing my breath under physical stress. I was unable to hike on a trail to see the recently discovered Long-whiskered Owlet, a very rare and major target bird. I had lost my energy….because of my first AFIB attack, in my opinion. This diagnosis was later confirmed as likely by the tropical medicine expert at the CDC in Atlanta. I also wonder whether Larium started the deterioration of my aortic valve which was replaced in July of 2013.

 

Trish has continued to deal with a multitude of health “issues” including diabetes, Sjogren’s Syndrome, asthma, fungal pneumonia. She occasionally gets down but has always come back with good humor and a positive attitude.

 

Thus, health issues have dominated the second half of our Covid quarantine. But enough organ recitals!

 

Otherwise we have done quite well, generally enjoying our enforced solitude. I have continued my Zoom exercise classes and recently returned to on-site physical therapy, both of which help immeasurably in “keeping the old man out!”

 

I cook a lot and enjoy my chores as scullery-maid, etc. We get together with Inga Liden, our Swedish pal, in jointly preparing meals from her extraordinary cookbook written some 30 years ago. Her approach was to do recipes for complete meals. I pick the main course and then we assign preparation of all dishes. We also have instituted Zoom Quarantinis with family and friends from around the country. Dudley remains a major focus for both Trish and me. He brings so much joy with his antics and attitude.

 

Written in March, 2021, updated in June.

Congressional Tribute to Francis Rigdon Currie on his 90th Birthday

Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor Francis Rigdon Currie, a former long-time resident  of Palo Alto who is celebrating his 90th birthday on July 19, 2020. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to Constance Berry Currie and Charles James Currie and he had one sibling, Charles James Currie, Jr.

Georgia born and bred, Rigdon retains the elegant accent and perfect manners he learned growing up in the South. A Georgia Tech and Harvard Business School graduate, Rigdon served our country in the Air Force for two years, and went on to lead a productive and adventure-filled life. His great career at Xerox was followed by a productive tenure as a venture capitalist, creating hundreds of well-paying jobs. Exceedingly generous with his time, resources and talent, he mentored countless career-seekers, leading them to positions that ideally suit them. His generosity extended to many non-profit organizations, including the Pacific Theological School in Berkeley where he served on the Board for many years. His efforts in Marin County resulted in many miles of roads in Point Reyes being free of trash.

Rigdon is an ardent birder. He has seen and identified more than 5,000 species during his birdwatching avocation, and travelled to 90 countries in pursuit of them. He loves sharing his love of birds with others, and often carries a tripod and telescope to make sure others are able to see and appreciate his finds.

Rigdon is the adoring father of two sons, Steven and David, their partners and his grandchildren. He is the proud stepfather of Chris and Alexis, their spouses and children. There is nothing any of them can ask of him that he would refuse. The center of his family is his wife of 40 years, Trish Johnson. Together they have welcomed hundreds into their Palo Alto and Point Reyes homes, creating havens for those in need. They also created parties, hikes, apple pressing and good times for friends in need.

A brilliant business man, an extraordinary birder, a most generous philanthropist, a friend to so many and a devoted family man, Rigdon Currie sets an example for all of us to emulate. His ninety years have been filled with adventure and giving to others, and we are a better and stronger country because of him and his work.

Madam Speaker, I ask the entire House of Representatives to join me in honoring Rigdon Francis Currie as he celebrates his 90th birthday, and in wishing him many more years of living life to the fullest.

 

The above Congressional proclamation was written by great friend Anne Raam and delivered by Representative Anna Eshoo, form Santa Clara County, CA

Mississippi Curries (6/24/2023:

 

Mid-1930s: our family would drive to Meridian, MS, every summer for a week or so. We would stay at Grandmother Currie’s little brick house. She was a warm but rather nervous lady who worried a lot about Charles’ & my bowel habits. At least 2X/day to be healthy!

 

Side note on Grandmother Currie: while she was visiting us in Atlanta one year, I had a slight cold. She made a little cloth bag filled with camphor and hung it around my neck to cure me. I wore it to school and was embarrassed at the stares. The next day, on the way to school, I hung it on our mail box and then picked it up on my walk back home. Everybody was happy…Particularly me.

 

A 13 year black boy named Chris was a special friend of the Meridian Curries. Charles & I worshipped Chris. He had a 2-wheel cart he took us riding in; it was pulled by a goat! It was an amazing experience riding around Grandmother’s neighborhood in Chris’s goat cart. We looked forward to those rides more than anything before going to Meridian. 

 

Then one spring, mother told us that Chris had died. We knew that he had a congenital heart problem but no idea what that meant. That left a hole in my heart. Chris was one of the nicest people I ever knew.

 

My father’s brother, Hector Currie, also lived in Meridian with his wife Rachel where they raised 4 children: Hector, Warner, Rodes and Rachel. Rachel, the youngest, was born in 1930, just like me, and is the only one left in 2023. I was secretly in love with Rachel but never told a soul…The 3 sons all got law degrees. Hector became a Rhodes Scholar and retired as a beloved law professor at Ole Miss. Warner became a successful lawyer in Atlanta. Rodes worked for the Federal Government in Washington, DC. Rachel married a salesman, loved horses, raised 3 sons and enjoyed living in Oxford, MS. And she still does.

 

Living in an apartment in the basement of the Hector Currie’s large home in Meridian were Uncle Sam & Aunt Rachel, a black couple who had been born into slavery… in the Currie family. After emancipation, they continued as house servants for the Curries until too old to work when Uncle “Hec” and Aunt Rachel built an apartment in their basement, where they retired. Yes, I knew folks who were born into slavery! Lovely, sweet couple.

 

Also in Meridian was the Duke family. My father’s sister Isabella had been married to James Haughey Duke. She had 3 daughters: Isabelle, Neville (Grandmother’s maiden name) & Ann, a year older than Charles. Aunt Isabelle divorced Mr. Duke (alcohol abuse) and later married Ed Baskin who was with her until he died. Aunt Isabelle died in.

 

Her daughter and my first cousin, Isabelle, married Robert Hinds and had a daughter Isabella with whom I am still close. She just lost her husband Richard Larson to a heart attack (5//2023) and lives in Wilmington, NC.

 

Ann’s fate was horrific. After a successful marriage to William Kahlmus (who had died from a heart attack) and a fine son and daughter, her lovely home in Meridian literally blew up from a natural gas explosion. A leaky ground pipe had filled the basement and the hot water heater pilot set off the explosion destroying the home and dear Ann.

 

My father’s youngest sister, Nancy, married Joe Robinson and moved to Jackson. After Joe died from a heart attack, Nancy moved to Washington, DC, where she ran a successful US Treasury program to sell War Bond to women. Nancy was the highest placed woman to ever have served in the Treasury Department. Nancy retired a few years later and loved hosting her nieces and nephews at her beautiful apartment in Washington. She was the beloved family Auntie Mame.

STORY (CLICK ON THIS, THEN HIGHLIGHT BY CLICKING "EDIT TEXT", AND DELETE ALL THIS TEXT, THEN PASTE YOUR STORY INTO THIS BOX.)

STORY (CLICK ON THIS, THEN HIGHLIGHT BY CLICKING "EDIT TEXT", AND DELETE ALL THIS TEXT, THEN PASTE YOUR STORY INTO THIS BOX.)

CONNIE BERRY is my 1st Cousin, once removed, and my mother's namesake. An exchange in 2023:

 

To Connie from me:

How’s the house sale coming along? Or do you now have to wait for next season? (Connie has a summer house in up-state NY)

What is brand of your new favorite limeade (or was it lemonade?)

Do you miss the cards you have sent? (Connie has been sending us post cards (almost daily) from her extensive collection for a few years.)

No, Dudley is not into T-shirts, thanks.

No, not many in Hollywood would ever look at the lighted cross. I haven’t seen it…

I’ll never forget that Trish went to Venice with friends from our Italian walking trip after 9/11. I went on a birding trip in Spain….

 

Your CUZ

 

Rigdon Currie

__________

 

From Connie to me: 

 

1) Simply Limeade (comes in other flavors but I’m true to lime) 

2) Don’t miss the post cards at all; glad they’re going to a good place; 

     there are still very many more

3)  House sale is like pulling teeth in the 12th C. But I press on.

I didn’t know about 9/11 until Weds. afternoon. I was staying in a hotel in Paris 

w/o TV. No one in the hotel told me. Tuesday I was at the Institute du Monde Arabe and no one there said anything (understandably, I guess). 

But I figured out something had happened and read about it Wednesday PM in Le Monde. 

When I returned a week later, I could still smell it from my studio apt, which had had a view of the World Trade Towers. 

My office was downtown. No one there was hurt but they told about walking 

uptown with concrete dust raining on them. 

And then the world changed… 

 

 xo to the three of you, Cuz

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