David R. Currie
A Rancher's Rumblings
March 26, 2007

My Mother, Mary Jim Currie, turns 90 years old on March 27, 2007. That means that she has been alive since 1917, the year the United States entered World War I. Just imagine all of the changes she has witnessed in her lifetime. I wouldn’t even begin to try and list all of them.

But as I reflect on her life, I realize that the most important things for her are not all of the progress that has been made scientifically or medically or in engineering or physics or whatever. The things that she treasures the most have lasting value and are really old ideas that she has passed on to my sister Carolyn and me, and to our children, too.

Mother came from an unusual family. For one thing, her Grandfather was named Sheila. I have never known another man named Sheila or another woman named Jim, but such is reality. Her Mother was a devout Christian but, as best I can figure, most members of her family were outlaws of some sort.

Her Dad was a unique man who was written about in books. He was president of the bank in Paint Rock for 30 years. He lived not with Grandmother but in the “doghouse” next door to Grandmother. The “doghouse” was a little one-room house that had a side room that held a gun case and reloading equipment. It had an outhouse beside it.

Granddad had his own kitchen connected to his garage, and he cooked most of the meals, because Grandmother was “too pretty to cook,” as he put it. However, he ate breakfast every morning at the little café in downtown Paint Rock, where everyone’s daily San Angelo Standard Times was delivered for them to stop by and pick up their copy. When I was in early elementary school, I would ride my bicycle there to drink coffee with him (he died when I was 9) and to read the baseball box scores in the paper before school.


Grandmother would take Mary Jim and her sister Jewette to Baptist conventions, but Granddad never went anywhere except hunting or fishing.

So, in reflecting on my Mother’s 90 th birthday, I thought I would mention a few things that she has taught me through the years.

  1. Be independent. Mother still lives alone. She’s learning to let others help her, but she is still strong-willed, thinks for herself, and is not shy about stating her opinion. I love to hear how she still feeds a visiting revival preacher at the house and quickly lets him know, early in the visit, that she is NOT A FUNDAMENTALIST! I guess that’s why I never even considered not fighting fundamentalism publicly, as I was taught at an early age to stand up for what I think is right.
  2. Don’t be dumb. The way Mother says it is “I hate dumbness.” She does not tolerate fools easily. Now I have still done a good many stupid things in my life, but I could always hear her, whether or not she was actually there, reminding me how stupid I was acting. Thus, I guess I’m saying, it could have been worse!
  3. Live in the real world. I must have heard it 1,000 times through the years: “you have to learn to live in the real world.” I think that’s why I write and live so practically. Mother’s phrase, combined with Foy Valentine’s wise admonition to “learn the difference between making noise and getting something done,” have guided my life well in some areas. They have kept my head “out of the clouds,” so to speak. They have led me to refrain from doing some things I wanted to do and saying some things I wanted to say, because doing them would have accomplished nothing except fill the air with noise. Yes, I know I have said and written some things through the years that have shocked some of you, but again, well, it could have been worse.


And I guess, most of all, I have learned a lot about family and love and forgiveness, and that these are the things that really matter the most and that you treasure more and more as you get older. Nothing new that you can discover will be as important as those things. They are eternal.

I have told Mother that God has let her live so long because she was not finished raising me. I am sure that my readers are nodding in agreement. Anyway, happy birthday, Mother. I love you and am grateful for you. And thanks for believing in me despite having so many reasons to give up on me through the years.

And I especially want to thank the First Baptist Church in Paint Rock, who gave Mother a surprise party Sunday; and also the entire town, who treats her like the “town treasure” and helps take care of her. That is what community is all about, I think.