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The Dart: Local man does it his way

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Ray Bruce Curlee hits a few whiffle golf balls in his backyard Sunday afternoon, an activity the 81-year-old said he does most afternoons along with tending to his yard and garden.

NATCHEZ — Ray Bruce Curlee won’t let his next birthday slow him down or alter his plans. Curlee will turn 82 on Nov. 30.

Whether it is planting mustard in his small garden, push-mowing his lawn or chipping golf balls in his back yard, Curlee said he prefers to put his own touch to it.

“I’ve always done my stuff a little different than everyone else,” Curlee said.

Curlee retired from the Vidalia Post Office in 1984 and then from the National Guard Reserve in 1990.

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Ray Bruce Curlee clears a row in the mulch leaves where he plans on planting more mustard green plants Sunday afternoon in the backyard of his home. Curlee said he got his organic growing techniques from a book called “Gardening Without Work” by Ruth Stout.

He said while he was serving as a maintenance tech in Saudi Arabia, he was told he reached the age of mandatory retirement.

“I said, ‘I will be OK.’ I was in good shape, jogging every day. I was in better shape than some of the younger guys,” he said.

One of Curlee’s favorite things to do is work in his garden.

“I don’t believe in using a tiller or pesticides,” Curlee said. “I use mulch.”

Curlee said he got his gardening technique from the book “Gardening Without Work” by Ruth Stout.

“That is what it is, gardening without doing much work,” Curlee said. “I just take some leaves and throw them on my garden.”

Curlee said he doesn’t have to plow using this method. As the plants come up, he pulls the mulch up around them.

“I have a self-propelled push mower with one of those bags to catch (clippings) in,” he said. “I just make a few runs in my yard, and I have what I need.”

The push mower helps him exercise, he said.

By design, the spot Curlee mows just happens to be what he calls his personal golf course.

“I love to play golf,” Curlee said. “I try to put my ball in different spots around the yard.”

Curlee’s wife Kathleen said she lets her husband do his things, but the one thing they like to do together is travel.

“We have to stay busy,” Kathleen said. “We’ve been to St. Croix, Cancun and the Virgin Islands.”

Ray said he was just enjoying things he loved to do, despite that looming birthday.

“I think I’m doing good for my age,” he said. “As long as I can put one foot in front of the other, I’m good.”