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Retired man enjoys easy life at home

Vidalia resident Ed Curtis laughs while reflecting on his life lived along the levee.  (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

Vidalia resident Ed Curtis laughs while reflecting on his life lived along the levee. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

VIDALIA — The best job Ed Curtis has ever had is sitting in his chair in the carport of his Alabama Street house.

And Curtis was hard at work Thursday afternoon when The Dart landed on the retired truck driver and Navy veteran’s house.

A Vidalia native and life-long resident, Curtis said the majority of his days now consist of sitting in his chair and chewing the fat with whomever happens to walk by for a visit.

The slow-paced lifestyle is a nice change of pace, Curtis said, from the constant traveling he did driving trucks across the country.

“I’ve driven all over the place — Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and as (far) north as St. Louis,” Curtis said. “I had a good job, but I was away from home too much.

“Vidalia is my home.”

Curtis bought and moved to his Alabama Street house nearly 30 years ago and said it’s one of his prized possessions.

“This is my house, and I’m not going anywhere,” Curtis said, laughing. “This area hasn’t really changed a lot.”

Part of that consistency in the landscape surrounding his house, Curtis said, comes from being just a stone throw away from the levee.

“That’s the only thing that’s changed,” Curtis said. “It’s gotten bigger since I moved here.”

Curtis acknowledges that his close proximity to the levee means that his house would be one of the first to take on water if the Mississippi River ever rises high enough to top the levee. But that wasn’t enough to keep him from buying his dream house.

“I don’t worry about it because it doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I was living down the road in 1927 when it flooded, and I made it through that.

“I had sandbags all around the house and everything.”

Even when the river rose to 61.9 feet two years ago and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials were driving by his house everyday with Hesco baskets and sandbags, Curtis said he wasn’t worried.

“I wasn’t going to leave,” he said. “When it starts coming over that levee, that’s when I start worrying.”

Curtis said spending time worrying about the river or trying to predict what it’s going to do is not how he prefers to spend his retirement days.

Instead, Curtis said he enjoys spending time with his daughter, Margie Turner, who recently moved back to Vidalia from California, and the rest of his children and grandchildren when they visit twice a year from Los Angeles.

“They come back for Memorial Day and Christmas every year,” Curtis said. “So they’ll be here soon for Memorial Day, and we’ll march to the cemetery.”

The annual parade, which begins in Vidalia and crosses the Mississippi River Bridge into Natchez eventually winding up at the Natchez National Cemetery, is something Curtis’ family has been participating in for decades.

“We’ve been doing that ever since I can remember,” he said. “It’s a family tradition.”

Curtis served a brief stint in the Navy in 1945 hoping the opportunity would send him overseas.

“I wanted to go over and see what it was like after the war,” Curtis said. “I got as far as Boston, but never made it anywhere else.

“I served two years, six months and 10 days.”

Looking back, Curtis said it all happened for a reason, and that he’s glad to be able to have such a good job in the place he’ll always call home.

“Sitting in this chair is the best job I’ve ever had,” he said, laughing. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”