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Darrell Huckaby - 08/19/09

Tommy Lee McCurdy is old Conyers. He was born and raised in Milstead, back when Callaway Mills was the heartbeat of that community. You can't hardly get more old Conyers than that.

I first met Tommy Lee 28 years ago and will never forget it. I had often heard my friend Jeff Autry talk about Tommy Lee and what a great ball player he had been. One day Jeff and I were at Rockdale Hospital - it wasn't a medical center back then - to take my future wife, Lisa, to lunch. She was not a midwife or even a nurse back then. I don't really know what her job was.

I do know, however, that as we were walking into the cafeteria, we ran into Tommy Lee, and Jeff introduced us. I told him that I had heard about his prowess as a baseball player on those old Milstead town teams, and Tommy Lee immediately choked up on an imaginary bat and said, "Gosh dang - (except he didn't say 'gosh dang') - I loved to play baseball. Gosh dang, I could always hit a baseball; I could hit one right now."

And he was just getting started. Thirty minutes later Lisa had finished her lunch and gone back to work and Jeff and I were still standing outside the cafeteria door, talking to Tommy Lee - or rather, listening to Tommy Lee.

Every encounter I've had with Tommy Lee McCurdy has gone about like that first one - and I wouldn't have it any other way. He is one of my favorite people and is, as I said, old Conyers. And with him being an old Milstead boy and me being from Porterdale, well - he and I have a lot in common.

One thing that we have in common, in fact, is that we both married up - way up.

I married the beautiful young nurse tech that Tommy caused me to stand up at lunch that day. He married Ann Starr, Miss Conyers High School 1956. Ann was, according to the school yearbook, a majorette in the marching band, co-captain of the basketball team and vice-president of the Tri-Hi-Y. Tommy Lee was ... well, he was Tommy Lee.

Say, did I ever tell you how far he could get a baseball?

Well, I told you all of that to tell you this. Ann Starr McCurdy was a classmate of my mother-in-law, Bitzi Cowan Potts and we now attend the same church - Rockdale Baptist. Tommy Lee comes sometimes. One of the highlights of my church-going year is the Thanksgiving program the Senior Saints put on. (Senior Saints is a politically correct term for "old folks choir.") I am eligible to join, by the way - or would be, if I could only sing.

But anyway, every year during the Senior Saints Thanksgiving program, Ann McCurdy does a delightful little skit in which she teaches the congregation how to stuff a bird, or make cornbread dressing or some kind of fancy cake. She's always hilarious in her apron and chef's hat. She speaks in a nasal, high-pitched voice and manages to weave a common sense Gospel message into her humorous cooking demonstration.

Like I said, I always enjoy Ann's skits and look forward to them every year, but until last weekend, I never knew just how much comic genius Miss CHS 1956 really possessed.

But last Friday night my lovely wife, Lisa, wanted me to take her to see a movie - a chick flick called "Julie and Julia." It was about Julia Child, whom I knew was some kind of famous chef and author of a noted cookbook, and a pretty young thing named Julie, who decided to cook every one of the recipes in Mrs. Child's book in the course of a year - and write a blog about her experiences.

There were two things I didn't want to do Friday night, and going to see that movie was both of them. But since Lisa controls 75 percent of the money and 100 percent of the sex in my life, we went.

And am I ever glad we did. The movie was very good. It was. I learned more about Julia Child than I had ever hoped to know, and it had a back story that brought in the events of the Cold War and the McCarthy witch hunts - and the actress that played the young girl - I believe her name is Amy Adams - was cute to look at.

But the best part of the whole movie, to me at least, was when Meryl Streep, who portrayed Julia Child, did the famous cooking demonstrations. She looked and sounded just like Ann McCurdy! I loved it.

All this time I never realized that Ann's character was based on Julia Child and the discovery made me appreciate her talents all the more.

The downside of the movie was that with all that cooking going on, I got very hungry - and I have been on a diet for about three months now - and Thanksgiving is still three months away.

Julia Child, they tell me, is dead, but Ann McCurdy is alive and well. Maybe she'll cook me one of those fancy cakes - and have Tommy Lee bring it over to me.

Darrell Huckaby