Great State: From Kennedy White House to Carmen, Oklahoma

CARMEN, OKLAHOMA — His current seat occupies the dining room of an old house in Carmen, but Harvey Curry’s most vivid memories come from his 8 years in another house, the White House.

“It was kind of interesting, I guess,” he states.

Curry was barely out of his teens when he graduated from an intensive Army communications program in voice encryption.

The Executive Department chose him to help maintain a hot line in and out of the Oval Office and wherever the President might be.

“The White House to everywhere,” he says.

President Eisenhower brought Curry in.

He stayed on when the Kennedy’s arrived.

Harvey wasn’t traveling with Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy when he stopped in Dallas in November, 1963.

He came to work right after hearing the news and stayed during the confusing and frightening days after.

Curry recalls, “There was a lot of pressure because it was the Cold War. Nobody knew what happened. They didn’t know whether it could have been a terrorist act.”

Harvey met Lyndon Johnson during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

As the new President, LBJ had an interesting first request for his new communications team.

“Johnson calling up and saying, ‘what’s this red phone doing on my desk?’ The person talking to him said it was his secure phone. He says, ‘I want a green one up here.'”

His service medals, including two bronze stars, take up space on his dining room wall.

Jacqueline Kennedy sent staffers a family photo shortly after the assassination.

In an alcove below the stairs Curry hung 8 framed prints.

Each was a Christmas present from three different presidents.

They are 8 pictures for 8 years of tumultuous history, some dark times yes, but times he would never trade.

Curry earned his bronze stars during two tours in Vietnam following his White House years.

He retired from the Army in 1981 after 24 years there.

He retired again from the oil and gas business a few years ago.