Diary of a Labour Man

Full Text. Editor of the Westralian Worker


First page of a letter from John Curtin to Elsie Needham, 8 February 1917. JCPML00402/22
First page of a letter from John Curtin to Elsie Needham.

JCPML. Records of the Curtin Family. Letter from John Curtin to Elsie Needham, 8 February1917. JCPML00402/22.

At Sea
February 8, '17

My Dearest,

I've been on the boat nearly 24 hours in the calmest of calm weather. All the Good Byes are finished & for all I know there are faces I may never see again. It is a sad sad reflection. At the end I felt too much like crying to be comfortable. On the wharf were hundreds. All of them genuinely good & anxious I prosper. Most of today I've been writing short notes expressive of my gratitude to the host of well-wishers & others who behaved so splendidly to me in Victoria.

The Tuesday night farewell was a heart-maker. Every part of the hall was crowded out & the usual speeches were served up. I couldn't find words to express myself. It was a city I loved & pals I believed in & four walls that had cradled my mental infancy. There are indeed holy places on the earth. That had to be one of them.

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"Sweet as a nut" came & never shed a tear—the hard hearted wretch. Her mother did & so also did Bob. Jen could not get away from the school. My sisters Father & Brother came along but poor Mother would not stir from home. It is easy to offer up words of comfort but I somehow feel there is little consolation for her. For women who are mothers there never is.

Miss Pankhurst is on the boat. We talk a good deal. She is very industrious & reads & writes assiduously. There is no one else on the ship either of us knows—so I look after her.

I'm reading newspaper cuttings dealing with a host of things. Really my poor old head is tired & I think I'll do nothing for a couple of days

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just sit & rest. Everybody reckons I'll have a strenuous time, & I suppose it will be. Never mind we'll manage.

I saw Angus MacDonnell. Did not go to [Blanked out] never had half a chance. I never knew I had the appointment until Friday afternoon & had to go like fury to finalise the work I had in hand.

Now I'm just going to stop & loaf about. The ship is a fine one & I'm well looked after. We reach Adelaide first thing in the morning & I want this to catch the train. I don't suppose as it is you'll get it until Wednesday. My Dear Dear Love it is my mountain I'm now ascending & very soon I'll reach the summit.