Curtin was never happier than when he had his feet on the ground-literally and symbolically. He disliked flying and never drove.
It was not an unusual sight to see the Prime Minister waiting patiently
at a train station, bus or tram stop. More often than not at official functions,
once other prestigious guests had made resplendent departures, Curtin would
walk quietly home.
Curtin's simplicity, his selflessness and sincere honesty, his scrupulous
fairness and his single-mindedness about serving Australia made him eschew
publicity for its own sake-a failing that often exasperated his press secretary!
His staff loved him. At Christmas time he would make a special effort to
personally thank the Canberra telephonist for putting through calls so promptly.
Curtin was always a favourite to attend staff weddings and at a football
game he could barrack as loudly as any supporter.
Sartorially strict, Curtin could always be found at work in a three-piece suit, sometimes sporting a bowtie, and saw no excuse not to have "well-polished boots with well tucked laces."
However, on a couple of occasions his braces let him down. Due to address his first big political gathering on a hot summer night, he took off his jacket. On the platform, despite his nervousness, he made a brilliant speech and was roundly applauded-until he turned to sit down when loud laughter greeted the sight of his braces hanging down the back of his trousers! On another occasion his secretary was sent to buy a pair of braces, and returned to the office confident that she had purchased the best pair in Canberra. Some time later she found her harassed employer struggling to adjust the new purchase. "In spite of our combined efforts and my protest that they were the best I could buy and were made in France, the result was that I was sent back to the shop to tell the salesman that only to a woman would anyone have sold such a ridiculous pair of braces!"
While away from Elsie's home cooking, Curtin was a regular diner at the
Hotel Kurrajong, where he stayed while leader of the Opposition. A deep
thinker, Curtin sometimes appeared distant and unemotional. Yet he had a
genuine concern for his fellow human beings. When Edie Gibson, a housemaid
at the Kurrajong, contracted tuberculosis Curtin took the time to visit
her in hospital.