John Curtin : a good sport

Adele Hodges (nee Mildenhall), then secretary to the prime minister, remembers John Curtin:

'I went into Mr Curtin and I gave him three weeks or a month's notice and told him why I was leaving and how sad I was, but that my heart was in Melbourne with my fiance. So he quite understood and then he wrote me the most beautiful letter. The letter is this:

"Dear Adele, I find it difficult to express my regret that you should find the time has come to transfer to another appointment. This ending of our association is a wrench. Your work has been so faithfully done and the way you have done it has so charmed your colleagues and myself that I could wish you were going on with us. But life does cause these severances and I understand well the urges of your nature and can out of my experience and my friendship give them full echo. I thank you very much for all the help you have been, for the comfort which confidence in you gave me, and for the pleasure I had daily in observing your charm of disposition and grace of mind. And very, very much I wish you happiness and fulfilment in the years ahead. Will you please in some little token of your own selection use the attached cheque as a reminder of the time you have spent here with us. We shall be glad, and I know I shall count myself in nothing half so blessed as in remembering my good friends and may you too feel a little blessed in a similar recollection. My compliments to your mother and father and my deep regard to you. Signed John Curtin."

Well that letter was my undoing. I didn't realise how much we had in common as a secretary and a boss and how much I was going to miss him and the office and after 24 hours I had talked it over with my parents and I went back to Mr Curtin and said, "I'm sorry I don't want to leave; can I stay?" And he said, "Of course, you can." So I have this wonderful letter of a man who spoke from the heart.'

Excerpt from:
JCPML. Records of the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library. Interview of Adele Hodges, 2 July 1997. JCPML00211

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