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Posts Tagged ‘memories’

Making Pancakes with my Dad


“Making Pancakes with my Dad,” oil on canvas, ©Sukie Curtis 2014

“It says here, ‘Beat two eggs,'” my dad would say, reading the box of Aunt Jemima pancake mix.

And then he would take the two eggs, place them still in their shells into the mixing bowl, and raise the wooden spoon (or was it an old-fashioned hand-cranked egg beater?) as if he planned to beat the eggs, shell and all.

“No, no!” my sister and I would cry in horror, or mock horror, depending on whether this was the first time or the fifteenth time he had tried this game. “You have to crack the eggs first before you beat them!”

I suppose there came a time when I was too old and too smart and too sophisticated to play along, when this game was met with rolled eyes or disdainful silence. But I don’t remember that part of the story.

Only the pleasures of being a little kid in the kitchen on a Saturday morning making pancakes with my Dad.

I didn’t set out to paint this scene or story. The title of the painting came to me after the painting was under way. It may have arisen from that pink spatula-like shape (a repeat visitor from the painting, “Islesford Kitchen”–see below). Or perhaps it was the three irregular circles, the two on the right running together like uncooperative pancake batter.

It doesn’t really matter. What matters most to me is that the painting carries some of the pleasure of remembering–morning sunlight, a playful mood, and soon warm pancakes ready to be eaten.


“Islesford Kitchen,” oil on canvas, ©Sukie Curtis 2013

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Richard Pelham Curtis–100 Years


Richard Pelham Curtis, on a boat, c. 1940?


Today, June 1, 2015 would be my father’s one hundredth birthday, if he were still alive.

And it would have been my parents’ seventy-fifth wedding anniversary! My father sometimes said he got married on his twenty-fifth birthday so that he’d be less likely to forget his anniversary.

In honor of my dad, I am resurrecting and reworking a post from my former blog (which can still be found at Trusting Delight). That post was titled “Ten Random Things about My Dad,” though it covered a lot more than ten things.

Perhaps if my memories really started to flow, I could get close to one hundred random things about my dad–at least if I were to count every little individual fact.

1. My father, whose name was Richard Pelham Curtis, was born on June 1, 1915 in Marblehead, Massachusetts. (For example, that’s three facts right there: name, birthdate, birthplace!)

2. He was the youngest child of Greely Stevenson Curtis and Fanny Hooper Curtis. His older siblings were Greely, my Uncle Greely, and Fanny, my Auntie Fin; his sister “Maisie,” Marian Adams Curtis, died quite young.

3. Dad, who was called “Dick” by most of his friends, was born at his parents’ home overlooking Marblehead Harbor on “Gilbert Heights,” perhaps a half a mile from the house in which my siblings and I grew up and in which Dad died.

Other than years spent at boarding school and college, I don’t think Dad ever lived anywhere but in Marblehead. Marblehead was unquestionably his home.

4. My father whistled and hummed. A lot. His whistling was quite pleasant to listen to. He often “whistled while he worked,” perhaps even unconscious of doing so, and sometimes whistled while he walked, did errands, and such.

His humming was another thing entirely! I think of Dad’s humming rather fondly, but I know it could be rather annoying to live with. It was a “hum with an edge,” a sort of sharp droning tone not unlike a bagpipe’s drone, created as he simultaneously hummed and chewed his tongue. Our neighbors on the small dead-end street where we lived knew my father’s hum quite well. I’m sure they could hear him humming around the yard doing chores.

5. Dad loved to sail, even lived to sail! Sailing was for him about relaxing, being on the water, maybe getting some place, but usually going where the wind and tide would allow (and hopefully also allow getting home before the wind would drop, or fog or bad weather set in).

Sometimes in summer when the days were long, he’d go sailing after dinner after a day at work on the far side of Boston. He tolerated a long commute to and from work, in order to live by the water. An after-dinner evening sail might become a moonlight sail, and then a moonlit drift, as the wind often dies in the evening.

6. Photos of my dad as a young boy often feature sail boats. In one he is holding a model sailboat in his hands. (He is also wearing a sailor suit, as is his older sister–clearly a fashionable item around 1920!) In another photo he crouches by the edge of Red’s Pond in Marblehead, his father behind him, as he launches a model boat (the same one?) into the pond.

In yet another photo, my dad, my aunt, and my grandfather (whom I never knew–he died in 1947) stand in a boat beside the stone pier of a local boatyard. They are either just launching or about to haul it out.

7. Like me, my father was the youngest child in his family. I don’t remember we ever talked about both being “youngests,” but I think it about it now. I also shared his blue eye color (along with my brother David).

Although most people have always told me I look a lot like my mother, and I too see that resemblance, as I get older I see more of my father in my face. This photo of me, taken in 2011, startled me with its likeness to my father’s face. (My sister said she thought the likeness was the baggy sweater, but I think it’s in my face. What do you think?)



Yours truly, Sukie Curtis, Maine, 2011

8. Dad played games with us when we were small children–I remember bouncing on my dad’s knees as he sang, “Trot, trot to Boston” and “This is the way the ladies ride.” Later, card games (“Oh Hell” and Hearts) and board games, like Clue.

9. At bedtime, my mother would sing a song, “Teera, leera, leera in the spring” it begins, and my dad would sing “Day is done.” And he would say the Lord’s Prayer and close with a list of blessings.

10. The blessings were always the same, and in the same order: “God bless Mummy and Daddy and Dickie (my parents’ first child, who died before I was born) and David and Jonny and Peggy and Sukie and everybody.”


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