[Longtime Southborough resident Dick Curran passed away last week after a long illness. In this post I wanted to share my memories of one of Southborough’s legends.]
The Spa has been called The Spa for about as long as anyone around here can remember. But growing up, my family didn’t call it that. We called it Dick’s.
My parents bought the house next door to the Currans when I was five months old. They still live there today. Most Sundays we would walk downtown to have breakfast at Dick’s. I remember the penny candy, the donuts, the old wooded phone booth in the corner (the one that’s still there). I remember what I would always order – a poached egg on toast. But most of all I remember how special it all felt. Mr. Curran’s friendly face behind the counter, the hearty greeting from Bea, neighbors crowding the tables. Even as a child I knew Dick’s was the heart of the community, and I knew it was that way because of Mr. Curran.
There are stories that say Mr. Curran would trudge down to The Spa in the middle of a snowstorm to open up in the wee hours so plow drivers could stop in for coffee. There is the tale that he would run out with a bag of donuts and a cup of coffee to hand to the train engineer as he rumbled through town. I don’t know whether those stories are true or just part of the lore of my childhood, but it’s not hard to imagine Mr. Curran would do those things. It’s just the kind of man he was.
Here’s one story I know is true. I was maybe five or six when after one of our Sunday breakfasts, I begged my parents for some candy. They said no. I was angry and feeling bold, so I snatched a piece – a one-cent hunk of pink Bazooka gum – and stuffed it in my pocket. No one saw, but when we got home, my parents found the gum and marched me right back to Dick’s. Terrified, I handed the gum back to Mr. Curran and mumbled an apology. Mr. Curran was a tall man, imposing under the circumstances, and I thought he might tell me he was angry, I thought he might yell. But he never said a word. He folded the candy into his palm and patted me on the shoulder. He didn’t need to say a thing.
All of us who grew up in Southborough have these stories, the lessons we learned from Mr. Curran. Lessons about right and wrong, about what it means to be part of a community. Lessons about family. Mr. Curran may be gone, but these stories will last forever.