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I am a restless writer of fiction, film, and music. I scripted such films as 9 and ½ Weeks, Sommersby, Impromptu (personal favorite), What Lies Beneath, and All I Wanna Do which I also directed. Both my documentaries, Marjoe and Thoth, won Academy Awards. Formerly a recording artist, I continue to write music, posting songs on my website. I live in New York with my husband James Lapine. My second novel, the paranormal thriller Jane Was Here, was published in 2011. My latest film, Learning to Drive, starring Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley, came out in August 2015, now available on VOD, DVD, and streaming media. This blog is a paranormal memoir-in-progress, whenever I have spare time. It's a chronicle of my encounters with ghosts, family phantoms, and other forms of spirit.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Ballad of Patty Pease

As a footnote to the previous post, my dad's claim that his father never praised his music was not strictly true. One song, which Dad improvised at the age of 15, not only earned the old man's plaudits but also Grandpa would ask Dad to play it (and replay it) frequently for guests.

Dad was 15 in 1934 when his father purchased the summer cottage in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard that has remained in our family up until last September. Edgartown is a tiny village on a boat-filled harbor where once the whaling industry held sway. In 1934, because there were very few streets Edgartown had only one streetwalker, and everyone knew her name. Dad's tribute to the misfortunate Patty Pease is below.

(You may find it very hard to listen to, as it was a home recording on a hopelessly scratched platter of some kind. Also, none of Dad's adolescent friends who sing the song can carry a tune. They are pretending to be drunk, and my father is playing the piano. But you can enjoy the lyrics all the same.)

The Ballad of Patty Pease by John Kernochan

You hump with ease
With Patty Pease
She aims to please,
Does Patty Pease

A long, long time ago,
As everyone should know
Her soul was white as snow –
Oh Patty Pease

Then one soft summer night
The stars were shining bright
A frigate hove in sight –
Oh Patty Pease

A handsome sailor boy,
The Vineyard’s pride and joy,
Came off the ship. Ahoy!
For Patty Pease!

And up the street he came
A-looking for a dame
To play his little game –
Oh Patty Pease

To Patty’s Pa he said,
“Has Patty gone to bed?
I’m looking for a thrill.”
“No-o! She’s ‘way aloft
Up in the hay loft.
Go find her if you will.”
And up there in the hay
The sailor had his way,
A real red letter day
For Patty Pease

Her father didn’t “keer”
Enough to interfere
With Patty’s black career –
Oh Patty Pease

Still, he had an awful fright
When fourteen men walked in one night.
But Patty took it,
She’s all right!

Now if you want a treat
Go down South Water Street,
Then you’ll be sure to meet
With Patty Pease

You hump with ease
With Patty Pease
She aims to please,
Does Patty Pease!



  1. All I can say is that they sound like they are having fun. Poor Patty Pease. Lol I love her name.

  2. Susan, it's even funnier when you go to Edgartown and see the name Pease everywhere. It belongs to one of the oldest families of settlers on Martha's Vineyard - thus making poor Patty's fall even steeper.