Red Headed Stepchild
(The Barrett family memoir of Navy Life)
by Sophie Ruth Meranski with photos


Mrs. and Mrs. Tyler Weston, Logan Utah 2001 p 103-1489
There was a grand piano in the Winthrop House Junior Common Room in H Entry east of the dining hall across from Lowell House - probably a Steinway. I spent a great deal of time using the piano -I had a Schirmer "59 Piano Solos" including Chopin A Major Military Polonaise, Johann Strauss Blue Danube Waltz, Schubert Moment Musical in f and Miliary March, Wagner Tannhauser Act 3 march, Verdi Aida Triumphal March, Brahms Waltz in A flat, opus 28, Mozart Turkish Rondo, Thomas Under the Leaves, Beethoven Minuet in G. Long relaxed mealtimes gave almost unlimited opportunity to get to know students from classes 1955 through 1959, and then in my law school years, I got to know many later arrivals college classes 1960-62. My friend Paul Beatty was the son of a wholesale pharmacist in Waltham, and he decided to take Joseph Palamountain's spring 1955 Government 155b, which included the drug industry and others. Paul roomed with future U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, who had returned to Winthrop House after two years in the Army. I spent considerable time in their room on the third floor on Winthrop C entry, where roommates included George Anderson, who played baseball, William "Bing" Crosby, and Roger Martin with a set of drums. In 1950 Paul and I were members of a school debating team which defeated a Milton Academy team of which Ted was a member - after years in Hawaii I did not know much about the Kennedys at that time, but my mother was interested to see Ted on the Milton team, and at the end of the spring term 1955, she was delighted one time when Ted dropped off my laundry at our West Roxbury home, because I was on my way up to New Hampshire. She never forgot his friendliness and courtesy. I do remember playing touch football with Ted and Paul and others along the strip of grass between Winthrop House and the Charles River, and swimming with them in the pool at the old Indoor Athletic Building on Holyoke Street and numerous conversations in the Winthrop House Dining Hall. I also audited the public speaking courses English N and Q, which both Paul and Ted took 1954-5 with Mr. Verlaine upstairs behind the great organ in the Busch-Reisinger German museum, where E Power Biggs used to record his radio organ concerts. I remember Ted tried a special dramatic style for one talk about an amphibious landing on a Pacific island, rather like some of his brother Jack's 1943 experience. He had a project of translating the sentence "Everybody loves Saturday night" into ten or twelve languages. At that time I was not proficient in German, but I remember I was puzzled because my mother would say "Wie geht es?" as one syllable and Ted would make it two. Recently I have been reading a 1916 Paul Bacon text, which indicates, the letter E is often silent in German word endings, so my mother was probably using the correct informal pronunciation, while Ted was using the more formal literary or stage version - so both were justified. I was invited to join a tutorial group conducted by Winthrop-House-affiliated Government tutor Fred Holborn, son of a historian and long-time John Kennedy staff member. Ted and Paul were both in this excellent tutorial on "Government Regulation of Industry", and after they graduated Fred conducted a similar tutorial on Constitutional Law, which Louis Newell, Phil Haughey, Fritz Schwartz, Charley Stedman, and I and some others attended autumn 1956 my senior year. Spring 1955 in the Winthrop Junior Common Room, I began playing chess first I think with senior Bill Foote class of 1955 and then with the very talented Richard Karp, a Boston Latin grad who has gone on to a remarkable career in computer science at Berkeley CA and University of Washington. He has been honored by the government of Israel and has developed special computer applications in medicine and biology. At first he was much better than I was, but by the end of spring term, I could make a game at least competitive. His motto is chess was "Play for complications". We often used the Sicilian Defense, where Black answers P-QB4 when White opens P-K4. Winthrop House had an annual musical production - in 1955 Richard Smithies directed an excellent performance of Gilbert and Sullivan "GONDOLIERS" which I had not previously seen. Richard Cowperthwaite '56 played the Grand Inquisitor. Junior year 1955-6 Bob Barnett, Peter Nathan, Jan Basch and I were involved in some of the business and promotional aspects of the production. Jan Basch, who was friendly with my old neighbors Mike Berger, Jim Harrison, and Bob Dubinsky, showed a remarkable ability to sell advertising in the programmes for the musical by telephone. Sophomore year 1955 I attended an excellent performance of Euripides ALCESTIS by the Adams House Dramatic Society - Laurence Johnson '57 was Apollo, and Colin Chase '56 was Heracles. Dubinsky, Harrison and Berger were on the fourth floor of Lowell D Entry, where I often visited after Lamont Library closed at ten pm. They had a fine record collection, and mobiles, and simple bookcases of loose bricks. They were active in the Harvard Dramatic Club on the organizational side, while Steve Aaron directed memorable performances of Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" junior year [Dean Gitter, Colgate Salsbury, Colin Chase in the cast] and Hamlet senior year with Colgate Salsburg in title role. John Poppe and John Ratte were active in the HDC also. For two years I roomed in Winthrop B entry third floor with George Cronin from Waterbury Connecticut. He had a fine classical record collection, from which I particularly remember the 1762 Horn Concerto in D of Franz Joseph Haydn - sometimes called "Concerto for Hunting Horn". Although simple in some ways, it remains a favorite of mine - I have been trying to obtain a copy of the score. I have read it was written for the same performer as the four later Mozart horn concertos, but somehow it creates a very different,ethereal suggestive mood, - is this my imagination, or can some musically sophisticated reader figure out why this is so? I have listened to a great deal of Haydn's music including the better known E flat Trumpet concerto, but this simple Horm concerto has a special appeal. Recollecting various reasons why I did not perserve in labs and per-med study, I recollected George Cromin at times returning with dismal storiies of misadventures in organic chemistry lab. Like myself, he had trouble deciding on a major and wound up in History and Science, under I. Bernard Cohen. George was active in the Harvard Sailing Club, along with Sed Weske, and he joined the Harvard Lampoon, the humor magazine, along with Bob McIlwaine, John Talbot, and the sacred Ibis. George's personality has changed over the years, but he used to tell a Lampoon joke "I'm going to hell - all my friends will be there". George's younger sister Pat attended Radcliffe college. Bill Cleary, Mario Celi, Artie Noyes, and Ralph Beckett, distinguished hockey stars of 1956 class lived one floor down in B entry, and I later got to know them all well. I continued to follow basketball, and near the end of spring term I stayed in Cambridge after exams and got better acquainted with 1955 Captain Roger Bulger now a doctor and his roommates Dick Manning, Rollin Perry and John Desmond - John did not play basketball but came from Milton and has become a labor lawyer - his brother Rick Desmond was Winthrop House 1959. I found the outdoor Commencement Week extremely impressive, especially West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who spoke and received an honorary degree. I think it was in Crane Brinton's course that I used to see Peter Hobbs, who was taking G. Wallace Woodworth's Music 1, which I began auditing and took junior year 1955-6. Woodworth had a particular interest in vocal music, including William Byrd and madrigals of the English Renaissance and the songs of Franz Schubert, inlduing der Erlkonig and die Forelle. I was especially fond of "Standchen", but I have forgotten whether that was from Woodworth's course. I found an RCA recording by Marian Andersen of Standchen and "Ave Maria". I attended a performance of the Beethoven violin concerto by Hungarian violinist Joseph Szgeti, who helped bring Bela Bartok to the United States in 1940 at the beginning of World War II. JUNIOR YEAR I probably should have taken lab courses in the pre-med sequence, but I decided to take Natural Sciences 2, with Physics Professors Edwin C. Kemble and Gerald Holton, and a good section man named Carleton. In some ways it was a little too easy for me at that stage, but it fulfilled the General Education Requirements - Kemble was a highly motivated older teacher very anxious to explain relativity and advanced concepts, and Gerald Holton is still active at Harvard, and I have been very much interested in 1990s in his studies funded by U.S. Navy on women's careers in physics, especially at the post-graduate level. He found that before 1978 only one out of forty U.S. physics post-docs were female, but after 1978 the ratio improved to one in seven. This means there are still many women who could be physicists who either are unable to pursue careers or do not wish to. Junior year I also took Market structure Economics 161 with visiting Professor Bishop of MIT and Money and Banking with fall term 1955 Federal Reserve Banker J.H. Williams and spring term leading Keyneian theorist Alvin Hansen, who was concerned about the danger of chronic unemployment from "secular stagnation". The work of Hungarian-Harvard economist Joseph Schumpeter was influential - he figured that the entrepreneur and innovation are crucial to prosperity - that monetary tinkering will not yield growth without business leadership and new technology. My tutor junior year was Mr. Henderson of Winthrop House, and senior yearKen Galbraith. The summer of 1956 I took Economic Theory Economics 106a and the lecture half of Chemistry 20 Organic Chemistry with professors Vanelli and Yates. I remember that Jack Evjy was in Chem 20 that summer and then has had a distinguished career in cancer medicine and was briefly editor of New England Journal of Medicine. We used Fieser and Fieser's textbook, and I remember alkanes, alkenes, alynes, stereoisomers, aldehydes, ketones, esters, ethers, aromatic hydrocarbons. However, I also remember Louis Fieser senior year giving a public lecture denying that smoking causes cancer. People make mistakes, but one wonders whether financial conflicts of interest contribute to such behavior. Harvard chemist James Bryan Conant enthusiastically advocated used of atomic bomb at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but on the other hand George Kistiakowsky as science advisor warned President Eisenhower of the dangerous influence of the military-industrial complex, and he and his wife Vera became leaders in arms control. My good friend Louis Newell took me one time to hear McGeorge Bundy in Govermment 185, but Bundy proved to be one of the few Harvard people I really disliked - it turned out he was to play a deplorable role in the Vietnam War and also in violations of trusts relating to the Arnold Arboretum - I do not consider any of the botanists responsible, but Arboretum director Karl Sax a distinguished geneticist was fired summarily, and many longtime Arboretum friends such as Mrs Ellery Sedgwick withdrew. I have no criticism of the botanists who bravely carried on after 1955, but I reget the role of Bundy and some of the Harvard lawyers. Lou Newell I think suggested Fine Arts 13 as good course to audit - with Winthrop House's Jim Fowle, who lived with his wife and small children in J Entry. I remember him talking about Monet and the Impressionists and Cezanne's use of color to creat depth and discussing the movement of the viewpoint of the observer in many moderm artists. Classical perspective sought to show a scene from a single viewpoint, with attention to size of objects as they actually appear on the retina. Picasso has many startling examples of a moved viewing point --on a single canvas a head will be seen both fromally and in side view. This was not entirely new in the twentieth century, as Monet in a picture of a waitnress at the Follies-Bergere has a gentleman talking to her appearing much larger than he really would in a mirror - he might be the painter himself as in Velasquez' view of the Spanish royal family of Philip IV - or he might be the viewer - who becomes a character in the scene - but the viewpoint is enlarged, in a manner increasingly understood in the twentieth sentury. Fowle also commented on the limpness of the baby in Picisso's 1937 Guernica - babies do go through an age phase where their muscles are very limp when they sleep. Jim Fowle had young children and this time, and I baby-sat for the Fowles in J Entry at least once. At various times I audited Bruce Hopper's course on International Diplomacy, Bullitt on eighteenth century English literature where Jack Bate made guest lectures [Bob Owen was taking the course, and they spent much time on Jonathan Swift], Arthur Schlesinger American Intellectual History - I remember discussions of Karl Schurz, Edward Bellamy's "Looking Backward", Robert Albion Oceanic History History 168, a few chemisty lectures of Professor Lingane in Quantitative Analysis - I think experiments had to be accurate to one part in ten thousand. Junior year 1955-6 I audited Social Sciences 4 - anthropological with Clyde Kluckhohn and Henry Murray - Peter Nathan and Bob Leet and his future wife Helena Pellegrini Radcliffe 1958 were in the course, and I think perhaps Bob Barnett also. Zen Buddhism in Japan was one of the many cultural topics. Some years later I sat next to Henry Murray at a Phil Beta Kappa dinner in the Fogg courtyard -I remember him using the word 'guru', which I had not heard before. The Economics 106a course was a useful preparation for departmental exams, as we studied the ideas and writings of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, James and John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes and others. Other influential economists discussed at various phases were Thorstein Veblen - partly a sociology with his ironic "Pecuniary canons of taste" - Thomas Malthus with his gllomy view - the Fabian socialists including Beatrice and Sidney Webb and George Bernanrd Shaw and various health care advocates such as Stafford Cripps and Aneurein Bevan in the Atlee Labor government 1940s-1950 in Britain, and Harry Truman's advisor Oscar Ewing in 1948. My family had enjoyed the benefits of Navy medical care during our years in Hawaii in World War 2, and I was at least interested in the idea of universal health care. On the other hand, my father's half-brother William Joseph Barrett for a number of years was in charge of Policyholders Service Bureau at Metropolitan Life Insurance Company of New York and later company Secretary 1951-62 so I saw materials on the viewpoint of the largest health insurance company, which tried to lower premiums by preventing accidents, tuberculosis, and venereal dieases. Subsequent experience has shown that government can contribute to better health care, but there are few east or complete solutions. The teaching hospitals have especial problems still today as when I wrote in 1957. Galbraith was patient and helpful and a remarkable person to know. His early work was in agriculture, and he was in the World War 2 Office of Price Administration OPA with Chester Bowles. He had been a speech writer for Adlai Stevenson and others but became more famous later as Kennedy's Ambassador to India and author of many books such as "The Affluent Society". I took Economics 181 with John Dunlop still active at Harvard and a stimulating lecturer who collaborated on a Labor text with Archibald Cox. In the reading period we read Arthur Goldberg's "AFL-CIO Labor United" - an account how Goldberg played a major role in forming a federation of most of the major labor unions, though Teamsters and others subsequently withdrew. Goldberg became a member of United States Supreme Court. I also took James Munn's course on the Old Testament English 35 and Robert McClosky's Government 124 Constitutional Law and Psychology 148 Cognitive Process in Personality with Jerome Bruner and George Miller. They discussed the child development observations of French Georges Piaget, and like the gestalt researchers, emphasized that cognition is a complex, structured process, not easily reduced to behavioristic stimulus-and-response. I remember Bob Leet has in that class and went on to University of Albany Medical School, some time in the space program and then clinic practical connected with Massachusetts General Hospital in Charlestown I believe. I audited some of his father's Geology 1 lectures and Professor Kummel's, and in 1962 I heard Professor Leet the Harvard seismologist, argue that underground nuclear explosions can be differentiated from earthquakes because of the ways different types of waves act on reacting the liquid core of the earth. There are S and P waves that behave differently on reaching the liquid layer, so underground nuclear test bans are verifiable. Senior year sponsored by Ed Galvin, I joined Pi Eta Club, - an extravagance, but it led to many lasting friendships, and my father and mother attended many dinners there which Cecil Saunders and Norm Wood prepared. I got to know most of the Harvard hockey players and attended many games beginning winter 1956-7. Bill and Bob Cleary and Bobby [E. Robert] Owen introduced me to many other people, including Dan Ullyot, John Copeland, Bob McVey,Frank Bachinsky and a great many of the classes of 1958, 1959, and later 1960. I already knew many of the swimmers in Winthrop House, Griff Winthrop, Tom Cochran, Greg Stone, Koni Ulbrich, Bill Boeckler. Senior year I roomed with Ted Davidson, a crew enthusiast who grew up n Panama Canal Zone and I believe died in an accident not long after college. Graduation week there was as usual excellent weather, and a good chance to visit with many classmates and their families, and in many cases girl friends and wives. My old neighbor Ed Galvin was married to Audrey Nolan of West Roxbury summer 1956, went in the Marines, - now has eight children. The majority of classmates waited until after graduation, but many of the Pi Eta friends are still married to the girls they were dating in 1957. q
Year: 2001