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

 

p. 104-#1493 Forks seniorating gradgers 2001---HARVARD College recollections 1953-7 part i text
I am not sure if everyone received this first half, particularly Ed Jezak, who is mentioned in Philipps Brooks Social Services and Norfolk Settlement House near Dudley St. Roxbury. - best to everyone John Barrett TEXT: Harvard Recollections beginning HARVARD recollections. I plan to utilize web page 104 for recollections of Harvard College and University. I won the George Emerson Lowell Classics Scholarship for Greek and Latin spring 1953 but received only a token hundred dollars because the college considered my father's Navy retirement income and investments adequate to support an only child in college at that time. From my neighborhood Ed Galvin, Jim Sullivan, Jack Banton, Robert McLaughlin, Bill White also entered the 1957 class. I had visited Paul Beatty, Jack Hey, and Teddy Williams who were freshman in Wigglesworth Hall when I was applying. I was also offered scholarships at Dartmouth and Amherst Colleges. Paul Beatty was a considerable influence in my decision to enter Harvard and also to apply for Winthrop House residence for my last three years. I audited a great many courses during college and continued while in law school and beginning 1982 discovered a great many lecture series at Harvard are open to the public, and the botany and natural history libraries. My freshmen courses were Psychology 1 and 126 with Edwin Garrigues Boring, Greek 106 with professors Sterling Dow and John Finley, jr, Humanities 3 with dollar-a-year-man John L. Sweeney, who ran the Woodbury Poetry Room in Lamont College Library, and Social Sciences 6 "Freedom and Authority in the Modern World" with Drs. Conway + Graubard. Edwin Boring was about to retire in 1954 and gave me special permission to enter his courses, which were not ordinarily open to freshmen. He was the first person to make a systematic study of the history of experimental psychology, and had published a revised textbook in that area in 1950. I got to know him well taking the historical Psychology course [126?] the 1954 Spring term. He considered Wilhelm Wundt the most important innovator, as he opened the first experimental psychology course in 1889 in Germany. William James started one at Harvard the next year 1890. Boring was a pupil of the introspectionist Edward Bradford Tichener at Cornell - the introspective technique resquired training and aimed to understand the "generalized normal human adult". Boring was a leader in the movement to separate the departments of Philosophy and Psychology in 1920s. Later Social Psychology was moved into a combined Social Relations Department with Sociology and Social Anthropology. Among antecedents of psychology, Boring spoke of Aristotle, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, color vision theories of Newton, Goethe, Hering, Helmholz and others; the researchs on reaction time "personal equations" of astronomers, which led to psychophysics of Fechner and Stumpf. The Gestalt psychologists, begun in Germany by Wertheimer, Kohler, + Koffka developed wholistic, structural aspects of perception suggested by the slogan "the whole is more than the sum of the parts" - their ideas have had wide influence and have become part of main stream psychology of learning. One of the phrases associated with them is "Zeitgeist" the spirit of the time. Locke and others suggested that the mind is like a blank piece of paper at birth - "nihil est in intellectu qui non fuerit in sensu". On the other hand, researchers like the gestalt psychologists resisted simplistic reductionist behaviorism. Boring knew many of the leading behariorists, who tried to get away from subjectivism and introspection. He discussed Watson, Pavlov, the Russian who observed salivation of dogs at the stimulus of food, and his Harvard colleague B. Frederick Skinner, who studied the responses of pigeons to stimuli. Boring described Skinner's work as "the psychology of the empty organism". In recent decades there has been a swing in another direction toward sociobiological investigation how genes may program behavior. Boring in World War I studied morale factors in military personnel under stress and believed that personal loyalty to one's unit under fire is the strongest factor, when more abstract ideas break down. He was cautious about IQ theories like Binet's - "IQ is what intelligence tests test". There are many separate aptitudes, and "intelligence" may be biased by middle-class values or types of language skills. In the reading period I had an opportunity to read biographies of a great many psychologists in the library then in the basement of Memorial Hall, where Boring's classes met. HARVARD recollections FRESHMAN year: Boring also was interested in the work of Harvard physicist Percy Bridgman on the logic of modern physics and its epistomological implications for the theory of knowledge - science comes down to measurement readings. I saw Edwin Boring in April 1961 when I returned to Massachusetts after six months Air Force Reserve medical duty in Texas and Alabama. He participated in a panel discussion after a talk on extra-sensory perception and parapsychology by J. B. Rhine of Duke University. Boring sometimes discussed the history of free will and determinism - what one researcher might call probable error" another would call "free will". Similar issues turn up in discussions whether some individuals have an occult sense that enables them to guess cards or other phenomena. Another member of the panel was Timothy Leary, later notorious for his championship of lysergic acid, LSD, which proved highly dangerous, doing permanent brain damage to many users. None of the panelists endorsed extra-sensory perception, but Leary tried generally to support academic freedom to pursue unpopular and unconventional subjects-- in hindsight a self-serving argument. Edwin Boring was interested in geriatrics - he was the first person I heard use the term. He studied many optical illusions, particular the reasons why the moon looks bigger near the horizon than overhead- refraction of light by water vapor down low contributes, but Boring argued that when people use various muscles to look up high, he believed it altered their perception of apparent size. He recorded a version of his elementary Psychology 1 course for Public Educational Television, including many remarkable optical illusions. His wife was a 1908 graduate of Mount Holyoke College, and Sophie and John Barrett and their driver Kenneth Borden of Quincy saw her in May 1983 when Mrs. Boring observed her seventy-fifth college reunion and Sophie her sixtieth. One reason I was interested in pschology in 1953 was that during the summer swimming counselor Paul Burger experimented with hypnosis at Camp Kabeyun, Alton Bay, New Hampshire. I never was suggestible or hypnotizable myself, but I learned enough of the techniques so that in Matthews Hall the freshman dormitory, I was able to hypnotize neighbor Jim Harrison, who was quite suggestible and had experience in being hypnotized. We both were aware of possible hazards, but Jim was a very interesting subject, already with a prodigious knwledge of theatre and music, especially Bach and polyphony. Matthews Hall is centrally located in Harvard Yard, and I remember looking down from the windows of Matthews 11 on the second floor and watching the Overseers with top hats and formal attire lining up in preparation for the inauguration of President Nathan Pusey.Judge Charles Wyzanski was a member of the group. I was assigned Earl Silbert and Michael Berger as roommates, and Howie Glaser, who briefly had been a commuter from Brookline soon joined us. My West Roxbury neighbor Jack Banton was downstairs on the first floor rooming with Jack Lambros, and my father on visits enjoyed speaking some Greek with Jack. One the second floor,law student Roger Pugh was the proctor,and Peter Nathan and Bill Hoppe both from St. Louis Missouri were neighbors along with Michael Burley. On the Columbus Day weekend 1953 Peter Nathan and Richard "Bud Veech" accepted my invitation to join a group going up to Alton Bay, New Hampshire to look at autumn foliage, and Peter became friendly with Kabeyun director John Porter and was hired for five years as canoeing counselor. Freshman took their meals in the Harvard Union, and among the earlier acquaintances I made were two basketball players from Winchester Rod Long and Neil Muncaster.Neil's father and brothers David 1952 and Craig 1958 attended Harvard. During the winter I got to know most of the freshman basketball squad including Robert Canty, Richard Hurley, Bill Schreiber, Bob Barnett, Ned Keenan, Jack Hamilton, Bob Hastings, Lou Lowenfels, captain Bob Dolven who once said to me very pleasantly "You are a gentleman and a scholar, sir" but he left at the end of freshman year, and his fellow Minnesotan Leroy Scharpen left after sophomore year. My high school did not have a basketball gym, so basketball was quite new to me at the time, and I understood little of the strategy or foul-rules, but many of the team were among my better friends in college and afterward. Floyd Wilson was then freshman and later varsity coach, succeeding Norman Shepherd, who moved over to become head baseball coach the next year. They were both delightful gentlemen though I did not know enough of the fine points to evaluate them strictly as coaches. There was required physical education for freshmen, which I completed with swimming and senior Red Cross Life saving, both conducted by freshman swimming coach Bill Brooks, who also in time becamse varsity coach. Matthews neighbor Bob Dubinsky was in the class, along with legally blind Paul Sher, and I think Richard Smithies and Peter Durkee, another who left around the middle of freshman year, and Vaughn Payne, Glen Bowersock and more. We would see the freshman swimming team, including Chouteau Dyer and Jon Lind and others. Other Fall term acquaintances were Noble and Greenough grads John Louis Newell and Jimmy Bailey - Jimmy became hockey goalie. Many of these acquaintances go back to the meals at the Union and to walking across Harvard Yard and using Lamont Library. Other acquaintances were formed in class. The dicussions in John L. Sweeney's Humanities 3 course held in a section of thirty or thirty five provided an opportunity to get well acquainted. It was there I got to know George Cronin from Taft School and Waterbury Connecticut, and we were roommates in Winthrop House sophomore and junior years. In Humanities 3 I also got to know Steve Friedlander, Peter Hobbs, Doug Fitchen, and several others. High school classmate Paul Wheeler from Brookline was in the section also. The course examined classical drama, history, biography, and the novel as literary forms. The Iliad and Odyssey were quickly reviewed, and works of Sophocles, Plato, Gibbon, King Lear, Shaw's "Major Barbara" Ibsen's "Wild Duck", Conrad "Heart of Darkness" Stendhal "Le Rouge et Le Noir" Dostoyevsky "Brothers Karamzov" I later audited a Modern Poetry course of Mr. Sweeney's in which I remember him reading Wallace Stevens "I set a jar in Tennessee, And round it was upon a hill. It made the slovenly wilderness Surround the hill.... It took dominion everywhere...It bore no living bird or beast - like nothing else in Tennessee." Mr. Sweeney was reputed to be an unpaid "dollar-a-year" man on the faculty who had organized the Humanities Three course, which had many sections with different instructors. His brother was director of a modern art museum in Houston Texas. At various times I audited several of the other Humanities courses. Eliot House master John Finley had large lecture audiences in Sanders Theater for Humanities Two "Epic and Novel". Sophomore year I audited John Wild's Humanities 5, in which he discussed his highly original theory of "Christian realism" - some people might compare it to existentialism in emphaisizing the choices people make in life, as my high school math teacher Phil Bridgess used to say, "Life is a matter of choices". Bob Barnett, who was in the Winthrop House student government, took this course for credit. Later when Reuben Brower came to Harvard from Amherst, I also audited his Humanities Six course mainly on modern literature. My roommate Earl Silbert attended first Brookline High School and then about two years at Philips Exeter Academy. His father and mother and two sisters were frequent visitors at our room, and several of his mother's excellent paintings adorned the walls. His father, Boston attorney Coleman Silbert, was a 1909 Boston Latin School graduate who knew many of my father's friends. Earl used to have a saying, "How does the price of rhubarb in Rangoon compare with the price of pickles in Pureto Rico?" We were both in the large lecture course Social Sciences Six, "Freedom and Authority in the Moderm World" which met in Sanders theater with Drs. Graubard and John Conway and covered the English Revolution and Civil War of the 1600s, the French Revolution of 1789, the American Revolution, the growth of modern Germany in the Bismarck epoch 1860-90, the Russian Revolution, the ideas of theorists like John Locke and the American federalist papers, and David Reisman's ideas on inner-directed and other-directed societies in "The Lonely Crowd". Once a week we met in sections, and I was fortunate in our section man Mr. Kilbourn, who was conscientious and friendly. Earl Silbert has remained one of my closer friends through three years of Winthrop House [he played intramural hockey] three years of law school, and four subsequent decades. He became the prosecutor of the "Watergate Seven" in 1973. Spring 1954 I audited Raphael Demos's Philosophy 1b, Modern Philosophy, which Earl was taking for credit. The course began with Rene DesCartes 1596-1650 Cogito, ergo sum "I think, therefore I am" Baruch Spinoza "Am I a man dreaming I am a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming I am a man" David Hume empiricism Emmanuel Kant categorical imperatives William James pragmatism. -Another acquaintaince from the Social Sciences Six course was Edward "Ned" Keenan, whose undergraduate pranks did not prevent his becoming an important scholar in Russian History and dean of Harvard's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He special field has been the epoch of Ivan the Terrible, but he has wide acquaintance in Russia, East Europe and the Middle East and the academic world, has worked on availability of long-inaccessible archives and had constructive fingers in many pies {possible mixed metaphor may be justified as effort for brevity]. He became another denizen of Winthrop House. Mike Berger my other original roommate came from Pittsburg and its Shadyside Academy. One of his friends Briar used to come down weekends from Bowdoin. One time we were talking about the honor system at Princeton University, and Mike joked, "The faculty have the honor - the students have the system." Mike's family were wholesalers of rubber products and second hand goods. Mike used to practice a tongue-twister "Rubber baby-buggy bumpers". He was and is a jazz enthusiasts - I remember his Bessie Smith classic blues recordings "Nobody knows you when you're down and out" and I forget who was the performer of "The Rock Island Line" and a song "I got pigs, I got sheep, I got all livestock --- [then] I fooled ya - I got pig iron {lower rate on train}. Mike is recently still involved with family business but also a very active modern art collector and dealer. Howie Glaser son of a Brokline eye doctor, has become a photographer, sometimes using the professional name Howard Harrison [originally his middle name]. There was a required half course in English composition. I believe my instructor the first term was Mr. McCreary - all sections had assignments to write about the painting "The Fall of Icarus" by Peter Brueghel of the Flemish Renaissance and Henry Thoreau's "Essay on Civil Disobedience". [Thoreau protested a tax to finance the war against Mexico, which he thought would expand slavery. His family and friends came and asked him "What are you doing in jail?" - he answered "What are you doing out of it?" The second term I was put in a section with Mr. Ganz, which looked at moderm poetry, which often I found obscure, but I took away considerable knowledge of William Butler Yeats - Mr. Ganz particularly analyzed the remarkable symbolic late poem "Among Schoolchildren". I was assigned Philip Levine of the Classics Department as my freshman advisor - my father enjoyed a number of conversations with him, and I read the first book of Thucydides "Peloponnesian War" and Aristophanes anti-war comedy Acharnians with historian-archaeologist Sterling Dow, and then lyric and elegaic poets with John Finley. I think Edward Smith was the only other freshman in the advanced course. Whereas Herodotus had traveled widely and contributed to knowledge of Egypt and the upper Nile and other distant lands and cultures, and had celebrated the glorious victories of allied Greeks over the barbarian Persian empire at Marathon 490 and Salamis 480, Thucydides had the more solemn task of analyzing the decline and impending defeat of democratic, maritime-trading Athens by the austere Peloponnesian dictatorship Sparta in the Thirty Years War. Thucydides had been a general himself, supposed to have special knowledge of the lands and people of the north Aegean, but he laments the divisions of the Athenians, - first prosperity under Pericles,then occurrence of a plague,the divisive Mytilene debates as Athens developed increasingly autocratic control over distant islands, and the rivalry of Generals Nicias and Alcibiades and the disastrous expedition to attack Syracuse in Sicily. In the autumn of 1953, only a few months after the death of Joseph Stalin and the uneasy Koean armistice, with Russia developing the H-bomb sooner than expected, the possible parallels to frugal Sparta outlasting prodigal Athens seemed very powerful to many people, including my father and myself. At Christmas 1953 I gave my mother Charles Wagner's 1950 book "Harvard: Four Centuries and Freedoms". She liked several passages about forty-year Harvard President Charles Eliot and his wife. He got a bit deaf in his old age - he was the center of attention most of the time, but once when a prayer was being recited, he was puzzled and asked his wife what was being said- she answered: "Never mind - they aren't talking to YOU!" She also disliked long sermons - these were the times when members of the congregation would stand up and be "SAVED" but Mrs. Eliot opined: "Very few souls are saved after the first hour." I had an exceptional pre-college preparation and was very much interested in my courses the first autumn term and made Group I with four A's, which did not happen again though I averaged Group Two over four years, and graduated Magna cum laude Phi Beta Kappa. Unfortunately I did not have a clear post-college objective. I tried a great many new fields, which I think worthwhile - we were admonished to get a broad general education - I may possibly have carried the idea too far - I had some interest in medicine but found my near-sightedness a handicap in laboratory course, though I was interested in science concepts. In April 1954 I attended a great many of the talks by members of various departments on fields of concentration. I remember hearing Physical Anthropologist Ernest Hooton a few days before he died, in a talk about his department. Physical Anthropology was group with the Natural Sciences, while Social Anthropology at that date I believe had been merged into the Department of Social Relations. Sophomore year I also heard western-US-historian and environmentalist Bernard DeVoto apeak in Kirkland House just a few days before he died. Both were probable heart attack victims - in the 1950s because of fat diets and lack of exercise heart attacks were occuring on average five or ten years younger than today. Air and water pollution and unknown factors may have played a role. In March 1953 former Harvard mathematics instructor Tom Lehrer performed this outrageous and witty songs at a freshman class function. His hunting song tells how he shot "two game wardens, seven hunters and a pure bred Guernsey cow". His Irish ballad has a remarkable rhyme scheme. His mathematical background leads him to advise "Plagiarize, let no one else's work evade your eyes, Why do you think the Good Lord made your eyes?" Freshman year through the social service organization Philipps Brooks House Ed Jezak and I worked at Norfolk House near Dudley Station in Roxbury providing exercise, games, and recreation for youngster around nine or ten years of age. Akira Chiba was in charge at the settlement house. I remember sophomore Al Levin one time invited a group of us to dinner. David Bos was one of the Philipps Brooks members that year, and I know that Peter Gunness remained active through his four years of college and long afterward. Peter Gunness and I were in Air Force Reserve medics early 1960s. In leisure time 1953-4 I would often visit my West Roxbury neighbors and high school classmates Ed Galvin and Jim Sullivan in Straus Hall on the edge of Harvard Yard. Jim had been treasurer of the school magazine TRIPOD, which I had edited, and my father had tutored Ed in Latin - sports cut into his study time. We knew their families well. They roomed with Bob Livingston and Chapman Runyon from the Middle Atlantic area. Downstairs from them were Mike Demetrios, son of a sculptor, and Art Bearse, Fred Hird, and Richard Iverson. Jim Sullivan and Mike Demetrios had NROTC scholarships to become Naval Officers, and Ed Galvin wound up in the Marines. A substantial percentage of our class were preparing to serve as military officers. Nearsightedness and partial color-blindness limited my options. Lamont undergraduate library was fairly new when we were freshmen, in the southeast corner of Harvard Yard across from the Union Dining Hall. Required course readings were put on reserve, so they would be available. I particularly enjoyed the music and art collections and periodicals and materials on college history. Later the adaptation of the library for co-educational use was resisted for a time by the faculty and administration, but ultimately the problem was worked out. One time freshman year Mike Demetrios was --time-locked in the library after ten pm closing, and security personnel had to bring him out through an underground tunnel to Widener, the main University Library. I became familiar with the great scholarly resources of Widener sophomore year, when I took Crane Brinton's course on eighteenth century France. The Winthrop House Library was a relaxing sunken site in C entry with wonderful long soft leather couches to enjoy after a day of study, sports, and hiking considerable distances to classes and up and down stairs. People routinely walked up and down three or four flights of stairs many times a day - perhaps one of the more healthful aspects of college life. I used to come back in my law school days and noted that backfield football star Chester Boulris '60 shared my enthusiasm for the Winthrop library long couches both for study and naps. I wonder where they were manufactured and to what specifications? Hidden away in the underground stacks west of the reading room the book collection had a wonderfully illustrated 1920s copy of Yashiro's book on Sandro Botticelli, and a fine collection of the plays of George Bernard Shaw, who was a Fabian socialist and therefore of interest to me as an Economics Major. The Winthrop library also had "Logical Positivism" by the Austrian Richard von Mises, which set out in an orderly manner many of the ideas of scientific method that interested Bridgman and Boring. My junior or senior year, the Winthrop House Library became a repository for about ten or a dozen photos of the colonial Massachusetts Winthrop family, including an astronomer and other scientists besides patriots and political leaders. Historian Samuel Eliot Morison spoke at the dedication. My father had a great interest in his two-volume life of Christopher Columbus, "Admiral of the Ocean Sea" We were permitted to utilize other house libraries. and I especially read Greek at Eliot House- the Aristophanes comedies and Verrall's interpretive "Euripides the Rationalist".SOPHOMORE YEAR My friend Paul Beatty was and is a great salesman and influenced my selection of Harvard College in 1953 and Winthrop House as dormitory 1954. I had little personal contact with the House Master Ronald Ferry, a microbiologist, as I never had grade or discipline problems and did not take his courses. I first enrolled in Social Relations as a major and took Roger Brown's Social Relations 117 Social Psychology fall 1954 [emphasis on psychology of speech, and we read Professor Gordon Allport's "The Nature of Prejudice" in reading period] but was rather intimidated by the abnormal psychology we read in department tutorial Catcher in the Rye, Gide, and similar things - tutor was personally pleasant, but I decided this was not what I wanted to do. At beginning of Spring term 1955 I changed to History as a major and took Crane Brinton's History of France 1917-1815 and Visiting Professor Stampp on American History post-1865.Stampp defended the idealism of the pro-black Reconstruction activists, who were frustrated by Northern apathy, President Andrew Johnson, and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow laws and disenfranchisement of southern blacks in 1870s. I read Brinton's books on "European Intellectual History" and "The Lives of Talleyrand". Talleyrand was a durable French diplomat who changed sides many times between Bourbons, Napoleon, and the Orleans prince Louis-Philippe. When the extreme Jacobins were in power, he went into exile, and he was involved in extortion and scandals in the United States. However, he won a mild treaty for France from the conservative powers in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna based on the principles he enunciated of "legitimacy, security, compensation" and "Status quo ante". Brinton's book concluded that Talleyrand was basically loyal to the interests of the French people, though he changed parties often. When Talleyrand was dying, he was in great pain and told King Louis-Philippe he was feeling the tortures of hell. Louis-Philippe answered, "Already?" I remember that the history tutorial was very good - especially reading the Roman historian Tacitus and perhaps Gibbon again. I am trying to remember if the tutor was a Dr. Meyer, or else Bob Feer, who was very friendly in Winthrop House. Fall 1954 I took the more advanced Chemistry 2 with the colorful Leonard Nash, and came out with an A- based on high exam grades, though my lab section man disliked the handwriting in my laboratory notebook and took off points - the lab counted only twenty per cent of the grade. As the twig is bent, so grows the tree - perhaps that kept me from acareer in medicine or science. I was in Economics I in Robert Dederick's section, using Paul Samuelson's very popular textbook in one of the most popular courses the college offered. Memories of the Great Depression of the 1930s were still vivid to most adults, so full employment and the multiplier concept of British John Maynard Keynes were emphasized. We usually met three times a week in sections in Lamont Library, and I think Warren Farrell, Rodney Long, Paul Macdonald, and perhaps Dominic Repetto were in the same section I was. Occasionally the hundreds of students would be gathered for a special lecture by Arthur Smithies, head of the course, or MIT's Paul Samuelson, who wrote the remarkably good textbook. My mother had been an ecomomics and sociology major at Mount Holyoke College, and I switched to an Economics Major junior year and wound up writing my senior honors thesis "Current Economic Factors Affecting Boston Hospitals" with the distinguished Canadian-born Winthrop-House-affiliated John Kenneth Galbraith as my thesis advisor. I first heard of him when we read about his concept of "countervailing power" in his book "American Capitalism" Fall 1954 in Paul Cherington's Government 155a Government Regulation of Industry. Since the 1930s it has become clear that large oligopolistic corporations have great power to set prices and wages to maximize their profits in ways that were never contemplated in simplistic early models of "perfect competition" in the days of Adam Smith 1760 or David Ricardo 1820. Galbraith observed that where powerful corporations concentrated power, unions and consumer groups were most likely to feel the need for countervailing organization to balance the equation.
Year: 2001