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


John and his father,Commander Barett USN 1942,Waikiki Hawaii.DEDICATION + Web Page ONE,PHOTO ONE


Locations of RED HEADED STEPCHILD text chapters by WEB PAGE sequence p ONE at photo #7 Philadelphia 1937 ......... p TEN at photo #78 GERHSOM BRADFORD ...................... p 13 THIRTEEN at photos #100,101,102 HANNIBAL Panama-Costa Rica 1933-4-5 -but see best photo at p 102 # 1482 -=-..........p FOURTEEN # 109 at B.C. Law faculty photo "home is the Sailor" 1947-69 p. FOURTEEN # 111 WILLIAM JOSEPH BARRETT -........ =- p.SEVENTEEN-EIGHTEEN 5 China-TULSA main text at p. 18 #139 photos at #135,#136,#137,138,#139 -=- p.EIGHTEEN 18 #142 BROOKLYN-NEW YORK- HYDROGRAPHIC OFFICE August 1939-July1941 ........... - p. TWENTY-FOUR 24 #783 EAGLE 19 BOSTON and family photo p.36 #922 -=-................ p TWENTY-FIVE HONEYMOON on PRESIDENT PIERCE January-March 1932 via Philippines, Egypt, Europe-=-........ p TWENTY-NINE #864 TRUXTUN ............... p. TWENTY-NINE 29 #867 OVER THE MOUNTAIN" WESTERN NATIONAL PARKS summer 1947. -=............- p. THIRTY-ONE at photo #877 Boston Latin School 1902-1906. Related photos p 41 #960,#961. -=- ............. p. FORTY-TWO at #965 or #333 HOME IS THE SAILOR 1947-1969 ....................-p FORTY-FOUR #986 VOYAGE to the ORIENT "SLOW BOAT TO CHINA" transport USS HENDERSON 1930 -=-............p 53 CHILDHOOD +SCHOOLS .....................p.FIFTY FOUR Frank DELAHANTY letters relate to battleship WYOMING, Naval War College, Virginia 1935 destroyer CLAXTON 1936 Hawaii 1946 and to 1970s. -=-................. page 55 FIFTY-FIVE Web page FIFTY-FIVE contains First five chapters of VOLUME ONE of RED HEADED STEPCHILD Sophie Ruth Meranski Barrett family, Hartford Connecticut and Mount Holyoke College, social work, and marriage to 1930. Chapter ONE is Hartford and Mount Holyoke.Chapter TWO discusses social work 1923-1930 mainly in Philadelphia and New York. Chapter THREE GREENWICH VILLAGE ROMANCE Sophie meets Lieutenant Jack Barrett August 1928,and they marry June 1929 . Chapter FOUR contains text of Sophie's 1925 Economics + Sociology master's thesis "The Young Offender and the Criminal Law in Massachusetts". Chapter FIVE presents Meranski family letters.-=- Web page FIFTY-SIX 56 begins with VOLUME ONE CHAPTER SIX "Musical Interests of Sophie and Jack Barrett" Web page Fifty-Six then contains VOLUME TWO chapters of Jack Barrett's years at Hydrographic Office and in U.S. Navy from 1912 through about 1927. The first item focuses on Jack's mentor at Naval Hydrogaphic Office 1913-1916 Gershom Bradford, and his maritime writings, including material on S-4 submarine sinking and rescue effort December 1927. The next chapter begins when Jack returned to South Boston after Revenue Cutter School November 1911, has material on his Lighthouse Service experience in Maine 1912, four years in Washington 1913-1916 at Naval Hydrographic Office, Naval Reserve Officer duty World War I and commercial experience. Then there is material on destroyer TOUCEY 1921, battleship WYOMING 1922-2. -=- Web page FIFTY-SEVEN 57 gathers materials on Barrett family years in Hawaii 1941-1947, including Jack's frustrating attempt as Assistant War Plans Officer to warn superior officers of grave danger at Pearl Harbor, and then his work four years 1941-5 as Assistant Personnel Officer in charge of Overseas Transportation Office, handling all surface transportation of Navy Personnel and families.Other materials are being placed in more convenient sequence, and over 550 photos relate to materials. -=- Lower half Web p. SIXTY-FIVE second copy of Sophie Barrett 1925 Master Thesis Mount Holyoke -=- p SIXTY-SIX In 1923-4 Jack took Junior Course at Neval War College, Newport, Rhode Island,and his TACTICS thesis spring 1924 appears on web page SIXTY-SIX 66. -=- Material on MARBLEHEAD 1924-1927 is being gathered on web page SIXTY-SEVEN and includes subsequent experiences of Phil Dahlquist, Micky and Maimie Ashley of Shanghai, Harold Fultz, Eddie Arroyo, George Phillips, Forrest Close, Alexander Sharp, the Craig family of Melbourne, Australia, and the Anderson and Rainey families of New Zealand. -=- p. SEVENTY-EIGHT Material on Revenue Cutter School 1909-11 includes many photos of Mediterranean cruises and text now on web page SEVENTY-EIGHT 78. --p.EIGHTY-ONE tanker TRINITY 1938-9 and Coronado-Pardees p EIGHTY_TWO COMMAND of DESTROYER CLAXTON 1935-6 p EIGHTY-TWO #1312. -=- p NINETY-ONE Jack Barrett 1953 Northeastern Law School master's thesis in Taxation, - portion of chapter "HOME IS THE SAILOR 1947-1969". Web page 102 best photo of HANNIBAL personnel May 1934 with first portion of chapter text.. I am thinking of dividing RED HEADED STEPCHILD into Three VOLUMES. The first is fairly complete - Young Sophie Meraanski and her family, Hartford, Mount Holyoke College, social work marriage. The SECOND VOLUME follows JACK BARRETT AT SEA - Revenue Cutter School, briefly LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE, RESERVE + REGULAR NAVY 1909 to 1947, most of the time away fom Boston except 1912 and 1932-3. This VOLUME is getting near completion, as this week I have got the very long CHINA- TULSA chapter 1931 in near final form - a very important chapter that had to be pieced together from many sources, which has a great deal of Sophie's personal reminiscence. Most of VOLUME TWO will soon be ready for proofreaders. The EAGLE 19 chapter 1932-3 and NEW YORK- BROOKLYN HYDROGRAPHIC 1939-41 chapter have been put together during August 2000. There remains VOLUME THREE - THE BARRETTS in BOSTON - The WILLIAM JOSEPH BARRETT chapter with important ANITA DOUREDOURE material has been on the website for some time, and in AUGUST the BOSTON PUBLIC LATIN SCHOOLS chapter has been re-edited with many additions, including materials on Dan Lyne, David Niles, John Carroll Poland of West Roxbury Historical Society, Dr. James B. Moloney Captain USN and more. Sophie Barrett's chapter on {early) "BARRETT FAMILY HISTORY" may be split and expanded, as a great deal of material is available, and also materials on Cork Ireland and South Boston and the chapter "CHILDHOOD + SCHOOLS." A considerable portion of a chapter on Jack Barrett's father "JOHN ROBERT BARRETT" 1854-1942 is in existence, and there is material for Chapters on Jack's half-sister Mollie, various Buckley O Farrell Hartigan Lane Lynch Mehegan and Fahrbach relations, which will require considerable time and effort. Currently Sophie's chapter H-O-M-E I-S T-H-E S-A-I-L-O-R 1947-1969 is the next priority, partly because Jack Barrett's Boston College Law School 1951 classmates will be observing their fiftieth reunion in 2001. Jack's legal interests probably will deserve a separate chapter - he began law school nights 1927-9 at Fordham Bronx campus- completed LL.B 1951 at Boston College and wrote master's tax thesis at Northeastern Law 1963. His thesis on abolition of Sixty-Five Day Rule in federal income taxation of Trusts and Estates appears on lower portion of web. page ninety-one. Jack and Sophie took a great interest in the debating at Roxbury Latin School under Albert Kelsey and in the music of Giuseppe deLellis, and Sophie raised a great deal of money for Roxbury Latin School TRIPOD magazine - they lived three blocks from the school, and this part of their story can be put together. Many photos survive from their West Roxbury years,and these will be listed and described. They both were active in West Roxbury Historical Society - Sophie for more than a decade. Comments of interested persons might be very helpful, especially those with photos or other material, and proofreaders specializing in particular chapters could help enormously -=- RED HEADED STEPCHILD -DEDICATION KELSEY,MAGUIRE,GEETTERS In late August 2000 I thought of the idea of a dedication for the Barrett family memoir RED HEADED STEPCHILD. It would have to be in keeping with my mother's wishes, as I consider her the senior author, who wrote most of the basic text and painstakingly copied down a great deal of correspondence, which would otherwise have been lost in 1993 thefts. I have had to make many judgments how she would wanted various materials handled and arranged, but I have tried to conform to what her intentions were. At the moment I am thinking of a four part dedication, honoring both the individuals and certain classes of people they symbolize. The four are: ALBERT KELSEY, who taught English, especially Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, and assigned a biography project for each student to do an interview of a moderately prominent person in Boswell's style, with as much direct quotation as possible. Bert symbolizes many wonderful teachers- those Jack had at Boston Latin, Revenue Cutter School, Naval War College, Fordham, Boston College, and Northeastern Law Schools, those Sophie had in Hartford and at Mount Holyoke College, and those I had - Mrs. Barbour, Miss Ponte, Mrs. Davidson at Thomas Jefferson School Waikiki, and my piano teacher Giuseppe deLellis and many more. We read many other biographies - classical Plutarch, Xenophon, Plato, Suetonius, Samuel Johnson's Lives of the English poets, Carl Sandburg's six volume life of Abraham Lincoln. Also Sophie and Jack were very close with Albert Kelsey through Roxbury Latin debating, which they followed closely for six years, and through Camp Kabeyun, Alton Bay, New Hampshire. Also Lee Lockwood as 1949-1950 TRIPOD editor began a "Meet the Faculty" series on which I did much work. The Odyssey is a kind of biography we studied closely with Cary Potter 1950 - he strongly seconded Homer's words that the greatest blessing in life is a happy marriage - this is a central theme of RED HEADED STEPCHILD a love story in time of war and travel, like the Odyssey. With Frederick Weed we read the fictional Forsyte Saga by Galsworthy, which has had some influence on the family history research that will appear in Volume Three of 'STEPCHILD'.- SECOND: -- PACIFC FLEET CHAPLAIN WILLIAM A. MAGUIRE, who found Sophie accomodations at Chefoo during Asiatic Fleet exercises 1931 and was a hero in December 7, 1941 attack and wrote up Jack Barett's work in Pearl Harbor OVERSEAS TRANSPORTATION OFFICE 1941-1942 in chapter "BREAD ON THE WATERS" in "THE CAPTAIN WEARS A CROSS" 1943. It was Father Maguire who first said "there ought to be a book" about Jack Barrett and his work. Father Maguire symbolizes Jack's friends in Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard, including those that died, especially the two thousand four hundred victims at Pearl Harbor, where he tried to warn opinionated Admirals of the danger of air attack. In many ways Pearl Harbor is the climax of the forty-chapter memoir - Jack was well trained to try to save American lives but the RED HEADED STEPCHILD was frustrated by Roosevelt's "fair-haired boys". REBEKAH + ISADORE GEETTER The remaining dedication will probably be to my mother's baby sister Rebekah Geetter and her husband Dr. Isadore Geetter, who were an inestimable comfort to Sophie during seventeen and a half years of widowhood 1969-1987. They symbolize many wonderful relatives - and I do not desire to slight any of the others. Jack's relations are described extensively in the text, including chapters on his father, and his half-brother Bill and half-sister Mollie and relations like Loretto Buckley in Ireland, May and Ed Hartigan, and the Mehegans and Fahrbachs, who assisted gretly in fiding information. Sophie's other sisters Esther Meranski and Bertha Pollack and her brother Pete Meranski of Baltimore were of great importance to her, but in the years this memoir was written the friendship and frequent hospitality of the Geetter family were overwhelmingly important. So my present plan is to dedicate this memoir to Albert Kelsey, William Maguire and Rebekah and Isidore Geetter. ................"KEY WORD" SEARCH SYMBOLS KEY WORD tools-- Enter these symbols in brackets or (capital) parentheses to find chapter materials and photo subjects quickly. In parentheses: (7)TAX THESIS (8) MOUNT HOLYOKE COLLEGE (9) REVENUE CUTTER SCHOOL 1909-10 (R) Roxbury Latin School (Y) Yosemite, Yellowstone, Over the Mountain chapter, summer 1947 photos in west (**) botany+ Arnold Arboretum topics.LETTERS in REVERSED,CAPITALIZED BRACKETS: }C{ .....indicates best edited text of each chapter,"RED HEADED STEPCHILD". Other REVERSED,CAPITALIZED BRACKETS: }C3{ Materials for PART THREE Barrett relations and early history in preparation }F{ Fordham Law School + New York 1928 with XANTHOS letter }M{ light cruiser MARBLEHEAD 1924-1927 photos + chapter text, }A{ Astronomy. LETTERS or NUMBERS IN CAPITALIZED BRACKETS: {B}BUCKLEYS {C} CLAXTON 1936 {D} DAHLQUIST {F} Hartford-Meranski-family {G} Grandpa Barrett {H}Hawaii {I} Ireland {J} Jack Barrett {M} Mollie Barrett {N} New-York-Brooklyn 1939-1941 {P} Panama + survey ship HANNIBAL 1933-5 {R} West Roxbury years after 1947 {S} Sophie Meranski Barrett {T} TRUXTUN 1929-1930 + TRINITY 1938-9 {W} William Joseph Barrett {X} XANTHOS letter, Dedication, guides, and explanations of purposes of memoir {Z} Barrett family photos before 1900 and family history chapter.{4} Jack 1912-1920 {5} VOYAGE TO THE ORIENT - TRANSPORT HENDERSON 1930 {7} HONEYMOON January March 1932 {9} NORTH CHINA 1930 --September 2, 2000 -John Barrett junior p 71-1215 --TO NAVIGATE WEBSITE- Scroll down past first eight photos to bottom of first web page - then select desired WEB PAGE or enter YEAR or KEY WORD to find material "Red Headed Stepchild" & 500+ photos theses, letters, recent essays and news. Web Pages 1-50 contain mainly photos. P. 54 has FRANK DELAHANTY LETTERS. P 55 Has Part I Chapters 1-4 Sophie Meranski Barrett Early Years -Hartford CT, Mount Holyoke College, social work + Statistics, GREENWICH VILLAGE ROMANCE, letters. p. 56 has Ch. 5 Musical Interests of Sophie + Jack Barrett and Jack Barrett years at sea 1911-1920s Hydrographic Office WORLD WAR I SEATTLE 1919 WESTERNER 1920 TOUCEY 1921 WYOMING 1922 1911-1920s and GERSHOM BRADFORD CHAPTER. Web p 57 has PEARL HARBOR + WAIKIKI 1941-1947 p. 66 has JACK BARRETT "TACTICS" thesis 1924. p 67 MARBLEHEAD 1924-1927. William Joseph Barrett chapter on web p. 14 at photo #111. Revenue Cutter School 1909-11 web p. 78. INDEX top web p 75. Caption by Jim Ullyot: "John admired his father, who was in charge of the Overseas Transportation Office Pearl Harbor at this time. This picture was taken shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor." Jim Ullyot, Harvard l962, set up this website through his company Creative Communications. I met Jim when he visited his brother Dan at Harvard spring l958 and saw him often when he was an English Major l961-l962 in Quincy House and sports editor of Harvard Crimson. His brother Dan was Treasurer of Pi Eta Club l957-8 and played hockey - became cardiac surgeon California. Thanks to Jim Ullyot and his assistant Chris Teigen for outstanding handling of photos and material.


John's mother at home , 52 Emmonsdale Road, West Roxbury. p ONE photo #2 {S}{R}


One of John's favorite photos of his mother, she reads quietly in front of the family's home in West Roxbury, about 1966. (jim Ullyot caption) Norway maple trees stood in front of house in l947 and grew very large. Yews and arborvitaes kept house remarkably cool in cellar. Paving of street in l963 had adverse consequences. A small stream formerly flowed down from property of Rev. and Mrs. Harold Arnold across street at #55 Emmonsdale on the former Hewins property. we learned that Carolyne Hewins, who grew up there, became the Hartford, Connecticut children's librarianan, whom Sophie and the Meranskis knew from l890's to l926. She wrote a memoir "A Mid-Century Child and Her Books." Her family conrresp[onded with the Britissh novelists, the Bronte's sisters and helped them get American Books.Mrs. Arnold became an authority on the Brontes and a member of the Bronte society.


Sisters Rebekah Meranski Geetter and Sophie Meranski Barrett Thanksgiving l984 at home of Dr. David and Joan Geetter l65 Terry Rd. Hartford, photo by Dr. David Geetter PAGE ONE photo #3


Thanksgiving dinner l984 Sophie Meranski Barrett with her sister Rebekah Geetter family gathering at home of Dr. David and Joan Geetter 165 Terry Rd., Hartford Connecticut photo by Dr. David Geetter.Sophie had attended the June l958 wedding of David Geetter and Joan Trouboff in Brooklyn after David's graduation from Jefferson Medical School.Sophie and family also attended David's l955 graduation at Trinity College, Hartford,where his father, uncle Pete Meranski, and his brothers Albert and Harold were also graduates.On this l984occasion Sophie saw her sister Babe's five children David, Albert, Thalia Price, Harold, and Suzy Geetter and Babe's eleven grandchildren- Darya Erica, Joshua Adam,Thora, Jennifer, Lauren Geetter, Eric, Jessica and Hilary Price,and very young Sarah Kashdan.Also present were Mrs. Trouboff senior- mother of Joan Geetter, Millie Geetter, Ava Geetter, Norman Kashdan,and John Barrett, jr. Joshua Geetter showed slides of rock climbing on three-thousand-foot granite El Capitan in Yosemite Valley - he took a five year master's program U. Colorado Boulder on mountain environment ecology and later conducted recreational mountaineering for Berkeley Ca university students.{S}{F}{R}




John's parents outside their home, about 1966. Jack's "Sutter's gold" rose bush and coreopsis blossoms near Rustic Road and sun porch are visible. page 1 photo #4


spring lilacs by the garage Sophie and Jack Barrett l966 PAGE ONE photo # 5


Jack always kept many folding chairs, which the family enjoyed. Neighbors often used them too.Lilac was planted by Albert Van Steenbergen, former owner who taught at Boston Latrin School. When Jack was a student at Boston Latin, he heard Edward Everett Hale,(1822-l909) who frequently spoke to the students and was active in alumni.Hale is principally remembered today for his short story "The Man Without a Country", which reflects patriotic feelings of the era just before the Civil War, comparable to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's stirring "Sail on O ship of State - Sail on O nation strong and great" or Walter Scott's "Breathes there a man with soul so dead Who never to himself has said, 'This is my own, native land?'" Edward Everett Hale was a grandnephew of Revolution hero Nathan Hale.In later years he was appointed Chaplain of the United States Senate in a period of corruption and muck-racking. He comically remarked,"I looked at the Senators, and I prayed for the country."Jack quoted this a number of times.{S}{J}{R}


1931 Jack Barrett Christmas card showing gunboat TULSA based in TIENTSIN, China.{9}


Under Commander Paul Rice, the TULSA won Asiatic Fleet gunnery competition June l93l at Chefoo. It was stationed near Tientsin for inelligence purposes, the northernmost ship of the Asiatic Fleet and sent first report of Japanese attack and capture of Mukden, Manchuria, September l3, l931, beginning of thirteen years war. In 1930 Jack was acting Executive Officer of the TULSA commanded by Walter Decker, who was succeeded by Commander Rice. When Lieutenant Commander Leonard Doughty arrived, he became the Executive Officer, and Jack was First Lieutenant and Gunnery Officer. p 1 # 6


Aunt Mollie Barrett visits Bala Cynwyd suburb of Philadelphia p 1 photo 7 {S}}C{M} PHILADELPHIA CHAPTER TEXT at RIGHT


Sophie Barrett is wearing l931 coat of sea otter furs from Manchuria. The fur buyers escaped to Tientsin by rail with first report of Japanese aggression and capture of Mukden, September l9, l931. Sophie telephoned news to Captain Paul Rice on TULSA at Taku Bar. He telegraphed the report to Asiatic Fleet headquarters at Shanghai. Shore Duty in Philadelphia Chapter XX twenty P-H-I-L-A-D-E-L-P-H-I-A C-Y-N-W-Y-D . 209 In August, l936 Jack received orders to report for shore duty in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in October.Very late in August he took leave so we could go to my sister Bee Pollack's home in Overbrook outside Philadelphia to stay while we hunted for a place to live.Jack considered the crowded district of South Philadelphia near the Navy Yard unfit for a baby,so we searched mainly in the suburbs. We learned there would be a house vacant in the Bala Cynwyd Estates about October first.We asked the manager to show it to us,but he couldn't,because the occupants had paid their rent until October first & refused to have anyone impair their privacy by going through their house. We looked at the outside of the house at 7l2 Stradone Road & looked at the inside of an identical house next door where the Hellerman family were sympathetic to a Navy couple with an infant who needed a place to live. The childless Hellermans were ideal neighbors as Jack & Mr.Hellerman were interested in growing tomatoes.On the return trip to Norfolk I kept telling Jack that we couldn't possibly make the ferry to Newport News on time & that he should plan to drive all the way to Norfolk by road.But he told me he had heard on the radio in Philadelphia that there was to be a hurricane in Norfolk & vicinity the next day,& that ferry if we could make it,would cut many hours off our trip.Hours after it was scheduled to leave,- that ferry was still at the dock.As we bought our tickets we were told that the ferry had been very late arriving there owing to the choppy waters.But it started immediately on what turned out to be its last trip for two days.When we reached our apartment,our next door neighbor, the French consul was busily putting his car up on blocks to guard against the expected flooding, & Jack 210 left me at the house & drove off to look after the ship.Although we had a hurricane,it was not as severe as anticipated,& the CLAXTON experienced only slight damage from a ship that grazed it. Jack reported for duty at the District Staff Headquarters, Building #1,Navy Yard Philadelphia on 4 November l936 to the chief of staff & aide, H.E.Shoemaker.His regular & additional duties in Philadelphia: Assistant District (War) Plans Officer from ll/4/36 to 1/4/37; Acting District Plans Officer beginning 1/4/37; Operations Officer,Instructor First Battalion USNaval Reserve; Member & Recorder Local Joint Army & Navy Planning committee. Captain Pamperin was one of Jack's commanding officers, and Jack again had much contact with Reserve training, as in New York 1927-9 and Boston 1932-1933. These experiences contributed to his outspokenness later when assigned to War Plans July-October 1941 at Pearl Harbor Fourteenth Naval District, along with his experience 1918-19 as Instructor at Officer Material School Hampton Roads, Virginia under wartime conditions. Jack was detached from the CLAXTON Sept. 30, l936. When we took the sleeper from Norfolk to Philadelphia with our six-month-old infant,we had with us Nora Jackson, our black maid who had asked to continue to work for us & live with us in Philadelphia, although she had been just a part-time cleaner for us in Portsmouth & Norfolk, Virginia.She asked for the change of a change & steady employment.She had spent a night in a Portsmouth jail -wanted to get away from a companion.We arrived at the house early in the morning- it was absolutely bare except for the Kiddie Koop (bed) for John that came on the train with us- & a new refrigerator which we had purchased through the Ships Service in Philadelphia - it had been installed before our arrival.We started to look for the truck from the Boston D.W.Dunn Storage Company., where our furniture had been in storage for two years. The company had promised delivery at ten o'clock the next morning. Jack went to a store, which delivered two beds & matresses late that afternoon.He had to buy sheets, pillow cases, & two blankets, also dishes, & pots to be used for dinner.He had to buy food also in Bala Cynwyd as there were no stores near the Cynwyd Estates where we lived.Our home in Cynwyd was really isolated- the only exit from the estates being by an exit bus,which ran infrequently.We got a radio for Nora Jackson, & she got acquainted with the maid who worked across the street for an Editor of the Saturday Evening Post, Eventually Nora found work in the city of Philadelphia & later telephoned to say she was married.We advertised for a maid who would "live in" do housework & plain cooking.We hired Ellen "Nellie" Kelly a hard-working young Irish woman of about thirty-five years who had been working in a hospital in New Jersey.She lived alone on our third floor where she had a room & private bath- & although she had no clock or watch, she was always in the kitchen early in the morning getting breakfast & sterilizing John's bottles even though those winter mornings were very dark.After I called down to her from the second floor-where I had no clock- & where I rarely wore my wrist watch when I was bathing & dressing John- "Nellie, what time is it?" Our only clock was in the kitchen. Her answer usually was,"It is about ... o'clock" or "It is about noon." She never gave the exact time.One morning soon after I had inquired the time,she told me that she wanted to leave the job to go back to the hospital but would stay until we got another maid.I questioned her about her reasons & found she was distressed because she couldn't tell time.In a very short time I taught her to tell time- to her great relief as she liked working for us & was fond of young John.When I asked her if the third floor was warm enough & if she enjoyed the radio & was getting enough to eat, she replied, "I hope I always get as good." (In later years Jack would quote this line when he liked food or service - often Sunday roast beef).Every evening as Jack carried John in his arms toward the stairs leading to the second floor, Nellie would take him in her arms, sing an Irish tune,& dance a jig with him, & when it was over John would invariably pull Nellie's hair.I authorized her to slap his hand, but she never did & always danced with him.As spring approached, Nellie told us she had a five year old son boarding with a private family in New Jersey, & since she could neither read nor write she couldn't send the money for his board & room. She had not heard from the family since she came to work for us.This was a real problem. I sent a check for the child's board & room & asked the family to write to Nellie saying I would read the letter to her & write her replies. Then weather permitting, we often drove Nellie to see her son on Sunday afternoons.She became a contented worker who spent half a week's wages to buy John a toy stuffed cat for his second birthday.It was a lovely gray cat bought at Schwartz's Toy Store in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. We insisted on returning the full week's wages of ten dollars which she had given to John on his birthday.We usually drove to Ardmore near Cynwyd on Saturday to shop & took Nellie along for an outing as she never took a day off.When we left Philadelphia for Coronado in August l938 we gave Nellie the radio & placed her in the home of a Marine officer who promised to pass her on eventually to another Service family.For years we sent Christmas cards to Nellie, who could not read or write, but eventually we lost track of her.Housekeeping in Cynwyd was a trying task.There were no stores of any kind in the Cynwyd Estates,& Jack had to have the car for the long drive to the Navy Yard...One afternoon as I was pushing the big heavy baby carriage up the steep hill where we lived at 712 Stradone Road, I saw a tremendous black car in front of my house & I thought it was a funeral coach.Jack greeted me with the news that he was planning to buy the used Lincoln car as our Buick was no longer reliable for the daily commute in all weather.I refused to agree to the purchase of the big car, so Jack took it away & finally returned with a new l937 Lincoln Zephyr car, which served us until the fall of l954.We used it in Waikiki & in Pearl Harbor during World War II & for our l947 trip to the Western National Parks & acrosss the country to the east coast.At Pearl Harbor, driving to & from work,Jack had authority to stop & arrest servicemen who were driving carelessly or breaking traffic laws.One time he asked a young sailor why he was drving very fast - the answer -:"I was low on gas-I wanted to get to a service station before the gasoline gave out." We bought a car seat for John,& with Nellie Kelly sitting in the back seat we took many rides, especially on Saturday afternoon - up & down steep roads we described as "roller coaster" roads. Our neighbor,Mr. Hellerman, was an editor of the Saturday Evening Post. He and his wife lived across from us at the top of the very steep hill- a large house with spacious lawns.One time I set John down on the grass so I could rest.Although he had not previous walked, I was amazed to see him take his first steps at a running pace to go over & pick a dandelion.From then on he walked well without going through a crawling stage. The twenty-three months at Bala Cynwyd October 1936-August 1938 are well represented in photos. Jack Barrett entered dates of many in a large photograph album that escaped 1993 thefts, and many negatives have survived. Besides numerous photos of Sophie, Jack, and John during this period, this website contains photos of our Ireland-born Cynwyd maid Nellie Kelly - photos of Mollie Barrett in Cynwyd kitchen November 1936, shortly after our arrival, photos of Bill Barrett and his Philadelphia friend Anita Douredoure summer 1937, and a group of "Grandpa" John Robert Barrett outdoors spring 1938. From March to August 1938 Jack was Executive Officer of the tanker TRINITY, which was being reconditioned. Bill Barrett was concerned that Jack was scheduled to travel to the Philippines and Dutch East Indies at a time when their eighty-three year old father - recently a widower- was very attached to the Philadelphia family. Bill contacted some friends in Congress, but Jack told him the Navy strongly disapproved of outside influence, and Jack was prepared to undertake the difficult oversea assignment cheerfully. The story of the TRINITY forms the next chapter with letters of Captain Haskell C. Todd from Belfast, Maine recounting the colorful skipper Captain Fred Holmes and a contact with young Hyman Rickover at Cavite.


Sophie Ruth Meranski l920's photo Mount Holyoke or Philadelphia





| Main |