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

 

Pyramid Egypt Jan l932 Jack Barrett photo 21-162 P-R-E-S-I-D-E-N-T P-I-E-R-C-E
#162 p + Notebook Eight p 101 Visit of Bee and Sam Pollack from Hallandale, Florida: Bee and Sam visited here Sunday June 24, driving here in the car of Sam's brother Harry Pollack in Newton. Bee says she will be seventy five [in July]. Sam was happy, helpful, very slender as he has ever been since a young man. Sam said the telephone call from the DeLellises came before he received our letter telling them to expect a call from John's piano teacher visiting in Fort Lauderdale. When deLellis telephoned, Esther was occupying the guest room - it was unsually cold in Hallandale, and Sam was harassed by the great volume of calls, visits, and meals for frineds from Boston, Philadelhpia, Cincinnati, New York City, and Great Neck and was in no mood for more company or social events of any kind as he feared for Bee, who had had a severe heart attack and had to take things easy but always put herself out for company and kept the apartment spotless herself with the help of a cleaning woman only every two weeks. Sam answered the phone and had no idea wh9o this Mr. DeLellis was in Fort Lauderdale. He tried to be civil and friendly but was on his guard against another guest at tht busy time when they could not go into the pool because it was so cold. Sam had no desire to drive to Fort Lauderdale as he does not like to drive - drives only short distances and never at night. Bee was well, stylishly attired in a bright green pants suit. She had a blond curly coiffure and silver polish on her nails. p102] She patiently answered all my questions about the fmily past and present. She has four grandchldren two boys by Jason and two boys by Teddy (Thalia). Both families visit them in Florida about once a year. Victor and Gertrude Lee are retired and living in California near their doctor son David, (who is married.He attended Harvard and Boston University School of Medicine) also his children -a boy old enough to have been bar mitzvahed lately. David and his family and Victor and Gertrude Lee came to Boston recently for the bar mitzvah of Naomi Lee's son.Naomi and David Lee are the only two chldren of Victor and Gertrude.David Lee and his family will go to Israel shortly for a visit.Sam's brother Phil is deceased. Bee says Esther Meranski is seventy-nine yers old and pretty well. =Our uncle was Jacob Goldfeld a tailor, hearing impaired, who lived with us on Morgan Street until the family moved to Wooster Street in 1916. Bee says her mother and our brother came over alone to live with cousins in Hartford.Bee never saw the cousins or knew anything about them. but believe their name was Meiselmann. = Bee does not know anything about our father's parents or where he came from (except somewhere in Russia) and does not know whether he had any brothers or sisters or how he came to Hartford. She does say he ran away from military service in russia. Bee never met her two stepsisters and knows nothing about them.p. 179 January 21, 1974 Excerpts of letter from Rose Witkower to John Barrett, jr. "My dear John, I am writing this letter as I read your letter, for I want to answer all of your questions according to my recollection.Today is a nasty day, - just the right kind of day to sit in a warm cozy chair and write. Know that these are my recollections and may not be 'so' to someone else, but to me they are. = The Jewish people were always looking for more knowledge in all phases of life. They have been known for thousands of years as the People of the Book. Always desirous of giving to their sons more learning. The parents would work much - very, very hard to save enough to send him to the Yeshiva Temple in Jerusalem or college at home or abroad. There have always been disturbing conditions for Jews even before Jesus's time. In 1880 [1881?] the rumbling of a pogrom was being heard in Russia and through the other nations.Many Jews were leaving the land they lived in for America- the country where one could be free and safe from fear, tyranny, and the police- and of greater importance where one's son could possibly become a Doctor, lawyer, even a high class businessman.In the European countries there were some brilliant Jewish boys who through bribery or changing their religion had attained great places for themselves in arious professions, but the masses were limiited to [be] home and synagogue teachers. As you know Jesus, Peter, and all of the disciples taught at home or at Yeshivas.The daughters of the families were taught at home- some were taught religion, but most were taught how to keep a clean, harmonious home,- for marriage was their goal. Yes - question One - the Jews were looking for Freedom and Learning- I believe you wil find Dreyfus in France - Disraeli in England - the great Jewish actress Isadora Duse - the Rothschilds - Hersechel and Zionists in 1800s. Where a Jewish family decided to come to America - a [180][it was] dangerous trip full of hardships and hunger.They would get in touch with a family relation, -relative or friend or friend of a friend who was in America. Then they would obtain visas - called a 'Paper' from these people - called 'Lansmen' and start this journey - stealing away at night hidden in a load of hay, cattle, or merchandise - fearing every moment that they would be stopped by Police or Soldiers. Penalty: Exile to Siberia- many times death- yes the Jew had to suffer much before he reached American or any other country.There was a 'hush before the storm' when your mother's mother and Mrs. Witkower and Israel left Austria headed for America to their Lansmen - the Meiselmanns- who had a tiny store on Green Street- a short distance from Bellevue Street. No doubt Sophie as a small child was carried there or wheeled there by her mother or father. = My father Bernard Rosenblatt,['1845' appears- may be date of birth?--'Prussian and Russian in 1800s'] who stole away from Poland and sailed into Charleston, South Carolina when he was sixteen years old-arrived there in the midst of the Civil War. After he disembarked, he was handed a gun and told to go along with the Southern Army. 'What for?' he asked - when told why "To kill the niggers and Northerners' - he rebelled [from the Southern Army] and joined the First Irish Artillery of New York - my father fought in sixteen engagements and was at Gettysburg and the surrender. After the war he traveled extensively, ending up in San Francisco in the Gold Rush[181]He had built a large building- a barber shop and a hot bath parlor.Barney Rosenblatt became a representative from San Francisco and was nominated for Governor of California by the Greenback party. Of course he lost out. He then returned to New York with three small children - wife had passed on - to find himself a wife. Then he married my mother, Paulina, a newly arrived widow from Germany, [who came] to her sister in New York. After a few years they came to Hartford- then a small town with a very few Jewish families- perhpas fifteen families - some on their way to wealth` via cattle, tobacco, the store G. Fox and Company - I am writing all this to answer Question Three.=Bernard Rosenblatt - a well educated and fearless person - well educated in Poland, a glib speaker of several languages,-was a man of great understanding and sympathy for people, all kinds.He had much of the Christ nature in his dealings with his fellow men.He seemed to know that trouble was brewing in Russia for the Jewish people. soon after he had settled his family - now six children- in Hartford - he went over to see the other Jewish families.He found them all living humbly down near the Connecticut River on Front Street.No synagogue, no charitable organization, and no burial-grounds - a must for the Jewish people. The poor people could not speak English, and they asked my father to help them.He gladly consented. First he went to the police court for the permission to act as their interpreter and semi-lawyer in case one of them broke the law unknowingly. Due to his charm and his being a Civil War veteran the Irish police consented - also due to the tales he could tell them.[p. 182] I was born in Hartford in 1889 on North Front Street a lovely country type street, gardens, farmers, pigstys, chicken, trains etc. Soon after that the terror of a pogrom (massacre) happened in Kief, Russia {Kiev]. Many many Jews - men, women children- were slaughtered in their homes and on the streets. Then came the rush to America.Most stayed with relatives and friends in New York. Some came to Hartford.My father would meet the poor, tired, frightened family at the Hartford boat landing and would pile them and their worldly goods into a wagon and drive them to their friends' or relatives' home. = A while later my father placed a long basket with some notions, needles, pins, etc and told them to go from door to door selling them. He told the peddlers to use their fingers to tell the price (for they could not speak English). The wealthy German Jews paid for the baskets. Next came the push cart trade, then the horse and wagon trade = tailors, jewelers, tanners, house builders, sewing-machine workers, men and women - up, up, up that was how mayn fortunes began. . = No, I did not know the Meranski family. Only heard about them from Mrs. Witkower [her mother-in-law] and my brother Charlie. Heard they were a fine family. [Sophie Barrett note "She DID visit them on Wooster Street" - as she subsequently recollected]. Your Question Seven. That may be so: Thousands of Jewish boys did. My father was sixteen when he arrived in Charleston, South Carolina. He arrived in Hartford 1887 or 1888 [directories seem to list him in 1885.] Mr. Meranski may have been here. Try the old Directory. The Immigration officers at Ellis Island were often mistaken- they could not understand the Jew language and would misspell or even change the name. [My] Israel's name was Aaron - they wrote down Israel. = 9. my father came from Warsaw, Poland - ruled by Russians. He was well educated, had fine mind and manners - made a good name for himself as a humanitarian in Hartford. He was a true organizer and started much of the Jewish affairs in Hartford.He was a politician - Republican. Knowing how important it was for them to become citizens,he insisted on their getting their citizenship papers. made them all Republicans. Of course they changed their party later.When Dad was buried [1903] almost the entire Jewish community walked to the cemetery- a long walk on Zion Street from Market Street. I grew up with many a coming first-rate dcotor, lawyer, businessman. = Mother Paulina - a quiet lady-like woman gentle and very helpful to her friends and neighbors. Born near Frankfurt Germany. Brought up nine children - three of Dad's, six of her own. One becamse first Jewish mailman - Ben Rosenblatt- lived on Bellevue Street near Canton. Had son Joe- a holy terror. Now he writes music for Frank Sinatra - Flip etc in California. First Jewish policeman - Abe Rosenblatt - first radio and electrical store Joe and Charlie. Rachel married. Rose - me- followed my father's ideals. First to organize clubs for the elderly.Past President of Emanuel Synagogue Sisterhood.On the board of many organizations.= The Council of Jewish Women - [its] purpose[is] to elevate the Jewish race.The members paid two dollars a year dues.Ella Meiselmann Seidman and I were [184]members. I was on the board. Money was pouring in. Much good work was being done for all races. = Girls [were]forbidden to sell newspapers -law enforced. I told Mrs. Mary McCloud Bethune to form such a group from the black women all over the United States -write to the to the top level first- they would lend the others. That was in 1933. In 1935 the National Council of Negro Women was formed. Today they have four million members.Headquarters are in Washington, D.C. and the whole idea was mine. A few years ago I had the job of inspiring a falling-apart Hartford group to get going again. I am a life member. The college stands in Daytona, Florida. I do wish you would read her book 'The Autobiography of Mary McCloud Bethune' also the Rothschilds (brothers)- both inspiring books. I believe the idea for lunches for school children came from the lunches we served - the City of Hartford sent people to watch us.= Israel's brother came to America many years after 'Meema Saura' came. He was not a pleasant person.Lived in Chicago for some time - moved to Hartford - lived here on Pliny Street for a short while. Did not like Hartford - moved away out of our lives. = I have served on some Christmas Club boards opening the way for others -a member of the first interfaith group - saw that Rabbi Morris Silverman -Rabbi of the Emanuel [185] Synagogue was made chairman. A brilliant open-minded man.He did well. I invited many clergymen to speak at the Emanuel.Rabbi [Silverman] passed on in 1973 but left behind him a warm feeling of friendship between all denominations. I married a fine man - Israel Witkower- 62 years ago. [I have been a] widow for five years- two children Irma, Bernard and five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren (one in Israel). Esther [exact relation not clear] passed on. I hope I have answered all the questions. Mrs. Aronson and Mrs. Geetter called me -we had a nice chat.= No I don't know Israel's father's name or his mother's maiden name. G.Fox and Company was owned by Moses Fox 1910. then his daughter Fanny Fox married Mr. Auerbach. - Rose Witkower" Note to Sophie "What a hectic life you have had - not for me. I am sure the book you are preparing will be an interesting one.What a lot of work it must be to write a book, but one learns as one delves into past occurances.My son was stationed in Honolulu during the war.Thank God we now live in peace.May I finish my life here in "Peace",and may Peace come to all the world. I am keen about spiritual psychology. I have read many books on different religions. Please return pictures. Much love. Rose Witkower."
Subject: Pyramid
Year: 1973_