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

 

M-A-R-B-L-E-H-E-A-D 1927, Shanghai - Jack Barrett on Shore Patrol in trouble zone April-June 1927 #163 p 21
Taken aboard the USS Marblehead, 1927, Shanghai Jack received campaign ribbons l927 in Nicaragua and Shanghai for service in areas with civil war disturbances. He was scheduyled to lead a landing force at Bluefields, nicaragua January l927, but the landing was canceled and the MARBLEhEAd sent to HONOLULU in February andShanghai arriving April 2, l927.It was at this time Jack first knew the Ashley sisters.Madge Ashley wrote at Christmas l937 of the Japanese atrocities at Shanghai where she grew up and worked as Executive Secretary to the head of local operation of Standard Oil Company of New York.She wrote "June 30, 1970 [from] 715 Hillcrest Road, Ridgewood, New Jersey 07450:Dear Sophie It is a long time since I heard from you.All the years that I worked in New York and when I retired we have kept in touch with Harold Fultz. He suffers badly from emphysema.You asked about my brother.He married a Shanghai American schoolteacher from Kentucky.They came to the U.S. over thirty years ago.They have two daughters who are both married. One has three boys -eight, six and four-and Bob, her husband was a Captain in the Marines.He went to Vietnam after thre years in Okinawa. He left the Marines and is now with Kodak.The other daughter lives in Dallas,and her husband is a government accountant.They have two girls - six and four. Brother and Dorothy live in Louisville, Kentucky. I am sorry to say Maimie who remained in Shanghai while I came to New York to get a job never saw Topsy again after she was put in the Japanese camp where they nearly starved to death until rescued by American flyers. I am 'Mickie", and Madge is my real name. You want to know how we met Harold and Jack. The MARBLEHEAD was anchored at the Standard Oil wharf Pootung. The foreigners at the installation were under my boss and therefore I met them all when they came to the office.The families would invite me for weekends and include some Navy officers, and then they would escort me home the next day and stay at our house for 'tiffen' (lunch and dinner). Several came that way. How my father went to China is that he wanted to see the world and went on a sailing ship as many pioneers did - and liked the Far East so much he stayed- first in Hong Kong - where he met my mother- and then in Shanghai.He and a fellow American started the first fire brigade (volunteer) in China. All the equipment even the huge fire bells came from New York.There wee so many civil wars that we got used to storing rice and canned goods, filling the bath tubs with water, and hiding the family silver. Some of our {Chinese} friends were killed,but only Maimie suffered when the Japs were so rotten to all foreigners. I don't know Grace Liang. The two Russian sisters I hardly knew. I met Gala [Tsirentschikoff] at a party once - that's all.I sent your letter to my brother. He represented Lloyd's London and steamship companies, so he knew Ah Sing [ship's chandler] well.We knew of Cock Eye and 'Jelly Belly'(because he had a fat belly)- the tailors.;''get Pearl Buck's book 'My Several Worlds' Your Jack was interested in the Catholic orphanages where girls did embroidering and boys woodwork. I also took them [the Navy men] to see Chinese boys making carpets and embroidered underwear which used to be sold at Fifth Avenue New York. Lots of luck to you both.Sincerely-Mickey".Material p. 23 follows- Jack Barrett left, Shore Patrol in Shanghai, spring1927 #177 Jack received two ribbons in l927 for service in combat areas. He was slated to lead a landing force at Bluefields on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua in January, but the Civil War situation in Shanghai, China was causing concern, so the Navy ordered the light cruiser MARBLEHEAD with hundreds of Marines aboard first to Oahu for several weeks and then in March to Shanghai, - the M-A-R-B-L-E-H-E-A-D then the fastest ship in the Navy commissioned l924 made record time from Honolulu to Shanghai in eight and a half days, though high fuel consumption was necessary. Jack's duties included Construction and Repair, reporting to Executive Officer Alex Sharp later an Admiral whom Jack admired - and frequent Shore Patrol duty and service as elected Mess Secretary, planning meals with an idea to tastes of fellow officers and trying to keep cost of mess bills down - in this regard he found that serving three vegetables kept down the consumption of expensive meat - so saved money.Phil Dahlquist then an enlisted sailor in Supply prepared a log that included his five years on MARBLEHEAD l924-l929 and heroic service on carrier YORKTOWN May-June l942 at Battlesof Coral Sea and Midway,for which he was commissioned. Other friends from l927 were Harold Fultz, Jack Fradd. In January l927 near Nicaragua Jack saw Marine and writer John W. Thomas, to whom he was introduced by Edgar and Ora Waterman, Americans who resided in Camaguey, Cuba 1920s-l930s and in February 1927 in Honolulu Jack received a handwritten letter from a famous Marine "Chesty" Puller who in l950 commanded Marines in the Inchon landing west of Seoul Korea, leading to General MacArthur's brilliant victory (Arthur Meranski participated in the Inchon landing.) Puller's letter concerned plans for a party one evening in Honolulu area with friends. It disappeared in l993 thefts along with two photos of Jack Barrett and his friend Harold Fultz at Honolulu wearing flower leis March l927 just before MARBLEHEAD departed for this fast run to combat area at Shanghai. It was believed Mobil and other American businbess interests were threatened, and missionaries often got into dangerous situations that required Navy assistance.
Subject: Marblehead Shanghai
Year: 1927Shanghai