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


Jack Barrett left, Shore Patrol in Shanghai, spring1927 p23 #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 Battles of 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 Ge. 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.Caption material from related photo p 21 - 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 scheduled to lead a landing force at Bluefields, Nicaragua January l927, but the landing was canceled and the MARBLEHEAD sent to HONOLULU in February and Shanghai 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".


Hurricane havoc, South Boston 1938 p23-178 S-O-U-T-H B-O-S-T-O-N


Along South Boston beach after hurricane, taken in morning of September 22, 1938 by Mollie Barrett (Mary FraNCes Feb ll, l898-Oct ll, l967 of 640 East Seventh Street, South Boston.Mollie attended practical arts high school - took care of her mother and father until August l942 - worked twenty years as cashier at South boston brac nch Metropo9litan Life Insurance Company retiring April l963. She frequently went weekends to Darien CT, where her brother Bil wqs a widower with a teen age son and business responsibilities. Mollie's close friends included her Lane and Sullivan cousins in Melrose, the Pistorino family of I Street South Boston, Katherine Kinnaly, Gertrude Granville, Palmer and Lynch second cousins, her boss Aaron Goldstein at the Met, and many members of Gate of Heaven parish Souith boston, including FatherHasenfus who ran Five Islandscamp in Maine, Mrs. bolger of Cloumbia Road, and a number of Mollie's tenants including the Curtis family l930's and Alphonsus and Catherine Roche l940's-l960's natives of Ferryville, Newfoundlkand with three sons, Raymond, Alphonsus, and Donnie. Mr. Roche was a fisherrman for many years.


Bill Barrett and first wife Catherine Miley p 23-#179


In l923 Bill BaRRETT MARRIED CATRHERINE MILEY OF DOCHESTER, who died of cancer after a long illness l931. Bill's classmate John Vaccaro had dated her cousin Catherine Casey of K. St. South Boston. Catherine studied music and taught kindergarten in New York during their marriage.She came to boston for therapy with Dr. William Manary and other at Boston City Hospital. Her sister Fanny and Mary Miley lived at Lothrop road, N Milton until the l970's andattended Mollie Barrett's funeral October l967. Mary was a lawyer and counselor or teac her at Cardinal Cushing college.They had brothers Thomas and joseph Miley.


John Robert Barrett l854-l942 visiting Bill and Virginia p 23 #180


This may be around birth of William Joel Barrett August 26, l939. Photo is at home of Bill and Virginia Barretts New York or Danien l938 or l939


Revenue Cutter School grounds probably Arundel Cove Maryland


probably at Arundel cove Maryland l909-l9l0 before move to Fort Trumbull, Connecticut l9l0 #181 p 23 (9)


Jack Barrett studying at Revenue Cutter School


in uniform p 23-#182


John Robert Barrett l854-l942 visits newlywed Bill and Virginia


John Robert Barrett visits son Bill and daughter-in-law Virginia probably Darien l939. His second grandson William joel Barrett was born August 26 l939 p 23 #183


Virginia Brady second wife of William Joseph Barrett married September l938 mother of William Joel Barrett born August 26, l939


at the home of Bill and Virginia possibly around birth of William Joel Barrett (New York or Darien, l938 or l939? p 23-#184