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


Mollie and Katie Barrett
p 31-878 : Mount Holyoke College Sopihie Ruth Meranski AB l923 AM'25 June 11, l998 from John B. Barrett, jr., 113 West Third Street, Port Angeles Washington WA 98362-2824 [son of Sophie Ruth Meranski l90l-l987 A.B. 1923, A.M. l925 Economics and Sociology Mount Holyoke College] . To Former Mount Holyoke College President Elizabeth Topham Kennan c/o Deptarment of Classics, Mount Holyoke College: Dear Dr. Kennan- My mother Sophie Ruth Meranski of the class of l923 at Mount Holyoke wrote an extensive family memoir Red Headed Stepchild mainly l969 to l972, with later additions. It contains considerable material about her classmates and friends and her six years in residence at South Hadley l9l9-l925, including her l925 Master's thesis directed by Professor Amy Hewes "The Young Offender and the Criminal Law in Massachusetts." Besides two years as junior faculty in the Statistics lab, she worked for Children's Bureau U.S. Department of Labor inspecting child and women's labor in canneries and making statistical studies of graduates of schools for the retarded and of delinquent children of alcoholics (l924-l925); then developing "Statistical Reporting Techniques for Child Guidance Clinics" for Commonwealth Fund l926-l929; and as Director of Personnel Research at Macy's stores New York l929-l930. After marriage l929 she traveled widely as a Navy wife and lived in TientsinChina l930-l93l, Panama l945-l935, and Waikiki, Hawaii during World War II and l94l-l947.She interested two West Roxbury neighbors Sally Hey (Singh) l960 and Marilyn Donovan (Timbers) l964 in Mount Holyoke College. In the l970's and early l980's she had extensive correspondence and conversations with a group of classmates and friends, especially Professor Ruth Douglass of the Music Department, who is still teaching music in Granville, New York,Rebecca Glover Smaltz, Marion Lewis Smart, Clara Michal, Betty Giles Howard, Ruth Peck Doyle, Ethel Simpson Newcomb,Cora Hughes,Anna Mary Wells, Edna Delahanty, Margaret Gage Bronson,Kathryn Trufant, and Roberta Teale Swartz Chalmers. Several of them were especially nterested in the career of Mary Woolley who was president of the college l90l-l937 and one of the best-known and most widely admired women of her time for her involvement above all in educational and professional opportunities for women and also in China and missionary work and peace and arms control issues. Mary Woolley had strong views on what today are called "glass ceiling" issues, and she was concerned in l936 when the trustees planned tro have a man President - in fact three in a row as it turned out. They were all distinguished and capable and made contributions to college life, but my mother and several of her friends felt in the l970's that the time was overdue for another woman president, and they were extremely happy upon your appointment and remained enthusiastic about your performace and the quality of Mount Holyoke leadership as long as they lived. Clara Michal was one of the most articulate. She was born in Smyrna about l900 and came to the Springfield, Massachusetts area about l9l0 with her family as a Greek refugee from Turkish persecution. She and my mother were in Pearsons Hall as freshmen l9l9-l920 and waited on tables, and both went into social work. Clara was in Springfield, Detroit, New Haven and Bridgeport at various stages of her career, interested in poverty, air safety, peace, and many issues and in the college.My mother's recollections of Miss Woolley included seeing her most Sundays for four years in chapel. My mother's parents were Jewish,and her interest in religion is a bit tricky to describe - curiously ecumenical. Two sisters named Barstow, particularly Harriet Mount Holyoke l9l5 were an important influence on my mother- they were very much interested in missionary work, and it was primarily Harriet who encouraged my mother to apply to Mount Holyoke. My mother enjoyed the music and speakers and profound force ofMiss Woolley's personality but dated many Jewish boys until finally in l928-l929 she met and married my father. But Miss Woolley and Mount Holyoke chapel were an important "Americanizing" experience for a poor daughter of immigrant East European Jewish parents.We had hoped the Anna Mary Wells would write more about Miss Woolley's accomplishments and methods of leadership - Anna Mary sat at my mother's table l924-5 and they remained friends and correspondents. We appreciate her book "Miss Marks and Miss Woolley" which is an important document on college life and the choice many women then had to make of marriage or career, but it does not completely bring out Mary Woolley's contributions to college and American life, and I am hoping soomeone else will write another book that brings out her talents and strong points.In l987-l988 I did extensive research on many aspects of Mount Holyoke College, alumni acareers and life in Williston library, and I am very much indebted tp former College History Librarian Mrs. Elaine Trehub and others of the staff, and I have recently been in touch with the college Archivist. I am enclosing excerpts from my mother's memoir "Red Headed Stepshild, mostly for your enjoyment, but also in the hope that perhaps you may think of persons who would be interested in studying and using thewe materials. I hope to write the departments of Sociology, Economics, History, and Music on various topics, and I am interested in the careers of a number of the faculty. Amy Hewes in particular deserves careful study for herlong career in labor economics and related areas, statistics, children's affairs and support of alumnae careers. Alzada Comstock, Ethel Dietrich, Aryness Joy are other department members who should be remembered and appreciated. I am familiar with much distinctive Mount Holoyoke music my mother sang all her life, and I have had extensive conversations on this subject with Rebecca Smaltz until she passed away early l990's and with Ruth Douglass, who is still active at age 96 - we spoke by telephone at Christmas and Easter and graduaztion time in May. I hope you may be able to read protions of this memoir (the total will run around 200,000 words, and perhaps make these materials available to people who might like to use them. I am still actively editing, typing, correcting, and revising and hope to get these materials in more usable form, but it seems worthwhile to distribute excerpts at this stage. I hope it may stimuilatel others. Phtos relating to the memoir are being put on an internet website - I call attention to the China materials in the College history file of Harriet Cogswell Meyer class of l922 - one of her students at Gin-Ling College Nanking l930's Dr. S.Y. Hu was curator of Chinese plants at Harvard's Gray Herbarium now Emeritus but still active on Hong Kong Flora, Chinese Food Plants, Daylilies, hoillies, Metasequoia and opther topics. I have enjoyed conversations at New England Botanical Club with fern specialist Dr. Stein on your faculty and her husband at University of Massachusetts. Perhaps you would say hello for me. I plan to enclose a number of excerpts from my mother's memoir Red Headed Stepchild with this letter. Respectfully with best wishes to you and the college, John B. Barrett, junior Photo website , the Seniors marched out in twos,singing a hymn to the accompaniment of the organ.Every Sunday a well known minister would visit the college to conduct church services.Some favorite hymns were Abide with Me,Holy,holy,holy,. Master no offering,fragrant & sweet= May we like Magdalene Lay at thy feet-O let loves incense rise sweeter than sacrifice." total about l50,000 words. It is hoped text can be published with 200=300 photos __New March 27:Note by John Barrett /Sophie's father & mother and sisters Esther & Babe Rebekah rented a car to attend the l923 graduastion at which Sophie received her A>B. degree. They were guests at the luncheon table of Sophie's advisor & future boss, Amy Hewes, head of Economics & Sociology Department,which was organized l907..The morning speaker had been Alexander Meiklehjohn, president of Amherst College,who had strong views on excellence in education and was considered radical..Someone asked "Pa" Meranski what he thought of the speaker,and he replied in his usual loud voice,so that everyone at the trable could not miss hearing them,"They'll fire him."(Miss Hewes remained polite & unpeturbed). "Pa" Meranski's prediction proved correct.He was active in teaching English to immigrants through the Moses Montefiore society in Hartford and in helping families make funeral arrangements through Capitol city Lodge..His daughter Babe recollects that around l9l2-l9l4 Boris Thomaschevsky of Yiddish theatre, Second Avenue, New York & members of his family when on tour would sing at the Meranski restaurant on Morgan Street, & Thomaschevsky invited Bertha Meranski to travel as a singer with his company,but her parents considered it inadvisable. She was active in the glee club and girls Business Cluib in class of l9l7 at Hartford High along with her friends Eva Levin & ..Silverberg..Their photos appeared in l9l7 yearbook, but in l9l9 there was no yearbook because of paper shortage after World War I.The three older Meranski brothers,Harry Ber & Abe were drafted late summer l9l8.It made their mother so nervous that she put salt instead of sugar she was making. Two went to Fort Devens,Massachuseetts & one to Fort Dix New Jersey. Two had influenza, probably Harry & Ben.Several of the family took middle names or nicknames -Benjamin Franklin Meranski, Sophie Rurh Meranski = she loved the Book of Ruth in the Bible-Israel Peter Meranski & Rebekah "Babe" Meranski Geetter.Sophie sang many Wor War I songs: "Alsace is sighing, Lorraine is crying Your mother France looks to you.Our hearts are bleeding Are you unheeding? Come with that flame in your glance.Through the gates of Heaven Do they bar your way? Souls who passed through Yesterday (chorus:)"Joan of Arc,Joan of Arc Do your eyes from the skies see the foe? Don't you see the drooping fleurs-de-lis? Can't you hear the cries of Normandy?Joan of arc may your spirit guide us through! Come lead your France to Victory!Joan of Arc they are calling you." She sang the Plattsburg March:"Oh it's not the pack that you carry on your back,Nor the Springfield (rifle) on your shoulder Nor the Four Inch crustof khaki-cpolored durst that makes you feel you're surely getting older,And it's not the hike on the old turnpike That drives away your smiles nor the socks of sister's That raise the bloomiong blisters-It's the last long mile."(Breitel). She effectivly rendered Irving Berlin's "Oh,how I hate to get up in the morning! Oh,how I like to spend my time in bed! But the hardest thing of all is to hear the bugler call,":You gotta get up,you goltta get up,you gotta get up this morning!Someday I'm going to murder the bugler. Someday they're going to find him dead.I'll put my uniform away,I'll move to Philadelphi-ay & spend the rest of my time in bed."She also liked (with slight variations to sing his:"I give the moon above To those in love when I leave the world behind,I'll leave the song birds to the blind.."and "Cohen owes me ninety-seven dollars. It's up to you to see that Cohen pays.I have a bill of goods from Rosenstein & sons On an IO-you-ou-ou for ninety days.If you'll promise me my son, you'll collect from everyone, I'll die with a smile upon my face."From l9l7 also were comic songs music by Bert Grant & lyrics by Sam Lewis & Joe Young"Pat McCarthy hale &hearty Living in Oregon-He heard a lot of talk about the great New York-So he left the farm where all was calm,And he landed on old Broadway- He took the little Mary Ann into a swell cafe: 'Arrah go wan I want to go back to Oregon.I want to go back to stay.I could feed the horses many a bale of hay for all that it costs to feed one chick on old Broadway.Arrah go wan gowichagowaygowan arrah go wan I want to go back to Oregon!'" and "Timothy Kelly who owned a big store Wanted the name painted over the door.One day Pat Clancy the painterman came Tried to be fancy & misspelled the name. Instead of a Kelly with a double L, Y, he painted "Kely" but one L was shy.Pat says 'it looks right,but I want no pay -I figured it out in my own little way.If I knowck the "L" out of Kelly. It would still be Kelly to me.Sure a single L, Y or a double L, Y, Should look the same to any Irishmans eye--Knock out the L from Killarney, Sure Killarney it always would be,But if I knock the L out of Kelly,He'll knock the "l" out of me."From early Hartford days Sophie sang "Moving day, moving day. Take you oil stove from the floor.Take your stove,and There's the door." "Oil,oil,kerosene oil- My oil is better than Finnegan's oil. Finnegan's oil is water. Mine's kerosene oil." To the tune "Love me & the World is mine" l907 hit she sang_"I care not for the Hartford Times I dare not read the Evening Post-I do not want the Journal-One cent & the WORLD (newspaper) is mine." She liked Alfred Gumble's l9l3 " When the honeysuckle vine Comes a creeping round the door A sweetheart mine Is waiting patiently for me You can hear the Whipporwill Sounding softly from the hill Her memory haunts you Rebecca wants you Come on back to Sunnybrook Farm." A minor key phrase in this song also appears in l9l5 "Are you from Dixie? Are you from Dixie? Where the fields of cotton beckon to me. I'm glad to see you Tell me how be you And the friends I'm longing to see? Are you from Alabama,Tennessee or Caroline? Anywhere below the Mason-Dixon line? Then you"re from Dixie! Hurrah for Dixie! 'Cause I'm from Dix-ie too."(George Cobb-Harry Yellen) Also "In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia In the Trail of the Lonesome Pine. In the pale moon shine our hearts entwine Where You carved your name & I carved mine-O June in the mountains of blue Like the pine I am pining for you.In the Blue_Ridge Mountains of Virginia, in the trail of the lonesome pine." Particular when her younger brother Pete courted and married a Baltimore belle Jeanette Goldberg, she was fond of the chorus "There's a girl in the heart of Maryland With a heart that belongs to ME When I told her of my love the ORIOLE above Sang from the old apple tree And Maryland was fairyland when she promised my bride she"d be There's a girl in the heart of Maryland With a heart that belongs to me." To the same melody & rhyme pattern she sang a curious parody:"'There's a man in my room',cried Mary Ann -'Put him out,put him out' cried Sue."I'm afraid,I'm afraid',cried another little maid,'What shall we all ever do?'....'who do you suppose that he may be?' 'No you DON'T put him out', cried Mary Ann-'What's in my ro-oom belongs to ME.'"' __________
Subject: Mollie Barrett & Kate (8)winter
Year: 1920