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


Bill in Army PANAMA Bl ii 249,151
p 32-886 Year: 1940_ p. 259 Notebook Four New York--Plagued by the heat and fatigue, he found a temporary furnished aprtment for himself in Brooklyn. We remained at 640 East Seventh Street {South Boston] as the guests of Grandpa and Aunt Mollie, who did all they could for our comfort that stifling hot summer. Mollie even brought down from the attic some of the kindergarten supplies used by Catherine Miley Barrett in her teaching days. She married Bill Barrett in 1923.= Finally with the help of his [Fordham Law School] friend John Papp, Jack found an unfurnished apartment at 9615 Shore Road in Brooklyn,-arranged the furniture which had arrived from storage in San Diego,-found a garage where he left his car,came to Boston for us, - and Jack, John and I traveled by train to the Grand Central Station, then took a taxi to the apartment in Brooklyn. John loved that apartment and vicinity. His crib was in our bedroom, but John had his own play room, and had his father with him every evening and weekend.The play room faced on New York Harbor- we could see the ships coming and going in and out of New York. Jack raised flowers in pots in the room- flowers that John liked very much, - amaryllis, ranunculus, begonias, anemones. Jack had no luck with freesias. He used three toothpicks in a triangle to suspend the stones from avocadoes over water in glass milk bottles, and the avocadoes would sprout several feet with big leaves. There was a large Chinese ancient kassu rug on the play room floor, - building blocks, Tinkertoys,a small and a large rocking chair, and a blackboard on the wall. There was also a solidly built writing table, on which Jack had cut off the legs to make the writing surface about two feet from the floor, and a small straight chair to fit the table. The room had many child's books including a Koala book from Australia- all the Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit series books - Uncle Bill's gift of French Becassine books he purchased in Europe- - "he Little Engine That Could" and many paper books about animals. One book about a dog and a cat "Sniffy and Mitzi" provided a name for a favorite toy cat, Mitzi. I used to read to John by the hour, pointing to the words as I -p. 260- read, and by the time John was three and a half years old, I was amazed to find that he could read although I had made no effort to teach him. As a matter of fact I thought he was correcting me from memory, until he actually read something to me = After dinner every evening John enjoyed a very leisurely bath, playing with a transparent plastic ball which contained a few toy fish, - and with a large red, celluloid fish.Then his father put on his own pajamas, and John wore his,and the two of them would study the starts at the bedroom window, which faced Shore Road and the Ocean [the Narrows]. There was a large Wrigley chewing gum sign in the distance west, and John and Jack used to say that Venus might get stuck in the chewing gum.John continued his interest in astronomy.Not long before we left New York, we spent an afternoon visiting Virginia, Bill, and Billy in Darien, where our former nursemaid Miss Blanche Caffey from Norfolk was helping look after young Billy.John, Jack, and Billy went swimming at the Darien Country Club. Members of my family visited us many times in Brooklyn, especially my brother Harry's wife's sister Marion Taylor, who was then a nurse in Brooklyn at Greenpoint hospital. My sister-in-law Ethyle Meranski and her son Ted and daughter Carol Jane were among the visitors, and my sister Esther, and several times we saw my sister Bertha Pollack and her children Jason and Thalia. Sometimes we took guests to Jones Beach on Long Island, where once Jack Barrett had to take a deep breath before being rolled around the beach under a ten-foot high breaking ocean wave.Jones Beach was much cleaner and less crowded than Coney Island where we went once or twice.It did have high waves, however, and rather cold water.Sometimes we would take guests to New York World's Fair at Flushing,where Jack photographed Perisphere and Trilon.We spent Thanksgiving 1939 with the Pollack family at Overbook, Pennsylvania near Philadelphia, where my brother Pete Meranski and his wife Jen joined us from Baltimore, and we met the Pollacks at Atlantic City New Jersey in 1940, where Jack said John dog-paddled without instruction and was ready to "head for Europe." My 1927-1930 landlady social worker Ann Taylor McCormack, , Helen Miller of the Commonwealth Fund, Chester Swanner from the Lighthouse Service 1912 p 72-1234 Relocation of New York Branch Hydrographic office + April 1941 Bradford NOTEBOOK 4 p 226-8 Year: 1940_ New York Journal of Commerce,Thursday November 28, 1940 -from Sophie Barrett notebook Four pages 226-8: "DISPUTE REMOVAL OF NAVY BUREAU:-- SENTIMENT FAVORS CUSTOM HOUSE LOCATION OF THE UNITED STATES NAVAL H-Y-D-R-O-G-R-A-P-H-I-C OFFICE. Reports that the New York Branch of the U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office, to which deep sea pilots always resort for navigation aids before sailing, will be moved from its present location in the Custon House to another site has stirred considerable comment in steamship circles. While no formal protest of the impending removal of the Bureau to a less convenient location has been launched as yet,numerous ship line officers and several maritime and trade organizations were understood to be considering such a step. DECENTRALIZATION OPPOSED. Moving of the Hydrographic Office to another building would mark the removal of a third Bureau closely allied with ship operations and navigation from the confines of the Custom House -- a decentralization of the shipping facilities that has found little favor with steamship operators. The Steamboat Inspectors' Office is now located at 45 Broadway,while the Coast and Geodetic Survey Office has been moved to 90 Church Street.Since ship masters, particularly those of vessels operating in foreign trade, always consult the Hydrographic Office on navigation conditions in their routes as soon as they have secured clearance papers,- moving of the Office from the Custom House is seen as especially inconveniencing regular services of the Office such as giving of information on ice conditions in the North Atlantic and sailing obstacles in foreign waters. These have been increased by the considerable special information on mine fields and other war-created hazards since the outbreak of the conflict.SPECIAL WARNINGS VALUABLE: As a consequence its service to pilots has become even [p.227] more valuable than in ordinary times.Masters of vessels plying into the war zone never fail to secure special warnings released by the Hydrographic Office regarduing such war hazards.Steamship companies apprised of the possible moving of the Office out of the Customs Building- in which they now obtain clearance papers and Coast Guard harbor regulations for leaving the harbor indicated their disapproval of the change. Although none of them was willing to comment officially,more than a dozen intimated they would direct a communication to W. E. Reynolds, the Administrator of Public Buildings of the Federal Works agency in Washington.Several maritime organization expressed the same view,with two of the leading ones suggesting they would not permit the removal of the Hydrographic Office to go through without directing their opinion to the proper governmental source.Commander John B. Barrett USN is the officer in charge of the New York Branch of the United States Navy Hydrographic Office.[end of news story]. DEMPWOLF letters: [Captain DEMPWOLF was an officer of Revenue Cutter School and appears along with cadet Jack Barrett in 1910 photo aboard training ship ITASCA, which appears on this website] "Dear Commander Barrett, The enclosed copy of a letter received from Captain G.S. Bryan, U.S. Navy., Washington D.C., dated 12 November 1940, is forwarded for your information. Sincerely, R. W. Dempwolf, Captain, United States Coast Guard,- Commander, New York district." [p.228] "New York, N.Y. 7 November 1940 [To] Captain C.C. Todd, U.S. Navy--Acting Hydrographer, Hydrographic Office, Washington D.C. -- Dear Captain Todd: It has come to my attention that efforts are being made by other government agencies to obtain the space now occupied by the Branch Hydrographic Office in the Custom House, New York. If such agencies succeed in obtaining this space, it would cause considerable inconvenience and hardship upon the masters of merchant vessels in obtaining necessary information prior to clearing the Port of New York.The clearances of vessels from the Port of New York are handled through the Marine Division at the Custom House and through the Commander, New York District of the Coast Guard.All of such clearances are approved by the Ship Control Board, Treasury Department, Washington, D.C. Whenever the clearance of a vessel is approved, the master is given a special number by the Coast Guard through the Marine Division at the Custom House.As you know, the average master desires the very latest information, and it is only fitting and proper that he should get this information just prior to his sailing from the Port of New York. Therefore, in my capacity as Commander New York District, United States Coast Guard and Captain of the Port of New York, I urgently recommend that the Branch Hydrographic Office in the Port of New York remain in its present location in the United States Custom Office. Very truly yours, R.W. Dempwolf, Captain United States Coast Guard, Commander New York District." 1941Black Notebook 2 -p 157 "April 10, 1941 - 4701 Reservoir Road, Washington DC To. Commander John B. Barrett, Branch Hydrographic Office, New York, N.Y. Dear Doc: It was very kind of you to call attention to the discrepancies between the New York and Boston broadcasts. This matter does not come under my section, but I was glad to bring it to the attention of Watt, who is in charge of Pilot Charts. = He explains to me that the first broadcast, either New York or Boston, is used as a basis for the Washington broadcast. It is considered here that the mailgram would be too late for a radio broadcast from here. It seems that errors in transmission occasionally creep in, for recently the latitude of one of these submarine areas was given as twenty-one degrees -- the requested repeat still came twenty-one degrees - which was, of course, an obvious error. = In the case of forty degrees thirty minutes instead of forty degrees fifty minutes the larger area was chosen for the reason you advanced - for being on the safe side. Watt emphasizes the fact that he takes either your broadcast or that of Boston, - whichever comes first into the office, - and the mailgram is too late. The Coast Survey has placed these areas on their charts at our particular request,and what we are looking to do is to be able, after a time,to simplify the broadcasts by using the letters. This, I think, will be done as soon as the new charts beome thoroughly disseminated in the Navy and merchant marine. = The office is very busy here, as you may well imagine, but the work is increasingly interesting. I keep going pretty well and hope to see you if you make a trip this way. Be sure I appreciate your letter. Sincerely, s/Brad --P.S. Watt has just shown me a radiogram from Branch Hydrographic Office New York ... "between Latitudes forty - fifty northward and eight North and twenty-one twenty North. " We sent for a report, and it came back o.k except 'Latitude twenty-one". p 73-1236 New York from Notebook 4 p 262 Year: 1940_ John enjoyed the Bronx Zoo, Owl's Head Park Brooklyn near us where he fed the squirrels, Fort Hamilton on Shore Road, [occasionally Prospect Park further away] and th hill in front of our house across the highway which led down to the water's edge.He played with his toy animals Mitzie the cat and Peter Rabbit and gathered grasses and wild flowers.There were apple blossoms, morning glories, and thistles.. To celbrate his fifth birthday in April 1941 we invited six-year-old Joan Rooney from the first floor downstairs for ice cream and cake after the evening meal.She was one of the few children nearby, as there were small families in the 1930s. She appears in some photos at Christmas 1940, and her mother cooked lunch for the Barretts June 30, 1941, the day they were leaving by train for Los Angeles and Hawaii. The spring of 1941 Jack had received orders to proceed to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for duty. World War II was raging in Europe,and Jack was upset at the prospect of leaving John and me alone in Brooklyn while he went off to Hawaii, especially as he was certain that war with Japan was imminent. He opposed sales of scrap iron to Japan and frequently told his brother Bill and Brooklyn neighbors that the United States would soon be at war. Later in Hawaii, it was frequently Captain Paul Rice, his old friend from gunboat TULSA in China 1930-31 with whom he would discuss his concerns about Japanese aggression and the vulnerability of Pearl Harbor ships, oil tanks, and repair yards.At the Overseas Transportation Office he insisted all personnel file leave papers in writing when leaving the Honolulu area on weekends, when some would travel to other islands such as Maui or "the Big Island" of Hawaii. Jack was amazed when he learned that dependents were still allowed to go to Hawaii, and he made arrangements for John and me to sail from Los Angeles on the Matson liner LURLINE in July 1941. [about July 9 or 10, arriving Honolulu July 15, 1941].So again John crossed the country in the heat of the summer, but now he had his father with him. There is no doubt that the constant uprooting from familiar surroundings was hard on the five-year-old.At the end of the long cross country train ride there was only a hotel far from the center of Los Angeles, - a hotel that served no food.We had to find food out for three meals a day.That is very hard on a young child and his parents, too, as restaurant food is rarely suitable in the heat of summer for a small boy. We spent a whole week in Los Angeles waiting for the LURLINE and didn't even have our car, which was shipped from Brooklyn to Hawaii. I suppose the taxi driver who took us on the long ride from the station to the hotel [where no food was served] got a rebate from the hotel for every guest he delivered. Except for the lack of food, the hotel was suitable, because it was far from the croweded center of the city and was reasonably priced in a section of Los Angeles where we had so much free time to wander about with a five-year-old for a whole week.We had to vacate our apartment in Brooklyn June 30 or pay another -p.262- full month's rent. So we gave it up and went off to Los Angeles. When we finally boarded the LURLINE, we found ourselves in a spacious suite, - a living room, a bedroom with an extra cot, and a private bath. We were admiring our quarters when Mr. and Mrs, Pardee, our Saticoy friends from the l932 PRESIDENT PIERCE world tour Japan to Naples,- appeared to see us off,- and when they remarked about the elegance of the quarters, Jack explained that they cost the Navy only the cost of an ordinary first class passage- that the Matson line had no cabin for us -but had an unclaimed suite and gave it to us. The Matson Line supplied musicians on the dock and gave the passengers long colored paper streamers to throw down to their friends - very large numbers, which gave a very festive effect on a bright sunny day.I was well supplied with coats for myself and John, as I had often needed a coat, even in the tropics aboard ships under way in the evenings.John, like his mother and father, proved to be a good sailor- we missed no meals and had an uneventful trip to Honolulu, - where Jack's [predecessor? immediate superior?] Captain Knowles and our Chna-and-Panama friends Captain and Mrs. Paul and Gertrude Rice and their twenty-yea-old daughter Nathalie met us at the dock and put [frangipani] flower leis around my neck-- Gertrude laughed at all the coats on my arm saying I'd have no use for them in Hawaii. (We were never evacuated, but many families evaucated to San Francisco after the December 1941 attack were unprepared for cold weather). Captain Knowles left for his office soon after greeting us,but the rest of us all went to the Moana Hotel on Waikiki Beach in Captain Rice's car.We were scheduled to have quarters at Makalapa adjoining Pearl Harbor, but they were not quite ready, and of course our furniture had not arrived in Hawaii and was not expected for some time. Captain Rice returned to work at Pearl Harbor and took Jack to report for duty, but Getrude and Nathalie stayed with us several hours visiting in the Moana courtyard. We remained at the Moana Hotel July 15 to 28- we found the banyan tree in the courtyard very interesting and soon learned that each evening the guests were entertained there by hula dancers and musicians performing under lights by the banyan.When Jack returned from Pearl Harbor, we took a quick dip on Waikiki Beach right in back of the Hotel.
Subject: {W}
Year: 1940___