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

 

Anita Douredoure and Bill Barrett visiting Cynwyd l937 #892 p 33
summer 1937 712 Stradone Road. Jack also obtained tickets for Bill and Anita to attend the November 1937 Army-Navy Football game in Philadelphia. Anita Douredoure sent Sophie and John many wonderful letters 1970-1988 about dating Bill Barrett 1933-1937 after the death of his first wife Catherine Miley and prior to his second marriage September 1938 to Virginia Brady. Anita met many of Bill's business associates and contributed many humorous recollections of experiences with Bill, including their encounter with a palm-reading fortune teller. Anita was a native of Philadelphia of Portuguese background. Jack Barrett never forgot that in 1932 or 1933 Anita's cigarette ashes burned a hole in the Barrett's new golden nine-by-twelve-foot Chinese gold living room rug from Nicholson rug factory Tientsin, where Sophie watched the hand weaving. ANITA LETTER 1970:-- ANITA D-O-U-R-E-D-O-U-R-E letter I wrote to her for her recollections of Bill.On the eighteenth of March l970 she wrote "Dear Sophie,I will try to give you my memories of Bill from around l932 to l938. Around Easter I was with some friends, & a Mrs. Pfeffer a friend of one of my friends remembered that she was in somewhat of a quandry.She had just returned from a cruise with her husband.On the cruise he had met an attractive widower named Bill Barrett. He was coming to visit them at their home in Penn Valley for the weekend. They had invited a girl named Frances Diamond,but she couldn't keep the engagement. Bill had said he would like someone not too young & a Catholic- two specifications. Frances Diamond fitted,& since she wasn't available what was she - Bobbie Pfeffer- going to do to amuse Bill over the weekend? I said, 'What about me? I fit the bill.' To my surprise she accepted with alacrity.Perhaps you remember Penn Valley- it is a very beautiful suburb, & the Pfeffers' house was in a wooded spot on Moreno Road. It was a lovely house with an outside swimming pool -p.419-Mr. Pfeffer was connected with the American Standard Sanitation Company or some such corporation. They had one son & were a very pleasant couple.I arranged to stay with one of my friends who lived near them.They invited me to dinner & to spend the evening.There were either four or six of us, & we had a very good time.When it came time to leave, Bill took my arm & said, 'Here we go on our honeymoon.' He came to my friends' the next morning to take me to church. That started our romance that lasted until l937 or l938.It was strange that things happened exactly as a fortune teller told me they would. My aunt & I had lunch at the Warwick, where the hand reader entertained.She told me that around Easter she saw me in evening dress at a small party where I would meet a man who would show plainly that he was very much attracted to me. She said that we would never marry each other but that we would go many places together.It was a real blueprint of what actually happened.Later on at a private party she read Bill's hand & told him he would marry three times.I think I told him I would catch him on the third round.From Easter on I saw Bill about every weekend.He would stay in Germantown at my aunt's or at my brother's home in Cynwyd near where you used to live.Shortly after I met Bill, my brother took me on a 'trip to nowhere' -one of those short cruises during Prohibition.It was on the old MAJESTIC, & the destination was Bermuda, which we never reached because the ship couldn't land because of rough seas.I met two other widowers on the boat & had a grand time.Bill sent me a huge basket of flowers or fruit- & I had to put it on the sink in my cabin.Then Bill invited me to New York & got me a room in the Pan Hellenic Women's Hotel next to his apartment at 10 Mitchell Place.His program of entertainment nearly exhausted me.He bought theater tickets for matinees on Wednesday & Thursday & took me to another show at night.I remember we had box seats, & I dozed & nearly fell out of the box. I loved New York, & we always got along better there than in Philadelphia.. I spent a lot of long weekends in New York.Bill took me to a lot of places. I remember the Rainbow Room very well.His cousin Myles Lane had a girlfriend- one time Bill gave a party for them. Bill & I & my brother Bernard & his wife Edna went on several cruises at Christmas & Easter. One was to Cuba & Jamaica on the EMPRESS OF BRITAIN, another to Nassau on the EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA & another to Bermuda. We had a congenial foursome & lots of good times.Now to answer your questions: I met Fred Erb of Detroit. Bill & I saw him off on a trip of eighteen days. He seemed to be not well, & I saw him only for a few minutes. When Bill & I arrived back at 10 Mitchell Place, the phone rang, & Bill was informed that Erb had died a couple of hours after sailing.His poor wife had to continue the trip with his body until they reached the first port of call. I do remember the (EAGLE l9) boat ride with you in Boston- don't recall fishing or catching anything.But I love the water & enjoyed the boating..I remember visiting the Barrett home in South Boston- then their wire haired terrier, who scared me.I stayed at the Sheraton Hotel in Boston. I think it was at Christmas time.Bill took me to Longwood Gardens in Delaware- my brother lent us his car & we met Pierre Dupont, a very shy man who showed us through the greenhouse.In a train we met Lamont (Lamotte?) Dupont. I believe Bill used to ghostwrite some of his speeches.Also I went with Bill to a cocktail party, a kind of business party -where I met Juan Trippe, Pan American airlines founder & president.Also at that party I met Alfred Sloane (General Motors) & Igor Sikorsky (helicopter pioneer). I heard Bill talk about working on the National Recovery Administration (NRA) with General Drum, & his meetings with Edward Stettinius afterward Secretary of State.The only thing I remember about Jack was Bill's saying his mother was thrilled when Jack gave her fifty dollars for Christmas.I remember I thought Bill resembled his mother (he did- Sophie M. Barrett note). Bill, Mr. Barrett senior & I took a trip to Cape Cod. We stayed at an old hotel iin Osterville- & Bill & I played not even facsimile golf.The caddy laughed, & Bill was furious & sent him back to the caddy house.I liked Bill's father - he looked like a very nice clean baby- his bald head shone, & he kept his derby hat on most of the time so that the flies wouldn't worry him.One time the three of us went to the Brass Rail in New York City when Pa Barrett was visiting 10 Mitchell Place- & they had some music records- the Brass Rail is a delicatessen type restaurant. Mr. Barrett & I danced- did an old-fashioned hop dance which almost floored me. He was very agile- really remarkable for his age. Another time we went to Atlantic City & we all had Brighton punches - a really potent brew.Mr. Barrett was in better shape than either Bill or I. I remember the political talks Bill had with my brother about Roosevelt.We were charmed by Roosevelt,& Bill told us New York state was glad to set rid of him when he ran for President.I was in the Metropolitan Life Building only once to see where Bill worked.He was a very hard worker & deserved to be successful.When I met him he was head of the Policy Holders Service Bureau & his big complaint was that he was not allowed to eat in the officers' dining room.The only friends of Bill's I remember well were Lloyd & Charlotte Miller, who lived in Old Greenwich.We spent New Year's Eve at their house one time & saw them at other times.Bill had another friend named Benziger who married an airline stewardess named Signe- she was Swedish.We went on a trip to some quaint old inn.Both Bill & I had colds. He worried more about his 99 degree fever than my hundred-degree fever, & that cooled the romance somewhat.Bill & I used to borrow my brother's car & play golf at Valley Forge or go to Ocean City.He told me his father would pay for his education only if he didn't waste his time at athletics.He was a bright man, & I enjoyed listening to his opinions.Just before the (l933) bank holiday he told me & my aunt to draw out any money we had in the bank as the banks were going to close.He advised me how to invest the little money I had, & over the years I have rejoiced because his advice was profitable,& I have been able to live comfortably without having to work.We fell out of love about l937- he came over (to Philadelphia), but the spell was broken.When his mother died (January l938) I sent a check & a sympathy letter. Your husband called me to ask where Bill was to tell him of his mother's death.I didn't know where he was,as by then I wasn't seeing him.He called me to thank me for my sympathy, but we did not renew our romance.In l936 we talked of getting married, but he went on a trip with some men from General Motors, I was piqued & took off for Mexico without telling him.When he called my apartment, he talked to a friend who borrowed the apartment, & she told him where I was.That must have been when he took the trip to Norfolk to see you when your son was four months old.I burned all letters & keepsakes when we no longer saw each other.Poor Bill was unfortunate to lose two wives by death.I'm glad he had a son- he must have been very happy when he was born. He was a fine man & deserved to be happy- Anita Douredoure"
Subject: Anita Douredoure & Bill
Year: 1937Anita