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

 

932.
{S}{F}Sophie Ruth Meranski 1911 38-932

 

Fro0m 1911 family group. Her mother;s shoulder appears. Sophie born October 4, l901 was about to celebrate her tenth birthday. Photo was probably at time of September holidays. Sophie married John Berchmans Barrett then a naval Lieutenant at New York City Hall about 2 pm Friday June 21, l929 an hour before he left by train for Chicago and the Orient and duty in the Asiatic Fleet aboard destroyer TRUXTUN based at Cavite, Philippines. A mole or birthmark on Sophie's left wrist was removed early l930s, not known to be cancerous - visible in photo.ESTHER TEXT to be TRANSFERRED:As Esther's birthday approaches on the nineteenth of November it occurs to me that I have neglected her shamefully in my accounts of the four sisters in my family. That is unfaiur as she was as interesting as any of us-taller than the other three with jet black hair like my mother, jet black eyes and with a better figure than Bee, Babe or me.- and from an early age she mothered us as we were eight by birth and more than fourteen by additions of motherless children who actually lived with us.Esther had more close girl friends and boy friends than we did, and with the first money she earned she bought a piano for the family as well as a record player and many records - and paid for a telephone when so few people we knew had telephones that ours rarely rang.She did well professionally because she was smart and went to a fine business college for bookkeeping, typing, and shorthand- at which she was a whiz.But her first job was at Vogel and son,a Hartford wholesale grocer. To preserve their stock there was no heat in the place - not even in her office as the men wore overcoats and sweaters at worlk and warm gloves. It was a big, profitable business that Esther enjoyed,but because she had to do bookkeeping,typing and stenography, she couldn't wear gloves while working and got frostbitten hands as well as feet! He boss liked her, so she stayed despite the cold, but when she confided to her best girl friend that her married boss was trying to make love to her- that friend told my father, who would not let her rtrun to that job- not even to collect her pay and her sweater!Soon the business college got her a job at the H.L. Handy Company,-wholesale dealer in meats, poultry and eggs. In the (p.2) office was Charles Bardous the head bookkeeper, one other male bookkeeper, and Esther.She really liked that job, was a happy girl with a piano record player, telephone,and always treated us to "college ices" -sundaes of chocolate sauce and nuts and always had a pound box of chocolates in her bureau drawer.I used to steal a few candies, which she never complained about if she knew they were gone.One night Pete was reading in bed at age fifteen, and I said to him,"Don't drop those apple cores on the floor- throw them out."-And as he chewed Esther's candies, he replied with a gleam in his eye,"Sis, there are no cores in these apples!"Esther must have known we were eating her candies, but she never stopped us or let us know she realized we were at her drawer.And when I could not see how I could pay the colllege fees, Esther and Al told me to go ahead - they would meet the expenses! Esther gave me her suitcase, her winter coat, and a lot more , and Al took me right to my room at the college (September l9l9). =And Esther was at the station to see me off in HER best clothes I was wearing. In my freshman year she came to visit and won the hearts of my classmates, who gave supper parties in their rooms for her, and the house mother invited Esther to sit with her at the head table while I waited on that table for one hundred dollars that year.Esther was so proud of me as very few women from Hartford went to the five best women's colleges in those days- certainly none of our friends except one older one who went to Brown University in Providence (earlier) but was working in Washington when I was growing up. And when I came home, Esther had a grand job for me (l921) for the summer in HER office- so we walked to and from work together every day and across the street near the lad I eventually invited to my junior prom (p 3) for a fabulously delightful weekend- a prom date with a car and a tux of his own!I was blind to the charms of Esther because she never seemed to have men come to the house for a date but yet she went out every evening, and I thought she was walking with her girl friends - who by then had telephones.One night I went to an outdoor summer dance with a girl Esther's age and was startled when she told me she was sorry for Esther. Only then did I learn that Esther and her young boss in the office were deeply in love and had been for years, but Esther would not marry him.What I did not know is that my father REFUSED to allow it and would not let Charlie come to the house, so she met him every evening on Main Street - had no place to entertain himin any weather, and that bothered Esther's close friend, as Esther told her it would be Charlie Bardous or no one. My father objected to Charles only because he was not Jewish. This went on for years while Esther saw me through college after Al married, and then Esther began to see Pete through college and medical school and mother Babe when I was away and when my mother died.Even then my father would not see Charlie.H.L. Handy sold out to Swift and Company, so Esther and Charlie were transferred to a big office force where they were never alone. Charlie then lived w8ith his aged mother, who was as opposed to a Jewish daughter-in-law (beautiful and generous and wise and kind and musical and in love with Charlie to the exclusion )(p.4) of all other men) Julius Aronson loved her for years before he finally married Mollie at an advanced age.So it went on.My father died in l933, so Esther was free to follow her heart, but Charlie's mother stayed alive.- and by the time she grudgingly agreed that Esther could live with them Esther would not marry Charlie and live with that old witch -whom even Charlie thought to be a witch- and he supported her as his duty and not for love of her.Esther could not bring herself to live under the same roof as she knew the mother would make her true love's life miserable. That mother lived until she was close to one hundred (years).I don't know what finally happened to Charles as I was so rarely in Hartford- but Esther never dated dany other men! She went to live with Babe and with Geetter to help them with the five children when Geetter went to war.She lugged home the meat and eggs after work from Swift and Company and stayed with the five babies while Babe shopped in the evening- and helped with the washing and the housework in addition to her job. Geetter said to me, "I think so much of Esther I don't know which one I married - Babe or Esther." She was always "Nan" to the children and should have had a flock of her own! Now her birthday approaches- about seventy-nine and Geetter will send the the big yellow chrysanthemum he sends every year - the flowers that will still be fresh on Thanksgiviing Day. Esther and I were very close, but never once did she breathe to me the sadness of her broken romance.


 

933.
Esther Meranski born November 19, 1894 Front Street Hartford, CT p 38-933 {F}

 

Esther attended business school and became bookkeeper at H.L. Handy Co and then at Swift and CompANY MEAT PACKERS HARTFORD.She assisted her younger sister Sophie and brother Israel Peter in meeting college expenses and lived with her brother Abe and his wife Ethyle at 75 Hawkins Street in l930s and with her youngest sister Babe Rebekah and her husband Dr. Isadore Geetter from l945 until l974 when she became a resident at Hebrew Home, Hartford very active until shortly before her death of metastasized breast cancer october l981. She helped served the noon meal at Meranski restaurant 25 Morgan Street about 1910-l915 and helped her mother with the younger children - bought a piano on which her sister Rebekah took lessons - also a victrola on whch family played Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor recordings around l920. She often brought home maple walnut candies and other treats for the younger children.Esther Meranski -l973 letter Sophie Barrett to Ivan McCormack Date: Thu, 02 Jul 1998 13:22:25 PDT Sophie Barrett letter to Ivan McCormack in Salem New York (Sophie sublet from Mrs. McCormack l927-l930 at 27Commerce St, Greenwich Village) (1973) November 2 Friday morning VITAMIN enclosed. Dear Ivan, As Esther's birthday approaches on the nineteenth of November it occurs to me that I have neglected her shamefully in my accounts of the four sisters in my family. That is unfaiur as she was as interesting as any of us-taller than the other three with jet black hair like my mother, jet black eyes and with a better figure than Bee, Babe or me.- and from an early age she mothered us as we were eight by birth and more than fourteen by additions of motherless children who actually lived with us.Esther had more close girl friends and boy friends than we did, and with the first money she earned she bought a piano for the family as well as a record player and many records - and paid for a telephone when so few people we knew had telephones that ours rarely rang.She did well professionally because she was smart and went to a fine business college for bookkeeping, typing, and shorthand- at which she was a whiz.But her first job was at Vogel and son,a Hartford wholesale grocer. To preserve their stock there was no heat in the place - not even in her office as the men wore overcoats and sweaters at worlk and warm gloves. It was a big, profitable business that Esther enjoyed,but because she had to do bookkeeping,typing and stenography, she couldn't wear gloves while working and got frostbitten hands as well as feet! He boss liked her, so she stayed despite the cold, but when she confided to her best girl friend that her married boss was trying to make love to her- that friend told my father, who would not let her rtrun to that job- not even to collect her pay and her sweater!Soon the business college got her a job at the H.L. Handy Company,-wholesale dealer in meats, poultry and eggs. In the (p.2) office was Charles Bardous the head bookkeeper, one other male bookkeeper, and Esther.She really liked that job, was a happy girl with a piano record player, telephone,and always treated us to "college ices" -sundaes of chocolate sauce and nuts and always had a pound box of chocolates in her bureau drawer.I used to steal a few candies, which she never complained about if she knew they were gone.One night Pete was reading in bed at age fifteen, and I said to him,"Don't drop those apple cores on the floor- throw them out."-And as he chewed Esther's candies, he replied with a gleam in his eye,"Sis, there are no cores in these apples!"Esther must have known we were eating her candies, but she never stopped us or let us know she realized we were at her drawer.And when I could not see how I could pay the colllege fees, Esther and Al told me to go ahead - they would meet the expenses! Esther gave me her suitcase, her winter coat, and a lot more , and Al took me right to my room at the college (September l9l9). =And Esther was at the station to see me off in HER best clothes I was wearing. In my freshman year she came to visit and won the hearts of my classmates, who gave supper parties in their rooms for her, and the house mother invited Esther to sit with her at the head table while I waited on that table for one hundred dollars that year.Esther was so proud of me as very few women from Hartford went to the five best women's colleges in those days- certainly none of our friends except one older one who went to Brown University in Providence (earlier) but was working in Washington when I was growing up. And when I came home, Esther had a grand job for me (l921) for the summer in HER office- so we walked to and from work together every day and across the street near the lad I eventually invited to my junior prom (p 3) for a fabulously delightful weekend- a prom date with a car and a tux of his own!I was blind to the charms of Esther because she never seemed to have men come to the house for a date but yet she went out every evening, and I thought she was walking with her girl friends - who by then had telephones.One night I went to an outdoor summer dance with a girl Esther's age and was startled when she told me she was sorry for Esther. Only then did I learn that Esther and her young boss in the office were deeply in love and had been for years, but Esther would not marry him.What I did not know is that my father REFUSED to allow it and would not let Charlie come to the house, so she met him every evening on Main Street - had no place to entertain himin any weather, and that bothered Esther's close friend, as Esther told her it would be Charlie Bardous or no one. My father objected to Charles only because he was not Jewish. This went on for years while Esther saw me through college after Al married, and then Esther began to see Pete through college and medical school and mother Babe when I was away and when my mother died.Even then my father would not see Charlie.H.L. Handy sold out to Swift and Company, soEsther and Charlie were transferred to a big office force where they were never alone. Charlie then lived w8ith his aged mother, who was as opposed to a Jewish daughter-in-law (beautiful and generous and wise and kind and musical and in love with Charlie to the exclusion )(p.4) of all other men) Julius Aronson loved her for years before he finally married Mollie at an advanced age.So it went on.My father died in l933, so Esther was free to follow her heart, but Charlie's mother stayed alive.- and by the time she grudgingly agreed that Esther could live with them Esther would not marry Charlie and live with that old witch -whom even Charlie thought to be a witch- and he supported her as his duty and not for love of her.Esther could not bring herself to live under the same roof as she knew the mother would make her true love's life miserable. That mother lived until she was close to one hundred (years).I don't know what finally happened to Charles as I was so rarely in Hartford- but Esther never dated dany other men! She went to live with Babe and with Geetter to help them with the five children when Geetter went to war.She lugged home the meat and eggs after work from Swift and Company and stayed with the five babies while Babe shopped in the evening- and helped with the washing and the housework in addition to her job. Geetter said to me, "I think so much of Esther I don't know which one I married - Babe or Esther." She was always "Nan" to the children and should have had a flock of her own! Now her birthday approaches- about seventy-nine and Geetter will send the the big yellow chrysanthemum he sends every year - the flowers that will still be fresh on Thanksgiviing Day. Esther and I were very close, but never once did she breathe to me the sadness of her broken romance. Maybe now you will know why I was so secretive about my marriage (p5) to Jack - an Irish Catholic and a devout one.I knew about Esther's broken romance with a Christian, and I feared for mine even though I learned about Esther's only from her best friend who later told me Esther wept bitterly often over my father's attitude before Charles ever told his mother about Esther.So I kept my marriage secret until I was about to sail, and then I did NOT go to Hartford to see my good Dad bfore I sailed.I did not want to see him hurt that his daughter who had been so sought after by fine Jewish men should marry a Christian- even one s fine as Jack Barrett. Esther's life had been ruined, and no one was going to ruin life forjack and me.I saw my father only once after that in l932 shortly before he died, but Jack was not with me.Pa ignored my marriage and made no effort to see me in Boston and died some months later (March 29, l933).All Hartford was there (at his funeral) to hear the rabbi say "David gave his life to the unfortunate in Hartford after the expense of his own chldren, who numbered eight by birth but countless by his big heart." Esther loved him always, so she disregarded Charlie's pleas that she elope with him as she had no desire to hurt Pa.What a person. Greater than I could ever hop[e to be. I was headstrong. Even when my father came to New York to urge me to accept Bill Nuremberg and to forget the charming but poor Irish naval officer of a different faith.He came to New York only to dissuade me from Jack long before Jack proposed.What I did not know was that Jack (p.6) went (December l928) to New Haven and to Hartford to inspect naval Reserves at the armories there, had found my brother Al's home had dinner there and left Al with the impression that he was seriously interested in me.Al told Pa, who came rushing to New York to put a stop to the nonsense.She had NOT met Jack but did meet him at your apartment (27 Commerce Street) the night he lost his money to thieves in the subway.There is no doubt Pa likedJack BUT vastly preferred Bill (Nuremberg) whom he had called on atGrand Central Building that afternoon without my knowledge or consent.The father watched his daughters closely - could run Esther, Bee, Babe but found me always headstrong attractive to the Italian and Irish boys.He moved away from 25 Morgan Street (l9l6) because of the attentions of Joe Paonessa- a rich builder's son from Holy Cross who lived across the street. And on Wooster Street he told Justin McCarthy a United States sailor, that his daughter could not go out with him and could NOT accept thebeaded bag Justin had brought to me all the way from the Mediterranean. Justin went off with that bag really scared, and I never saw him again.My father was very tall- powerful, and even an Irish sailor feared his wrath.He did likeSam Pollack Dr. Geetter, and his three good Jewish daughter-in-law! All (except Pete and Jen in Baltimore) were married in his living room except Babe, who was married in his summer home ("The Shack" or "Snug Harbor" near Windsor) with Jack present (June l6, l929).A really wonderful man of principle. He did not just blindly object to marriage outsidethe faith. He believed firmly that the chance o hapiness in mixed marriages was slight but p7 above all he believed such marriage a great injustice to the children.I had a very good father and a very good mother.I believe Esther would be the first to agree.Charles Bardous was not her only chance for happiness.Julius Aronson loved her, Jack Fine loved her,Charlie Rosenblatt loved her - all had sense enough to make happy marriages with other girls- all were successful, happy men - all would have made Esther happy,and my father knew it. But she was in love with Charlie when she knew his mother objected and knew that after their elopement she would have to live with her as Charlie would never desert that mother who tied him so closely for her own support.He did not earn enough as one employed bookkeeper to support two households.She was happy (later) to live with Babe and Geetter and her five nieces and nephews who adore her as she appraoches her birthday on November l9. But isn't it strange that p8- she never talked to Bee or to me or to Babe about her broken rmance and that I never heard it discussed by any of my sisters or brothers? I got it in bits and piece from her friends and from my father.One of her friends married Julis Aronson and another close friend married Charles Rosenblatt... the others my father and mother cared for in their home I have only sketchy information except for Julius Aronson and Catherine Cooper, who for years I believed were my blood sister and brother. And Catherine married Sam Aronson! He was Julius's brother -9- who almost lived with us when his mother died but went home only to sleep as we had run out of bedspace! All of us slept two in a bed- four in a room, but we ran out of space even when my two oldest brothers Harry and Ben offered to sleep on the living room floor if my parents would only keep a few of their motherless friends. One day Al stepped on Ben's hand while Ben was sleeping on thefloor, and his hand was broken.Ben needed that hand to play the saxophone when he had the vaudeville bug at an early age and left the good job in the drug store and then added gray hairs to my father's fine head of jet black hair!My father put Ben out of the house for giving up that job.Then he sent me out with fod for Ben and shut his eyes when Ben sneaked in to bed at night! - And poor Pete had the earache, and Ma got Dr. Kates to come in. He asked her what she had done for the boy, and Ma said she had heated sweet oil and put a spoonful or two in the ear.The doctor turned on Ma - a very Jewish doctor and said, "I don't want no 'hoil' in 'dat h'ear."Poor Pete was in pain, but he roared laughing, and after that we would mimic"I don't want no 'hoil' in that h'ear." I forget what he prescribed, but he did clear it up. I sippose my mother could have clogged the ear and hurt the hearing permanently. When I was small my father owned a good-sized restaurant He had a big coal stove and loved to stand near it. At times one of his customers would brew tea- strong tea there and -p 10- put it into small bottles. he claimed to be a drug salesman. I learned later that he sold that tea as eye drops from his pack of patent medicines he sold to druggists. That was about 1909.(After recent Halloween activity in West Roxbury) I am remind of l907 the one year we lived on 27th Street in the heart of the East Side of New York city in the Panicof l906 when I was five or six.In terror I stood at the window on the second floor of the tenement house and watched the boys with long stockings - women's black- filled with flour hit poor passing men and other boys across the back- hit them so hard white fluor showed on their overcoats. I was petrified and did not go out all day. It was traditional then just as trick or treat is here.-re lost.He lived on LpowerEast side part of l907 in Economic pani, when friend named Samuel Shlimbaum found him tailoring work.Shlimbaum was in Hartford directory one year abour l892. David Meranski knew Boris Thomaschevsky of Second Avenue Yiddish theater in New York, who performed at the Meranski restaurant with members of his family around l912. Aunt Babe Thalia's motherrecollects that he invited aunt Bertha to travel with his touring troup, but the family did not think it advisable.Bertha belpong to business club and singing group at Hartford Publioc high School class of l9l7 with her friends Eva Levin and one other. Their [photos are in the l9l7 Yearbook on file at Hartford Public library. I hope to get copies for website.There was no l9l9 yearbook because of paper shortage after World War I. There may be historical material on Hartford Puiblic high School and elementary Brown school at Stow-Day House in Hartford, an important repository, and other interesting material at Jewish historical Society of Greater Hartford - thanks to cousin DavidGeetter for sending me the address.. There is atape there that rose Rosenblatt Witkower made for them. She lived to age ninety-one and remembered the Meranskis. Her husband was born in Vienna but his older brother in Brody. The Witkowers came to US in April l890. Rose Witkower's brother Charley was a very close friend of the older Meranskis. His father had been a populist candidate for governor of California in l884 - came to Hartford l885. Rose son continues Witkower Press. There is a letterin this notebbok eight from Albert Geetter and one from Saul Seidman of Hartford, descenant of Mrs. Meiselmann, another Brody emigrant and friend of Thalia goldfeld Meranski our granmother. i am very glad this material has survived the l993 thefts and will be typing it out. - cousin John Barrett


 

934.
Bertha Meranski-Sophie's next older sister - married Sam Pollack l924 p38-934 {F}

 

Sophie roomed with her older sister Bertha and often received her hand-me-down clothes. They walked to school together. Bertha took the business course. Three photos of her appear in the l9l7 Year Book of Hartford Public High School - one a formal photo, and she also appears in the Glee Club group and Girls business club groups.I would like to obtain copies of these three photos if anyone who sees thiscan visit the Hartford PublicLibrary (masin) when I saw these photos in l988. I would also like to obtain the photos of Bertha's friends and classmates Eva Levin (later Mrs. Bacon) and Lynette Silverberg - they were also in the photo groups. Eva Levin and her older brother Meyer were neighbors of the Meranskis on Morgan St l9l2 - and they introduced Bertha to their relative Sam Pollaack of Minsk and Dorchester, whom she married in l924 - having sonJason daughter Thalia (Klein) and four grandsons.


 

935.
Benjamin Franklin Meranski born November 1, 1892- photo from 1911 family group p 38-935

 

Ben was second eldest of eight Meranski children.He was hired as teenager at drugstore, where owner promised to train him, but months later his father came by and found him "still sweeping the floor." He played the saxophone had aspirations to go into vaudeville, and quit this job, but his father then threw him out of the house, but "looked the other way when brothers and sisters took food out to him - Then Ben would sneak into the house late at night." Then he worked at Hartford's G. Fox and co department stores, where Sohpie also worked in soda fountain Saturdays during the school years and several summers inmcluding 1919, 1920, 1922.Ben was drafted into Army l918 and sent to Fort Dix, New Jersey, while his brothers Harry and Abe were at Fort Devens Shirley Massachusetts north of Hartford, where flu was severe.The war ended before they were sent overseas. When draft notices came summer l9l8,their mother was so nervous that in making jelly she used salt instead of sugar.Ben provided information to doctors when his mother died September 8, l925 of gall bladder cancer that she was fifty-fife years old and her parents names were Abel and Bertha Goldfeld.{F}


 

936.
Abe Meranski born l896 married Ethyle Bererson - father of Ted Meranski and Carol Jane Meranski Gitlen

 

Abe was drafted in Army l9l8 in World Wai I - was at Camp Devens Massachusetts at time of Armistice November 11, 1918. He worked at Vandeman plumbers Hartford - has five grandchildren 1998. p 38 {F} Some events of June 1999- On Greyhound Ameripass I have visited Harvard 1958 E. Robert Owen in Topeka ,Kansas and have seen my cousins Ted Meranski and Carol Gitlen in Steamboat Springs Colorado where we visited Ted's son Arnie Meranski who is in real estate in Aurora-Englewood and Colorado generally.I saw Carol's husband Herb Gitlen and Arnie's mother and brother Michael who operates hotel and restaurant in St. Georges Granada West Indies.Also several other family members.I toured many parts of west Boise-Payette River-Little Salmon river-McCall riggins, Lewiston, Moscow Idaho - in Montana Mission Mountains Whitefish Lake, Kalispell= Missoula- Grand Falls, Billings - down across eastern Wyoming via Gillette-Cheyenne Powder River- crossed Colorado by several routes - Vail - Grand Junction- Gunnison. In 1996 I came west via Albuquerque over Las Animas-Durango route in southwest Colorado eleven thosuand feet- through Green River Utah to Salt Lake City.On earlier trips 1990 I visited Madison -Gallatin rivers Montana and West Yellowstone and 1995 several routes from Butte across Bitteroot area and Henrys Fork,Rexburg, Idaho Falls.Not driving a car, I have tried to see as many parts of weswt by Greyhound as possible. My family visited l947 Yosemite, monerey, Redwoods, Crater Lake, Columnbia River, mt. Rainier, Lake Pen Oreille idaho north pandhandhle - Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand teton. Yesterday I passed near Ritzville in Washington's eastern emprie, where we spent a hot night in early July 1947- I remember the hollyhocks there, and was glad of motel showers, but it was quite hot.Kalaloch and Forks are nice June 30. Craig Jensen recently on mission in Port Angles, was married in Lindon Utah yesterday - resides Heber City.While at Bob Owen's in Topeaka I spoke by telehpone with his classmates Tom Fritz and John Copeland and John's wife Vinnie Copeland.Bob wss Olympic hockey poayer, majored in english - took Bullitt's course on Swift and eighteenth centruy writers . His fater had South Dakota balloon business Raven Industries.


 

937.
Sophie Barrett and John with canary 2415 Ala Wai Boulevard Waikiki p38-937

 

Sophie's dress was bright red, and the flower pattern blends in with gailliardias growing in Jack's garden in front of home at 2415 Ala Wai Boulevard, Waikiki. The Barretts had two cancaries in 1942- the first was found flying around probably released or escaped from cultivation. It was named "Nice Tweet" but it became ill and was replaced by "Tweetsy-Weetsy" - a gift from Mrs. Distelli, who lived about five houses west on Ala Wai Boulevard and frequently did housecleaning for Sophie and brought native fruits -= mangoes and papayas. This photo was taken by a visiting young sailor or Marine possibly Warren Griffith a native of Brooklyn, New York. ...[1929]So my sister in Hartford knew I was married,but very few of my friends in New York knew of the marriage except Anne and Ivan and Mr.Lyons. People asked me for dates - I declined to date Jack's law school classmate Joe Brill,- but a youing dentist persuaded me to have Thanksgiving dinner 1929 at his mother's home. The lady took a liking to me and tried to promote a romance, so I cut back on accepting social invitations--


 

938.
Sophie Ruth Meranski at Mount Holyoke 1923 p 38-938

 

This photo was obtained courtesy of Mount Holyoke College History Librarian Mrs. Elaine Trehub (a Radcliffe l953 graduate who extended many courtesties to Sophie and John from 1974 to her l996 retirement and who also assisted Anna Mary Wells class of l926 on her Mary Woolley - Jeatte Marks biography). This was probably the alternative to the photo Sophie submitted for use in her l923 Yearbook, but it may have been taken when she was junior faculty l923-l925.


 

939.
Dr. Isadore Geetter with Sophie and John Barrett 2415 Ala Wai Boulevard #939 p 38 bottom {F}{H}{S}

 

Photo by Jack Barrett during Dr. Geetter's January l945 visit with his sister-in-law en route to Naval Reserve medical duty at Navy Hospital Samar Philippines shortly after their liberation from Japanese .++ Sam King from notebook p.107"The first native Hawaiian to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy was Samuel Wilder King class of l909.He resigned his seat as elected Hawaiian territorial delegate to the United States Congress to return to active Naval duty during the war.He served as Military Governor of American Samoa during the war.During his absence his wife Pauline went to see Jack about a lost trunk belonging to her son in the Navy.She was pleased by the personal interest she felt Jack took.She used to say she was "Part-Hawaiian & proud of it."Jack knew her husband either in person or by reputation from his several visits to Hawaii in the l920's.Her husband also had New England ancestral roots & was a distant relative of the poet Oliver Wendell Holmes.One day Pauline paid an afternoon call on me in Waikiki.When I told Mrs. King I could not find a small lahalla straw mate for John's daily nap at school in rest period,she said that she would ask Sam to try to get one in Samoa.A few weeks later she returned,carrying a Samoan straw mat.- a little too large & pretty for school naps where the mats were stuffed into a wooden chest for storage, but since Sam had taken the trouble to ship it via a Navy ship going to Pearl Harbor, & Mrs. King had picked it up there & delivered it herself to us in her car,we used the mat for naps at Thomas Jefferson School.Frequently after that I would find wonderful bananas, pineapple, papays & lettuces on the bench on my front porch & once I found some macadamia nuts there- a nut I had never seen before- hard & most delicious.These delicacies were left for us by Mrs. King after her occasional visits to her family on the other side of Oahu.During the war Mr. & Mrs. King & their children lived in a rented home in Kahala because of the gasoline rationing & blackout.When the war ended,Sam returned to Oahu, & Mrs. King telephoned inviting the >three of us to a supper party in honor of Sam's return home.Jack was no longer working on Sundays.As we were preparing to to leave the house about 5:30 Sunday evening to go to Kahala, Colonel William Winchester Paca,commander of the Marines at Camp Catlin came to call. He was an old friend from our TULSA days in North China in l93l, & his family were descendants of the William W.Paca of Annapolis Maryland who signed the Declaration of Independence in l776. Paca's home in Annapolis became Carvel Hall at th Naval Academy.Paca was one of the few Marine officers who was a graduate of West Point military academy.He was known to some of his friends as "Soldier" because of this background- he visited us several times during his Hawaii duty l944=l946.That Sunday afternoon he was cold & tired & soon after he aarrive he asked me for a cup of coffee, which I tried to make it my large Silex. i am afraid I gave him a rather poor cup of coffee because my mind was on the King party, where we were to eat at six o'clock - still I didn't like to desert Paca. Without consulting him I telephoned Pauline King to ask her if she could have the commanding officer of Camp Catlin as her guesxt for supper, and she agreed.At the supper we met Captain Edward D.Washburn, junior, who like Jack, had formerly been in charge of a Branch Hydrographic office. Washburn had the one in San Francisco at the same time Jack had the one in New York City l939-l94l.At the party were Captain Sam King, Captain & Mrs. Lewis- Jack's boss as Personnel Officer during the war,& the woman who headed the Women's Marine Corps.There were also a number of young people, including the King & Lewis families.When Mrs. King asked me to fill glasses of milk in her kitchen,I was amazed that she was handling all the cooking herself with no maid to cook or serve.The senior guests were served at numerous card tables in the living room, while the young people were served outdoors.Mrs. King had prepared an enormous pot of spaghetti & meatballs-just right for that rather chilly evening.We were seated at Captain Washburn's small table for four- he,Jack, John & I comprising that group.At first I did not sit with them as Mrs. King asked me to serve the dishes of spaghetti as she ladled them out & told me exactly whom to serve & to whom to give milk.So I rushed back & forth serving Captain Washburn,Jack, Colonel Paca, the woman Marine,Captain & Mrs. Lewis exactly as she told me to-& when I asked about the people outdoors,she said they understood that the kitchen would be theirs after the guests were served.Then she filled a plate for me,& when I realized it was the last of the spaghetti,I asked her about her own spaghetti, & she told me to forget it.So reluctantly I went to my seat, feeling I had done a good job.Suddenly I heard the guest of honor Sam King inquiring loudly, "Don't I get anything to eat?" We had forgotten to serve Sam. After dinner the young folks came into the living room, played dance records, & danced. Colonel Paca enjoyed himself very much dancing with the young people, & when we finally left, he continued at the party.While waiting for his supper, Sam King said," This informality is just Pauline. It reminds me of an incident that happened shortly before I resigned as Delegate to Congress.We ususally came home (to the windward side of the Island) when Congress closed each year to relax.I had often said to friends in Congress 'if you come to the Islands, let us show you some Hawaiian hospitality'. One afternoon when I was not home,three Congressmen did call- & a maid told them, 'Just go out back'- because that's where Pauline was. ."- so they went out back to see the perfect Washington hostess they had known impeccable in dress when in Washington-& they were amazed when she hailed them from high up in a tree.She nonchalantly climbed down & offered the Congressmen some of the mangoes she had collected.Pauline verified that the story was true.There was a parent-teacher association at the Thomas Jefferson School through which I met some of the other parents.We met Peter Perser & his mother from nearby Tuisitala Street in the first grade on the day school opened in September l942- & later the families of Robert Ho, Nicholas Vaksvik, Rose Lee on the golf course, & the Cook family who lived half a block east of us at 2465 Ala Wai. Edric Cook worked with a shipping company,& his wife Anne was from Seattle. Her father born in Europe came for an extended visit about l945. Esther Trease was an officer of the Honolulu Parent Teachers Association.We attended the ten birthday of her daughter Diane at their large house on a hill in Kaimuki.Mrs. Trease commented that nobody ever bothered to celebrate her own birthdays because they fell two days after Christmas on December 27.Dr. Paul Withington was a Navy Reserve doctor who advised Jack on ship facilities & priorities for the sick & wounded.His mother was the first woman principal in a Massachusetts school (in Brookline) The Withington family developed a sugar plantation on windward Oahu before l900,and five sons attended Harvard. Paul Withington played football & rowed on the crew in the class of l909.After medical school l9l3 he coached fotball at University of Wisconsin & became an Army doctor in World War I. In Hawaii he was interested in yachting & worked with swimmer Duke Kahanamoku improving the breathing & timing of the Australian crawl stroke. In the l930's he knew General Patton, who was stationed in Hawaii several years.One time we had dinner at Dr. Withington's home high up in a valley near Mount Round Top & saw several rabbits in cages there & met his ward Rose, whom he later married.There was a tidal wave tsunami in l946 - the most serious damage was at Hilo.In March l945 the Navy sponsored a swimming met at which wesaw the famous champion Duke Kahanamoku.Jack arranged transportation for a number of prominent athletes & entertainers mostly in the Navy who entertained troops in forward areas. He had an autrographed catchers mitt from Yankee Bill Dickey a baseball from Johnny Mize then with the New York Giants, & a photo of Gene Tunney, all of whom visited the Transportation Office, as did Bing Crosby's sons.We also saw exhbitions of prominent tennis players ++ w the dog, except I had seen her several times with her owner. I dared not go to his apartment to look for dog food, as the large dog might have attacked me.I had stocked nothing.& the military governor had ordered all stores closed to halt the hoarding that started the day after the attack.The dog went back & forth between my front & side doors & the entrance to Mr. Glockner's upstairs apartment at the back of the house.She would not let the milkman, laundry man or newspaper boy approach.When Gertrude Rice came to spend the night,she would rush in when the dog was going to his own door, & in the morning she would rush out. I called the police to remove the dog,but they refused,saying they had more to do than be concerned about the dog.Jack was on duty at Pearl Harbor day & night December 8-11.Finally I called the police to come at once for an emergency.The dog would not let them ring the doorbell - I called out that I had a small boy in the house & was out of food.Finally they did send the dog catcher.Later that month I had a postcard from Mr. Glockner asking me about his property & asking me to put mothballs in his clothes.Then it happened.When Navy women learned Jack had a wife in Waikiki,they began calling me on the telephone & came in droves to the little house,thinking I might plead their cases with Jack.Eventually Jack established priorities-the wounded-surviving widows & their children -pregnant women-women with very young children-& women with medical problems.Naval Reservist Dr. Paul Withington-who had grown up on a Windward Oahu sugar plantation & played football & rowed at Harvard l909 -& who was in charge of the Navy Dependents' Dispensary- advised Jack on medical cases needing to leave for the mainland.Mrs.Clorinda Low Lucas,one of the first native Hawaiian social workers advised about civilians who needed immediate transportation because of health or social need,& Pacific Fleet Chaplain Captain William Maguire haunted the Transportation Office,as he was familiar with the hardships of Navy women & children.Jack found it hard to refuse Chaplain Maguire's requests. because he was the Navy chaplain who in l93l found a room for me in Chefoo in l93l when the whole Asiatic fleet was in town & there was no place for me in the hotels.All sailings of ships in & out of Pearl Harbor were top secret..So when Jack got word from the Port Director, Lieutenant Commander Martin Derx, of the exact number of spaces he could have in the ships to evacuate personnel & dependents on Christmas Day l94l,his staff immediately started telephoning the hospitals to prepare the wounded for the trip to the mainland. They telephoned Navy & Marine personnel to be ready to sail,& then secretly notified the Navy dependents as all Navy women with young children were required to leave the Islands whether or not they wanted to.The order came from Admiral Bloch that ALL Navy dependents were to be evacuated as quickly as ships could be made available.When Gertrude Rice learned that Jack would be working on the dock all Christmas Day loading the evacuees aboard several ships, to be convoyed by three destroyers & a cruiser,she invited John & me to share Christmas dinner with her & Paul -risky as she lived near the Army's Fort Derussy in Waikiki, but it was within walking distance of our house.Carrying our gas masks,John & I walked to Gertrude's apartment, where she gave us a most delicious turkey dinner.When John asked for more peaches with his turkey,Gertrude hesitated, as they were brandied peaches.We had just finished eating when Jack apeared-tired & unfed at three o'clock in the afternoon.Gertrude gave him a good dinner,but he had to leave immediately because he was evacuating thousands of frightened wounded & dependent women with unruly children-with lines miles long waiting to get on the ships.Many women & children had given up their homes & were unfed. Jack saw our friend Mrs. Jean Nelson (from Panama days) standing in line with her two sons-ages about five & seven-at least a mile from the ship trying to control the two boys & watch her luggage at the same time.Jack called a couple of sailors to help her with her bags,& then he went aboard with her & gave her a lovely big room on the Matson Line's LURLINE.She was very pleased when he had an extra cot put in for Eric,the younger boy,so the family could be together in one cabin.Jack ordered her trunk taken to her cabin-a great privilege as most passengers could get nothing from their trunks during the voyage,because the trunks were in the hold.Later Gene Nelson wrote me that many of the children had no warm clothes for the cold weather of San Francisco about New Year's Day,& many had no shoes or stockings, which children generally do not use in Hawaii.One evening when the order came to "Darken Ship," some women thought they heard,"Abandon Ship," & there was temporary panic-but that soon subsided.The destroyers of the convoy occasionally dropped depth charges for suspected submarines,but the voyage was not too harrowing.GENE NELSON letter June 24,l970 "widow of Captain Paul Nelson,who had been a young boat officer on the survey ship HANNIBAL when Jack was "exec" & who was aboard the mine layer OGLALA on December 7,l94lwhen she was sunk & who died some time ago- a letter about her evacuation by Jack onthe LURLINE Christmas Day l94l.Her son Paul junior was graduated from the Naval Academy & became a submariner- & her son Eric became a Naval aviator,but Eric was killed in a mountain acident recently.Gene herself passed away from a heart condition in March l97l. There were our good Navy friends,who visited at our house in West Roxbury in the l950's for Sunday dinner. In her letter Gene wrote,' Dear Sophie: Paul had (p.ll9f)the duty December 6-7 l94l aboard the OGLALA usually referred to as THAT old minelayer.I did not know he was alive until 2;30 pm The wife of the skipper 'Colonel' Speight located me at Kay Tompkins' where I had gone after I picked upthe children at Saint Andrews Episcopal Church.Kalaimaku Street was an evacuation area,so that it was senseless totry to go home. I went on home with the boys-Paul junior & Eric after spending the day getting up & down a rickety ladder with them & hiding under a reinforced concrete culvert.Later Paul & the paymaster came home-Paul trying to whistle & in khaki as the uniform was changed from whites to try to catch any possible saboteurs.I forget how I got the word,but I went downtown to have the boys evacuated wight away.Later I was informed I had to go along.A night telephone call told me to report for evacuation at a downtown pier.Somehow I had trunks,suitcases & even a toy or two with us.All our Christmas presents had sunk on the OGLALA December 7, l94l.(Paul jr was about eight & Eric about five) A cot was put in a lovely room on the LURLINE now renamed the MATSONIA.It was made up about sundown for Eric.The sheets felt odd,& next morning we found they were pure linen from the lanai suites! We had nothing to bathe in for 4 l/2 days but cold salt water. We had sailed on December 26,l94l accompaniedby two cruisers- one of them the St. LOUIS,& five destroyers.The destroyers ran around like mad that afternoon tossing over "ash cans" (depth charges).They were kept very busy tossing over depth charges p ll9g as we had all four of the Matson liners in convoy. We had aboard I believe thirty-eight of the burn cases.The boys went belting down a main staircase & almost ran into one, one day.I threatened them with everything I knew if theyt did it again. The gallant suffering burned boy (sailor) kept telling me he kknew they meant no harm. have keen hearing.One night over the loudspeaker came "Prepare to darken ship."Over a hundred people paniced,as they heard,"Prepare to abandon ship." My table mates bolted,but I grabbed an arm of each boy & told them to stay seated.Took quite a while to restore order.One evening some others were in our assigned places.We were put at a small table against the wall-I had some words,believe me with the steward- & we went back to our table for breakfast & kept on there.The stewards were quite surly. I heard later that at disembarkation at San Francisco they were marched off & sent to a recruiting office - or else...I cannot vouch for the story.They should have been,because the children were given a patented cooked cereal every day & diarrhea was rampant,you may imagine. One morning I was talking to a lovely older lady & mentioned I was worried about all the children I saw barefooted & in cotton only.Our boys had their little but too small coats & caps & were warm enough to land in San Francisco within two days. I bet it was twenty minutes later when over the loud speaker came a request that anyone who could spare clothes report to deck room- I had been talking with a General's wife.She got things done that I a Lieutenant's wife coould only worry about.We docked on a beautiful day at Pier 32 San Francisco.I managed to reach a phone & called Paul's sister-at work of course.I could hear her call over her shoulder,"My brother's wife & boys are here from Pearl Harbor-'bye,boss'".When she came to pick us up, I told ner "Open the front & back doors. We've had only cold salt water in which to wash for 4 l/2 days." On the dock were plenty of warm donations which should have been sent to Honolulu.Plenty of time for it. The Red Cross was there selling orange juice, coffee, milk for a nickel apiece. A good friend of mine had on the same slacksuit for three dazys & I asked if she had any other clothes.Everything of hers had been put in the hold & no person could go look.She came down to our room & I outfitted her with a brand new suit from Sears Roebuck & even had thread & needle for her to shorten the pants- all thanks to your Jack having given orders for all our baggage to go in our lovely big room. This is July 5 now- I get sidetracked by this lousy heart & my sixty-first birthday on July 3. As ever, Gene Nelson." THE OGLALA haD PREVIOUSLY BEEN A FALL RIVER liner But she was almost always tied up at Pearl Harbor. On December 7,l94l she lay next to the cruiser HELENA at 1010 dock & capsized. She was tied up so slong that a family of birds built a nest in her funel. End addition rest from #28:Another friend- from TULSA days in China-Commander Myron Thomas-was on Admiral Calhoun's staff,& through Jack he made arrangements for his wife & son to be evacuated on Christmas Day.He appreciated all Jack did to help & wrote to me recently that except for confusion on the dock before departure his wife & son had a good trip home on the LURLINE.Since I refused to accept my Navy quarters at Makalapa in July l941 chiefly because it was located so near the oil storage tanks,I was interested to read later in Samuel Eliot Morison's official history of the Navy in World War II that the greatest mistake the Japanese made on December 7 was their failure to bomb the huge reserve supply of oil at Pearl Harbor-& their failure to destroy the repair yards & docks & command & information facilities at the Administration Building. Commander Myron Thomas on Admiral Calhoun's Service Force staff wrote l970 about Jack: "He performed his task in a most creditable manner,& then his tact,careful planning,foresight & diplomacy with many people at this critical time satisfied the majority of naval personnel who had to remain in the (war) zone & were anxious to get their dependents to the mainland. I well remember that he booked my wife &^ son for sailing on the SS.LURLINE on Christmas Day '4l- & I didn't see them again until Christmas'43." Except for confusion on the dock at Honolulu, his wife and son had a good trip. Soon after the attack I learned a lot about it from Jack & from Captain Paul Rice,who worked for Admiral Furlong in the Navy Yard in charge of civilian workers in the repair shops.When Jack was Operations & War Plans assistant at Pearl Harbor in August l94l, he tried hard to get his superiors to work with the Army & alert the Navy to the real threat of an attack by the Japanese, but he was ignored-& transferred by Bloch to the Overseas Transportation Office,where his warnings could not disturb their golf.Paul Rice told me the civilian workmen voluntarily returned to work at the repair shops even while the attack was in progress-they worked well to prepare the ships for the trip to the mainland for permanent repairs.Early in the New Year l942 Jack was notified that several ships were en route to Honolulu to evacuate a large number of Navy dependents. Accordingly they secretly notified many women to give up their homes & be prepared to sail at a specified secret time.Not until the day of planned departure did Jack learn that all the ships had been sent elsewhere-the Navy women & children were stranded without places to live & without much ready cash.Jack was hounded day & night by displaced women & children=he was the victim of a situation which he had done nothing to create. For months no ships for dependents were made available to him, as they were all occupied in transporting troops & supplies for the crucial battle of Midway,which occured June 4. Late in May l942 my friend Lillian Arroyo visited me in Waikiki as she had learned that her husband was scheduled to leave the Islands shortly.She used her precious gasoline to drive me to a Japanese store in Honolulu where they put new covers on my chair cushions & sold me their last three Philippine teakwood bookcases & the only two unpainted pine rocking chairs in the place, which was practically empty.Lillian told me the awful secret of the preparations for Midway,& I promised to say nothing to anyone-not even to Jack.But the secret worried me,& I understood why Jack had no ships for the wounded & Navy dependents.But we won the Battle of Midway- & after that Jack could transport all the people who wanted to leave. Since Admiral Bloch put pressure on him to send us away,& since we had no home to go to on the mainland, we declared Hawaii our legal residence & remained throughout the war until June 4,l947.In the spring of l942,the Army cut some of the barbed wire at our entrance to the beach at Waikiki,& we joyfully resumed our daily swim just before dinner each evening.One late afternoon May l942 I lit the oven to bake a few very old potatoes & the last four old yellow onions.When Jack finally came home,he had with him a young man in civilian clothes-a soiled white shirt & really dirty white civilian trousers.Jack took me aside & whispered that his guest was a Lieutenant junior grade just in from a forward area of the war exhausted & afraid of the Shore Patrol because he was out of uniform-he had no time or funds to get a uniform before he left for the states to receive a Presidential citation from Franklin Roosevelt on behalf of his unit that had been in the Philippines.We took Henry Brantingham for a walk to the beach & loaned him a swim suit.The four of us walked hurriedly to the beach, swam-& in the walk home Henry was relaxed enough to laugh & talk like a normal young person.I raced into the kitchen-where my potatoes were overcooked -& my few little onions almost burned. I cut some stale cold roast beef cooked the previous Sunday.By the time they had showered & dressed it was dark,but we sat down to our simple meal.But we had a pleasant time & whe I asked Henry if he would like to join us for a swim & supper the next night,he merely replied,"That is up to the Commander."Jack walked to the Moana hotel with Henry so he wouldn't get lost & picked up by the Shore Patrol. Jack told him not to leave the hotel until he had heard from the Transportation Office.Brantingham had been skipper of a PT boat evacuating MacArthur & his family- then in mountains of Cebu-a Filipino loaned him a civilian shirt & trousers so he could have his dirty uniform washed. Before the uniform came back from the laundry,Brantingham flew out on one of the two last planes to leave the Philippines.So that is why Brantingham reached Australia in soiled civilian clothes.He figures prominently in the account "They Were Expendable" about the PT boats under Commander Bulkeley in Manila-Bataan December 1941-April, 1942. Later in the Solomons he commanded one of the four PT boats that were with Lt. John F. Kennedy & was involved iin picking up Kennedy, as described in Donovan's book "PT l09."Brantingham remembers us well in l970 & expressed appreciation in his l970 letter from La Jolla,California.


 

 

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