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


Dr. Geetter visits with Sophie and John Barrett junior Waikiki January l945 #940 p 39


Photo by Commander Jack Barrett with view east along Ala Wai Boulevard -past home of James and Edythe Needles. At the second house there was a large royal poinciana tree of the legume family with brilliant orange blossoms - the outlines of the tree are visible.{H}{F}{S}


Jack Barrett in his office in charge of Branch Naval Hydrographic office New York l940 p 39 #941


Jack was stationed at New York Branch Hydrographic Office September 1939 through June 1940 and replaced retiring Captain Baggaley in charge spring l940. He considered his promotion to Commander an "Irish promotion." as he was scheduled for retirement June l940, but all retirements were cancelled June 1940 because of Woirld Wai II emergency. Charts and weather information were made available not only to Navy ships but to commercial ship captains of all nations, who in turn submitted information the Branch Office collected on winds, weather and hazards to navigation, including wartime mines and military operations, which were forwarded to the Hydrographic office in Washington, where Jack's old friend Gershom Bradford was editor of Naval Hydrographic Office "Notices to Mariners." In the spring of 1941 Jack was consulted by Charles Edey Fay of Connecticut, who had access of Atlantic Insurance Company records of the disappearance of the five man crew of the New Bedford fishing schooner MARY CELESTE November, 1872. Fay wanted Jack's interpretation of certain navigational notes of the MARY CELESTE near the Azores. He suggested the crew suddenly abandoned ship and got into small boats because they feARED AN EXPLOSION OF ALCOHOL VAPORS FROM CARGO. Gershom Bradford published in American Neptune magazine his theory that waterspouts are frequent near the Azores in November - local severe tornados that draw water and sometimes fish high in the air and threaten small ships. Jack kept four of Fay's letters from around the time the Barretts left for Pearl Harbor mid-l941. The Branch Hydrographic office was in the New York Customs House but had to be relocated - Jack helped obtain an accessible new location where sea captains would continue to find visits convenient, as their information was often useful to the Navy. Jack's former teacher at Revenue Cutter School Captain Dempwolf United States Coast Guard considered the issue important and worte letters supporting many commercial shipping companies in keeping the office at a convenient location. This was one of many contacts Jack Barrett maintained all his life with friends from Revenue Cutter School l909-l911, which became modern Coast Guard Academy.The motto of the Coast Guard was "Semper paratus" - Jack applied this motto in his efforts to avert the Pearl Harbor disaster December 7, l941.


Dr. Geetter visiting sister-in-law Sophie Barrett Waikiki January l945 #942 p 39


Photo by Commander Jack Barrett. Rocking chairs were purchased by Sophie with Lillian Arroyo spring l942 when almost no furniture was available with wartime shortages in Hawaii - last chairs in store but very comfortable and useful for over five years. When the Barretts returned to mainland l947, they gave the two rocking chairs to John retired fifth grade teacher at Thomas Jefferson School, Agnes Dee Davidson, who lived at Lewers Road, Waikiki. Palm tree and panax hedge mark boundary of Barretts' yard and Needles next door - further down Ala Wai Boulevard large poinciana tree appears in background.{F}{H}{S}


Sophie and John read "House at Pooh Corner" by A.A. Milne


Living room at 2415 Ala Wai Boulevard Waikiki photo by Commander Jack Barrett about 1944 p 39


Sophie's niece Thalia Pollack Klein and her husband Robert Klein, DDS. 9 39 #944


Sophie's sister Bertha married Samuel Pollack born Minsk Russia- wedding at Meranski home Wooster St. Hartford June 24, l924. Their two children were Jason Pollack and Thalia Pollack who married orthodonist Dr. Robert Klein and lived twenty-five years in Mansfield Ohio, retiring to Boynton Beach Florida late l980s.Bob's parents were originally from Hungary. Thalia "Teddy" frequently corresponded with her aunt Sophie Barrett in later years.She and the Geetter cousins used to visit West Roxbury. Teddy and Bob had two sons Ken and Keith - whom John Barrett saw in Lexington Kentucky 1990, when they lived near Jack Barrett's wartime assistant at Pearl Harbor Lt. Cdr. Martin Williams. Ken Klein and his wife "Nicky" have a son Joe and daughter Lacey and they and Keith have recently moved to Hurricane, West Virginia.{F}


Sophie and Jack Barrett & Mr. Isemonger at New Year's Costume party Tientsin l930 CHINAchapter p 39-#945{S}{J}(9)


In back row Jack Barrett is second from left, Sophie Barrett fourth from left, - and sixth from left is Mr. Isemonger who was chief of Police in British concession Tientsin and lived at the Court Hotel where Sophie roomed and where Jack stayed when off duty. Photo was at New Year's Eve costume party at Tientsin Country Club December 31, l930 Sophie's memoir says the party was organized by canal pilots who worked near Tientsin- and their wives.--Since I arrived in Tientsin on the thirteenth of November, 1930, the holiday season was fast approaching , and a new guest registered at the Hotel just before Christmas. He was Mr. Isemonger, who was an Englishman just employed in India in charge of the Sikhs, in the police of India. He had come to Tientsin with his twenty-year-old daughter Tina to take charge of the Choinse and Sikhs police in the British concession of Tientsin where we lived. Jack informed me that it was part of his job to foster international relations. So we were friendly and were in a party with a group of British pilots and their wives at the Tinetsin Country Club New Year's Eve. When Mr. Isemonger found a nice house in Tientsin, Jack and I were frequent guests for Saturday noon dinner and for dancing later at the Country Club. Mr. Isemonger had an excellent camera and found me photogenic. He would come by the Court Hotel in the morning to invite me to ride to the Country Club with me where he was tireless and gifted in photography. He always gave me copies of the pictures without charge. He spent many hours in the Chinese city huniting for an embroidered evening coat for me- he found a white one with large white flowers. The bottom was embroiadered with exquisite silk tiny blue and black flowers - also the front of the evening coat had the same border, modeled on styles of the Empress Dowager's family. In the fall of 1952 I wore it to my son's Junior prom in West Roxbury when I was the hostess, because he was Clas president that year. We emjoyed Mr. Isemonger's hospitality for many months. Jack used his new Voightlander camera frequently to take pictures of me in our hotel room, and I took one of him, in which a red table-like paper drum is visible. Evenings he spend a lot of time studying to get ready for a promotion exam at the end of 1931.


Sophie in Europe (Rome?) l932 {7}{S}


#946 p 39 Sophie indicates she and Jack enjoyed Rome,staying in moderate priced pension after expensive Naples hotel. They visited catacombs, Coliseum, Vatican, art museums. Mr. and Mrs. Pardee invited them to dinner and opera- they dressed formally as requested, but it turned out the Pardees' seats were high up in the galleries, where everyoe wore informal clothes. Mollie Barrett enjoyed 1963 Rome visit with Pistorino family. Jack visited Italy twice - in 1909 he saw Genoa, Naples,Messina Bari, Venice, Trieste, and nearby Malta then british, now independent--in 1932 he and Sophie toured Naples, Rome, Florence, Venice and then had brief look at Italian riviera near French border. As a boy Jack read Henty's "Makers of Florence" and "Makers of Venice." He had four years of Latin study at Boston Latin and two or three of classic Greek, and was particularly familiar with Julius Caesar's "Gallic Wars". He used the Duruy-Grosvenor Ancient History 1898 revision of 1848 text both at Boston Latin and revenue Cutter School.


Arthur, Pearl,& Sade Meranski with Minnie,Al,Paul Deutch;Eva & Marion Taylor,Hartford CT Sep 1935 #947 p 39


See accompanying letter Dec. 1939 from Sade Meranski to her sister-in-law Sophie Barrett, then at 9615 Shore Road, Brooklyn near the Narrows - by clicking on photo for detail. Sophie's eldest brother Harry born May 1891 served in Army 1918, married Sade Taylor (originally Portnoy) l9l8 had son Arthur later 28 Years Army Lt. Col in tanks Normandy l944 Inchon Korea l950 and daughter Pearl many years working in photo lab at Travelers |Insurance Co.Arthur wrote wonderful letters to his aunt Sophie 1973-1986 from Aberdeen Md. Marion Taylor was a neighbor of the Barretts in Brooklyn l939-1941 when she worked as a nurse at Greenpoint Hospital.Dr. |Israel Peter Meranski pediatrician saw his nephew Arthur in France in 1944.Arthur's children and grandchildren are in Maryland and Delaware. {F}