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


l953 mock epic by John Barrett junior "Teaching Men better ways of Life" Click on cartoon to read text of poem
Jerry Murray cartoon illustrates John Barrett mock epic suggested by Fred Weed's treatment of Alexander Pope p. 41 #327 text is visible by clicking on cartoon.First portion deals with an incident that actually occurred on night of dress rehearsal of Roxbury Latin School Play "Billy Budd" by Herman Melville, spring l952.Remainder features personalities of the masters - in order Phil Bridgess,Gerhard Rehder, Van Courtlandt Elliott, Ralph Houser, Richard Whitney, Giuseppe deLellis,Whitney Blair,Albert Kelsey,M. Nonnenmacher,Cary Potter, Leo Foley, Joseph Sasserno, Frederick Weed. The iambic pentameter meter permits an iambic or trochaic first foot in each line, and an anapest or iamb in the third foot. The second, fourth, and fifth foot are always iambic, and an unaccented final syllable is optional at the end of the line after the fifth foot. The Murray family lived one block from the Barretts at Rustic & Bellevue Streets. In l974-5 Jerry Murray in Perth, Western Australia got to know Jack Barrett's second cousin Gerard Buckley, native of Ilford, Essex England through John Smart, son of Marion Lewis Smart, Sophie Barrett's lifelong friend and correspondent who was l923 Mount Holyoke Class president. A native of Hyde Park, Massachusetts, Marion married Vin Smart, graudated of Harvard law. After living in New Jersey and summering in Bucks Harbor Maine, they eventually moved year-round when Vin retired to Starboard, Bucks Harbor, where they knew Mrs. Herman Ingalls, whose husband was skipper of lighthouse tender ZIZANIA, when Jack was aboard September-December 1912.TEXT of 1953 poem: l953 RLS poem Teaching Men Better Ways of Life" by john Barrett The ways, we sing,of the school of grand Frederickus, Thine inspiration now if e'er be with us, Pallas Athene, who didst teach so grand, Piteous Arachne to weave the glimm'ring strand- Gossamer grace for sacred TRIPOD's hall, Till two most vile, most wicked oafs did fall From the far famed fenetre' there proud on high Whence floats the glorious golden light from sky, Whence wafts the fragrant breeze from fields and trees; Editors meditate divine, and sneeze. Twenty-one feet above the heath beneath, This window,with its cigarette smoke wreath, Did boast the web far most intricate and fine Of all that e'er Arachnid did entwine. Two base and vulgar, boorish, ugly louts Spurred on by guilty conscience, seized by doubts Raged in their madness unchecked and groaned aloud, By Delphic sanctuary quite uncowed. Sought they escape from profaned TRIPOD temple. The same fool plan did come to minds both simple. Not to their brutish eyes did beauty matter Glory of glories! in moments just a tatter! Uncouth, a paw did grasp the windowlock. And twisted, snapped it open with a shock. The lock unwrenched,the window moaned anent Jealous to keep its esteemed ornament. Gossamer trembles awaiting cruel death; Beauty implores and weeps and holds her breath. The window's every timber creaks and strains. The rogues will ope it only with grat pains. The first with mighty right arm attempts a heave. Result: a splinter in hand for hgim to grieve. The fullest strength of both to bear is brought. And yet at first by neither aught is wrought. Stubborn, they stomp and slip and scowl and swear, Turbulent, truculent, thump, and tear their hair. Panic pervades and prevails; at footsteps faint Their guiult-filled consciences cringe and shun ....restraint. With superhuman strength renewed they strive - In vain the window combats as if alive. Weep, O Arachne, thy toil was a waste. Utterly ruined by monsters without taste. The window hurtles up. Mere floating dust Recalls the art destroyed by thoughtless lust. Tragedy! Villainy! Monstrous! Evil! Pathos! Murder! Catastrophe! O! Confusion! Chaos! But now the footsteps had approached so near, That both the bold bad boys did jump in fear. Twenty-one feet they fall to meet their fates. Twenty-one feet with e'er increasing rates Twenty-one feet they fly without a sound, Twenty-one feet they plop and bump the ground. But lo! the first is injured not a jot-- (God saves both imbecile and idiot). So Good, and Law, and Justice, Right, and Honor Do doubly punish the second, wretched boor. As Hephaestus plunged from noon till night 'Ere on the isle of Lemnos did he light, Cast into banishment from high Olympus By the great hand of mighty, wrathful Zeus, And evermore in one foot quite halt and lame His own presumption alone at fault to blame, So in like manner this mad-cap youth is hurt, Crippled and pained in one leg. He hits the dirt, Never again to taste the purer air Of intellectual joys in TRIPOD's lair. Alas, Olympus is lost; he now must crawl Twenty-one feet below, with mortals all. But still we pray that you do not suppose, Pallas Athene, that we intend to lose All our great song on beasts as foul as these. But know, dear gentle reader, if you please, We do not write to tease or tantalize Or satirize, but to immortalize. Therefore if we should call you nasty names, Be glad, for we perpetuate your fames. We shall narrate of Roxbury Latin School The place where dwell the wise man and the fool. But not in equal numbers. Happ'nings there Are brought to pass by spirits fould and fair. (Phil Bridgess) Business managers of all the spirits Are best, and least are thanked for all their merits. Ten thousand strong, they guard the school from harm By naughty boys and malicious evil charm. One on each light-switch sternly sits and dares You waste a watt and think he's unawares. One at each window waits and wags a finger. "Now no more heat till the office freezes over!" Two thousand more attend each prom and dance, To ascertain that ill not hap perchance. And o'er them all rules Mathematicus, To see that all goes well - no fuss, no muss. (Gerhard Rehder) But tempus fidgets, and now we must obey Permanent Student Supervisors' sway. And these alone to the O. Historicii Do swear their homage and willing fealty. The O. Historicii quiet down the lib'ry, "All right, get out, get out, and do it quickly! They keep a monstrous filing cabinet. "You're an alumnus?, Well my boy, you're in it!" (Van Courtlandt Elliott) Then, a benevolent race of saintly sprites Teach Barbaroi the Noble Tongue's delights. "Look at the text! its integrity respect! This isn't sight, is it? It's not correct. Repeat now 'Phero, oiso, enegka, Enenocha..." (and er et cetera). And dignity and propriety they guard Lest something naughty escape the Tripod bard. And so from eight forty-five in class each day These gentle gnomic genii have their way. (Ralph Houser) Up in the lab a quiet spirit watches To save the goldfish the mean OBSERVER snatches. Another, generous, good, indeed, and kind Takes us to see petroleum refined. A third makes steam, and rainbows on the wall, Lightning, and pendulums that rise and fall. Chemistry, physics, biology, in triplet Knowing all science there is by heart - is met. (Richard Whitney and Class Six) Down in the cave where Sixth Class creatures crawl Flame=haired gargantui guard, grown great and tall. Here in the Tartarean shades they reign Countenance full of rue to prove again Swift-foot Achilles knew whereof he spake When to Odysseus beside the Stygian Lake He told in grief how more happy far was one That, even servant or student, 'neath the sun Lived in the upper air, whate'er his lot, Than mighty monarchs that rule this nether spot, Where Lethe hath removed from all his kingdom Knowledge, intelligence, wit; and made them dumb. (Giuseppe DeLellis) Apollo brings from Parnassus printing press 'An Introduction to Music.' Much distress Four dollars worth- this brings to penny-pinchers Deaf to life's finest music, thoughtless curs. At two-o-one shall Pan with Phoebus strive In discord weakly can the Glee Club thrive. But if the boys sing badly - no alarm, The girls can not resist Apollo's charm. (I expect to improve this as with Potter in a revision). (Nonnenmacher) (Whitney Blair) Down in Class Four some quaint young sprites are found; In basketball and tennis round they bound. But they indulge in wicked heresy; Latin a rival to Greek they think to be. But let them earn their living selling stamps, Unless each one his opinion soon revamps. For such queer views, we warn you with a passion, Must never come at this school to be in fashion. (I hope nobody misunderstood this - the narrator of the poem is supposed to be a senior who admires everything traditional including the TRIPOD and the GREEK LANGUAGE and the Upper Floor of the Buiilding - Class I, the faculty and deplores Sixies and the upstart Latin language. The humor is aimed at the narrator of the poem, not at Mr. Blair - I hope nobody misunderstood). Albert Kelsey) Where starving wrestlers many a day undined Into a grimy mat their faces grind; Puffing and heaving weights we find Overseer spirits mighty, good, and kind. To catch their breath they run a flight upstairs And guard decorum in Debate affairs, Where winged words with reckless whirling wrath Strive to ring shrill in their ears: 'My friends, the path is clear. The Bible, Doctor Johnson, we, Both Ike and Harry, Churchill all agree. But not in terms of personality We prove our case, but actuality, And much statistic factuality, And beg you face at once reality And you who live in this locality Shall find no semblance of normality; And realize this great fatality Abhorrent is to all morality.' (spoof of debating). De Suisse a nous venaient tout recemment Des bons esprits avec profond accent. Il ne parlent guere anglais, ni nous francias. Mais tout de meme si vous-meme leur causez, Pourtant, sans doute vous vous amuserez, Car ils connaissent en France les belles si gaies. Faisons acceuil fort grand, sincere, et bon, Il y en a un devoir clair pour chacun. (Cary Potter) Titans rule Titans in Class One on High But wise enough to obey great Zeus almighty. Spirits of mighty over mighty men here rule. Would it were more like this throughout the school! (next four lines I hope to replace- any ideas?) Ever so high, these spirits' foreheads must Trail at their tails behind their heels in dust. And hence though youth is not yet half entinguished E'en now they look exceedingly distunguished. (Leo Foley) Now all these spirits we have named, so far, In common have one thing particular. Monday through Friday early all arise; One race there is of them contrariwise. They need not come and sit in Hall each morn, And gaze at students weary and forlorn. Fall afternoons they come and teach football; And track in winter, and in spring baseball. Easiest are they to recognize in spring By their huge visors, not by features hiding. (Joseph H. Sasserno) Sad is the school that so many weeks have passed Since it one kindly face and smile saw last. We wish him evermore good health and luck And great our admiration for his pluck. (Fred Weed) Above these myriad good spirits, A mighty monarch, who well the post befits, Zeus, Fulminator, Fredrickus, holds his sway, Headmaster, wise above all, shall have his way. He is so perfect that words are breath for naught. By his great hand all miracles are wrought. This our theology, these pow'rs divine; And if your whimseys to myth should still incline, Your inner marrow we'll chill some other time, Of evil demonology our rime. But now the call of homework to obey, Like slinking shadows we silent slip away." I WOULD LIKE TPO DO SOMET5HING BETTER on Cary Potter - I say he is a Titan ruling CLass I our home room teacher & looks very distiguished, but I want to elimainte referecne to his baldness - and put in something complientary about Soccer, his Current Events course (do you remember this?) - his wife, our visit to his home - Yale -Any ideas - I particularly would appreciate info. about his current Events course. To be continued -best - John Barrett
Subject: (R)Mock epic poem and cartoon
Year: 1953