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

 

Sophie Ruth Meranski and Jack Barrett in garden 1966
enlargement Sophie Mereanski & Jack Barrett in garden 1966 West Roxbury #333 p 42 + - H-O-M-E -I-S -T-H-E -S-A-I-L-O-R 1947-1969 H-O-M-E I-S T-H-E S-A-I-L-O-R Hartigan,Pops,RLS- South Boston-West Roxbury-(p. 144) There were many interesting curios at 640- some from Jack's trips.One was an alligator with a pencil inserted into the jaws, with an African native's head sticking out on the head of the pencil.Jack had an old Boston Traveler l907 World Atlas in the cold front room by the stairs, where he used to sleep, and where John slept August to November, l947. There was a fancy lampshade which Jack's deceased sister Katie had made, and some cushions she had embroadered.On the front stairway, a slightly phosphorescent glass knob hung down from the electric light so that Mollie could find it when she came home and up the stairs after dark. I wish we had photographs of the old set tubs and barn before Mollie modernized everything in l948. The things provided quite a link with Grandpa Barrett. The refill water closet of the toilet, which he had made years earlier, was up overhead to utilize gravity.There were coal stove in the parlor and kitchen. A portion of the house dated from before 1860, but additions were made several times.Grandpa had a victory garden in l9l8 and peach trees. An old asparagus plant and many hollyhocks grew in l948 and lilacs.Jack had to report at Boston Navy Yard to show he had completed his authorized travel to Boston. Before long we took a trip to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire to see Jack's brother Bill and his son Billy and "Gram" (Billy's mother's mother) and Billy's aunt Vivian Walsh, Virginia's sister.Jack made inquiry at Phillips Andover Academy thst day but learned their school had a four year course starting in the ninth grade, whereas John was entering the seventh grade. We began house hunting very soon after we arrived in Boston.At this time we expected John would enroll in Boston Latin, and his father had started him learning "Adeste fideles" and other Latin materials.However, Peggy Hurley, entertaining the four of us at dinner at her house, suggested we look into Roxbury Latin School, a private day school in West Roxbury, where her son-in-law Broderick had been a member of the l944 class. This ultimately influenced our choice of a house. Mr. William Cunningham, a school teacher who did part-time realty work for the Fowler agency of Jamaica Plain. showed us a number of houses- Allandale Road and Ardale Road- then on August 28, l947 - Jack's fifty-ninth birthday, he showed Jack and John a house at 52 Emmonsdale Road, West Roxbury, which we later bought.That day after showing the house, Mr. Cunningham bought a round of ice cream cones to celebrate Jack's birthday.The house was only two and a half blocks from Roxbury Latin School, and Mr. Cunningham with nine children lived only two blocks from us himself, so we were ready to believe him about the neighborhood, and he was friendly for many years afterward.He became principal of Roslindale High School, and one of his sons was President of Wang computer corporation.The house on Emmonsdale was owned by the Van Steenbergen family.Mr. Van Steenbergen taught at Boston Latin School, where John was actually enrolled for three days.He was in Mr. Jamieson's room there, along with our neighbor Eddie Brickley of Tennyson Street. John was somewhat upset when his father changed his plans and went rather unwillingly to an interview at Roxbury Latin The new head master Frederick R. Weed without applying pressure either way permitted John to take the entrance exam with some other late applicants including G. Robert Macdonald of Dedham. John scored very well and was admitted. Rather to John's surprise, Jack made the decision to send John to Roxbury Latin and buy the Emmonsdale Road house where no commuting would be necessary.The tuition at Roxbury Latin was only one hundred dollars per year at that time for residents in the area of the old town of Roxbury. The school had just celebrated its third centennial in l945 and received publicity in Life magazine as 'the oldest continuously operating Independent school in the Country" and the "biggest educational bargain in the country." At one time it was very heavily endowed, but its finances suffered severely in the l930's. A new school building was opened in l926 in West Roxbury, but a planned gymnasium was deferred until l955.Peggy Hurley, widow of Jack's South Boston friend Joe of the Boston Post, who had died in l94l, was very friendly when we arrived back from Hawaii.Besides having us to dinner, she invited us to her daughter's wedding in Duxbury spring l948 and introduced me to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Collins one block away from us on Emmonsdale Road.They visited us at our new home two days after we moved in on Thanksgiving l947. Jack also found his former French teacher at Boston Latin School William Pride Henderson living in West Roxbury -aged eighty-four in l947. Bill Barrett's Latin School l912 classmate John Vaccaro was one of the first people John Barrett met in Boston as he had John and his father to lunch at Lockober's Restaurant in August.He also searched the title to the new house, and another l9l2 Latin School classmate of Bill's Archie Dresser appraised the house at a value of eleven thousand dollars.We ultimately paid Mr. Van Steenbergen twelve thousand dollars plus the commission. Jack's l906 classmates Dan Lyne and Edward Illingworth wrote recommendations for John at Roxbury Latin. Illingworth an organist and vocal and piano teacher lived at 64 Hastings Street West Roxbury and was very well acquainted through the Highland Club of West Roxbury with Roxbury Latin French master Joseph Henry Sasserno.Our house is on the slope of Bellevue Hill, the highest ground within the city limits of Boston.Survey maps say the top of the hill is 328 feet, and the Boston state house is visible, and the South Boston waterfront. Our house is at about 210 feet elevation. Mr. Illingworth, who Jack knew from the fourth grade in South Boston onward through Boston Latin School, was nicknamed "the eternal question mark." He studied in Rome with the composer and virtuoso Ferruchio Busoni. His wife was a South Boston neighbor from L Street.He invited Jack to join the Highland Club, but Jack was not much of a joiner, and also passed up the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars as well. Mr. Illingworth one time drilled John on the dotted rhythms of Beethoven's "Minuet in G." Mr. Joseph Sasserno had a considerable conversation with Jack at the Roxbury Latin parking lot the first day of school.He was one year older than Jack and had attended Boston English High School and Harvard College- then taught seven years at Norwich Military Academy in Vermont l911-l9l8. He later was a close friend of his former pupil General Harmon,who became President of Norwich and asked Mr. Sasserno to write a history of Norwich, which was incomplete when he died in Genoa, Italy August 12, l962. Mr. Sasserno and his sister Mary and brother Henry lived in apartments near us at 30 Bellevue Street. Their family were from East Boston and Dorchester.Henry was later our investment broker at Kidder Peabody Company.Joe was active in the Italian Historical Society and West Roxbury Historical Society.Jack's conversation with Mr. Sasserno undoubtedly helped sell him on Roxbury Latin School, where John attended for six years. There was a high attrition rate among the students, but a very fine education was available, and all twelve members of the small faculty were of great ability and became our very good friends.John began piano lessons with Giuseppe deLellis, who took a very wonderful special interest in Jack senior in his last two years, l967-l969.He and his family have been wonderful friends throughout more than twenty-two years.For the first two months Jack drove John from South Boston to school. John was unfamiliar with the Boston streetcars, and the trip was slow and roundabout, with several changes of cars and trolleys.Sometimes Gil Hoag would ride to Dorchester with us to his home in Savin Hill, and Ronald Havelock would ride to the Elevated to connect to Cambridge.We later often regretted that Mollie was not closer to us. Mollie at this time worked in a Metropolitan Life Insurance local office on West Broadway near F Street just beyond Dorchester Street, ten or fiteen minutes walk from her home. She received weekly cash collections at the cashier window and so knew a great many people in the neighborhood.At this time she frequently saw the Barretts' former next door neighbors Katherine Kinnaly and Mr. and Mrs. Daniel and Emily Kinnaly who lived on Clement Street in West Roxbury. Danny worked in the Post Office and was very cordial when he heard we were copming to West Roxbury.Our new house was painted by Meissner Brothers of South Boston, and a new heater and shower and cellar bathroom were installed by Rull Company. Jack's second cousins, Gertrude and Mary Hartigan were still at 80 Brown Avenue, Roslindale, near Cummins Highway and Sacred Heart Church,where their mother moved from South Boston in l9l7.May gave Jack a cordial greeting on his return and frequently brought us poinsettias, azaleas and other plants as presents. Her brother, Father Edward Hartigan, was in North Braintree as pastor until l953- then he became pastor of Immaculate Conception parish, Everett, retiring in l970.For a while May Hartigan kept her car in our two-car garage, as she lived only two miles away and parking was scarce.Until her retirement in l956 at age seventy, she taught mathematics at the Washington Irving intermediate school in Roslindale. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Buckley dropped in soon after we moved in.Subsequently Jack would see Joe around City Hall where he worked in the Sewer Department- and also in Joe's private law office.Joe wrote a recommendation when Jack applied for the Graduate Law Course at Northeastern University in l95l.While we were still living at 640 East Seventh Street, we went with Mollie to 168 I Street to celebrate the seventy-fifth birthday of Mrs. Fortunato Pistorino, the mother of a family of nine, among whom several sisters were very good friends of Mollie Barrett.Mr. and Mrs. Pistorino observed their fiftieth wedding anniversary about the end of the war, and now they were having quite a birthday celebration. Josephine Pistorino worked for Bell Telephone Company.Her sister Frances was a legal secretary, and their brother John was a barber. Their paternal grandfather came from a distinguished family of Messina, and the Pistorino family operated a business in Boston. One of the nephews was with United Fruit company.Mrs. Pistorino's family, long in South Boston, traced back to Skibbereen, Cork, Ireland. Their name was Daly, and they may be related to Jack Barrett's father's mother.Mollie would often have Wednesday and Sunday meals at the Pistorino home, while Josephine and Frances would come to Mollie's for fish dinner on Friday. Jack's second cousins Gertrude and Mary Hartigan lived at 80 Brown Avenue, near Cummins highway and Sacred Heart Church in nearby Roslindale, and their brother Father Hartigan was in Braintree but in l953 became pastor at Immaculate Conception church in Everett.May gave Jack a very cordial welcome home and gave us several azalea plants.For a while she kept her car in our two-car garage.Until her retirement in l956 at age seventy, she taught mathematics at the Washington Irving intermediate school in Roslindale. Mr, and Mrs. Joseph Buckley of South Boston - with whom Jack had been friendly since young boyhood, came to call.Jack saw him frequently at City Hall, where Joe worked for the Sewer Department.After dropping John at Roxbury Latin in time for the start of school at 8:42 every morning, Jack would drive to our new home at 52 Emmonsdale road, where the Meissner workers were painting and papering, and Rull, the plumber was putting a new bathroom in the cellar.Jack unpacked furniture, put the Chinese rugs on the floor, washed dishes, pots and pans, and when the telephone was installed, he called me to say that he had just unpacked the piano, so I listened while he played one of his favorite piano pieces.The piano was in perfect condition although many other items of furniture had been damaged in the round trip to and from Pearl Harbor in 1941 to storage in Boston.By the time the painters,plumbers,and electricians had finished their work, Jack had the place ready for occupancy by John and me.The floors were scraped. Jack bought an electric wax polisher, and on the Sunday before Thanksgiving Jack and John missed their Sunday dinner at 640 because they were determined to finishing waxing the floors and polishing them so we could move in. -and we did move in on Thanksgiving Day l947, when Mollie came out with us and was most helpful in getting us settled. Our next door neighbors at 21 Rustic Road, Tony and Mabel Bernazzani and their two daughters were flower lovers. He was a professional gardener with an unusually green thumb.He had planted the peonies, day lilies, and hydrangeas on the Van Steenbergen property we bought. His own property had a wide variety of rambler roses, yuccas, hollyhocks, violets, Spanish iris,tomatoes, strawberries, bulbs, and ususual trees.The Bernazzanis enjoyed the outdoors and had a large fireplace, where they invited us and other neighbors for spaghetti and steak dinner, which we enjoyed at long outdoor tables. One Sunday noon Mollie called up to invite us to dinner at six o'clock..Since it was a very cold day, I at first refused, but Jack and John, who loved 640 East Seventh Street accepted gladly, as it was a very dull cold day here.I simply suffered in that cold weather- couldn't get warm despite the adequate oil heat.After they left, the house was so quiet, I decided to go to South Boston by subway, even though I wasn't sure how to get there. But our Emmonsdale neighbors, Joe and Grace Collins,picked me up in their carand took me to the Jamaica Plain Civil War Monument, where they put me on a trolley car to Park Street under Boston Common, where I changed for a subway train to South Boston.Jack was glad to see me.it was a lovely party, with the smell of ham pleasant after the long cold trip. Everybody was there - Mollie's cousins, Tom and Bessie Palmer of North Cambridge, her old neighbor Katherine Kinnaly, her cousin Bill Lane of Melrose and his wife Jean,Josephine Pistorino of 168 I Street, and Mollie's second cousins Mary Elizabeth and Helen Lynch of Hyde Park. There was a lot of good talk, the food was excellent, and it was far better for me than sitting at home.Our next door neighbor at 44 Emmonsdale Road was Mrs. Allen, a widow with two grown sons. She was enthusiastic when John made the honor roll for the first marking period at Roxbury Latin. Two neighbors on Rustic Road, Mrs. Martin and Mrs. Ethel Maier came to call one day while John was studying for mid-year examinations.We told them about our trip across the country. Mrs. Maier's father retired police Captain Anderson, lived with her and her husband Otto.Our first winter in Boston was an unusually snowy one. Usually when the Boston public school closed because of snow, Roxbury Latin remained in session, but one morning at 8:30 when the snow was very deep, and it was still snowing, we heard via radio that there would be no school at Roxbury Latin. Against my advice, John went off to school, two and a half blocks away.About noon, when it was still snowing, with the snow two feet deep, I began to be concerned.About two o'clock Mrs. Heffler, wife of the school custodian, telephoned and told me she was surprised when her husband found john reading in the School Library- and when she learned John had been there since 8:30 AM, she gave him a bowl of soup and some crackers.He finally returned late in the afternoon, and when I asked him how he got into the school, he said that the head master had been there and said to him, "Don't you know there is no school?" John admitted he knew it but asked permission to use the library that snowy day. He was eleven and a half years old. Mr. Richard Whitney was the Sixth Class home room master and taught English and geography.When John told the class about some of his experiences in the western national Parks, en route from Hawaii to Boston, Mr. Whitney suggested he use the subject for the annual Fowler Prize history essay competition, offered for the best paper in each class on a subject related to United States History.John used his spring vacation to write the paper and won the five dollar prize. The winner was ineligible the next year, but in l950 John again won with an essay on "Life on Oahu from July l941 to June, l947."John got his best grade in Latin, with Mr. Earl Taylor, who ran the bookstore before school in the mornings - John would often go in early and discuss difficult points in the assignments. Mr. Taylor led singing of hymns in Hall four mornings a week. On Tuesdays and Fridays Giuseppe deLellis came to the school to teach music, and played the piano accompaniment.John soon continued the piano lessons he had begun with Laura Canafax at Punahou in l946.They worked in the Schirmer collection "59 piano solos you like to play" -the Schubert Moment Musical in f op. 94 #3, and Military March, the Beethoven Minuet in G, the Strauss Blue Danube Waltz, Verdi's Grand March from "Aida", the Brahms Waltz in A Flat, the Mozart Turkish Rondo, and the Tannhauser Act 3 March of Wagner, Handel's "Largo" from "Xerxes".and Bach Prelude in c from Well Tempered Clavier #1. Mr. DeLellis and his wife Connie became family friends,and we visited back and forth from their home in West Newton.I met many of the mothers of the sixth class students at a tea party given by the Parents Auxiliary in October l947 At a second tea party given by Mrs. Clifford Ronan and Mrs. Huston Banton I saw the mothers again., and I met many other parents of the Auxiliary at meetings in Rousmaniere Hall.After the meeting we went to the school dining room, where the hospitality committee served coffee,sandwiches, and small cupcakes. We enjoyed talks by Mr. Weed and other invited speakers., and at the Spring meeting we heard the Roxbury Latin Debating Team. We also met parents at school football and baseball games, after which we gathered in the dining room. Since John was interested in debating, we attended many debates at the school and even drove to Groton the fifth class year, where John was a speaker in a junior debate. Roxbury Latin won taking the affirmative on the topic, "Should Athletic Scholarships be Granted by colleges? Mr. J. Clifford Ronan, father of John's classmate Cliff and two younger children, Frank and Dorothy, was a track coach at Boston English High School, and he cited the case of Center College in Kentucky, which was little known until highly successful sports teams brought publicity - then the school was able to raise money and develop a strong academic program. Mr.Ronan's material worked out well in the debate, and when John had finished speaking, Headmaster Peabody of Groton remarked to me, "That boy has a head" In the spring of l948 our former Waikiki neighbors Mimi and Harry Bronson came to visit us. Harry was working as an entomologist for the state of California,and they had bought a home in Santa Paula but were visiting Mimi's parents and sister Frances Gage in Marlboro. Since they had movies and slides of the Hawaiian Islands to show us that Sunday afternoon, we telephoned Aunt Mollie and invited her to come and see them and bring home John, who was visiting in South Boston that day.They also showed views of brightly colored spring flowers from their hikes high in the Sierra Nevada. We bought only two tickets for Roxbury Latin Night at the Boston Pops in May, l948, because it was the last Friday in May, the night I was scheduled to attend my twenty-fifth reunion at Mount Holyoke college.I went to Pops the next year when John was in the fifth class. We sat next to Randy Hare and his mother,- had a pleasant evening. MR. DELELLIS WAS THE PIANO SOLOIST WITH ARTHUR FIEDLER IN A BRILLIANT PERFORMANCE of RACHMANINOFF'S SECOND PIANO CONCERTO. On that last Friday in May l948, Jack drove me to Brookline to the home of my classmate Carol Fisher Mallory.Clara Michael, Ruth Phinney and I rode with Carol to a Howard Johnson's for dinner and then on to Mount Holyoke. where we registered for reunion at Student Alumni Hall. I spent the early part of that evening rehearsing for my part in the play written by my classmate and friend Rebecca Glover Smaltz.The play was to be presented Saturday afternoon. We then went to Pearsons Hall, where I lived freshman year.and where we had Reunion rooms and breakfast Saturday and Sunday.We had a class meeting at which our president Marion Lewis Smart read letters from classmates not in attendance at reunion.When we awoke Saturday morning, it was raining so we could not have the Alumnae parade.So we gathered in student Alumnae Hall, where I sat next to my friend Betty Gilman Roberts, and we had box lunches. In the afternoon l923 presented a good skit by Becky Smaltz, and the Alumnae President announced gifts to the college by various classes. Late in the afternoon we went to Pearsons Hall to dress for dinner- a banquet at a hotel in Holyoke.Ruth Peck Doyle drove Betty Giles Howard, Betty Gilman Roberts and me to the hotel. The drive was one of the highlights of the Reunion for me, because I had lived with them in Brigham Hall junior and senior years, and Betty Gilman and I had taken Master's degrees together in l925 -the only two candidates for the degree that year. at the dinner we were seated alphabetically just as we had been for chapel for four years so I was surrounded by people I knew well. Marion Lewis Smart, our class president asked me as Sergeant-at-Arms of the class to pour the champagne, which I did after saying that this was a strange state of affairs after I had spent so many years in the Navy advising against the use of liquor.The classmates applauded and laughed. As Carol Fisher had two young children left in her husband Dr. Mallory's care, we left South Hadley right after breakfast Sunday morning. Carol came to my house to meet Jack and John.She had met her husband Kenneth Mallory in Vienna when they were doing graduate study in biology and medicine.Dr. Mallory was a pathologist at Boston City Hospital where the Mallory building was named for his relative. we were invited to the Mallorys for Sunday dinner later in June BEFORE CAROL LEFT FOR MOUNT DESERT ISLAND MAINE with the children. Carol was an active member of the League of Women Voters. That summer Jack and I had considerable contact with Roxbury Latin parents. Mrs. Martin of Dedham, mother of Fred Martin came to visit one morning in June before Fred left for summer camp Kabeyun. Mrs. Stikeleather, mother of Robert Stikeleather wanted John to spend a week at their summer home in Stow to help Robert learn some French, before the boys officially started the new language with Joseph Sasserno that fall in the fifth Class. We saw her when we drove John to Stow, and Mr. Stikeleather had come from their East Dedham home to West Roxbury to give us a local map showing their place by the lake.When we went to get John the next week our neighbors Mr.and Mrs.Sweeney of 229 Wren Street rode with us, so we got well acquainted with them too. Mr. Sweeney taught shop in Boston Public Schools,and their son John was class president for three years, until he lost a year with bone tuberculosis, for which he was successfully treated at Lakeville Sanitarium. We also had an invitation for lunch and a swim with Mrs. and Mrs. J. Clifford Ronan at their summer home "Silver Hills" West Newburyport, in the area where Mr. Ronan had grown up.He taught mechanical drawing and was the track coach at Boston English High School. John Sweeney was with us, and Mrs. Ronan urged us to stay for supper. - we had cream of tomato soup- most welcome after a cool swim.Mr. Ronan in later years became a landscape painter. His home on Tennyson Street West Roxbury, and the summer place at West Newbury, which became their home after his retirement, became filled with paintings, and they gave us one - a lovely snow scene which hung many years in our dining room.Mr. Ronan wrote a newspaper sports column "Ronan's Reckonings"- a forecast or "educated guess" on the standings of high school in the track competitions. Mrs. Ronan's father and mother Mrs. Goodwin and her sister Grace Antell lived near us on Howitt Street. Cliff went to Amherst, and his brother Frank did track at Bowdoin. In l948 Jack finally had a chance to grow some good sized tomatoes after fighting insects and mildew in Hawaii. His favorite was the Winsall tomato. We had many three-pound fruits, and once he had a five pound tomato. They were delicious but too fragile for commercial use. He supplied many friends and neighbors with tomatoes and plants and seed to start new ones in February. indoors. He also grew"Crystal White" tomatoes, a variety l45 developed from the yellow tomato. We grew some for many years. Originally we obtained the seed from Peter Henderson Company later from Breck's of Boston. Since l965 we have had to use seed from our own crystal white plants as they now seem to be unavailable commercially.Jack grew tomatoes every year until l965.-#55- p.148 (#55)). With my encouragement Jack entered the accelerated two-and-a half year daytime course at Boston College Law School in January, l949 financed as a War Veteran under the G.I. Bill.He made inquiry at Harvard, where Dean Erwin Griswold was courteous, but explained he was crowded with returning veterans. Griswold encouraged Jack to talk to Father Kenealy of Boston College, who strongly welcomed his effort, even though Fordham Law School had not been nationally accredited, and Jack did not get credit for his two years' hard work there 1927-9.One of the professors told the entering law students,"Look at the man on your right and the man on your left, as one of the three of you won't be here when you graduate." There were fewer women in those days, but Jack was friendly with Phyllis Levine, who was on the committee for the excellent Yearbook "Sui Juris". Louise Day Hicks of South Boston was at the Law School one year and was always friendly with Jack in later years when they both spent much time at the Registries of Deeds and Probate. The teachers included Father Kenealy in Jurisprudence, Wendell Grimes, John D. O'Reilly, Emil Slizewski, Cornelius Moynihan, and Law Librarian Steven Morrison. Under the case method students were expected to read and abstract cases carefully in preparation for class discussion. Some professors occasionally threatened to cancel classes when not enough students did these assignments, but Jack and the more serious students usually talked them out of such extreme action. One of the faculty may have been the source of a student joke, "It is sufficient to say 'NOT PREPARED.' It is uncessary to demonstrate." The property professor taught them about the disadvantages of joint interests in real property and joint bank accounts, especially under modern tax laws, "Stay out of expensive joints". All his new classmates were much younger-serious men with a living to make in the law but a number of them told me at various times that Jack had a wonderful mind & that the professors liked to draw him out in class.We went together to the Red Mass an annual event sponsored by the Boston College Law School every fall to mark the opening of the legal season.Father Kenealy conducted the Mass, where we enjoyed a most learned speaker from the legal profession.During the second year his class sponsored a dance at the Recreation Hall of Boston College in Chestnut Hill to raise money to defray some of the expense of the class yearbook. We sat with some of his young friends including Larry Burkart,Frank Amsler,Gene Lyne & his wife Ruth- Gene's Jack's law school classmate was the son of Jack's l906 Boston Latin classmate Dan Lyne, who lived nearby on Beacon Street, Chestnut Hill. John and I attended one of the moot court sessions in which Larry Burkart of Newton and Joe Neylon of Somerville participated - they were members of the very successful moot court team named in honor of 1840s Massachusetts Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw, father-in-law of Herman Melville and author of a leading opinion on circumstantial evidence, Commonwealth v. Webster.At the end of two and a half years of hard work, he received the LL.B degree in June,l95l twenty-four years after starting his law studies.When he passed the Massachusetts Bar exam in October 1951 and was admitted to law practice,he Boston Globe gave him first page headlines in big print-wrote a long first page account of his accomplishment at 63 years of age & published a picture of him with his Navy hat & law books in our West Roxbury dining room with John & me.Father Kenealy had asked the Boston Globe to feature Jack. Jack passed the Massachusetts Bar examination on the first try, even though a majority failed to pass,& "there was weeping at the Bar".He then applied for Northeastern University's night classes at the law school to earn a l953 Master's degree, writing a tax thesis he typed himself & taking course in Taxation, Admiralty, Massachusetts Practice, International Law (using the Louis Sohn "World Law" textbook). He took a tax course with Massachusetts Tax Commissioner Henry Long, a colorful & outspoken thirty-year veteran originally appointed by governor Calvin Coolidge around l9l9- & arranged for John to interview the Commissioner in l952 for Albert Kelsey's English course,which required students to record conversations in the style of James Boswell's "Life of Samuel Johnson" (l788). Professor Gardner gave the Admiralty course. I [Sophie] read Catherine Drinker Bowen's biography of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes junior and was amused by his wife Fanny's remark that Washington D.C. is full of eminent old men and the women they married when they were young. Jack's books included Clark and Marshall on Crimes, Salmond on Jurisprudence, Erwin Griswold's Taxation text, Oliver Wendell Holmes jr "The Common Law" James Casner and Barton Leach Property text, Warren Seavey Restatement of Agency. Samuel Williston "Restatement of Contracts", Mottla in Massachsetts Practice series. Jack liked to quote Holmes's definition of an 'act' as a 'voluntary muscular contraction' and his remark, "I used to think when I was a young man that TRUTH was the majority vote of that nation which could like all others." At a time when Holmes's ideas were in great vogue, Jack had reservations about the positivistic side of Holmes's thinking, although he read him carefully. In Father Kenealy's Jurisprudence course, they compared the views of several natural law theorists, including Lon Fuller and Jacques Maritain, who wrote "The American Philosophy of Law" and whose words Jack often quoted, "The Lord always gives light enough for one more step. Don't stop walking until the light gives out." In l948 Jack,John & I were crossing Linnet Street on Bellevue Street in West Roxbury,when an elderly lady emerged from a house at l65 Bellevue Stree.Struck by the color of her Alice-blue big felt hat, I smiled at her as we approached -I remarked "Your blue hat brightens up this dark afternoon."She was carrying a cane, & when I noticed that she had letters to mail,I offered to mail them for her to save her from crossing Linnet Street.She accepted, & as John went to the mailbox, she Jack & I chatted as we waited for him.We told Mrs. Gertrude Cutter that we were comparatively new in the neighborhood & that the Reverend Harold Arnold lived right across the street from us on Emmonsdale Road.She told us that he was the retired minister of her Unitarian Church at the corner of Corey & Centre Streets l50 & a distant cousin of James Arnold for whom the Arnold Arboretum was named. When we were out walking Christmas afternoon,we impulsively rang Mrs. Cutter's bell, as John wanted to talk with her,& it was calling-hour.She greeted us graciously,& for the next half-hour we were treated to an account of the very old houses on Centre Street between Richwood & Corey.A few of them were being demolished to make room for a supermarket-to Mrs. Cutter's regret.She invited us to call on her very often.She told us that Mr. Cary Potter of Roxbury Latin was the grandson of Bishop Potter. She & John enjoyed many games of backgammon through the years . Often after playing with her he came home with a can of peanuts.Each Christmas she sent John a calendar from the Museum of Fine Arts.Often about noon she would telephone me to call on her about three in the afternoon.She was hard of hearing but amazingly adept at lip reading if you looked right at her as you talked.She liked to tell about her mother-in-law "Madam Cutter" whom she considered an outstanding woman.One afternoon she told me about her father-in-law's experience in job hunting: one day - as he was on his way from Winchester where he lived to Harvard college to see President Charles Eliot to inquire whether he was to be appointed Librarian of Harvard College, President Eliot was on his way to the Cutter home in Winchester to offer him the job.When Mr.Cutter learned that President Eliot was not in his office, he went to the Boston Athenaeum & accepted the job as librarian there & developed that famous library for many years 151 His Cutter library classification was the forerunner of the Library of Congress system.As a young woman Miss Gertrude Cross took a job as an art teacher in the Winchester school and declared,"l'll never marry a man from Winchester", but she married Madam Cutter's second son Roland, an MIT graduate & an engineer for the city of Boston.Madame Cutter's first son was named Ammi, as the first son in every Cutter family for some generations is named.Mrs. Cutter's nephew Ammi is a member of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (l97l).One of their family friends was founder of the Windsor school for girls.When the author of a widely used book on geometry was revising his work,he showed the new illustrations to Gertrude,the young art teacher.She examined the drawings & said,"I could do better myself." She was stunned when the author said,"All right. You are hired.You make the illustrations for the book.I'll pay you anything you ask & give you an unlimited expense account." He told her to take all the time she needed to make the illustrations, so important in math work.She regretted her rash statement but took on the job.He accepted all of her illustrations & acknowledged her work in the introduction to the new edition. Jack had the book- a well-worn copy `-& that acknowedgement appeared in the mathematics text he had used at Revenue Cutter School in l909.He immediately telephoned Mrs Cutter, who was pleased the future Coast Guard officers had benefited from her work.Mrs.Cutter had an arthritic back for which she had a brace called "Gracey Bracey"She was rationed as to daily trips up & down stairs. A friend designed an ingenious thirty-inch long wooded scissors that she used to pick up papers or small books from the floor.In l955 Mrs. Cutter moved to a nursing home on Alfreton Road,Needham and gave us a large collection of books Jack picked out -a complete set of Charles Dickens, several Trollope novels -"Barchester Towers" and "The Warden," - and Pagan & Christian Rome.There is even a history of the Cutter family.When she had back troubles, her motto was "Cooperate with calamity." She lived to age 83 - l874 to March l958. She knew the Codman family,who were Brook Farmers 1843 & preserved an l846 engraving of the Brook Farm site, which was given to West roxbury historical Society & has proved useful to archaeologists interested in tracing positions of the buildings - some of which have been moved from their foundations & later destroyed by fire.There are very few extant pictures of Brook Farm from l84l-46, the era of the social experiment. The engraving also clarifies what areas have been flooded or filled.
Subject: Sophie & Jack, garden
Year: 1966