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


Sophie Barrett (left) aboard Navy Transport HENDERSON autumn 1930 center is Junior Medical Officer, who invited Sophie to ship's dance third night of voyage. w986 p 44 {5}}C{S}
CHAPTER "VOYAGE TO THE ORIENT" 1930 Navy Transport HENDERSON 'SLOW BOAT TO CHINA'" [follows picture caption] CAPTION: Sophie Barrett (left) aboard Navy Transport HENDERSON autumn 1930 center is Junior Medical Officer, who invited Sophie to ship's dance third night of voyage. w986 p 44 #986 Sophie joined H-E-N-D-E-R-S-O-N at Portsmouth Virginia August 12. 1930 and reached Chingwantao, North China where Jack Barrett met her November 14, l930.Sophie is at left. Officer in center was Assistant Medical Officer of HENDERSON. Route went through Port-au-Prince Haiti' Cristobal and Balboa, Panama Canal Zone, Corinto, west coast of Nicaragua, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco - Sophie visited Yosemite Valley and stayed at Ahwahnee Hotel while HENDERSON was overhauled at Mare Island north east side of San Francisco Bay -then Honolulu, Guam, Manila, Hong Kong - Sophie transferred to smaller transport - got to know Florence Hilldring Army wife - proceeded Shanghai to North China. TEXT: H-E-N-D-E-R-S-O-N [John Barrett note This letter December 27, 1929 expresses Sophie's appreciation of Jack's Christmas message from the Philippines-"Dear lady of my fondest dreams - Come join me in the Philippines Where I will build a house for you Of SAWALI NIPA, and BAMBOO With Windows made of pearly SHELL - In SINAMY I'll dress you well, And you shall have your every wish - The while we dine on RICE and FISH.". Their June 1929 marriage was kept secret from most of Sophie's acqaintances in New York, including Macy's friends, where Sophie remained Director of Personnel Research until August 1930. Emanuel Lyons much older than Jack and Sophie had been a friend since summer 1923 when Sophie worked at United Hebrew Charities. He published books "1001 Business Ideas" and "2222 Business Ideas." For years he invited the social workers to his western New Jersey farm, where Sophie appeared in three February 1926 photos with heavy snow. Joe Brill, a Fordham Law School classmate of Jack Barrett, remained in New York City law practice up to the 1970s, and occasionally through Anne and Ivan McCormack the Barretts would hear news of him and other acquaintances, including Anne's family, the Taylors, the Nelson family from Charleston, South Carolina, various social workers, and Jimmy Jemail, the "Inquiring Reporter" of the New York Daily News, later editor.] "IV-286 DECEMBER 27, 1929 LETTER TEXT "To. Lt. J.B. Barrett USS TRUXTUN US Asiatic Fleet c/o postmaster Seattle from SMB R.H.Macy + Co. 34th St. Broadway New York City December 27 1929 Barrett dear, My last letter to you was sent just a week ago today. Since that time there hasn't been a dull moment. Want to be bored with an account of the events? You will recall that I was planning to go to dinner with the dentist last Friday evening. Imagine my surprise when he told me his mother, father, and sister were waiting at home for us and that I was to be their guest for dinner. Gosh, but I was scared to be looked over by the family, but I pretended it was a every-day occurence with me. He lives up on Madison Avenue and Ninety-sixth Street. The dinner was delicious, we all got along famously, and I have an idea 'mamma' approved, because as I was leaving, she said,'Come to Christmas dinner, my dear.' I thanked her in my most charming manner and pleaded 'not guilty'. = The next day dawned like every other, but it was to be different. I was scheduled to go to a big party in Flushing- an annual party which I had turned down because you were you. To look all dressed up I decided to go home at noon, - and there I found a box from you with two adorable rings and some earrings. Promptly the rings were put on - they fit nicely - a wee bit large - and I love them. I can't wear them all the time because they are fragile, and the little decorative flowers fall off. You were nice to adorn me at this season of the year. I wear both rings on the fourth finger of my right hand. = The party was something or other - not very successful. Agnes Drummond and I stayed overnight. Sunday noon the family drove us into town, and we went to Agnes's apartment for tea. = Sunday evening after much persuasion on Martha's part I agreed to join her and Dottie on a date with three Spaniards. One of the men had a Auburn car. One of the men is an artist named Camilo Egas who has a studio on Charles Street. For some unknown reason his eyes rested on me, and he has been pursuing me ever since.Foreign men don't interest me, and when he phoned last night, I told him I was sick. He got my phone number through Martha. = Your Christmas card was received on Tuesday. It is without doubt the most beautiful card I have ever seen - and I say that in all sincerity. When Mrs. Smith rang the bell Christmas eve to deliver the card telling of the attractions of the Philippines in the form of fish, rice, and coarse clothes, my Christmas happiness was complete. The card is just too clever and too funny. I love it and may even frame it someday. = Santa Claus was more than generous: From Mr. Lyons there came a subscription to 'The Nation', a bottle of perfume, + a beautiful compact. From Mabel there came two pairs of silk stockings - from Edna Walton there came handkerchiefs - from Anne there came Yardley Old English Soap From Willie Kennedy there came 'SRM' stationery - from Martha there came genuine amethyst earrings. = Mr. Lyons and I started out five o'clock Christmas morning. We took the train to Landsdowne, [New Jersey] where we started our five mile hike to the farm house-- it was work and fun to go through all the ice and snow. After a fine Christmas dinner we hiked the five miles back. = Helen Miller called up just after I got home Christmas night. We plan to take dinner and a walk together this Sunday. = Joe Brill called me up last night. He told me he received a card from you and that he sent you one. After much conversation about nothing at all, he asked me to take lunch with him today. I turned him down on the basis of being 'busy.' I couldn't be rude to him because he may be sincere, but perhaps he may become discouraged with repeated refusals. Harold Nelson spends a lot of time at the apartment. - Sophie." HENDERSON #1095 p 56 "Slow Boat to China" [p 205]JACK TRANSFERS MAY 1930 to Gunboat TULSA. In 1929 Jack wanted a third year at Fordham but didn't get it.In 1930 Jack was interested in commanding a Yangtze patrol boat.In 1930 on the TRUXTUN after skipper Carey left with tuberculosis and Jack had been in acting command, they went up the Yangtze river to Nanking after Carey's relief Lieutenant Commander Keliher arrived. Jack did not send for me there, as Americans were being evacuated rather than sent out. Since he was right on the spot, he applied for command of Jack a Yangtze patrol boat, which he would give him a opportunity to navigate thousands of miles up that great river and see many ancient and remarkable Chinese towns. But he didn't get that either.Instead he went from the TRUXTUN to the gunboat TULSA stationed in Tientsin, North China,as gunnery officer in May, 1930.He was acting Executive Officer for a time also. He transferred at Chingwantao when the TRUXTUN made a swing through north China, and Jack got to Peking and saw his old friend Bill Rupertus, who was stationed there. NAVY WIVES WELCOME IN TIENTSIN. The TULSA spent most of the year at the dock on the Hai Ho river in Tientsin. Wives of three of the ship's officers and some of the wives of Army Fifteenth Infantry personnel were living there. Jack made inquiry and got permission to have me join him in Tientsin. CAPTAIN KEENE NY SELECTS TRANSPORT HENDERSON. An old Navy friend of Jack's - whom I had met in New York- Captain E.V. W. Keene -was in charge of Dependents' Transportation, and when I went to see him June 23, 1930, he was most kind and cooperative and told me he would look into transportation for me and would arrange my typhoid and cholera shots and for my smallpox vaccination.At first he considered the Army transport GRANT or the CHAUMONT going to Manila and advised Jack to investigate what transportation would be available from Manila to Chingwantao [North China].By July 25 Captain Keene and Jack had decided I should wait for the Navy transport HENDERSON leaving Hampton Roads, Virginia, on August 20, 1930, which would take me all the way, arriving at Chingwantao November 13, 1930. [A Yangtze River patrol boat which he could command would give him a opportunity to navigate thousands of miles up that great river and see many ancient and remarkable Chinese towns. But he didn't get that either.Instead he went from the TRUXTUN to the gunboat TULSA stationed in Tientsin, North China,as gunnery officer in May, 1930.He was acting Executive Officer for a time also. He transferred when the TRUXTUN made a swing through north China, and Jack got to Peking and saw his old friend Bill Rupertus, who was stationed there.Since the TULSA spent almost all of the time at the dock on the Hai Ho river in Tientsin, Jack was able to making inquiry and got permission to have me join him in Tientsin.An old Navy friend of Jack's - whom I had met in New York- Captain E.V. W. Keene -was in charge of Dependents' Transportation, and when I went to see him June 23, 1930, he was most kind and cooperative and told me he would look into transportation for me and would arrange my typhoid and cholera shots and for my smallpox vaccination.At first he considered the Army transport GRANT going to Manila and advised Jack to investigate what transportation would be available from Manila to Chingwantao [North China].By July 25 Captain Keene and Jack had settled on the Navy transport HENDERSON leaving Hampton Roads, Virginia, on August 20, 1930, and arriving at Chingwantao November 13, 1930. I saw Captain Keene on July 25 and August 6. Among other things he gave me my transportation on the HENDERSON from Hampton Roads to Chingwantao, China,-gave me rail transportation from New York to Hampton Roads via Pullman sleeper the night of August 18, 1930,- made sure I had my shots and vaccination,-and gave me a special passport for travel in China and Japan.[transfer??-]GOODBYE TO MACY's, ANNE TAYLOR MCCORMACK + MERANSKI FAMILY When I gave Macy's two weeks notice that I was leaving for China, they gave me one hundred....[Black notebook One p 206] dollars a wedding present,the usual procedure when an executive of the store married. I was still working but I used long lunch hours to buy a trunk, two matching suitcases, shoes, smart hats, day and evening dresses, a black coat trimmed with Persian lamb fur, gloves, underwear, and many pairs of stockings. Whenever possible I made my purchases at Macy's where I had a substantial D..A . account and where I received a ten per cent discount on all purchases as an employee. Mr. Lyons bought for me a lovely wedding band of small diamonds, at wholesale, so my wedding ring served as both an engagement and wedding ring, which I got at a very reasnable price. I made quick trips to see my family in Hartford and in Philadelphia July + attended Willie Kennedy's wedding August 6 to Marshall Verniaud. LETTER to JACK SUNDAY AUGUST 10, 1929: "At home Sunday evening 10 August [1929] Sweetheart, How do you like your lady's calling card? She thinks they are "simply " swanky and is "simply" bursting with pride. I suppose you think she is "simple, but nevertheless she is keen asbout the cards. {blue initials 'SRM'] While we are on the subject of "how do you like", you lady asks you "how DO you like her new winter coat? picture enclosed marked *. It is absolutely [2] the identical coat as mine, and it appeared in to day's Sunday Times. It was there just to give me an opportuntiy to ask whether you approve. Better say "yes" because it's a beauty. Spent all day out in the open with Fran Manning, her dad, + mother. We drove in the car, had a picnic lunch, and rested in the sunshine. Fran and I returned earlier in the evening - Fran to spend the nigt with me. She is very thrilled about my taking the trip but resents the fact that I'm going away. She has proven her friendship many times over and has taken every opportunity to help me get ready for the big adventure. Yesterday I was a witness at Willie Kennedy's wedding. She slept with me Friday night + on Saturday morning I dressed her all up, and off we went to the minister's office. The ceremony was quite impressive - you might have thought that you and I were being married because I really forgot everyone else in the room + was actually standing there pledging myself to you in all that happens. These are busy but happy days. The joy of seeing you makes it easy to write notes to everyone telling of my departure, to work like mad at Macy's to finish things up, and to buy and arrange all the clothes which I think are essential to make me nonchalant. I liked the snapshots, the Chinese paper, + the idea of being able to charge things in Manila. Very dear love, -Sophie." The young lady who trained the bundle girls at Macy's packed my trunk for me as a goodbye gesture and taught me how to pack a trunk and suitcases using tissue paper to avoid wrinkles in clothes.I receivied crystal earrings and beads from one of my assistants Miss Mildred Forman, turquoise and silver beads from Willie Kennedy, silver spoons from Anne and Ivan [McCormack] a steak knife and fork from Helen Miller,and a cake fork from Frances Manning. Eleanor and Anne Taylor took me to the train, and when they left me, I realized that ahead of me was a new life in which I knew no one until I saw Jack in about three months in North China. I was to go alone halfway across the world.DEPARTURE FROM HAMPTON ROADS, VIRGINIA It was mid-morning August 19, 1930 when I arrived at the HENDERSON in Hampton Roads, Virginia. The HENDERSON was a very large Navy transport,-480 feet ten inches long, 60 feet ll l/2 inches wide,l9 feet l0 3/4 inch draft 101,000 tons, speed fourteen knots (p.207) First class passengers - women & children ll2 female servant six- officers & civilians as many as are given authority to travel except that no more than one hundred to be put in troop or crew spaces.Troop passengers l200.Built Navy Yard Philadelphia cost $ l,850,000.Commissioned May 20,l9l7.Eight five-inch fifty-caliber guns -two three-inch fifty-caliber guns,two masts, 27 officers, 24 chief petty officers & 373 enlisted sailors. When I boarded the big, white-painted HENDERSON at Hampton Roads, the Paymaster checked my papers, assigned me a nice cabin right on deck, and said the ship would said early next morning, and evening dinner would be served aboard, but I would have to get my lunch elsewhere. I left my bags in my cabin with three bunks on the upper deck& when I learned the first meal to be served would be dinner, I left by bus to see Norfolk,Virginia & have lunch in a drugstore. I walked all over Norfolk,not realizing that a few years later I would live there near the Naval Base & that my son John would be born there.By bus I got back to the ship for dinner.There were two messes in the passenger dining room,one early for women with children & the later one for adults only.I looked over the ship after dinner- the food was uniformly good on the HENDERSON. I got into my upper berth but was too excited to sleep. Somehow I had had the idea that I would not see a hairdresser for many months, so just before I left New York, I had asked my hairdresser to cut my hair very short. As he was used to my hair, I relaxed completely and failed to observe what he was doing. But I was shocked when I looked into the mirror after he had finished, as I was nearly bald, and I cried. I looked and felt ridiculous. My new clothes were all very feminine, but I looked too masculine with that hair-do "wind-blown". I would have to get my lunch elsewhere.Since I knew no one, I was lonesome and went to my bunk right after dinner as very few passengers were aboard at that time. I had just made myself comfortable in my bunk when a middle-aged woman entered the cabin, switched on the light, and screamed, "There is a man in my cabin!" Before I could re-assure her, he rushed out with her ten-year-old daughter, but returned shortly with the Paymaster. When he said, "That is Mrs. Barrett!' she calmed down,but she never spoke to me while we shared that cabin.Fortunately she left the ship at Panama, on the Atlantic side - so the unpleasantness was short-lived. SOCIAL LIFE ON CRUISE Three enlisted men passengers played music at dinner & when the weather permitted they played for dancing in the lounge.___About the third day out, the junior medical officer of the ship asked me why I did not attend the dance held every evening in the lounge. I explained that I hesitated to go alone, so he offered to escort me that evening after dinner. The sea was rough, and only a handful of passengers were in the lounge - all girls. After dancing with me, my escort danced with one of the young girls, and feeling conspicuous and self-conscious sitting there alone, I left. I was wearing a new light lavender chiffon dress with a black velvet sash and, except for my hair, I thought I looked well groomed. I went alone to the rail ouside my cabin, and as I stood there watching the moonlight on the water, a shp's officer joined me with the words, "I could never fall in love with you." He was immaculate in his white uniform with two and a half stripes on his shoulders and had a pleasant smile. Thinking that my slip was slowing or that he objected to my haircut, I asked him why, and he replied simply, "Because you are a brunette, and I like only blondes. My wife and five children are blondes." I was relieved. But we chatted for only a brief time as he was on duty, and my loneliness deepened. The ship seemed deserted as almost everyone -men and women alike- were seasick. Captain Mauldin's fourteen-year old son was making the trip with him as far as Los Angeles.The executive officer was Glenn Howell, & the senior doctor was Norman Roberts.One deck officer was Ben Shinn, who was later Jack's Executive officer on the CLAXTON & lived with his wife in the apartment house next to us when we were at 7l00 Hampton Boulevard. The paymaster was Lieutenant Cook.Immediately after sailing on the morning of August 20 going south at about Longitude seventy-four degrees West in the Atlantic Ocean en route to Haiti the sea was rough,& a woman from American Samoa, wife of a Navy Lieutenant,could not finish her breakfast because she was already seasick. Dr. Roberts, the senior medical officer, told me his wife & five children lived in Coronado near San Diego, California- that he once had duty in Guam- where even a Naval officer could save money -because there was nothing to spend it on there & that he had met his wife in Philadelphia & was looking forward to seeing them later in the voyage. I was uneasy about his intense interest in me, but my sense of humor came to my rescue. HAITI We approached Haiti on Saturday night when all the lights of Port au Prince were on. I believe the port of Haiti that evening from the ship was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen.On Sunday morning the passengers were going ashore, but I hesitated to go in a strange country & stood at the gangway until Dr. Roberts came along, said he was going to church & invited me to go with him.Haiti was my first time on foreign soil.After the service we walked through the native market- then Dr.Roberts called on a Marine family there & we were invited to stay to lunch in a white stucco house called "Sans Souci." PANAMA CANAL Our next stop was Colon on the Atlantic side of the canal where we stayed overnight, because the HENDERSON was scheduled to make an early morning transit through the Panama Canal.We saw a little of the night life in a few bars but spent very little & drank no liquor.While the ship was going through the canal the next morning from the Atlantic to the Pacific I was glued to the ship's rail, fascinated by the process of filling the locks & raising & lowering the ship.Dr. Roberts,who had transited the canal several times, was tireless in explaining the whole process to me.Strangely enough even though Jack had duty based in Balboa, Panama on the HANNIBAL in l934 & l935& although I made two round trips to the Pacific side of the Canal in those years I never again went through the Panama Canal as I used the train to cross the Isthmus of Panama to Balboa & Panama City.As in Colon we spent the evening seeing the night life of Panama City but returned to the ship early.The next morning we left for Nicaragua.-- After many passengers got off in Panama, I had the cabin to myself all the way from Colon to Chingwantao on the north China coast.Since the HENDERSON needed twenty feet depth of water, she could not go to Tientsin, where the Hai Ho river is very shallow.CORINTO, NICARAGUA A few passengers, including me went ashore in Corinto, Nicaragua but stayed only a short time because of intense head & glare of the sun. CALIFORNIA, HERE I COME Most of our remaining passengers left in California.Dr. Roberts arranged for the band to serenade me one evening as I entered the dining hall with the Al Jolson favorite, "California, Here I Come." We arrived in San Diego just after dinner.Mrs. Norman Roberts came to the ship to take her husband home.The next day Dr. Roberts said he had his car on the dock because his wife Dorothy had invited me to their Coronado home for dinner that evening.She wanted to see the young woman who dared travel alone from New York city to Chingwantao,halfway across the world.It was wonderful to be in a real home with five attractive children. I would myself live in Coronado l938-9.At San Pedro I rode into Los Angeles in Admiral Thomas Washington's gig & later returned to the ship in one of the HENDERSON's small boats.Admiral Washington was on duty at San Pedro, came to the HENDERSON in his gig,& when someone told him I was travelling alone half way across the world,he offered me a ride to Los Angeles- so I had a chance to see a city which I returned to several times in my Navy life. MARE ISLAND + YOSEMITE With very few first class passengers aboard we arrived at Mare Island,the shipyard of San Francisco, where the HENDERSON was scheduled to remain for two weeks for overhaul.I went to San Francisco from Mare Island, saw the city by bus & for the first time tried a seafod called abalone.Dr. Roberts & two Naval officers stationed at Mare Island were going to Yosemite Park for one night & two days. They had a drive-it-yourself hired car.We arrived toward evening of our first day-got accomodations for dinner rooms & breakfast at the Ahwahnee Hotel & I remember the wonderful show of stars that night. I thought El Capitan & Half Dome were impressive,but the men were disappointed because the waterfalls were dried up at that time of the year. I purchased a handcolored souvenir photo of Bridal Veil falls with a footpath and tree in the foreground. We saw the tremendous sequoia trees,& I was glad I had joined them [-(p 212) for an inexpensive trip away from the noise of the workmen and the smell of the fresh paint.ACROSS THE PACIFIC. I learned to play shuffleboard with the ship's officers, who also taught me Russian bank, a card game, and Acey Deucey, the Naval variation of backgammon. Finally the ship was ready. Some new passengers came aboard, and we sailed for Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii.As we left the Golden Gate, the Pacific was rough, and to my amazement I was seasick. Very suddenly as I stood at the rail, I lost my lunch into the Pacific Ocean. Only once more was I ever seasick - during a typhoon between Manila and Hong Kong.Like Jack, I was an excellent sailor. LETTER HOME 6 OCTOBER 1930 When we neared Honolulu, I wrote my family a letter, "10: A.M. Monday 6 October l930 Dearest Family,To-morrow at noon we are scheduled to arrive in Honolulu where Dr. Roberts and I intend to swim and to drive around taking in all the sights. He is a great old playmate, and I,m glad I found him.--On my birthday last Saturday, it was such fun way out at sea to open the birhday cards which Esther and Babe and Geetter so thoughtfully sent to me.They are nice cards - every now and then I read them over again, stopping to dream a bit about home and each one of you. I had Ben in mind on the first of October, and several times on that day -2- I read his grand letter and hoped that all was going well with him. November belongs to Sis, Babe, Abe and Isie - I'll not forget that no matter where I am or what I am doing.--Life on board is very peaceful- we have settled down again into a well ordered routine since leaving San Francisco last Tuesday, the 30th of September. Now at 10:15 in the morning most people are sitting out on deck in the large wicker chairs- some just gazing out to sea -some talking- some reading and others, like myself, writing letters.Breakfast is long since over.I had orange juice, hot cakes, and coffee.By 8:30 I was out on deck watching two men play shuffle -3- board - a game of good exercise played with sticks and round wooden pieces, which you drive onto a court marked with plus and minus numbers up to ten. The winning score is fifty, and you score whatever number is in the block into which you have shoved the round wooden piece.--As I was watching the game,some of my pals joined me. By 8:45 four of us were playing the game, laughing and carrying on until 9:l5 when we had "man overboard" drill getting out our life jackets and gathering on the lower deck.After that I still felt energetic, so I walked around the decks fourteen times (twelve times makes a mile- I did fourteen for good measure.)Then it was ten o'clock, and I decided -4-to put a bridge table up on deck in a quiet corner and write a letter home to my very dear family.--We lost a lot of older high ranking people at San Francisco where we took on passengers more nearly of my own age and rank.Now even I am pretty important, for we sit at table according to rank, and I am at Table Two.That's pretty good considering there are eight tables-I used to be at Table Four.--Funny thing - for a whole month, from Norfolk to San Francisco I had no sign of seasickness. However, the first day and a half out of San Francisco the sea was very -..." [remainder of letter apparently lost] PALI,MOONLIGHT IN KAILUA In Hawaii I went by a hired car around the Island of Oahu. The Kalanianaole Highway on the southeast coast was not yet completed, so we went by car across the Koolau Mountains over the Nuuanu Pali Road, had lunch at Kailua on the windward northeast coast, and returned to the ship for dinner.I thought of Jerome Kern's song, "When it's moonlight in Kailua, nights like these are divine."After dinner by trolley car we went to Waikiki,where we saw the new Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the Moana Hotel, and the famous Waikiki Beach by moonlight. At that time I didn't realize that I would live in Waikiki for six years during and after World War II, from l94l to l947.During the long uneventful trip to Guam we saw many flying fish- I stood in the bow of the ship watching them for hours. There were very few passengers now on the decks and in the dining room, and the orchestra had left us. MARINES.Most of the passengers were Marine enlisted men under the command of a colonel. I heard they were en route to Shanghai. I have a vivid picture of the Colonel, who was in charge of hundreds of young Marines, bound for the Orient: - As I stood at the rail in Hawaii the night the ship was in port, I watched two young Marine officers in uniform help that man step onto the gangplank, as the Colonel had had too much to drink. But he was stiff and straight and soldierly as he made his way to the deck supported by his Marines. again the last night we were in Manila, I saw him approach the gangway, again supported by two Marines. Quietly, without fanfare, he was hurried to his cabin, and very few observed the tragedy of his weakness for liquor. GUAM It was difficult to read on deck with the glare of the sun, but hot and dark in the cabin. The HENDERSON could not go into the dock at Guam, but I went ashore in a small boat with a few sailors going to Guam for duty.From Guam I sent a postcard to my father David Meranski.Dr. Roberts knew a lot of people in Guam, where he had had a tour of duty. One of his friends loaned him a car so that he could show me Agama, the capital of Guam. "SLOW BOAT TO CHINA" Sophie text: "One morning I was standing on deck near the officers' quarters talking with the junior medical officer when my friend came up and asked to speak with me in private. He told me not to touch the sleeve of the junior medical officer. Surprised, I told him I hadn't realized I had touched his sleeve, and also said I saw no harm unconsiously touching the man's sleeve. Whereupon he explained, "I don't want you to touch any man because I am in love with you." Stunned, I tried to pass it off, but he assured me he was serious and wanted to marry me after he had made provision for his wife and chldren. I decided to keep quiet in the hope it was merely a passing fancy. ..." "The ride to Manila was very smooth, and I occupied myself reading books about China that Jack had sent to me when I was in New York.There was a China Coasters Manual l927 and a text by Jesuit Father Leo Weiger and a French-Chinese dictionary.EMILY POST. I studied Emily Post's Etiquette text carefully, preparing for the formal entertaining expected of Navy wives. MANILA. At Manila I received a letter from Jack explaining that he would meet me aboard the HENDERSON at Chingwantao.He had asked a friend's wife Mrs. Eddie Smith, to meet me on the HENDERSON and show me Manila and entertain me for the day and evenng, and he would pay the bill.She boarded the ship as soon as it docked and was most gracious. But when I told my doctor friend that I would be going ashore with Mrs. Smith, he was hysterical and begged me to stay aboard with him that day and spend the evening in Manila. So when Mrs. Smith visited, I told her I had made previous plans for the day, and I sat around that hot ship all day. In the evening we went to the Army and Navy Club, but it was so crowded that we left and took a ride over the cobblestones of old Manila in a carametta, which is a carriage drawn by one horse. I did not see much of Manila that day but subsequently saw a lot of the town when en route around the world and home with Jack in 1932. I saw the Army and Navy Club that evening and saw something of old Manila from a carametta (horse and carriage).Florence Hilldring wife of Army Captain John Hilldring boarded the HENDERSON alone for the trip to Hong Kong, Shanghai,and Chingwantao.She planned to visit Army friends in Tientsin- to get away from the climate of Manila.She and the ship's engineer were friends of long standing.Florence "adopted" me, so I had a playmate for the rest of the trip. SHANGHAI.(see INSERT on page 38)in Shanghai Florence Hilldring took me to a shop where she had previously bought a white rabbits'-fur evening jacket, and I bought one at a small price.Pity the poor men who escorted me in Shanghai and in Tientsin when the white rabbits' fur shed onto their black Tuxedos or their Navy Blues.I threw the coat away after a New Year's Eve Party at the Tientsin Country Club.I liked that coat very much, but I threw it away when I saw white fur on Jack's dark blue uniform overcoat as he checked it at the Country Club. After we walked around Shanghai during the day, two officers from the HENDERSON took us to the French Club in the evening. JOURNEY ACCOMPLISHED - CHINGWANTAO + TIENTSIN The HENDERSON brought some new personnel for the TULSA - Ensign Brown and a few sailors and marines. Two weeks after my arrival at Tientsin I received a letter written by Dr. Roberts my naval officer friend on the HENDERSON. He had met Jack, but they failed to become friends. Eloquently he poured his heart out telling me that we would be married when he could make provison for his wife and children. Of course I realized thast he was influenced by my youth, by the romantic moon, stars, tropical countries visited, and that I must keep my head and steer clear of the rocks of disaster. So I reluctantly tore the letter to shreds and made no reply. Never did I hear from him again, but I sorrowfully read in the Army-Navy Register about 1939 or 1940 that he had passed away from tuberculosis leaving a wife and five children. His duties on long sea trips must have been a great strain on family life. [Next CHAPTER is "LIVING IN THE ORIENT 1930-1931 TIENTSIN + GUNBOAT TULSA"] JOHN BARRETT notes JOHN BARRETT from December, 1998 E mails to my classmate Peter Nathan now a dean at University of Iowa based on 1980s letters of Sophie to Mount Holyoke College friends: Sophie wrote down a number of experiences of a romantic-or-harassment nature, of which the most serious occurred in the later part of this trip aboard the big Navy transport HENDERSON, where the ship's doctor after they started out from Virginia told my mother "I could never fall in love with you. I only love blonds. My wife and my five children are all blonds." At first he was pleasant company, escorting my mother ashore at Port-au-Prince Haiti - very beautiful harbor by night, and I think they attended church - then several stops in Panama - Colon is on the Atlantic, and Balboa at Pacific end of Canal Zone - she visited some depressing bars which are mentioned in the letter to the Mount Holyoke College history librarian Mrs. Trehub-then Corinto, on Pacific Coast of Nicaragua was pleasant though hot. She had lunch or dinner with the doctors wife and some or most of the five children at San Diego, and at Los Angeles she was "piped" ashore in the admiral's "gig" (small boat). Many of the passengers left at these stops, and the HENDERSON stopped for overhaul at Mare Island on northeast edge of San Francisco Bay north of Berkeley-Oakland. While there a group including the doctor and my mother visited Yosemite Valley, staying at the famous Ahwahnee hotel. My mother purchased a handcolored souvenir photo of Bridal Veil Falls, with a footpath and tree in the foreground - this hung in my West Roxbury room many years until l993 thefts. Yosemite Falls was dry at that date September l930, as often happens - I think it was toward the end of September. My mother ordinarily is a good sailor, but one of the few times in her life she was seasick and threw up in unusually stormy weather just west of San Francisco. After Honolulu the doctor began to get romantic - the further west the ship got the more romantic he became, talking of divorcing his wife and marrying my mother - do you remember the 1940's song "I'd like to get you on a slow boat to China"-? that was the situation.Passengers sat by seniority, and on this part of the cruise my mother sat with relatively high-ranking officers. At Guam she mailed a cheerful postcard to her father David Meranski, who had disapproved of her marriage to a Gentile - said she was throwing away her education and career. By Manila she was hiding in her cabin. The doctor attempted to use X-rays to remove a large mole on Sophie's left wrist, but it was irritated by the treatment, and she subsequently had it removed surgically. She heard he died of tuberculosis in 1939.[John Barrett re-creation of 1980s letters to Ruth Peck Doyle, Clara Michal, Marion Lewis Smart, Becky Smaltz and 1923 classmates ] [ CHECK if remainder is in GREEnWICH VILLAGE chapter] Insert from page 197 probably in chapter two] He told me about the vicissitudes of the service for the wife of a Navy line officer, saying he liked the life at sea, but that frequent separations were hard on many wives and that he had seen the marriages of some very fine Navy line couples on the rocks, principally because the wife had to make so many adjustments.If she had a profession or a job, she couldn't readily follow him from station to station, and if she gave up her job, she had too much leisure. Also if she refused invitations to social events when he was at sea,the Navy wife suffered intolerable loneliness. He warned too that Naval officers pay was very moderate and that his expenses for white uniforms and for blue uniforms were prohibitive.. Even more important than any of these causes was the uncertainty of the line officer's promotion and his ultimate retired pay.But he did say a Navy wife could have a lot of fun and adventure if she had the right attitude and zest for adventure.
Subject: Sophie Meranski Barrett {S}on transportHENDERSON