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


Sophie Meranski Barrett with blanket at Court Hotel
p 53-1068 part of "CHILDHOOD & SCHOOLS chapter p 283 He attended the Gooch School in Melrose for the first grade and probably for half of the second grade year. His recollection is that he transferred to the South Boston schools on Valentines Day, February 14, 1895 or 1896. Year 1895 seems probable because of the date of his father's second marriage, November 1894. Jack lived a short distance east of Spot Pond, Melrose,and remembered skating there as a child. His Buckley grandparents were very fond of him. His grandmother died in December, 1896, when Jack was eight years old, not long after his move to South boston. His aunts Minnie and Maggie continued to take an interest in his welfare. An ambiguity in the will of his grandmother created some consternation in his family. Sh left her piano and one hundred or one-hundred-fifty dollars to my grandson, John Berchmans Buckley." She probably meant her grandson John Berchmans Barrett, and the lawyer selected by Jack's uncle may have been responsible for the mistkae. Jack's mother is buried with her parents in Old Calvary Cemetery Boston, and the tombstone lists her as Catherine Agnes Buckley, though her married name was Catherine Agnes Barrett. The money went to Jack's cousin John Buckley, whose middle name was not Berchmans.Some coolness developed between Jack's father and the Buckleys. Minnie and Maggie continued to be among Jack's fondest admirers and gave him many books and presents in the period around 1900. They gave him many of the Henty series of boys' adventure tales, of which he was very fond. These include, "With Wolfe in Canada", "With Lee in Virginia", "True to the Old Flag", "The Lion of Saint Mark" and dozens more. Minnie also gave "Gulliver's Travels", "The Collier Encyclopedia", and natural history books. Minnie and Maggie also gave books to Jack's half-brother Bill, of whom they were fond even though he was not a relative of theirs. Minnie and Maggie worked at the Converse Rubber company in Malden. Jack's uncle John Buckley was a pattern maker in shipbuilding many years at the Charlestown Navy Yard. Jack last saw him in June,1921 when the destroyer TOUCEY visited the Navy Yard, with Jack in acting command. The younger Buckley cousins were very fine people, and I wish Jack had known them better. He saw more of his second cousins the Hartigans 284 than he did of his own first cousins the Buckleys, because the Hartigans lived in South Boston from 1890 to 1917. Mr. Hartigan was a newspaperman originally in Philadelphia and Baltimore. His daughter Gertrude was born in Philadelphia and his duaghter Mary [May] in Baltimore in February 1886. After a period in Roslindale he moved to the home of his brother-in-law John Donovan at D and Third Streets South Boston to reduce commuting to the boston Traveler on Newspaper Row downtown near Pi Alley when he developed bone tuberculosis, which killed his oldest sons Jeremiah and James. Jeremiah also had a football injury at Bsotn college. Mr. Hartign senior died in 1899. Around 1905 Jack Barrett became very friendly with James Hartigan, who was severly crippled but managed to work as a newspaper reporter at various times in Biunghamton, New york and in 1907 at Bath Maine. James died in 1912 but theirmother bornin Ireland 1852 and Gertrude, May1886 , the priest Father Edward 1889 and Law John 1893 all lived to good ages. = Father Edward Hartigan was attended Boston College High School and played football as a member of the Boston College Class of 1911. He then was appointed to West Point Military Academy and completed freshmen year 1911-12 as a member of the 1915 class, which included World War II Generals Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley and James Van Fleet. After the death of his brother James in 1912 he felt needed at home and resigned.He went to St. John's Seminary, Brighton, Massachusetts, and was ordained in 1917. He had early duties in Everett, then was pastor in North Weymouth for many years and appointed Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Everett 1953-1970. In 1920s he founded Cedar Crest camp at Green Harbor Marshfield on the shore shore originally for boys and girls of the Everett parish, but children from other areas attended over many decades of operation up to 1960s. It provided an affordable summer change of scene and chance to exercise and develop skills for children of many families of moderate means. His siters Gertrude and Mary usually spent the summer at Green Harbor, and during the winter while May was teaching mathematics at Washington Irving school in Roslindale, they would go down there for Wednesday supper. Gertrude and May and their mother lived at 80 Brown Avenue, Roslindale near Sacred Heart Church on Cummins highway. May often saw the Buckley cousins especially Gertrude and Alice in Melrose, who attended Father Hartigan's fiftieth jubilee in 1967.At the suggestion of Jack's aunt Minnie Buckley in February 1910, May visited Jack at the Revenue Cutter School at Arundel Cove, South Baltimore, where she remembered clamshells in the pavements. Lawyer John Hartigan and his wife and four or five chidren lived across the street from the camp. They were married in 1922, and John Hartigan was a lawyer at 8 Beacon Street in Boston until his death from lip cancer in 1963. Jack Barrett used to see him downtown and at Chelsea Naval Hospital. Picking up the thread of John Robert Barrett now that we have introduced some of his ancestors and devoted some time to his first wife's family, we may note that on being orphaned on the death of his mother in 1863, he preferred to live at the home of the baker Mr. Mchael Thompson at 640 East Seventh Street South Boston rather than go live with his aunt Ellen Barrett Mehegan on East Fourth Street near I St. Ellen had adopted his sisters Mary and Kate in 1862 even before the death of their mother, because she had contagious tuberculosis. Jack used to say there was some resentment of the children being taken from their mother, but it was probably necessary. Their landlord on Goddard Street, which became West Eight Street was Miuchael A. ring, dealer in junk, gunny cloth and paper, whose son Thomas was one of the founders of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Boston. There are indications he knew Mrs. Welch, sister of the baker Micahel Thompson. She and another sister Mrs. McGlinchy appeared in John Robert Barrett's family photo album, as did Civil War veteran George Varnum who lived at 640 East Seventh Street at time of 1870 federal census - he appears in civil War uniform in two photos. Others in photos were William S. Locke, the plumber to whom John Robert Barrett was apprenticed and his brother Ned Locke,plumbing inspector Cornelius Crowley, Sidney Bryant, couins Kate and Robert Mehegan, and a frined Wally Sweeney. Memebers of the Bukcley family also appeared and included Tom Buckley and one of the women relations in Milford, Massachusetts.John Robert Barrett's second wife Mary Lane was one of eight chidren.The family originated in Kenmare in southern Kerry, Ireland.Her mother was one of elevenchildren of the Lynch family.Mrs. Lynch had been a Palmer, and her mother Mrs. Palmer, had been a Sullivan-Christian.The Lane and Lynch families settled in thre Portsmouth New Hampshire area in the 1950s, and Jack's stepmother was born there, though some elder brothers were born in Ireland. The Lane famioy moved to 147 Grove Street, Melrose in 1886 and Mary Lane married John R. Barrett in Melrose November 1894.A letter by elen Lynchy give a good synopsis of the Lane and Lynch families. One of Ma Lane's brothers Tate was a very large and strong person who went to the Pacific and was killed on a island there atttempting some prodigious rescue of a team of horses from aditch.Several of the other brothers were plasterers in Melrose.A brother Bill had five children, - Myles, Francis, John, Bill and Eileen Lane. Myles played baseball for Huntington school played football and hockey at Dartmouth College 1926, played professional hockey with New York Rangers, for a time attended Boston College Law School, served in the navy in World War II, and is now a New York state judge. The other four remained in Melrose. A sister of Ma Barrett, Kate became Mrs. Kernan and had two daughters. My husband was very fond of the Lane family and frequently visited Melrose in his youth and knew John Lambert, a Lynch relative who was a newspaperman and advisor to Calvin Coolidge particularly well. The Lamberts were still resident in Portsmouth New Hampshire in the 1920s and 1930s.289 Jack attended Second and Third grade in South Boston and in fourth through ninth grades 1897-1902 attedned Frederick T. Lincoln School on north side of Broadway between I + K Streets where branch public library was located later.His teachers there included Vodisa Comey in the fifth grade with her distinctive methods of teaching the students to pound their chests at key points as they practiced elocution,Josephine Simonton, Principal Maurice White and master William E. Perry native of Chelsea- later principal also. Ed Illingworth of Emerson Street was a classmate of Jack's both at the Lincoln School and later at Boston Latin. He studied music in Europe with composer Ferruchio Busoni and was an organist, pianist, and teacher. His wife's name was York - she came from L st. The moved to 64 Hastings Street, West Roxbury about 1917 and were neighbors from 1947 to 1967. p 290 Jack received a Sunday School certificate about 1905. He tells a story of a teacher reciting, "God helps those who help themselves." and a student overheard remarking, "And God help those who get caught helping themselves." Jack attended choir but was expelled when his friend Joe Buckley was caught with Jack's water pistol. They both were considered guilty and explelled from the choir. Jack took piano lessons and gave a concert when hewa tne years old. The teacher advocated practicing with a stiff wrist and a coin balanced on top of the hand during practice. Admiral Dewey was something of a hero to the family. After 1898 they had a little book "With Dewey in Manila" which Jack liked. The familya lso admired General Benjamin Butler of Civil War fame and later Governor of Massachusetts 1883. After "General Butler's Book" was published in 1892, John Robert Barrett bought two copies of the book - one for himself and one for his brother-in-law John Buckley. =Jack had three or four formal portraits as a small child and another one when he was about ten years old.One picture is dated April, 1892 and cost $ according to theplumbing shop records. Two tintypes were made in the yard at 634 East Seventh Street around 1901. In one of these grandpa Barrett appears with his four children. in the other are Jack and hiss brother Bill. There are a number of good pictures of Bill, Mollie and Kate around this date. Then there is a 1902 portrait of the ninth grade class at Frederick T. Lincoln School with Jack and Ed Illingworth. At the Boston Latin School Jack appears in three photos, - the 1906 class as seniors, an individual portrait, and their 1908 dinner. -=The area in South Boston where Jack lived is now a densely buiilt-up area of housing. In his youth however, there were apple orchards and open spaces and only about five houses in the three blocks between Seventh Street and the water of the harbor to the south. Jack felt a very fine residential area could have been developed with proper planning to avoid overcrowding. #640 East Seventh Street was one of the oldest houses in the area, going back before 1860. The house next door at #642 was transported to its present site from another location on L Street to make room for a school near Fifth Street. For years it was the home of the Kinnaly family. Mr. Kinnaly was also a plumber, and his three children Edward, Dan, and Katherine Kinnaly were close friends of the Barretts from 1912 although somewhat younger. All through the years Katherine Kinnaly was one of Mollie Barrett's closest friends. Danny Kinnaly frequently visited us here in West Roxbury and visited Bill Barrett in Darien, CT. Eddie Kinnaly was a merchant seaman, away from Boston most of the time.The property at #640 had facilities for a considerable number of horses during Mr. Thompson's occupancy 1860-1902. When the Barretts finally moved to #640 from #634 in May, 1903, they made considerable additions to the house, enlarging it perhaps a third, with bay windows on the front and a new kitchen and rear steps at the back of the house. East Seventh Street runs precisely east-west, and the house is on the north - inland side. The downstairs flat was rented, and the Baretts occupied the second floor. Jack slept in a small front room near the front stairs in an area only partially heated. He studied there, and in the attic, which had two rooms, unheated.= Jack enjoyed handball at the old L Street bath house. He lived about [one-third] 1/3 block east of L Street, three blocks from the shore and Columbia Road.He and his friend Joe Buckley enjoyed rowing in a dory, which they jointly owned. A newspaper had a contest for a story to be entitled, "The Best Meal I Ever Ate" - Jack wrote up an adventure in which he and Joe Buckley had rowed for hours to get to a forest fire where they planned to volunteer their services for pay a long way from home. They had started out on the expedition with one nickel belonging to Jack, which he spent for a box of Uneeda biscuits. Joe Buckley got cold feet because of the length of the expedition and bcause his father would be furious. They were hungry and caught a fish, pulled up on shore, and cooked the fish over an open fire and ate it with the Uneeda biscuits. Then they went home. Apparently the big fire was put out without their assistance. When Jack read of the newspaper contest, he submitted his fish and crackers story and won the prize. = After Boston Latin Jack worked as a checker for newspaper deliveries for the Boston Traveler going around the city making sure deliveries were properly completed. He started in December 1906 and kept a notebook that lists his travel and all sorts of personal jottings such as football scores, swimming, addresses, and phone numbers. At some point he went swimming at L Street every morning for a whole year, winter and summer. Someone bet him that he would never make more than eighteen dollars per week.His father was not interested in having him work for the plumbing business, although Jack would have liked to learn the trade. At certain times Jack did work on bill collecting for his father. + In 1907 or 1908 Jack played a certain amount of informal football with a local South Boston group. In one of the games his neighbor and Boston Latin School friend Dr. Jim Moloney then only about fifteen years old fractured his collar bone (clavicle) but played the rest of the game. Jack broke his nose on one occasion but was told to"snuff it up." He also liked to play catcher in baseball until required to wear a face mask, which took all the fun out of the game in his opinion. He suffered several finger injuries as a catcher. He and Joe Buckley challenged all comers at handball and beat some well known players. As far as fights were concerned, Jack had two contradictory comments, - he sometimes said, "The little guy always gets the worst of it", but on other occasions he said, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall." I don't think he ever quite made up his mind which side was correct. He used to say, "It never ccurred to me that size was an advantage." At some point he worked briefly for Jordan Marsh Company but either was fired when they heard he made inquiry about employment elsewhere or else he quit one day planning to go elsewhere and was told the next day it was too late to reconsider.In 1912,after the Revenue Cutter School he worked for George d. Emerson Company wholelsalers. This was probably the place where he told of enjoying the smell of the coffee but quit for fear of hurting his back carrying the heavy sacks. Jack was the alternate candidate for the Naval Academy in his district one year around 1907. He had fully qualified for adission and expect to attend, when at the last moment the first choice candidate changed his mind and decided to accept the appointment. We recollect a story that Jack then went to see Congressman James M. Curley at his Fenway residence where he was treated with grat courtesy although Curley a member of the opposition party could not obtain an appointment for him. Around 1905 while a student at Boston Latin School Jack dated Helen Cochrane, who lived on East Fourth Street near the Manning sisters, who in 1960s-70s lived on Linnet St. West Roxbury and were active in West Roxbury Historical Society and remembered her. Helen Cochrane sent Jack Barrett the following letter in 1937 when he lived in Cynwyd: ........Notebook 4 p 61 "To Lieutenant Commander John B. Barrett c/o Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelhia, Pennsylvania -[from] 378 Columbia Road, Dorchester Massachusetts April 8, 1937 Dear Jack, I am sure you will be very much surprised to hear from me, and I hope not angry at me for writing. My mother has just passed away, and so I have been trying to straighten things out here. = While going through some boxes today, I found all the many pleasant letters you had written as far back as 1910 (my - I'm old). Mother had them all neatly tied and marked, and after reading some of them, I thought I would just drop you a line. = Trust you have been well and happy all these years. Sometime would like so much to say "Hello" if you ever happen to be in this locality. = With kindest regards and pleasant memories of a past friendship, I am - Sincerely, Helen P. Cochrane."
Year: 1931