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


John Robert Barrett 1892 Christmas presents to Buckley children Melrose
p 53-1070 of website p 185 of John Robert Barrettt account book for years 1890-1894 with entries of personal expenditures including Christmas presents for mother-in-law Mrs. buckley and nephew Fred and nieces Frances, Gertrude, Kate Buckley. ++++Letter from Rebekah Geetter August 25,l970-92 Fern Street,Hatford Connectict Dearest Sophie & John, 8:30 in the morning We all went off on our yearly summer vacation for a week up in the Belgrade Lakes region of Maine fishing, swimming & spending a good deal of time in the rowboat on the lake.Now it's "back to the salt mines' again,but the change of pace was just great.On contacting the Bureau of Vital Statistics here I learned that Mother & Dad were married on August 8, l890 here iin Hartford by a Rabbi M. Elkins.Mother was 20 years old, & Dad was 24..The original spelling of the name at the time the marriage license was issued was David Merenisky & Tally Goldfield.The spelling of the last name on the mariage certificate signed by the Rabbi is shown as Meirinski,which is slightly different from that of the marriage license.Dad was shown as having been born in Russia & Mother in Austria.We have no way of determining what Mother did before she was married since all her contemporaries have passed away.It is entirely possible that she helped some of the local tailors & in that way might have been introduced to Dad.There are no records of (her brother Jacob Goldfield but I think he was a few years younger than Mother & of course always lived at our house (25 Morgan Street, where Hartford directories indicated he remained with a group of tailors after David Meranski & family autumn l9l6 moved to 4 Wooster Street..He spent his late years as a resident of the local Hebrew Home for the Aged (then on Washington Street,,later Tower Avenue).In Maine Geetter,Sis (Esther) & I occupied a cottage.David,Joan,Darya & Erica were nearby.Geetter's brother Nathan & his wife Lillian had a cottage,& Joan's mother (Mrs. Trouboff occupied a fourth cottage.Albert,Millie,Joshua,Adam & Thora will go to Martha's Vineyard the week after Labor Day.Note by John Barrett There was a large exodus from Russia in l882, when David Meranski was seventeen years old.He may have lefty Brest (Litovsk) at this time -he spoke of Odessa, where he may have lived for a time or passed through in route to Turkey & Egypt. Pete Meranski's father-in-law came from Odessa probably l890's for foot surgery in Baltimore. His wife was born in Baltimore. They lived with Pete,Jen, Deborah, & Danny on Dolfield Avenue Baltimore,where I saw trhem September l960.One of Jen's aunt lived there also.Brody was the site of an American mission to aid Jewish refugees from Russia in l882- it was in Austrian Galicia near the border.The Geetter family emigrated from Stryj, Lemberg province Galicia after their eldest son Isadore was born January l902. Letter from Rebekah Geetter "Thursday afternoon September 3,l970 92 Fern Street,Hartford Connecticut 06l05"Dearest Sophie & John- I called the Hartford Public Library & learned that Pa was listed in the l890 directory as having a business address at 8 American Row in Hartford (listed as tailor) & living at 224 Front Street.There was no information as to who he boarded with at the Front Street address before he was married.There is no information at all about Mother,but it is very posssible she lived with the Meisselman family on Charles Street before she was married.Both Sis (Esther) & I recall that Mother came over on the ship with a Mrs. Meisselman,& it was under her wing that both she & "Yonkel"(her younger brother Jacob Goldfeld,who was resident of Hebrew Home in l930) made the voyage.The 1890 directory lists a Solomon Meisselman at 46 Charles Street,which as you might recall was in the same East Side neighborhood as Front Street.The whole East Side neighborhood has been demolished for redevelopment & is now called Constitution Plaza- a large complex of insurance buildings,banks, Broadcasting station & elegant shops. That shoud answer your feeling of curiosity about her crossing the ocean at such a young age,especially with a handicapped young brother.(Note by John Barrett l998: Fire destroyed immigration records for New York for this period-Ellis Island opened l892 Meiselmann descendants in Hartford l970's included bankruptcy judge Saul Seidman & Mrs. Silverberg -both family friends, who relected the Meisselmans were from Brody Galicia, as were other friends, the Witkowers, who came over in April l890 = the older Witkower boy was born in Brody, but his younger brother, Rose Rosenblatt & was a publisher at Witkower Press was born in Vienna -he published a book on nutritional value of cod liver oil- Mrs.Witkower sent us a copy in l974.)-Sis remembers visiting with Mrs. Meisselman on Warren Street when she was a young girl (before either you or I were born apparently).Warren Street is several streets away from the Wooster Street area,& is now part of a slum clearance project.As you can see, Hartford as you knew it is fast changing,& many of the streets are no longer in existence.Sade Meranski (Mrs. Harry Meranski) is at the Hebrew Home for the Aged. I talked with Minnie Deutsch a couple of days ago (Sade's older sister),& she said that she and"Sister"(Pearl Meranski,daughter of Harry & Sade) visit with Sade practically every day.Sister lives alone but as you know has worked many,many years in the printing (later photo laboratory) department of the Travelers Insurance Company.Minnie's address is 11 Miamis Road, West Hartford, Ct. I learned from her that the Rausch company where Arthur (Lieutentant Colonel Arthur Meranski retired from Army l967 after 28 years service mainly tanks -Normandy invasion l944 & Inchon landing Korea September l950) works is in Columbia, Maryland. That's all the address she had.Also Arthur's home is in Aberdeen, Maryland,& she thought mail would reach him there.Incidentally I do know that Harry's birthdate was May 20,l89l.Perhaps Minnie could tell you when he & Sade were married.I know that he was serving in the Army at the time during World War I.As for Pa's remarriage,I think it was either l926 or l927, since Mother died in September of l925.He married Mrs. Anna Adelman, a widow with two children whose names were Rachel -about 8-eight& Eva about eleven.(Two grown boys did not live with the family).Pa kept the store till about l930, when he quitclaimed the house & store to the bank,since he was unable to keep up with the mortgage payments.His tenants were shiftless & unreliable,& it was torment for him to try to collect the rents.Anna was always out of the house tending to her business of credit buying (her customers would charge merchandise to her account & then she was always out collecting from the on installments.He minally moved out & went to live with a friend of his,Mr. Fishman (8 Magnolia Street).We helped to pay for his board & room & what little he needed for clothing.He left everything in the house at #4 Wooster Street for Mrs. Adelman to do with as she wishes, &I guess she sold everything=even our cherished red plush album which had pricelesss pictures of Pa in his fez in Turkey.& other memorabilia of Pa & Ma.In June of l929 I moved out of #4 at the time of my marriage.After about l93l for two years before his death Pa lived with his friend Mr. Fishman & spent considerable time with Sam & Bee (Pollack) in Philadelphia.A trip to Baltimore to attend the birth of Pete & Jen's first son Arthur resulted in his catching (lobar) pneumonia,& he passed away at the New Britain General Hospital on March 29,l933.(Ben & Abe's friend) Julius Aronson is doing very well,& I understand his (cataract) operations have been successful. I talk with him over the phone practically every week.I do know that he & Abe & Ben used to go to the Good Will Club Camp at Lake Terramugus in Marlboro,Connecticut & spent many happy summers there. You will recall that Mary Hall & her brother (I think his name was Bill) founded the Good Will Club for Boys in Hartford, & that many of our leading citizens in the community were at one time members in their youth.I must get off now & fix something for dinner this evening or I'll probably be ruled out of the party.Stay well-hugs & kisses from all. All our love.-Babe."(Abe Meranski stated his father David Meranski was born in Russia,March,l865-buried Zion Hill Cemetery.) ++Mollie Aronson information received Oct 4,l973 =written Oct 1 Julius's [Aronson's] brother who married Catherine Cooper was Sam. Died many years ago. Meyer only one left at eighty-one. Lives with a son in Hartford. "You mentioned Mrs. Witkower in your letter, and they had a bookstore on Asylum Avenue. St. Mr. Witkower passed away, and she lived on the next street to us, and now lives in California with a sister. Mrs. Witkower is Charlie Rosenblatt's sister. I also knew the Meiselmans girl and the Seidmans from Sunday school. Saul Seidman is an attorney and his mother passed away a short time ago. Thought you might like the enclosed pictures taken at the Shack and you would know some of them like Celia, Rosenblatt, Charlie Rosenblatt, Jack Noll, Dora Johnson and Julius. When Julius and I were in Florida one year we spent the day wuth Teddiee and Aleen and their children and had a nice time. Can't imagine that they have married children. Julius and I went to their wedding at the Bond Hotel. Of course I knew Abe and also Ben and Charlie rosenblatt and Julius owned the Shack on the river at Windsor and had many good times there. Yes, Babe is a wonder and she does so much and has such a large house to take care of and is always the same. I saw Albert recently, and he looks good and both he and David have nice practices. Julius used to get such a kick when at the hospital and Dr. David, Dr. Albert, and Dr. Isadore Geetter would come in to visit Uncle Julius. I knew that Harold and Ava had bought a home in West Hartford and were staying with Babe. Now they are in their own home. I knew that Bee and Sam had gone to Boston to a bar mitzvah and had gone to visit you.They both look good, and I saw them last year when I was in Florida.They drove up to see Babe and family from Great Neck and tried to call me.I think I was at my sister's home and missed them. They love being in Florida and have a lovely apartment. Guess Julius used to call Bee(looks like) Mrs. Vanderbit, and she always looks stunning and is so bubbly. I stopped by to see Babe,Esther, and the doctor oon Saturday to wish them a Happy New Year-and all look good. I also took your letter along for Babe to read. We keep in touch with each other and speak on the phone each week. (Oc l,l970 Separate item. -, PO=Oc 8, l9l5 JBB postcard to Bill - Wa never mind about the Remsen's Must get a later edition.- ... Rear Adm & Mrs. Williams invited Barrett to a tea for the War College class of l924 Friday July 6, l923 Dec31'73 Rose Rosenblatt Witkower letter to Sophie Mrs. Rose Witkower 14 Regency Drive Bloomfield Connecticut 06002 - "Shalom Monday December 31, l973 My dear Sophia- Your letter came as a golden nugget today, a cold blear December day.for it brought back to me a rush of memories of days that were priceless- Days when one never heard of welfare- the poor- housing or all the other dismal "isms."for we lived in the midst of all of them and still found that all was Good.How vividly you wrote of my dear mother-in-law Saura Witkower. I wish I had the sense of value then as I now have for if I had been more patient and interested, my mother-in-law would have told me all about her experiences in Europe and in America.But I a busy mother of two children had no desire or time to listen.'Twas the same when my father a Civil War Veteran tried to tell us about some of his experiences suchg as when he became Representative of San Francisco, California in l879 Legislature and the arrival of the Jewish people in Hartford- but we were not interested.How well I remember the many, many times my mother-in-law went over to see Mrs. Meranski- wher3e she knew she would find a kindred soul who loved her and would listen to her chatter-there in the brick housae on the corner of Canton and Wooster Street.She would be served with home made chicken soup,with fresh noodles, a pice pof chick and szimar and of course tea and kuchen.Hundreds of times - and what love she received from the whole family- the children eagerly waiting for the peppermint lozenges she took from her handbag.- and your Mother- how I remember the day I drove my mother-in-law to your home.She prevailed on me to go upstairs to say "hello" to her dear friends.Up I went and was rewarded with such a gush of love that it warmed the heart of an American girl who was losing the warmth of expressive love. Then we had tea-in--a-glass and butter coffee-cake.As I looked around the room I saw a number of children - her's and neighbors' children.That must have been about l9l5 (actually after Meranskis moved to Wooster Street autumn l9l6).The joy of her eyes sparkled when she spoke of her daughter Sophie who was going to graduate from high school and go on to college.Well, that was something that keenly interested me.Learning was my goal, and thus far I had only received seventh grade schooling.My mother-in-law kept me posted on your achievements- as proud of you as if she was your Mother.Mrs. Meiselman was a small, very active woman who helped her husband in their small grocery store.A finer person never lived.She gave to everyone who needed help;So did her children. They adopted my mother-in-law as their own.Not blood relations.There were two boys born to my mother-in-law.As I remember the story, she married a man who worked in a bank in Vienna.I believe she was born in Brody, Austria.That name rings a bell.Am quite sure thast your mother was not born there (?) They may have met on the boat coming over to America, and my motrher-in law took care of her after they landed.I called Jennie Weinstein to find out what she knew, but she knew nothing.She sends her love.She told me of meeting your dear family - hopes you all are well.Israel Witkower (ROSE'S HUSBAND) was owner of a bookstore for fifty years on Asylum Street - formerly Warfield's.He started as an errand boy- later became the owner. am sure you traded in the store. Israel spoke very highly of the Meranski family. Charlie Rosenblatt (Rose's brother) told me much about the summer house down near the river.The gang had much fun there.He dearly loved Ben.We have two children - Irma and Bernard (Witkower).- five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.Thank god! Israel was born March 27,l889 - passed away on September 2,l968.- After spending four extremely happy, restful years in lovely Leisure World, California, a perfect community for Seniors, on my eighty-fourth birthday I decided to return home - West Hartford- to be close to my children.I have a very cozy three room apartment just a five minute drive from my daughter Irma, wife of Dr. Albert Reiner Deulert SPELLING??? Deutcib? Sorry I could not give you more information, but I am sure your dear mother was not born in Austria(cum granu salis). Thank you for the interesting letter. May God bless you- Yours - Rose Witkower. Sophie Barrett note l974 "Charles Rosenblatt married Celia Weinstein - Esther's chum." Postcard from Rose Witkower : received Feb 26, l974 (recommended book): Hartford Jews 1659-l970 by Rabbi Morris Silverman - mentions Capital City Lodge #119 - 1900 David Meranski Treasurer. Dr. Geetter's picture and factual item is in this book on page 351(John Barrett note July l998- Rose Witkower's recollection of Sophie's mother at Wooster Street is of great interest, but she clearly did not know whether Thalia Goldfeld Meranski was born in Vienna or Brody, Austrian Galicia, now in Ukraine. In Boston l970's Sophie and John spoke with a widow Celia Goldfield of Milton (employed at Jordan Marsh Boston)- Celia's husband was from Rovno on the same railroad line as Brody. Goldfeld or Goldfield is not a common name, but I found about thirty in a survey of telephone directories of larger American cities.On Portland Street, Hartford l909 accoring to directories a newly arrived Goldfield family lived near the Meranskis for about a year. Any connection is unknown.Sophie said her mother's parents were deceased when her mother came to Hartford along with her younger brother Jack, who was hard of hearing, worked as a tailor, added a letter i to his name changing from Goldfeld to Goldfield l9l6. if directory is accurate. He lived at 25 Morgan Street with Meranskis l9l0-l9l6 and stayed there according to directories for several years when they moeved to Wooster Street late l9l6. He was a resident of Hebrew Home l931 accding to directory.It was the custom to name children for deceased relatives , so Thalia's parents Abel and Bertha Goldfeld in Austria would have been deceased when their grandson Abe was born l896 and granddaughter Bertha July 23, l898.
Subject: Chritmas presents
Year: 1892