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


Sophie Barrett, Paul Kavanaugh, Bob Macdonald, Cliff Ronan at Roxbury Latin graduation 1953
June 1953- p 54#1074 NOTEBOOK IV-[p91] August 23, 1922 Hotel William-Wallion? Philadelphia [to] Miss Catherine Miley, Dorchester Dearest Catherine, My address will be 508 S. 44th Street instead of Ardmore. I liked Ardmore very much indeed, but it has now served its purpose, and I am moving back where things are more convenient. As for business matters, I have decided not to enter the brass foundry business. First, because to operate as we could, there wouldn't be enough money in it for the effort expended. Second, To secure equipment to operate in production - production machines would require thre times as much capital as we have. Third A study of the costs at the foundry I was to take over, and talks with people intimately associated with the business convinced me that to enter the business would give one the privilege of working for oneself as a moulder and earning a moulder's pay only. I talked with the President of the Ajax Smelting Company, the President of the Metal Manufacturers Association, and the head of a moulding machine manufacturing company, and they showed me by logical argument that under the conditions of competition found in Philadelphia - cutthroat in the brass game- I would save time, money, and worry by staying away. I could go on and show cost data to demonstrate the inadequacy of the charges possible with the competition,but the above is sufficient. But why did it look so favorable and everyone seem so enthusiastic- even people who were in a position to know - until these three men I struck at about the same time and who knew the game from A to Z? Evidently they [the others]did not know that due to the relatively small amount of capital required to enter the business, there are a large number of small shops, -seldom heard of- throughout the city and they are all out for business and will take it at almost any price. The head of Ajax said he did not know of any brass founder who had become rich from the business.While I was willing to dig in, I could not see moulding for the rest of my days. Everything considered, I concluded that it was best to stay out, even at the expense of ridicule, slams, and the like. But it hurt me and still does, for your sake, to give it usp. However, I know now that it's the best thing. Now, as to the future. I shall occupy my time with Crane Packing, who have been good enough to say, 'Come on'. But I have put out lines in other directions and shall hold out until they materialize. Under the circumstances you may do as you think best in this matter of the future. I had hoped this would settle me on my way and expected it would work out so we could be on our way together. I know now that it would not. While this was indeed discouraging,I'm not down yet and don't intend to be.As soon as this disturbance is over with and I get settled, I'll let you know how things stand for the future if you care still.- Most affectionately yours, Bill." {Not long before this Bill had helped Jack withdraw stock proceeds from Fuller stock investment company in May or June 1922. Jack was at sea on the MARBLEHEAD, and the brokerage was slow in paying out for a stock he sold. Bill went around and collected the check, so Jack avoided losing his money in the bankruptcy.] [p72] "Washington, November 11, 1931 [from] William J. Barrett The President's Commission on Unemployment Relief 1734 New York Avenue, Washington D.C. [to] Lieutenant John B. Barrett c/o Postmaster Seattle, Washington USS TULSA Asiatic Station Dear Jack,- I'm anxious to do anything possible to assure your making the grade on your promotion. I know that under ordinary circumstances there would be no difficulty, but this economy move struck me as a possible interference. I'm here in Washington for reasons I'll soon tell you, and I think I'm in a position to get things done. Senator Walsh of Massachusetts is on the Naval committee of the Senate. Tell me immediately when the time is right, and I'll see that there is everything done possible. Since the first of March I've been loaned by the Metropolitan to President Hoover's committee on unemployment. At first I was working under Colonel Woods, -now under Mr. Gifford, President of American Telephone and Telegraph Company. My job is to bring out any ideas which will make for greater stability of employment and for better future planning against such depressions as the present. I've had interviews with everybody worthwhile so it seems in the country - I had a fine talk with President Hoover - about twenty minutes in his office - then referred to his confidential advisor for a further thirty minute talk. I appeared before the LaFollette Committee of the Senate as representative of the president's committee. It's been lots of fun, and I've enjoyed every minute, although there's plenty of work trying to hold down two jobs. From the foregoing I'd like to see what we could do down here to be sure you get that half-stripe. I'll do anything you suggest. I'll go to Senator Walsh right away after hearing from you and tell him what we'd like done, and I'm pretty sure we can get it. If necessary, cable me the time when - at my New York office. Everything at home has been fine. They enjoy, as I do, hearing from you, and I know it would add ten years to Pa's life if we could tell him that you had made the promotion - besides everybody else is expecting you to make it. I'm back in New York for this week, and I'll close now and expect to hear from you soon. Regards, Bill" [John Barrett note: Jack consistently told Bill that the Navy resented any political efforts at influence on promotions or assignments, and that they usually backfired. Nonetheless, he appreciated Bill's sincere friendly intentions, especially as regards the possible effect on their elderly father. The issue came up again in 1938,when Jack was ordered to serve as Executive Officer on the tanker TRINITY, traveling to PHilippines and East Indies. Bill argued that it would be traumatic for their then eighty-three year old recently widowed father to be separated from Jack, Sophie, and his two-year-old grandson. Nonetheless Jack wanted sea duty and urged Bill not to interfere.] [p 66]postmark November 23, 1933 The Shoreham, Washington, D.C. [to] Lieutenant Commander John B. Barrett USS HANNIBAL Navy Yard Norfolk, Virginia Dear Jack, I received the Army-Navy tickets, and they are very good. I got tickets fort the Princeton game and went last Saturday. They were also excellent. Had a nice interlude after the game as Doug Brown a Princeton professor asked us to come to tea after the game at his home- just what you need after sitting out in the cold. Also, the nice box of candy arrived, for which I thank Sophie and you - here again I have no manners for not telling you long ago. I had planned to go to Boston after the Princeton game, but certain changes down here made it necessary to come back right away. I think I'll go up there this weekend after Thanksgiving. This work down here will probably end as far as I'm concerned about December 15. It's sure a merry whirl now, with lots and lots of activity. I want to get down to Norfolk soon and had hoped to before this. Last Saturday was the first I've had off for ages. Some Navy Lieutenant from your ship called me last night. I tried to tyake him to lunch, but he was apparently too pre-occupied. It's time to go to work. Regards to Sophie. Bill" [SOPHIE note: This letter seems to prove that Jack and Sophie went to Norfolk in the fall of 1933. We stayed at the Heart of Ghent Hotel in Norfolk- then lived in an apartment in Portsmouth, where Pa Barrett visited, also Mollie Barrett and Eileen Lane. At the Heart of Ghent we saw Bill Keester and Mrs. Keester of the Coast Guard, and visited them at their home in Norfolk soon after - then we moved to Portsmouth. On Christmas Day 1933 we were at 640 East Seventh Street, South Boston - stayed four days- and then were at Geetters' in New Britain New Years Eve 1933 and New Years Day 1934. We returned to Portsmouth the day after New Years Day. I remember stopping at the Shoreham in Washington to see Bill for lunch on our way down to Norfolk in the Buick in the fall. He had been loaned to the National Recovery Administration NRA by the Met and was offered a full time job in the Roosevelt administration but preferred to return to the Met.There was also a letter from Captain John Nelson at Boston Navy Yard to Jack on the HANNIBAL in Norfolk in the fall of 1933 and he sent regards to me. Captain Nelson was Jack's immediate superior at Boston Naval Shipyard 1932-1933.] [p34] New York City January 22, 1935 Dear Jack and Sophie, Sophie, if you'll let me know the exact silver you want, I'll get you quotations. My friend says that he can get the real inside at Gorham's, so all I'll have to supply is the patterns and quantities. I see by the papers that you all have arrived at your stations. I was home over the weekend, and the Times of Saturday announced the arrival of the HANNIBAL at Balboa. Everyone is fine at home. They are still talking of how much they enjoyed your visit- Pa is talking so much of Sophie that I think we have just cause to be jealous. Skippy was asking for you and semed to wonder why she didn't get more food from the seat against the wall at the kitchen table. I am enclosing [William] Perry's address [master of Lincoln school] but I know it's too late as Jack always rushes off and writes immediately about state troopers who rescue him in the rain - and why --- Perry's address is 49 Addington Avenue Brookline, Massachusetts, and he always was so fond of "Reddy". Shall I tell him to expect the letter? How is the Canal looking this year? Let's hear, but mostly, let's know how's everything. -Bill" [p53] to Lieutenant Commander J.B. Barrett USS CLAXTON c/o postmaster New York [from] Milwaukee August 11, 1936 Dear Jack, I've wired you from here today but wasn't quite sure where you'd be, so this letter. I'm on one of the U.S. Steel lake cargo boats - five hundred foot, carrying coal Detroit to Milwaukee this trip. I'm guest of Fred Erb of Detroit. It's been a beautiful trip and a wonderful vacation. Now - to get to the point. It is most important, if you can arrange it, in any way that Mr. Fred Erb get aboard the boat for the trip you are fixing for me. I'd like to have him along, and I know he'd love to go. He is the President of Eaton Erb Company of Detroit, an important subsidiary of the Eaton Manufacturing Company of Cleveland. He is a prominent citizen of Detroit and a great friend of mine.In fact, he is largely responsible for the success of the foundry survey - my first job with the Met, which I think had a lot to do with my getting known in the company. What I'd like to have is that he and I board the CLAXTON at New York Monday August 24, 1936 and go back to Norfolk and Annapolis with you. If at all possible, do this favor for me. If you get an answer before Friday, wire me c/o Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Group Division, General Motors Building, Detroit. I expect to be back there Thursday. I'm returning to New York Monday August 17. See you next week. Regards, Bill" [p 51]"July 1, 1942 Metropolitan Life Insurance Company William J. Barrett, manager Policy Service Bureau [to] Fourteenth Naval District Honolulu Hawaii, Dear Jack, I have been planning for so long to write you a letter that I am going to have to dictate it if I expect to get it to you soon. You will please excuse this. Today Mr. Frank Midkiff came in to see me at your suggestion, and I very much enjoyed my visit with him. He is an extremely well informed individual, and in fact he is well acquainted with a lot of my personal friends. We had all too short a visit. I had hoped that he could stay a little longer, but apparently having such a brief time in this country, he has practically every minute taken. It was interesting to hear that you have been asigned with Admiral Bagley. This must make it very pleasant for you. I was up home recently and found everything in good shape. Pa is holding up very well. In fact, I found him much better than I thought he would be in view of the apparent shocks which he suffered last year. He is naturally weak now and is very restive at the fact that he cannot do what he used to do, but under the circumstances I think he is in pretty good shape. We bought a house in Darien as I felt it was most advisable to hedge against what is to come and to know exactly where I was as far as the rental factor was concerned. This is not as large a piece of land as the other house, but has about an acre. It is a more practical house in many respects. I received your photographs and was very happy to see everyone looking so well. I learned tht your furniture is in Boston, and I understand that it is still on the pier, apparently there being no instructions as to what storage place to put it in. If there is anything I can do, let me know. Best regards to Sophie and John. As ever, Bill." [p.138] 1951 Metropolitan Life Insurance Company newspaper heading: William J. Barrett named Secretary picture of Bill in write-up.William J. Barrett, formerly Third Vice President was appointed Secretary of the Company on August 25th to fill the vacancy which occurred when James R. Herman passed away on July ninth. In announcing the appointment, the President said that Mr. Barrett will continue to head the Publications Division in his new capacity. He will also have responsibility for the operation and management of the Investigation Division, Filing and Tracing Division, Inquiry and Information Bureau, Mail Division, Supply Division, Transcription Division, Bronxville Hall of Records, and Kingston Hall of Records and will have Assistant Secretary Broadbent associated with him in the management of these units. In addition the Library, formerly under the supervision of the Health and Welfare Division will be transferred to the Secretary's office. Mr. Barrett joined the Company in 1923 as a member of the Policy Holders Service Bureau staff and rose to become Manager ten years later. In 1942 he was appointed an Officer of the Company with the title of Assistant Secretary. He became Assistant Vice President in 1944 and a Third Vice President in 1947. LAW OF WAR KELLOGG - BRIAND TREATY 1928 NUREMBERG trials 1946 Jack Barrett International Law study - Father Robert Drinan human rights leadership --- Nov 28, 2000 essay-by John Barrett -- AvalonProjectYaleLawSchoolNurembergTrials1945-6 To:,,, CC:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Add Addresses Copies for Paul Kavanaugh, Jennifer Geetter, Tom Walsh, Jerry Bresnahan, Hugo Pfaltz, Rev. Robert Drinan, S.J., Paul Beatty, Ross Holloway, Eric Madsen, Martin Hersey, and probably others-John Barrett I do a lot of military history with my classmate General Paul Kavanaugh U.S. Army retired,whom I visited Nov 12-16, 1999 in Fairfax, Virginia.My father twice took International Law courses - 1923-4 at Naval War College, Newport Rhode Island, and during 1951-3 in masters course at Northeastern Law School Boston, where Louis Sohn's World Law text was used and Nuremberg trials were discussed. In 1958-9 I took Harold Berman's "Comparison of Soviet and American Law" at Harvard Law School and the next year his International Trade seminar [where I did a paper on General Average inmaritime law.] In 1962 I was a reference librarian at Boston College Law School, where I looked up much material for then-Dean Robert F. Drinan, who has become a major authority on human rights and arms control and has written on Nuremberg - active in 1977 Helsinki Human Rights effort and in recent years at Georgetown Univerrsity Law School. -John Barrett From John Barrett some notes relating to Nuremberg War Crimes Trials 1945-6- I found some materials on the 1945-6 Nuremberg War Crimes trials on the Internet. "The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School" cites some early historical precedents from Vittoria, Grotius, Moser are of interest. I was especially interested in the bearing of the 1928 Kellogg-Briand treaties outlawing war -- they were generally ridiculed as ineffective when adopted and up to and through the World War 2 era, but they were an important basis of the legal theory of the Nuremberg trials and those in Japan. France and Germany had signed them, so lawyers for Nazi defendants could not plead ignorance. As my father was well acquainted through a family connection with President Calvin Coolidge's longtime friend and press aide John Lambert {Hearst newspaperman native of Portsmouth New Hampshire] - I was interested to find out whether President Coolidge had a personal role in the treaty--- one Internet source lists the Kellogg-Briand Treaty as a major accomplishment of his administration -- but another indicates that the initiative came from French diplomat Aristide Briand, who more or less circumvented American Secretary of State Kellogg, and made a direct appeal over his head to the American people - then popular opinion forced the diplmats to go along. Naval authorities felt that ship limitations were imbalanced, as the United States scrapped existing ships and was forced into bad designs for new ones while Britain and other powers simply promised not to build ships they could not afford anyway. However, the outlawing of war was a step toward modern theory. One drawback is that it deals entirely in terms of sovereign states, without looking at conditions for human rights within those states,and nationality-ethnic questions - in many regions of the world subject colonial peoples had boundaries forced upon them by European colonial powers without their consent - they were prepared to fight for change. Israel had a difficult time establishing its right to exist 1947 in the wake of opposition from British diplomats under Atlee and the American Secretary of State George Marshall- many African peoples are willing to fight to throw off borders established by colonial diplomats far away - Tibet was not consulted when colonial diplomats made it part of China now Chechnyans when they were lumped inside Russia. Native Americans and Canadians, and peoples of Brazil and Siberia were not consulted when their lands were swallowed by major 'powers'. Around 1889 Brazil had a very skilled diplomat who managed to annex a great many border peoples of diverse ethnicity who were not consulted. This may have been a lesser evil in conparison with the mass casualities of the Paraguay-Bolivia war. This is a rather quick E mail draft that may be revised - the Kellogg - Briand Treaty is a noteworthy event, but in 1980s and 1990s human rights within borders is being re-examined, rather than the exaltation of the absolute sovereignty of states. -John Barrett
Subject: Sophie Barrett
Year: 1953