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


#1208 p 70 John jr and Jack Barrett Winsall giant tomato plants West Roxbury 1948 H-O-M-E I-S T-H-E S-A-I-L-O-R
Jack Barrett had limited success with tomatoes in Waikiki, growing small "pear" and "plum" tomatoes that had to be enclosed in bags for protection agiainst insects. At 52 Emmonsdale Road, West Roxbury from 1948 to 1965 he had excellent results especially with three-pound red Winsall tomatoes and as related "Crystal White" variety obtained from Burpee and Breck seeds, now probably extinct. Conservation of plant species and varieties and agricultural-horticultural cultivars in a huge challenge. These home tomatoes were much more tender and tasty than store varieties. Tue, 16 Oct 2001 The Inga - Is your collaborator recent Harvard Ph.d? To: Cc:,,,,,, Dr. Bermingham - Your September 21, 2001 article on age of Inga genus and species interested me for several reasons. One is that I suspect your co-author is the same Christopher Dick is the same botanist I knew several years at Harvard, where he was researching Lecythidaceae the brazil nut family. If so and he is still near you in the Balboa area, please convey my greetings, and I shall try sending a copy of this to his old Harvard E mail to see if it reaches him directly. I also have followed the work of many tropical ecologists including Peter Ashton on dipterocarps and Otto Solbrig on Brazil ecology and many topics. I have been interested in Ledyard Stebbins's work on grass genetics and his debates with William Burger "Why are there so many flowering plant species?" and with Armen Takhtajan on the region from Assam to Fiji "cradle or museum?" Parenthetically, the molecular data favoring the extreme age of Amborella trichopoda of New Caledonia in one way supports Takhtajan's 1940s insight on the critical importance of Malesia-southwest Pacific, but on the other hand New Caledonia was in more southerly latitudes in the early Cenozoic, and Amborella is in the highest life zone of New Caledonia, so Amborella cuts both ways - New Caledonia is BOTH a CRADLE and a MUSEUM. I also was privileged to have an hour's interview with Ledyard Stebbins at Harvard libraries when he was about 87 years old. He stressed his belief in the importance of cytology and discuessed his work on Dactylis glomerata. Molecular data indicating neotropical Anomochloa-Streptochaete are the earliest branches within living Poaceae tend to support Stebbins's view that some of the earliest grasslands were in tropical portions of Gondwana that have become part of northern South America, where now-extinct unglulates browsed and trampled. Legumes are of great interest in their own right- outgroups are being clarified - the Allens did a lot of work on the root bacteria, and in some cases ectomycorrhizae have replaced the bacteria I believe. Polhill edited one systematic treatment, and I remember Jennie Chappill worked on legume cladistics with Peter Stevens at Harvard a few years ago. The age of Gletischia is noteworthy, while younger taxa like Robinia learned to conserve their pollen for appropriate pollinators in uplands where nutrients were scarcer. The trend to herbs and annuals and many other features make it a remarkable family, including economic importance and adaptation to dry habitats in Africa. From my childhood in Waikiki 1940s I remember glorious blooming shower trees Cassia, 'orchid-tree' Bauhinia, weedy 'koa haole' and rain-tree Samanea saman. So Inga is important in its own right. Michael Donoghue has been interested in the paraphyly of many tropical families such as Sapindaceae, which he believes should include temperate maples Aceraceae. Tropical climates have changed less than temperate and polar regions with the thinning of the atmosphere. Although you are Neotropical botanists, I am reminded of an interesting zoological problem in Africa, where a single species Orycteropus afer the aardvark is widely distributed over a seven-million square miles region south of the Sahara roughly forming a triangle -Cape of Good Hope in south - Morocco in west - Ethiopia-Somalia in northeast. A hundred years ago taxonomists were inclined to make subspecies and varieties, but the effort has been discontinued I think because they intergrade. I did some reading trying to figure out why the populations did not break up into separate species. One Explanation may be that a common ancestor of all populations is relatively recent - that they spread out when drying conditions and grasslands developed less than ten million years ago. I have been hoping molecular biologists might investigate what I have been calling the "three aardvark" problem - how far back to a common ancestor from the corners of their range? One difference is that in some areas there is one offspring a year - in others two -depending on rainfall and supply of termites and other food - perhaps genetic factors also. Most have very poor vision - though perhaps some populations might turn up that are exceptions. The vision of the ancestor might be of interest. The age of aardvark populations would contribute to understanding history of tropical ecology. Your article and the connected Richardson-et-al. report are of great interest. My father was a career Naval officer who in 1934-5 was Executive Officer of Survey ship HANNIBAL on west coast of Panama-Costa Rica, and my mother lived in Balboa those summers. Best wishes - John B. Barrett Harvard college 1957 - 113 West Third St., Port Angeles WA 98362-2824 USA Cassia varieties include:C. fistula - Golden Shower C. bakeriana (pink) C. grandis - Pink/Coral Shower C. javanica - Apple Blossom Shower C. javanica x C. fistula (white-yellow) C. leptophylla C. nodosa (Javanica) C. quinquangulata C. renigera C. retriculata C. siamea C. spectablis C. splendida C. surattensis (yellow) C. x nealiae - Rainbow Shower
Subject: JackBarrett's tomatoes WestRoxbury 1948
Year: 1948Winsalltomato