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

 

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Forks players including Kurt Olson and Andrew Lamance life coach Scott Justus to cut down souvenir baskball net at Forks High gymnasium after vitor against Elma in final game of seaon, when they won South West Washington championship for schools in their size class [II]. Feb. 2000----- HAWAII i--On Sunday morning December 7,l94l I got up early hoping to go for a swim before breakfast.My next door neighbor Mr. James Needles (a Mormon with a wife Edythe a Christian Scientist from Wales) knocked on the window & told me Jack should proceed at once to Pearl Harbor as the Japanese had bombed the ships,& all service personnel were required to report to duty stations.Mr. Needles told me the bombing was at its height.An Army wife at #24ll Ala Wai Mrs. Means had a miscarriage that morning.A little later Gertrude Rice drove up in a private car.She lived near the Army Fort DeRussy.She said she was going to "the hills"&asked John & me to go with her.I refused, telling her Jack had gone to Pearl Harbor & wouldn't know where to find me if he came home safely.Then an Army jeep appeared,& the driver told me to stay in the house,not use the telephone, boil all water,& observe a six o'clock curfew & complete blackout as soon as darkness fell.Around dark Jack appeared in full white uniform with sword,gun & gunbelt with ammunition.Tears filled his eyes as he told me that professionally,as he had feared, the Japanese had done a superb job,crippling our battleships,killing our men,& destroying planes at Ford Island, & Army planes at Hickam Field & other installations.Jack repeated the fact that he had been "shut up" by the brass when he harped on the likelihood of just such an attack & the need for better Army-Navy cooperation.Driving to Pearl Harbor that morning Jack had to pass hot ashes where someone had been killed shortly before (possibly by antiaircraft "friendly" fire from American ships.)While I served his supper in complete darkness, he told me the ARIZONA was sunk with great loss of life- the OKLAHOMA was capsized- the WEST VIRGINIA & CALIFORNIA were hit & damaged-the NEVADA got under way but later met difficulties- the PENNSYLVANIA was hit in dry dock & badly damaged.. He became silent when neighbors came in, but they soon had to observe the curfew & go home.At curfew we put two cots together in our back bedroom & had John sleep with us there in the "Crack" between the cots.Jack went to bed when John did saying he would have the emergency duty at Pearl Harbor the next few nights & might get little sleep.About midnight I was startled when the telephone rang.I heard Captain Rice anxiously ask me if I knew where Gertrude was. I answered ,"Yes, she went to the hills."Of course he asked me what hill & to whose house she went,but I had no more information.He gallantly told me I had helped him & he would telephone everyone he knew who lived on a hill - Oahu was full of them-Round Top, Saint Louis Heights,Wilhelmina Rise, Pacific Heights.At dawn December 8 Captain Rice appeared, grey & unshaven,with Gertrude safely in tow.Since he would have duty for some nights to come,we arranged to have Gertrude occupy John's usual cot in the front bedroom = she would arrive just before blackout & leave before breakfast every morning.Jack left after breakfast Monday December 8 & I picked up a broom to sweep the living room while John was reading one of the Christmas books we bought the previous Saturday at Liberty House.There was a ring at the door & two men entered in civilian clothes.When one flashed an FBI badge,I almost passed out.He asked,"Does Walter Glockner live here?"Walter Glockner was my landlord who lived upstairs & had just returned with a large load of groceries.They went upstairs & took him off in their car,& I never saw him again until after the war.He was interned on Sand Island in Honolulu Harbor - the Hawaiian territory civilian courts held military governor Richardson in contempt of court for disregarding a writ of habeas corpus-the fine of five thousand dollars was never paid as President Roosevelt pardoned the governor- but Mr. Glockner agreed to spend the rest of the war years in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he wrote us frequently. He worked there as a brewer, returned in l945, swam every day at Waikiki Beach, & offered to give blood when I had surgery in May l947 before leaving Hawaii.We soon were outfitted with gas masks & required to carry them at all times.We also were finger printed,had our blood typed (mine was probably done wrong-my metal dogtag said "type O",but years later I found out I was type B.) We were vaccinated & given tetanus toxoid & typhoid shots.We had to turn in our money & receive bills marked,"Hawaii."Even five-year old John was fitted to a special smaller gas mask made at Pearl Harbor & had to carry it everywhere.We were no longer allowed our daily swim at Waikiki as the Army strung miles of thick barbed wire fence all along the beach with no entrance gates.Jack worked seven days a week & some nights without any holidays off-neither Christmas,New Year's Thanksgiving or any other day from the first day of the war through the last.We could no longer walk along the banks of the Ala Wai Canal for exercise,as the Army strung barbed wire the entire length.Barbed wire was strung in downtown Honolulu near the Academy of Arts on Beretania Street,where one rainy day my irreplaceable big black umbrella was caught by the wind,& a large hole ripped in it.I really believe that my umbrella was the only thing the Army caught in all those miles of barbed wire.I thenceforth got properly soaked in Honolulu's "liquid sunshine" as I walked a great deal.Jack became friendly with Riley Allen,editor of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin-Riley invited Jack to meet his friends & reporters one Sunday afternoon at their home on a steep hill.Several Sundays later Mr.& Mrs. Allen invited the three of us to have dinner with them at the Honolulu Country Club.Since Jack had to work,we met at 5:30 in the lounge,& Riley hurried us to the dinner table as the waiters & waitresses were all "enemy aliens" according to martial law.& had to be in their own homes by six PM.Young John refused to eat,on the grounds that he had not washed his hands.I tried to persuade him he could just use the knife & fork,but without being cross the childless editor calmly took the boy to the washroom, & they returned happily to eat their meal in lovely surroundings.They were neighbors of our friend Dr.Paul Withington and his ward Rose, whom he later married- Irish,Chinese, & Hawaiian. (In l990 she took John junior to visit the Administration Building where Jack worked & the site of their former home near Round Top & to lunch at the Honolulu Yacht club in which Paul was long active). After December 7 Jack's office was a very busy thoroughfare where requests poured in from the hospitals for evacuation of those wounded who could be moved,for the evacuation of outside non-residents caught in Hawaii on the day of the attack,evacuation of Navy & Army dependents & evacuation of some local civilians whose idea was to get out of there to the mainland. Jack's office had the tremendous job of sending Navy & Army personnel with orders to the forward areas of the war or to the mainland for reassignment.The lines of applicants were never ending.He had several very able assistants. Matson p.86 Navigation Company or from Castle & Cooke & worked as a Lieutenant as assistant to Jack.His knowledge of ships and of Hawaii was invaluable.From l943-5 Jack also had a young Lieutenant Martin Williams from Kentucky.In charge of the clerical force was a Chinese-American Wilfred Pang-Jack's right-hand man who relieved him of a great deal of the routine work.Secretaries Violet Ho & Blossom .. were under Pang's direction. Also there was a Marine officer present to take care of transportation requirements for the Marines.In addition to his office in the Pearl Harbor Administration Building,Jack had a downtown office for the convenience of women & children,as the rationing of gasoline & the crowded buses made it difficult for them to go to the Pearl Harbor office.The downtown office reduced the crush at the Pearl Harbor office PANG letter from Sophie Barrett l=notebook #4:"WILFRED S. PANG Executive Secretary State of Hawaii (John A.Burns governor)Department of Social Services -Criminal Injuries Compensation Commission-l390 MillerStreet-PO Box 339 Honolulu Hawaii 96809 August l4,l970 Dear Mrs.Barrett,This will acknowledge receipt of your nice letter of June 28th,which was forwarded to me recently. I am no longer with Matson Navigation Company-I left Matson in l966 & am now employed by the State of Hawaii.I saw an item in the local newspaper when Commander Barrett passed away.I am very glad you & John are preparing a family memoir of your experience.I went to work for the United States Navy in December l94l.However,I was not assigned to Overseas Transportation Office until April or May l942.Actually I was loaned to the Navy by my employer at the time,Castle & Cooke Inc.(General Shipping Agent).The Overseas Transportation Office handled surface transportation for the Fourteenth Naval District (Pearl Harbor).It was our responsibility to get personnel to their ship or station (command).In addition,we arranged transportation for dependents of naval personnel.Much of the work was of highly confidential nature.I was sort of an administrative assistant or right hand man to Commander Barrett.I coordinated activities & supervised the work of several persons-Robert Choy,who is employed by Castle & Cooke Inc, Violet Ho,& Blossom Anyong.Besides my office in Pearl Harbor, I also maintained an office in the Castle & Cooke building in downtown Honolulu. Lieutenant James Murray l94l-2 & Lieutenant Martin Williams l943-5 were assigned to the office also. I reported directly to Commander Barrett.The Commander demanded the best in a person.Because of my background & experience he entrusted me with most of the detailed work.We worked very closely & got along extremely well.I enjoyed working with him & had the deepest respect & admiration for the man.He talked to me about John often.I left Pearl Harbor shortly after thee end of World War II September l0,l945 to return to my civilian job at Castle & Cooke,Inc.My responsibility was to help reorganize the Passenger Department.In l947 I was transferred to Matson lines. I worked in the Booking or Reservations Division until l960,when I was promoted to Sales Representative.In this capacity I worked closely with airlines & travel agencies.In September l966 I joined the Mid-Pacific Insurance Agency,Limited, as an account executive.I resigned in May l968 when I was offered a job with the State Government.I am the Executive-Secretary-Administrator for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Commission,State of Hawaii.I manage the statewide program which aids victims of a criminal act.There are only six states with this type of legislation.The other states are California,New York,Maryland,Massachusetts & Nevada.I have an Investigator & a Secretary working for me,& I enjoy my work very much.Also the pay & benefits are good.Ever since l960 I have become deeply involved in community service activities.In l964 I was appointed by the Governor of Hawaii to serve as a Commissioner on the Commission on Children & Youth.The Commission is advisory to the Governor & the State Legislature with respect to any & all problems affecting children & youth in the state of Hawaii.I worked as Chairman of the Commission from l965-l969.I am now serving my seventh year as a commissioner.Under the statute the statutory maximum is eight years.Because of my interest & concern for children I have been asked to serve on many boards of private & public agencies.Among them are: Member,commission on Children & Youth,state of Hawaii=-Member of Board of Trustees,Palsina Settlement-Past President Honolulu Theatre for Youth -Past President Hawaii Eye Bank -Vice President & Director Waikiki Lions Club Vice President & director Big Brothers of Hawaii, Inc. Member of Task Force on Juvenile Delinquency- Law Enforcement Planning Agency, state of Hawaii -Director Hale Kipa Inc. (runaway shelter for girls- chairman of board Services to Girls) Blind Advisory Board. In addition I am an active big brother & spend weekends with two fifteen year old boys (twins).They are fatherless & live in low housing area.I also devote considerable time to the Lions organization. As past president of the Hawaii Lions Eye Foundation & the Hawaii Eye Bank I am deeply involved with programs for the visually handicapped.Some of my activities are glaucoma clinics,used eyeglass project,pre school vision screening program,eye bank, diabetes treatment center. I was awarded the LIBERTY BELL Award for the State of Hawaii in Conference on citizenship held in Washington DC in September.As a member of the YMCA I see Robert Choy occasionally.I have not seen Violet Ho or Blossom Anyong since I left Pearl Harbor in l945.Kindest personal regards to you & John.WILFRED S. PANG" Letter from Captain Harold F. FULTZ USN Retired July 29,l970:"8 Ridley Court,Glen Ridge,New Jersey 07028 Dear Sophie,Any people of any color who really mean business I am willing to help.I tutor black kids (age l4 to 40)-& it requires real study at age eighty-one.I am free for a week or two now & want to answer your two letters,which were quite nostalgic.I remember MARBLEHEAD Captain Miller well- I was later his Executive Officer at the U.S. Navy Ammunition Depot, Hingham, Massachusetts- and Alex Sharp (MARBLEHEAD "exec") was well known & greatly looked up to. The MARBLEHEAD was a relatively new ship,& a fine one.I was assistant engineer officer & later went to the cruiser OMAHA as Engineer Officer,where I remained over the usual tour of duty to repair her after her serious grounding on Castle Island in July l938.We eventually put her through a highly successful full power test & restored her in time for her to serve valiantly in the war.The MARBLEHEAD had a good baseball team largely because of an officer named"Shorty" Milner,who was almost major league stuff.Bumphrey was a supervisor at the Standard Oil Compound, Shanghai,& a good friend to us all.He introduced us to the Ashleys.If you look up Jack's civil war uncle in Somerville, New Jersey,come insured. It's notorious for auto deaths.I was Executive Officer of Republic-the big transport.We evacuated civilians from Honolulu.Some of the kids we evacuated had never worn shoes or even wanted to.One of my duties aboard was to play the piano in the large theatre space to quiet passenger nerves.Our warning to mothers that in event any child got overboard we would not stop was not exactly a happy prospect.Your husband,who was always able to see the real root of things,would have been amazed at the navigational problems of a hospital ship in wartime.Except in rare places all navigational coastal lights were extinguished,& we had to "grasp at a straw" to get around,because we were on the move day & night. Without forest fires, the moon &lightning we would often have been in difficulty.Off New Guinea is a passage known as the Tufi Leads (Leads means Range).A dozen times I ran it at night following very excellent range lights,which were never extinguished during the war.Finally I ran it in daylight & saw the angry,jutting rocks-& I've had a slight shake in my knees ever since,thinking of the disaster had I not followed exactly those lights.A range is a line to keep you on course by lining up two lights.-like two trees in the woods so you won't go in a circle.I've dreamed a sailing (small sailboat) back to Tufi with my wife to show her those rocks.It's only ten thousand miles as the crow flies,& a sailboat does not follow a crow.In the October 20 typhoon the COMFORT (hospital ship) came through by the grace of God. Forty nurses that night were scared to death,but not one even let their helpless patient(s) know it.Seventy craft were lost that night,I am told. My quartermaster shouted,"The barometer has reached bottom & has risen a bit. Best to you... Harold Fultz." _Another friend from TULSA days Commander Myron Thomas,was on Admiral Calhoun's staff, & through Jack he made arrangements for his wife & son to be evacuated on Christmas Day.He appreciated all Jack did to help & wrote to me recently that except for confusion on the dock his wife & son had a good trip on the Lurline. "I well remember he booked my wife & son for the LURLINE on Christmas Day l94l & I didn't see them again until Christmas Day l943.He enjoyed the reputation of being a good shipmate & always willing to help a fellow officer or enlisted man-Myron Thomas." Commander Thomas wrote that when he was on Admiral Calhoun's staff (Commander Service Force) he knew what a difficult time Jack was having trying to provide transportation with so little available space. "He performed his task in a most creditable manner & then with his tact,careful planning,foresight & diplomacy in dealing with many anxious wives & husbands at this critical time was able to satisfy the majority of naval personnel who had to remain in the (war) zone & were anxious to get their dependents to the mainland." #78-#78B Thomas Jefferson School Waikiki l942-1946 #78B Thomas Jefferson School Hawaii I entered John in the public English Standard primary Thomas Jefferson School, Waikiki near the head of the Ala Wai Canal, where Ala Wai Boulevard intersects Kapahulu Street about five blocks east of our home near Kapiolani Park with its remarkable zoo & bird collection & Sunday band concerts.At that time in Hawaii there were two school systems. For those children who passed an exam in proficiency in English a very fine education was offered. We estimated a large majority of the pupils were of Asian backgrounds, with Japanese the largest group many exceptionally gifted & hard-working.Another gifted pupil was Robert Ho of a Shanghai background. His mother lived in Waikiki & was proficient at block printing.At least one student Sam was part Hawaiian, and the students knew and used common native Hawaiian words like the greeting "Aloha" kapu keep out - Pau finished-Mauka toward the mountains - Makai toward the water, & opu - stomach.The teachers were well qualified & in many cases had experience on the United States mainland.Three of John's teachers, were of Portuguese backgrounds, Mrs Celestine Silva Barbour in the first grade, who was our neighbor on Ohua Street, Celia Ponte of Kaimuki in the third grade,& Mrs. Silva in the fourth grade. In the fifth grade John's teacher Mrs. Agnes Davidson came from an old New England family - her names was Agnes Dee Mason before her marriage, & her ancestor Mason in l630 received the original royal charter as founder of the New Hampshire colony. One of her daughters was on the staff of Honolulu radio station KHON, and her son Douglas Davidson was a professional photographer who photographed her class in l946 at Valentine's Day & also did nature photography including Hawaii's major waterfalls.Mrs. Barbour the first grade teacher had an exceptionally warm & friendly personality.Her parents had come from Portugal & Madeira in l883 to work on sugar plantations at Kohala on the northwest coast of the "big" Island - Hawaii.She remembered seeing Queen Liliuokalani around l9l5 at the girls school she attended in Kaimuki.She remembered the musicologist Sigmund Spaeth "the tone sleuth" & other interesting visitors in Hawaii over many years.She had previously taught on the Islands of Hawaii & was later a high school principal - probably at Kamehameha school Honolulu.Her first grade classroom was a small cottage at the south tip of the long covered corridor with the first, second &third grade classrooms. An art classroom was next door.A large vegetable garden run by Mr. Chong was on the west side of the building & shared by the neighboring non-English standard Waikiki school. Crown flower plants hosting monarch butterflies grew between the classrooms & the garden & furnished material for science projects.John had been reading & writing for more than two years, but he was in the habit of printing all-capitals & had to learn to use the small letters also. There were hot lunches in the centrally located school cafeteria, where pupils took turns working under head cook Mrs. Billie. A small pomegranate grew at a little fishpond near the lunch room.In the dining & assembly area a Christmas show produced eight Christmas carols, including "Silent Night, Away in a Manger" &" Joy to the World" & relatively little-known "Love Came Down at Christmas Love our lovely love divine Love came down at Christmas Stars & angels Gave the Sign." Pupils acting as angels had to stand very still while the others sang the songs.Naps were required in rest period. In January l943 John was transferred to Mrs. Elsie Mattoon's second grade classroom, where the children were six months to a year older than John. Again the teaching was excellent..One day a week Mrs. Mattoon & the other second grade teacher Mrs. Fisher sent their pupils to the other teacher's room, & Mrs. Fisher read an interesting story titled,"Billy the Goat." John was sick a couple of sessions & never found out how the story turns. out. The children used to play on swings & seesaws & jungle-jims & play games like "Go in & out the window -as we have done before-Go skipping round the village- Go kneel before your partner..." Nancy Kawamura was frequently a leader in these games & songs.Rose Lee lived on the golf course across the Ala Wai Canal in front of our home, where her father was a caretaker.Her mother was deaf. Joseph Kinoshita, who became a Honolulu lawyer (& Air Force Reserve Judge Advocate) would often walk home with John along Ala Wai Boulevard after school. Sometimes he would stop at our house & practice wrestling on the front lawn (despite the crabgrass). Miss Celia Ponte was a conscientious & understanding third grade teacher with a large number of students in her classroom.She later became a school principal.During this time John was becoming more nearsighted & got glasses after testing at school & with Dr. Withington's encouragement.Janet Ikeda was an outstanding student in spelling bees & in races to answer arithmetic flash cards quickly.The other third grade teacher Mrs. Evans always wore a flower in her hair fresh every day & like to recite a poem about the Hawaii cup-of-gold flower "made for fairies to hide in."Mary Lou Gilares & other girls acted as Junior Police Officers "JPO's" holding STOP signs after school so that pupils could cross Kapahulu Street on the east ("Diamond Head") side.Students learned to sing a melodic rendition of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; of restricting the freedom of speech or of the press or the right of the people to petition the government for a redress of grievances. All of the fourth grade class voluntarily took religion classes once a week- our Ala Wai neighbor Mrs. McCarthy covered the Good Samaritan & other parables & the Golden Rule & Sermon on the Mount & managed to convey the joyous, charitable side of religion without getting hung up over doctrinal controversies. The librarian Miss Becker was friendly & popular & one book John discovered there was Richard Halliburton two travel books - the Wonder Books of Marvels. Sometimes pupils would be assigned to assist in the school office, answering telephones "Thomas Jefferson School- office monitor speaking"- ringing the bells at proper times & taking messages to teachers.It was an opportunity for the principal Mrs. Vance to get to know the students.She was actively involved in all phases of school life.North of the school buildings were softball fields & exercise bars for chinning & arms exercises.A very active Cub Scout pack met on the bleachers near the softball field under the leadership of scout master Mr. Paul Ishimoto, who later became a top official of the Honolulu Boy Scouts.At that time the official age for entering Cub Scouts was nine years, but John did a lot of the Cub achievement tests in early l945 before his ninth birthday in his fourth grade year, looking up family history & learning scout pledges & lessons. The group climbed Red Hill & went on other hikes.After the war ended l945-l946 some of the other pupils would ride with Jack & John to the waterfall on the Pali road & other sites.In the fourth grade Mrs. Martin was friendly & sometimes rode home with us in Waikiki, but she had health problems & left Honolulu around January l945. For one week Mrs. Jepson was a substitute - one day she explained a method of thinking in terms of "aliquot parts of the dollar." The spring of l945 Mrs. Silva was an effective, hard-working teacher who stressed arithmetic achievement. One day April l2, l945 in rest period news came President Roosevelt had died & students were sent home.In the fifth grade Agnes Davidson had students memorize many poems- "True worth is about being not seeming, Of doing each day that goes by Some little good - not in dreaming of great things to do by & bye. Oh better than the riches of a gold crowned king Is the heart-felt memory Of a lovely thing." Mrs. Davidson knew a great deal of American history. She had lived in Arizona & subscribed to the photo magazine "Arizona Highways".She lived west of us on Lewers Road, where we visited after she retired.She once saw John & me after school sitting at the north edge of the school grounds under monkeypods trees near Ala Wai Boulevard & sang, "Don't sit under the monkeypod tree with anybody else but me" - a Hawaiian adaptation of the current American hit, "Don't sit under the apple tree."(*Monkeypods are members of the Bean or Legume family in the mimosoid subfamily - also known as "rain trees" because leaves fold up when it rains.We used to see sixth grade teacher Mrs. Hazleton near her home on Kuhio Street not far from the school, where she sometimes gave us ripe mangoes from a tree in her yard. In l942 there was an art teacher, who passed away not long afterward at a young age, but usually the home classroom teachers supervised periods in the art room. Mrs. Harrison,Mrs. Barbour's first grade teacher was often friendly though John was not in her class - she worked with Mrs. Barbour on the l942 Christmas Pageant, which was very well done & a welcome contrast to the war tensions of Christmas l94l when schools were closed. Air raid drills were held in bomb shelters at school,& effectiveness of gas masks was tested in a room full of tear gas.
Year: 2000