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


98-1450 Truxtun-Tulsa 1930-31 from p 205 orders to TULSA
., A Yangtze river patrol boat which he could command would be more interesting to him as he could navigate thousands of miles up the river to many Chinese cities. However, in may l930 he went from the destroyer TRUXTUN to the gunboat TULSA stationed at Tientsin, North China. He was briefly Executive Officer until more senior Leonard Doughty arrived, but most of the time he was gunnery oficer l930-31, winning the Asiatic Fleet annueal gunnery competition spring-summer l931. This helped his promotion to Lieutenant Commander at the end of l931 after taking physical and written exams. Commander Paul Rice and Marines under William W. Paca contributed to the gunnery success.Jack discussed gunnery methods at Peking with his Revenue Cutter School friend William Rupertus, who was at Peking several years in Marines. Since the TULSA spent almost all of the time at dock in Tientsin on the Hai Ho River or when water was low thirty-five miles east at the dock at Taku Bar, Jack was able to make inquiry about having me join him in Tientsin.An old Navy friend of Jack's, whom I had met in New York,E.V. W. Keene was in charge of dependents' transportation, and when I went to see him June 23, l930,he was most kind and cooperative and told me he would look into transportation for me and would arrange for my typhoid and cholera shots and for my smallpox vaccination.At first he considered the Army transport GRANT going to Manila and advised Jack to investigate what transportation would be available from Manila to Chingwangtao.By July 25 Captain Keene and Jack had settled on Navy transport HENDERSON leaving Hampton Road, Virginia on August 20, l930 and arriving at Chingwangtao November 13, l930.I saw Captain Keene on July 25 and August 6. Among other things he gave me my transportation on the HENDERSON from HAMPton Roads Virginiia to Chingwangtao, China, gave me rail transportation from New York to Hampton Road Virginiia by Pullman sleeper the night of August 18, l930 - made sure I had all my shots and vaccination and gave me a special passport for travel in China and Japan.When I gave Macy's two wees notice that I was leaving for China they gave me one hundred (end p. 205 ++ PICTURE CAPTION PIOCTURE CAPTIONS p 17 Tientsin China winter l931 Sophie is wearing Manchurian fur coat. The fur buyers later brought news of the Japanese capture of Mudken, which Sophie telephoned to Captain Rice and the navy with first report.Paul Rice, who cmmanded gunboat TULSA l930-l932 at Tientsin lived to age 95 to l98l, and Gertrude born Dec. 3, l893 Juneau Alaska,. lived to age l02 1/2 to late July l996. Her daughter Nathalie is Mrs. Vernon Hawley, Saint Helena, California Sophie Meranski Barrett at Court Hotel preparing for New Year's party at Tientsin Country Club Dec. l931 Court Hotel was operated by an Australian lady Ms Moore in British Concession Tientsin on Elgin Avenue. Sophie watched rug making at Nichols factory in russian concession tonthe north - then bought Chinese rugs at outlet in Peking.Nov. l931.Sophie got in touch with Mount Holyoke Club of North China - Mrs. Faison Jordon helpd make the contact with Mrs. Evans of the club, and Sophie's l925 student Grace Liang was daughter of diplomat and customs- railroad official M.T. Liang, who was Jack Barrett's guest with his wife for dinner aboard gunboat TULSA - a rare honor for a Chinese in l931.Sophie met American writer Nora Waln and her British husband who ran the Tientsin post office. The British chief of Police Mr. Isemonger and his daughter Tina were frequent visitors at the Court Hotel. Sophie had a pretty white rabbit-fur coat she bought in Shanghai, but it shed too much fur on Jack's uniform so she discarded it. During her trip she carefully studied Emily Post's "Etiquette" book to prepare for the formal entertainment and correspondence expected of navy Wives.One TULSA wife Rachel Claude Doughtie told how her mother's Maryland family the Claudes had a visitor who " came for the weekend and stayed for forty years.#136 p 17 CAPTION p 46 w1002 Jack at Court Hotel At lower right is a shiny, round table-like object, which Sophie referred to as a "drum." She believed they were made of some sort of durable heavy paper. The Barretts purchased a pair of these while in Tientsin 1930-1931 and had them in their living rooms with the Chinese rugs first at 422 Columbia Road, Dorchester, Boston 1932-3; then at Stradone Road, Bala Cynwyd near Philadelphia l937-8, 9615 Shore Road Brooklyn 1939-l941 and at 52 Emmonsdale Road, West Roxbury from Thanksgiving Day l947 when they moved in, until Chinese materials were stolen in l976.Information on the style or history of these and other Chinese furniture will be welcome. p 18 w137 rickshaw Chefoo w 138 sea otter coat Peking w139 Tientsin Country Club After l993 thefts of desks, bureaus, furniture, books and papers in West Roxbury l993, this is the only remaining photo of an outstanding group taken by Mr. Isemonger spring l931 at Tientsin Country Club. He arrived at Tientsin after the Barretts early l931 probably from India and became chief of police in British concession of Tientsin, where Court Hotel was located.He was a frequent luncheon visitor to the Court Hotel, sometimes accompanied by his daughter Tina.He was frequently helpful to both Jack and Sophie, obtaining bottled drinking water for Sophie to take aboard a commercial freighter on which Sophie followed the TULSA south on its l931 Asiatric Fleet annual cruise, but this was one of a number of situations where Sophie found it necessary as a newly married young Navy wife to avoid too much close contact with unmarried men, where European and American women were few in number. Nonetheless the loss of the Tientsin Country Club photos was a great disappointment, and also a group of photos of Sophie taken at Yamamoto studios Tientsin. p 18 #139 p 64 w1160 rickshaw Chefoo from negative 1931--p 37 w924 Dec 31,1930 -December 31, l930 detail of costume party Teintsin country club - Jack at left - Sophie at right - lady between unidentified. Sophie wore a rabbit's-fur jacket she had bought at Shanghai- she liked it until she found it was shedding fur on Jack's blue Navy uniform, so this New Year's party at Tientsin Country Club was the last time she wore it.Friends in Tientsin included Paul, Gertrude and Nathalie Rice, Army Dr. and Mrs. Mendelssohn, Mr. and Mrs. "Bunny" Warren, Mrs. Evans of Mount Holyoke Club of north china, Grace Liang Mount Holyoke 1925 ( later Mrs. Dan Yapp), and Grace;s father and mother of Elgin Avenue- Mr. eismonger - chief of police in British concession -a Danish gentlman who collected Chinese coins- American fur buyers who brought first word of Japanese aggression at Mukden Manchuria September 19, l931, Narine |William W. Paca of TULSA, Cdr. and Mrs. Leonard & Rachel Doughty and Dr. Supan of TULSA. Elsewhere in China Barretts saw William Rupertus |US Marine corps in Peking, Chaplain William Maguie at Chefoo, sisters Maimie and Mickey Ashley and their adopted Chinese daughter at Shanghai. --p 36 w918-"Center of Universe" Peking #918 -Sophie visited Peking twice, February 1931 as tourist and November 1931 when Jack proceeded there for physical examination for promotion to Lieutenant Commander. That autumn he studied for the p[romotion exam, and was helped by exceptionally favorable fitness report from gunboat TULSA's Commander Paul Rice, based in part on outstanding performance of the ship in Asiatic Fleet annual gunnery competition near Chefoo in summer 1931- Jack Barrett was TULSA gunnery officer and worked with Marines under William W. Paca, later Commander of Camp Caitlin Oahu l944-l946. At PekingSophie met Marine William Rupertus, who had recently lost wife and daughter with scarlet fever. Rupertus was working on gunnery problems, and Jack had several visits with his former Revenue Cutter School ITASCA shipmate during 1930 and 1931.-p 29 w863 The Gunboat TULSA was "the northernmost ship of the Asiatic Fleet, kept in North China for intelligence purposes, Jack Barrett used to say. Its normal station was on the Hai Ho river at Tientsin. In November l930 and spring l931 it put to sea to participate in Asiatic Fleet maneuvers, and in the spring of l931 when Jack Barrett was Gunnery officer and William Paca in charge of Marines, the TULSA won fleet gunnery competition. Colmmander Rice delayed the November l930 sailing of the TULSA one day so Jack Barrett could meet Sophie on her November 13 arrival after a three month Pacific voyage on big Navy transport HENDERSON. This photo was taken near Chefoo during a picnic about June 1931.Paul Rice l886-l981 was an Annapolis classmate of Hawaii governor Samuel Wilder King, the first native Hawaiian to attend the Naval Academy, and of Floyd Sexton, who became a Coast Guard Admiral, World War II. His wife Gertrude was born Dec. 3, l893 in Juneau Alaska and lived to age 102 and a half to July l996. Their daughter Nathalie is Mrs. Vernon Hawley, St. Helena, Napa Valley California.
Year: 1931_