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

 

-1456 Kelsey Bourm one of several football co-captains Forks High - basketball starter - and track - premed interested in sports medicine.
CHINA chapter--36- The HENDERSON arrived at Chingwantao early in the morning on November 13, 1930, and Jack met the ship and had breakfast aboard. I was at the head of the gangway and watched him come aboard in Navy blue winter uniform.We smiled and waved to each other for about half an hour while the ship tied up.He brought a new dark gray heavy woolen steamer rug (English) to use on the train trip from Chingwantao to Tientsin one hundred twenty-five miles.We arrived at the Court Hotel by taxi from the railroad station in time to have lunch "tiffen" there.Then we went by rickshaw down Victoria Road to the TULSA - about a five to ten minute walk- on the dock on the Hai Ho River.I looked over the many linen items Jack had bought in China.About four p.m. we went by rickshaw to call on Mrs. Faison Jordan, wife of a British business executive. When she found out that I was a Mount Holyoke graduate,she told us about Mrs. Evans, leader of the Mount Holyoke alumnae club of North China, whose husband was a Tientsin lawyer. We made a short call on Mrs. Evans, who told me that my former student Grace Liang was living in Tientsin.Grace called on me at the Court Hotel and later entered my name in the Mount Holyoke Club of North China.the Liangs lived at 314 Elgin Avenue in the British Concession of Tientsin, where the Court Hotel was located also. About five o'clock we went to call at the home of our TULSA commander - Commander and Mrs. Paul Rice at 127 Meadows Road, also in the British Concession. The TULSA was leaving for Shanghai the next day and Captain Rice had held the ship at Tientsin an extra day or two so that Jack could await my arrival. "Captain" Rice was really a Navy Commander, class of 1909 at the Naval Academy. When Jack first reported to the TULSA in May 1930,Commander Walter Decker was the Captain, but by the time I arrived, November 13, 1930,Paul Rice was in command.This was his second tour of duty in China.In 1912 he had commanded the USS SAMAR, a Yangtze River Patrol Boat.which navigated one thousand miles up the river to the city of Ichang.Navigating on the Yangtze, according to Captain Rice,is like navigating on the Mississippi River.When he was detached from the SAMAR,it was then commanded by Samuel Wilder King in 1915.Captan Rice had been on the Yangtze about three years, and his good friend Samuel Wilder King, later in 1950s appointed governor of the Territory of Hawaii by President Dwight Eisenhower, was his 1909 classmate - the first native Hawaiian appointed to the United States Naval Academy. When Paul Rice first met his wife Gertrude (Hammond), he decided that she was the girl he would marry. I knew her well in China, Panama, and Hawaii. She was not only pretty,but a charming hostess, an excellent conversationalist, a devoted wife,mother, and friend.Many of my most vivid memories in Tientsin, Chefoo, Shanghai, and Waikiki revolve around her. We had many exciting experiences together in Wai-hai-Wei, China, and Hawaii. She occurs again and again in the pages of this narrative.She and Paul and their daughter Nathalie did much to help me meet what Jack called the "vicissitudes" of the Navy and to enjoy Navy life despite its many challenges. About six o'clock we went back to our hotel for dinner, and I unpacked.At nine the next morning Jack left for the TULSA, which sailed to Shanghai for repairs and leave and liberty for the crew. -41- Early the next week Mrs. Faison Jordan made a -2- short call on me and invited me to her home for a formal dinner party and an evening at the Tientsin Country Club. I soon met Mr. and Mrs. "Bunny" Warren, guests at the Court Hotel whose small table for two was close to my table in the dining room. Mr. W was employed by the British Imperial Chemical Company.They remained at the hotel for several months until they found a furnished house that suited them.After they left the Court Hotel I frequently at tea with "Mollie" Warren at their home. At the hotel too I met Mr and Mrs. Heningson of Denmark, who were still living at the hotel when we left China.Mr. Heningson, although "not a stamp collector", he said cut every stamp off the envelopes he received and put them in a small green cardboard box.He gave me a boxful of stamps, mostly Chinese and Danish.We later allowed aunt Mollie Barrett to look through those and give some to my nephew Billy, and Willie Kennedy at Macy's also looked through the box and took a few when she visited Boston in 1932.Willy was still working at Macy's in 1932 and gave me a copy of a report I had been working on when I resigned in 1930.definitions of terms used to describe successful and unsuccessful sales clerks.She told me that she was in boston at the request of Percy Stras of Macy's [whom I knew] to go over the report with Mr. Kirstein of Filene's to get his impression of it.I was very pleased to find that the report was credited to me because so much of the work had been completed before I left for China.-43- Mrs. Faison Jordan's dinner party was my initiation into the social whirl of Tientsin. For the first time I wore my new black velvet evening dress, a white rabbit's -fur jacket purchased in Shanghai on the way up and wore the crystal beads Miss Farmer, one of my workers at macy's, had given me as a "bon voyage" present.At dinner I sat on Mr. Jordan's left. At my left was Nora Waln, well-known author whose writing frequently appeared in the Atlantic Monthly magazine.Her husband, an Englishman, was head of the Chinese Post Office in Tientsin.Although everyone else sympathized with me about going half way round the world to be with my husband and then being left alone for eight days when the TULSA went to sea the next day,Nora Waln said nothning to me either at dinner or later, though the others were friendly.Mr. Jordan drove me to the Tientsin Country Club where I enjoyed dancing, music, and sandwiches.Suddenly before midnight Nora Waln went home.The rest of the party left the club when it closed about two o'clock,and although I asked to be taken to my hotel, they took me to a different party in a commercial hotel, and I was not delivered to my own hotel until daybreak.Ms. Waln's husband was the one who took me to the Court Hotel and invited me to dinner at their home on Wednesday evening. I told him I could not accept an invitation that did not come from his wife. He answered, "Child, you are in North China now, where the men are the masters, and my wife being an American, owes you some hospitality. I will call for you here at the Hotel at seven on Wednesday." Early Sunday afternoon my room boy brought me a chit from him reading:"Dear Mrs. Barrett, My wife is indisposed, so the invitation for Wednesday is cancelled." I never heard from them again. We invited the Liangs to dinner -just Mr. and Mrs. Liang and Grace. The mess steward had given the word when Mr. Liang would be aboard for dinner, and when we approached the ship that evening we had difficulty getting aboard because of the crush of Chinese people on the dock hoping to get a glimpse of Mr. Liang. Since Grace left soon after to be married in Shanghai we never saw her again. We understand that she has been teaching in Connecticut at the Central Connecticut State College, New Britain, Connecticut. Although the Court Hotel was reputed to have the best food in North China, we had been warned of danger of dysentery and cholera from fresh milk, butter, fresh vegetables or native grown fruits.This was before the era of regrigerated rapid shipment.I lived on toast with marmalade, rice, snipe,pot roast, cooked desserts, and tea.Captain and Mrs. Rice occupied a furnished house and most graciously invited us to dinner fortnightly.When we wanted to return their hospitality and to entertain the new Executive officer and his wife- Lieutenant Commander and Mrs. Leonard and Rachel Doughty, we invited them to the Court Hotel for dinner.One evening Rachel Claude Doughty, who came from Washington D.C. with a Maryland background, regaled us with tales of her mother's friend who came to the Claude home in Washington for a weekend and stayed for forty years. 47 The Court Hotel was the home of several Canal and Hai Ho River pilots, mostly of English extraction.Mrs. Johnson, English and the wife of a pilot, invited me to go to Schlessinger's tea house on Victoria Road to have coffee and buns with her about eleven o'clock one morning late in December.She invited us to attend a costumed New Year's Eve ball at the Tientsin country Club, of which we were members, saying she hoped we would understand that we would have to pay our share of the cost. My husband and I had matching costumes made of inexpensive blue and white Chinese silk, and we enjoyed the pilots, who remained friendly throughout our stay.-Not long after New Year's I was sitting in the small reception room in the Court Hotel after tiffen, when two men sat down, talking.When I realized that they were Americans, I asked them what they were doing in Tientsin, and they said they were taking a train later that afternoon for Manchuria, where they would buy furs.When I said that I had never been as cold as I was on the streets of Tientsin, they offered to buy some skins for me, as they expected to be bak in Tientsin in a few weeks.When they returned, they had for me enough sea otter skins for a gorgeous coat. The cost was small, the coat warm and beautiful.It was made up by a Chinese tailor. Sea otter is a lustrous light gray skin. As time passed that winter and spring I became well-known to the Chinese and Japanese shopkeepers on Taku and Victoria Roads.I bought some rare dragon and turtle candlesticks of brass, -48- some red and green Chinese lacquer drums which served as small tables, and through Mrs. Mendelsohn wife of an Army doctor I located a lovely black and gold lacquer Chinese chest with colored inlaid semiprecious stones arranged in patterns.I also shoppped for linens at Takahashi Japanese linen store. The TULSA was scheduled to go to Chefoo for gunnery exercises in June, and my husband as Gunnery Officer was anxious to make a good showing.So in the spring of 1931 he spent a lot of time aboard the TULSA at Tientsin training the gunners.The chief TULSA Marine officer Lieutenant William W. Paca was training his Marines to shoot top scores and was working hard, along with my husband. Captain Rice was very pleased with the high gunnery score they made in Asiatic Fleet competition in the summer of 1931--[to Book Two]
Year: 1931_