Shaun Illingworth: This begins an interview with Manuel Loro Barrett on January 24, 2008, in Morristown, New Jersey. Mr. Barrett, thank you very much for having me here today. To begin, could you tell me where and when you were born?
Manuel Barrett: I was born in a small town C-E-D-I-L-L-O, Cedillo, in the Province of Caceres, C-A-C-E-R-E-S, in Spain on March 27, 1920. I, according to my birth certificate, have, as a father, Joseph Barrett Roque, R-O-Q-U-E, and Ascension, A-S-C-E-N-S-I-O-N, Loro, L-O-R-O, and the other surname, her mother's surname, was Robledo, R-O-B-L-E-D-O. Both my father and mother were natives of the town. My father's great-grandfather was an owner of extensive lands in the town and most of the activities of my grandfather were pertaining to the agriculture, to which my father began when he was a young fellow. On my mother's side, the Loros were people in the commercial business and had several general stores and, also, owned lands, including olive groves and other lands on which wheat and rye were cultivated. My mother's side of the family, in some ways, had achieved greater wealth through their commercial activities. My father's father died and his mother, Agatha, had received quite a number of lands and the rest of the property was distributed amongst the children in accordance with the civil code of Spain. My father was the youngest child of his family and his mother babied him, is the word that he said, and, although he had an obligation to look after the lands and see that they were cultivated and they prospered, he evidently failed to do so and wanted an outlet to his notions of what to do with his life. He and two or three other men in the town ascertained that they could work out a living and a life in the United States, and pursuant to [the] then existing Immigration Act, were able to come to the United States just in the year 1920, shortly after I was born. My father worked in the United States for several years and, after being here five years and brushing up on his English and becoming reasonably proficient, was able to obtain a citizenship. He then decided that he was going to accumulate sufficient monies in order that the family would come to the United States. In the many years in which my father was in the United States, I did not know him, because he had left shortly after I was born. In 1927, he came to Spain and I met him for the first time. In accordance with my understanding and from what I [was] advised, he and my mother decided that, as the lands which were being cultivated by outsiders, on a sharecrop business, were not producing sufficient funds and he had to maintain two houses, it would be best for them [to emigrate], because he felt life in the United States would be better. Of course, at that time, it was the so-called, what we call now "The Roaring Twenties." Things were very good, economically, in the United States and my father enjoyed a job as a lathe operator in the Crucible Steel Company of America and its factory in Harrison, New Jersey. It is strange, but, even subsequently, after I came to the United States, I could still see that plant and wherein they had, for many years and including World War II, World War I, manufactured material for the war. My father worked there for many years, and, in connection with it, now that I'm a lawyer, I'm acquainted with it, the Workmen's Compensation Act was never extended, in a way. I have seen the factory and I know of its operation, because, in subsequent years, my wife was an assistant personnel director at that factory, where people were hired, and she described, and there's no proof to the contrary, that the chipping and the work over a lathe, without any protection, masks or whatnot, contributed to my father's constant coughing and whatnot. In addition to his work, unfortunately, he was a great smoker, all added to his [poor] health. The strangest thing is that, subsequently, I found out all these things. After I was a small boy in the town, my mother, through the sharing in the profits or products of the lands that she had inherited, plus, what my father contributed to her from the United States, as he could, made life for us reasonably comfortable. None of my sisters worked. They stayed home with my mother and my mother was very interested in obtaining schooling for me, because, in the old days, as they say now, the idea was to help the men obtain schooling and university degrees. My mother's first cousins, who were quite successful, my cousin's cousin, was successful with big, commercial stores, general stores, had sent their children off to prep school and, subsequent[ly], to university and became doctors. It is strange, but, even at this late in life, when I visit the cemetery in the little town, I find that the name Loro [is] all over and they were very successful merchants. Now, when we came to the United States, we were supposed to follow a certain rigid schedule that my father had set out. First, we had to appear, in 1929, spring, at the American General Consul in Sevilla, Seville, in the southern part of Spain, for preparation for our entry into the United States, because we were coming as the spouse and children of an American citizen. After that, we were to return to the town and, from there, near the town, was the railroad train that came from, that starts in Madrid and continues on to Lisbon. By the way, I am told that, even long before I was born, that that service was already existing. We took the train to Lisbon. When we arrived, we were supposed to have gone on the then new planes, new ships, correction, by the Cosulich Line, an Italian line, and these new ships, the Roma and the Saturnia, burned fuel oil, instead of the coal which most other ships at that time were using. When we arrived, [due to] the delay, we arrived on the day and it appears that the ship had just left for the United States. So, we were left on land. My mother's relatives and friends accepted us and we stayed in Lisbon for a period, almost, of one month. To me, it was a grand view of life outside of that which I had recognized when I was in the little town. We stayed with our friends for a while, but my mother felt that we were imposing on them, and so, she went to the Cosulich Line and asked them if they could release some of the money or part of the money to another line, so that we could start off first, because my father was sending messages by telegram, asking, "What is delaying you?" and my mother explained to him that we had just missed the ship when we had arrived. Subsequently, we sailed for the United States on a French line called Fabre, F-A-B-R-E, Line, on a ship called Patria, P-A-T-R-I-A, and the ship stopped off at St. Michael's, the Portuguese Islands of Portugal, and there I saw, for the first time, how ships were loaded with coal for a trip to the United States. The trip to the United States took approximately, if I recall, fourteen to fifteen days. The ships were not very fast. The ship came along and stopped off at Providence, Rhode Island, and, a day or so later, we came into New York Harbor. Although we were American citizens, and, as soon we landed in the United States, because there was something, it was a holiday, we had to remain one day over, see. Subsequently, my father picked us up and [we] went to live in Newark, and he then continued to work at Crucible Steel Company. Small employment was obtained for my sisters, one was seventeen and the other was just a little over, working at a candy factory and one of them learned and worked in the restaurant. In 1932, my father's health had so deteriorated so much that he thought that he would go to Spain, spend some time there, as, supposedly, other people who had problems here had gone to their old home country and were able to purge their lungs and had been able to return. My father arrived and, for a while, seemed to be getting better, but, unfortunately, not as quickly as he had hoped. In the meantime, [Spanish Fascist Leader] Francisco Franco started the war against the Republican Government of Spain and my father's hope to return to the United States at that time was foreclosed. Only long after World War II was there any free, non-military passage between the United States and Europe. Subsequently, my father had purchased some land and added on to his thing and he felt he was happy with it. Before he had left, he had requested [of] my mother whether or not I should go back. I often talk about how lucky I've been. If I had gone to Spain at that time, when he'd returned, in 1932, in all probability, in 1936 or '37, when I was about seventeen or eighteen years old, I would have been inducted into the military service, for which I had no feeling whatsoever, because I was then, by then, Americanized in such a way. I want to explain something which may seem strange. In the United States, for many years, the English language was spoken by everybody and everybody who was a foreigner came here and immediately, of course, sought to learn the language. I've often commented, and I explain and I accept it, that, when an Irish person or a person from England came to the United States, with the facility of the language, they could proceed immediately into some very good positions, whereas other people who were not as fluent in the language, or spoke it with great difficulty, were relegated to, not lesser, but other, more difficult jobs, and, when my father arrived in Ellis Island, in 1920, the story goes, and so he told me, that when he arrived, his name was B-A-R-R-E-T-E, which had been his name and father's name and grandfather's name, and so, [it] had been indicated as my name in Spain. When I arrived, I then was registered in school, and, when I noticed the difference between the registration and me, and when the teacher called my name, as little as I knew of the English language, I thought that was strange and I asked my father about it. He said, "The problem is," he said, "when I arrived," he said, "I showed them my name, my passport and everything else. The man looked at it. He says, 'Barrete nothing. You are a Barrett. That's a good Irish name, and you'll use it,'" and so, he inscribed my father as Barrett and, when I arrived in the United States, my father, using this name, which now had been allocated to him, told me that was my name and I've so completed, and so, my children and grandchildren continued, no reflection on the other things. Aside; in looking up the name Barrett and how it came about, we found that there was a man, sometime in 16-something, left England and his name was B-A-R-R-O-T-E, first name Joseph, as was my father's name, and other names, extensions thereof or derivatives thereof, are B-A-R-R-E-T-T-A, which is the gun manufacturer in Italy, and some of them only with one "T," B-A-R-R-E-T, but the name was fixed, legally, by my father's entrance into the United States and the name has continued, and so, has been passed on to my children and to my great, great-grandchildren. When my father was stuck in Spain, life continued in the United States. After graduating from grammar school, on June 1935, one of my co-students was my wife, Palmira, P-A-L-M-I-R-A, and her last name was Alves, A-L-V-E-S, daughter of Basilio, B-A-S-I-L-I-O, Alves and, believe it or not, Basilia, B-A-S-I-L-I-A, Alves, which, in the United States, was her legal name after she married Basilio. My children's grandfather, Basilio, was from the northern part of Portugal, in the lumbering district. My mother-in-law, mother of my wife, was from a town called (Noia?), on the other side of the River Minho, in Spain, which is a shipping port and [involved in the] manufacturing of wooden boats, and my mother-in-law used to describe how her father, who was a cabinetmaker, [what her] life was like. I was able, recently, to visit Spain and Portugal and obtained data as to my father-in-law and to my mother-in-law, who continued living in the United States and died while still resident with us in the year 1993. My wife was born in September 10, 1922, and graduated from Lafayette School in Newark, New Jersey, in 1935. For all intents and purposes, at that time, just like when I arrived in Lisbon, I saw a black man, with which I had remembered the races, white, Negro, Oriental, and I had first seen the first black man in my life in Lisbon. When I came to the United States, I saw several and, of course, in Lafayette School, we had approximately one dozen of Negro children, whose parents, at that time, it would appear, were discharging jobs as postmasters, assistant postmasters, etc., and were in the school. The school was an exceedingly good school and headed by then a man named John Herron, H-E-R-R-O-N, who, eventually, years later, became superintendent of schools of the City of Newark. At this school, he had arranged that, once a week, we would go into the hall, to the auditorium, correction, and we would listen to Walter Damrosch play music on the radio, and once or twice, we would see movies, including one that I remember quite well, made by the Yale play team [Yale University Press, based on its fifty-volume book series of the same name], called Chronicles of America, and [it was] giving us, step-by-step, the settlement of America, the expansion into the Western States and all the way to California. Mr. Herron not only had the teachers on their toes, but they had a fife and drum club and a harmonica club and even a musical club, where children would learn to play the fife, the drum or the bugle, and with his ideas of having these children listen to classical music, we were imbued with the spirit of good music. We graduated in 1935. I went to Eastside High School in Newark for a while and, subsequent, as things at home changed, I continued my schooling through a prep school in the City of Newark, after which, when I had obtained [a degree] and I had reasonably good grades, I was able to subsequently apply for and was admitted in accordance with the requirements of Bucknell University. I was induced to go to Bucknell University by a young classmate of mine at the prep school, who was going there and whose family was moving from Newark to Sunbury, Pennsylvania, and I sort of [had] a place I could consider home away from home, and the Barnetts, and his name was Shelton Barnett, Family was very good to me, in connection with my adjustment in school life. After I had been at Bucknell for a short time, a test was given to me and they suggested that maybe I should take the Spanish course. While at the prep school, [one of] two of the principal persons at the place was a man named Louis Siff, S-I-F-F, who had graduated from New York University, Phi Beta Kappa, and he suggested to me the desirability of doing well and perhaps, when going to college, making Phi Beta Kappa. So, it sounded like a wonderful deal and, when I was at Bucknell University, and I did well in Spanish, a short time thereafter, because I was there with limited recourses, the young man who was working on his master's degree and was an adjunct of the university came to me. He said, "How we doing?" and I told him, "Well, things were reasonable," and he said, "According to the grades you got from that test you took in Spanish, you're ready to do something here, and I have spoken to Mr. Sprague, who's the head of the department, and he said he'd like to have you, because you can help the football players maintain their eligibility, and some of the other students that are having problems with their Spanish, you can help along and see what happens." I had not met Mr. Sprague, but, after meeting him, and he indicated that he accepted me and he wanted me, I felt that life could be reasonably better. Prior to that time, two or three times, I had been sought out by several of the fraternity houses for membership and I had to readily admit to them that sheer costs and the membership of the fraternity was beyond my economic means, and all sorts of offers were made so that I could possibly continue as a member, but I felt that I didn't want to impose on anybody and I had learned, early in life, certain things are not attainable immediately unless you work for it. I always remember the story of my mother telling me that, "When you meet a person and he seems so successful and satisfied, do not assume that he obtained it upon his benefits. You do not know what his grandfather did, or his great-grandfather did for his grandfather and grandfather did it for his father, his father's doing it for him. Now, do not feel jealous and envious in such a way that it distorts your life and your outlook. Work for it and you could achieve it," and so, I tried to keep my expenses and my desires to that which I could afford and I did not have to impose on anybody. However, Mr. Sprague not only helped me out, but made arrangements for me to obtain a reasonably good job under the National Youth Administration, which is one of the programs that was put in effect by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. There was a WPA, was considered [the] Works Progress Administration, all sorts of jobs and benefits were obtained by people, limited as they may have been. In New York City, there was the actor's school, and Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart and several other, later on, outstanding movie actors had gone there during the administration of Mr. Roosevelt, the WPA. Some other people became authors. Some became poets. Some people went to the music schools. Many of these benefits were subsidized, and they were very desirable, by Mr. Roosevelt. The idea was to get people working. Now, for people who had less schooling and had not achieved very much, there were always the jobs of breaking up streets, pulling up the Belgian stones and replacing them with cement, and so, many of the streets in the cities were repaired in that way, and all through the Works Progress Administration. It is funny, but it is good to recount how, even during the war, and sometime in 1944, Mr. Roosevelt instituted the Soldiers' and Sailors' Act, which allocated a certain sum of money, so that the returning veterans, to begin with, would be given twenty-six weeks of unemployment payment, as if they had contributed towards the Social Security, and all veterans who could take advantage of them, or needed them, did it, in addition to which, the Soldier and Sailors Act permitted people to go to school or post-graduate school, in accordance with the tables that they had set of how many points were required in order to receive such benefits, and the benefits were computed on the basis of, sometimes, age, time in military service and if in a foreign country or action, et cetera, would be allocated and given extra credit. Subsequently, I was able to obtain the [funds] to finish my senior year at Bucknell [University], because I had left after my junior year, and, eventually, I've gone on to law school, but I wanted to now explain about my entrance into the service.
SI: Before we go into World War II, I have some questions about what you just said.
MB: Yes, sure.
SI: Do you mind if I ask?
SI: Going all the way back to your parents, were you ever told how they met and how they married?
MB: They were in the little town and they, I guess; I don't know how they met. My father was kind of a happy-go-lucky guy and, for all intents and purposes, his mother thought he was; as a matter-of-fact.
SI: You were going to tell me about a German refugee that you met at Bucknell.
MB: Right. While at Bucknell, amongst the many people who had some influence on my decisions in my schooling, was a man called Ernst Meyer, M-E-Y-E-R. He had been a refugee from Germany and, in accordance [with] what he indicated, somewhere in his long past, one of his grandparents or great-grandparents was of the Jewish faith. So, when the Nazis took over, somebody, looking up the records, which were obviously opened, discovered that he was a Jew and, at that time, the action was against all people of the Jewish faith. This is just prior [to] World War II, and so, he arranged, he had been in the Department of Foreign Affairs, equivalent to our United States State Department, and Princeton University had asked him [over] and we took him in for a year or two, but, subsequently, he came to Bucknell University and was one of the professors at the department of political science. When I was studying Spanish and people were talking about how well I was doing my job, forgive the immodesty, and I told him that maybe I would become either a college professor in Spanish or something else, because the matter of foreign affairs interested me. So, he suggested to me, he says, "Make sure you become a lawyer, because, when you do, then, you get three or four steps up the ladder of success, or of satisfaction, in your profession." He said, "There's nothing that I would not do or suggest to you but to repeat, 'Become a lawyer,' because you will be able to get a much better and more appropriate promotion within the State Department, or any department, because you are a lawyer," and this, of course, guided me subsequently, after graduation, to go up to law school.
SI: Okay, I am going to go back on record.
MB: In connection with our parents and grandparents, my father's mother, Agatha, had a great liking for my father and my father had only one son, being the last one, as I was. With my grandmother, who had extensive lands, periodically, [they] would travel here and there. By the way, in connection with people's relationship with their in-laws, my father came to the United States seeking a better life, because he did not like the work that his father had pursued and my grandmother was very much attached to my father and, somehow or another, I don't know how, she evidently manifested the idea that my mother's desire and ambitions, because of the attitude my mother had, because of her background and family, that my mother was responsible for my father leaving the town and going to America, and it would appear that he manifested it in unpleasant way, and so, my mother felt very hostile towards her, because she was being blamed for something that she hadn't done, but, nevertheless, and this can serve for everybody else, my mother never asked me not to go to my grandmother's house or to say anything unkind about her to anybody. As a matter-of-fact, when I used to leave school, when I was a little boy, on the way home, because we lived in the upper part of the town, I would go past my grandmother's house and they were making cheese and she would get some whey and give it to me to cool off, and then, she'd ask me, "Sit down, rest," and then, "What did you do in school today?" and she would manifest something and it would give me an outlet. So, perhaps, I boasted more than was justified, but, nevertheless, it was very satisfying that my grandmother liked me and was interested in me, and, periodically, and I'll always remember this as a young boy, one day, she asked me if I wanted to go with her. She was going to go on an inspection of one of the properties which was hers, on the border of the Tagus River and, if I could go, she would take me and we'd have lunch there. I asked my mother and my mother said, "Yes, go and have a good time." So, we went and we started off and we had a little, old burro and going down the hill and, halfway there, I was riding and I said to (mia?), "Now, it's your turn, Grandma. You ride," and she said, "No, no, this is for you," and we arrived, all the way down to the property, which was like a garden, where vegetables were growing and whatnot, from the waters, from a small stream that used to have a little waterfall, and we arrived. We had lunch. Then, after that, she said, "Why don't you roll up your pants, take off your shoes," and I went in and waded into the pool and there was all fish flying around, swimming around. It is strange, but, later on, I inherited that property, but, with the construction of the hydroelectric plant, all that property was all inundated, but the point I want to make is that the differences between an adult and the in-laws should never manifest themselves in such a way that it interferes with the life of the little ones, who look for allegiance and desire and friendship from both sides of the family, and I always thought of how wonderful it was. After my father had been in the United States approximately seven years, he came to Spain and he and my mother then decided [on] what, later on, would be our journey to the United States, but, at that time, my grandmother, Agatha, was ill, but she said to the doctors, "Please, doctors, make me live just long enough to see my son when he comes back from America. I haven't seen him for over seven years," and she survived for one or two days, and then, she died peacefully, after she had seen her son. Now, I'd like to talk a little bit about the people who helped me at Bucknell. As I've mentioned several times, Mr. and Mrs. Sprague were very helpful to me. In connection with my studies there and my work, at the University of Pennsylvania, periodically, [they] would have a cultural Olympics, at that time. I don't know if they're doing it anymore and they would have in people from some schools, mostly, I guess, in Pennsylvania and come in and present concerts and music and plays and whatnot. One year, Mr. Sprague told me that we were going to prepare a one-act play, in Spanish, I forget the name at the present time, and that he felt that, since we had so little time to prepare for it, that maybe I would play the part. "Would I do it?" and I said, "Gladly," and so, with a young lady, Elizabeth (Simmons?), who was going to play the other part of the play and the lady who was going to prepare, Janet (Loner?), who was going to prepare the maid to the lady, we prepared a play and Mr. Sprague, with his big Cadillac, I'm sorry, not Cadillac, his big Buick, took the three or four of us with him and we went to the University of Pennsylvania and put on the play and had a wonderful time. At that time, I got to see the University of Pennsylvania, with all its ample facilities and everything else, and I was greatly impressed. Subsequently, at Bucknell, there was a little theater there and we also presented two or three plays. Of course, this was done in connection with my work and it gained for me the goodwill of people and the satisfaction that the department was doing little things which would be a credit to the university as something for students who were students of the Spanish language could achieve for themselves and enjoy, and Mr. and Mrs. Sprague, in many ways, helped me. Now, knowing that I was of limited resources, they often went out of their way to make sure. One year, for Thanksgiving, I was not going to go home, because the fare was going to put a little hole in my bank account, but they advised me that they were coming to New York to see a play, and why don't we ride along? They would drop me off at Newark, where I was living, and then, they'd pick me up after they were returning, which they did, and I enjoyed Thanksgiving with my family. In addition to that, for many years, since I was not a member of any fraternity, because I could not afford it, I had to relegate myself to eating at the dining hall, where an outside contractor was supplying food to the football players, and, since I knew some of the football players, because of having helped them maintain their eligibility, through repetitions and guidance and going over tests and going over papers with them, they were very happy to see me there and this continued on for a while, but, just prior to the United States entering into the war, the people who were renting [in] the hotel and the football players were being, one-by-one, taken into the service, because the draft act was in effect already. The dining hall shut down. Mr. Sprague, then, he and his wife, having been good customers of the Hotel (Louis Burger?), spoke to the owner and arranged for me to get a job, so [that] I could have my meals there, and I would enjoy my breakfast or lunch and supper and I became a receiving clerk for the money, collecting the money for the restaurant and helping the guests go to their rooms, and that facilitated my being able to continue. Then, all I had to do was make sure that I had the money for tuition and the books, and, if I needed a book, Mr. Sprague would arrange [it]. The publisher'd send him books; he'd get another book for me, so that I didn't have to buy it. In the summertime, when I was going to school, I was fortunate enough to have met some young man whose father was the chief engineer of a chemical company. There were several college boys who then would roll barrels to load trucks and to [load] a railroad car, because there was a railroad siding at the factory in Belleville, and I was hired and because of the young man that I knew whose father was, as I said, chief chemist at the plant. There was one other young fellow from Yale, who, later on, became one of the principal persons of CARE, C-A-R-E. There was one fellow from Rutgers named Rhodes, R-H-O-D-E-S; I don't forget names. It is surprising that, just like in the service, people remember each other by their surname, rather than anything else. Rhodes was from Rutgers University. There was one fellow; I think it was Jim (Potts?), who became one of the principals in the charity CARE, C-A-R-E, and the other two young men, whose parents were, I think, at Princeton University, and their father was in the butter and egg business, I recall that they mentioned it. It was curious, that we talked about it. I worked in the summers and, during the summers, by just taking one week of rest, after coming from college, I was able to approximately get about forty to forty-five percent of my total needs for the schooling, and, with the help by Mr. and Mrs. Sprague periodically taking me to dinner, in Sunbury or Selinsgrove, in those places, life just went on and on and on. When 1941 came around, everybody who was twenty-one years of age had to register for the military draft, and that is the principal talk of our interview. I was at Bucknell. I had registered at home, then, I was at Bucknell, and the people at the draft board said, "Do not do anything foolish. Wait until [we see] what developments happen." Well, December 7th, 1941, the war began with the attack on Pearl Harbor, and for all the efforts of [President Franklin Delano] Roosevelt to try to stay out of war. As a matter-of-fact, he had, in one of his last campaigns for the Presidency, said that the children of the Americans would not go to war, indicating, I suppose, in a diplomatic way, to the Germans that we were not going to attack them, to see if he could stay out of the war, but, with the entrance of the Germans troops into Paris and marching down the Champs-Elysees, and the news was carried on, with that, the Americans began to think seriously of preparing for the war, but it is surprising, and it's part of our democratic system, that when the renewal of the draft act, which had been enacted in 1940, '41, when it came up for renewal, just by one vote in the House of Representative, was the extension of the draft act enacted. Of course, in December, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the world changing war, and how did it affect me? Well, at that time, the Armed Services began to collect and prepare for what obviously was going to be a very prolonged war, because, with the declaration of the United States' war on Germany, and in order to help England survive, Mr. Roosevelt had already given forty [fifty] old destroyers to the English, which were tied up down in the South, and they were refurbished and given to the British to help defend them. At that time, a group from the United States Navy came to Bucknell University and began seeking recruits. I was advised that it'd be prudent, perhaps, to go there, unless I wanted to become a soldier in the Army. I went to see them and they examined me, looked at my record, and felt that I was desirable. In connection with my health, overall health, I had noticed that my eye was beginning to fail a little bit and I was concerned about it, but they were in a hurry and, without accusing anybody of anything, the people, who just were using a routine test of the eyes, said nothing about it, but suggested that maybe I should go to the recruiting station in Philadelphia, which governed that area of Pennsylvania, for an examination, see what happened. Well, when I went down there, they examined me and found, although the eyesight was not perfect, it was not bad enough as to reject me, and I was then entered into the Naval Reserve, with the admonishment, "Do not do anything foolish. Do not do anything else. Continue your studies and prepare, and, when we need you, we will take you." Sometime in late Spring of 1943, I got a notice to the effect that I had been assigned for future pre-officer training in the Navy and that I had been assigned to Bucknell University, where I was then presently, and I was to report on July 1, 1943. At that time, I was still working at the Hotel (Louis Burger?). A man who was a commander and who had been retired from the Navy, but had returned to service, and, by the way, he was an expert on diesel engines, evidently, for ships, I spoke with him and he spoke to me and he encouraged me to continue, to see what happens, and I told him that I was going to be there. Subsequently, I was inducted right at Bucknell University and the petty officer who oversaw my group assigned me to little tasks and living at Old Main. Just for those who are not acquainted with Bucknell, Old Main had always been the dormitory for people of means. Some of the rooms had their own toilets and showers, some of them only had just the toilets and a wash sink, but, [for] the first time in life, I was beginning to see the nice things that one could obtain if you were an officer, whatnot. So, that way, I stayed there. I stayed there for a while and continued my studies. Subsequently, they went through another [exam]. Pursuant to the instructions and the regulations, I was again examined in every aspect, and, at that time, as my [record states], on June 13, 1942 , I was recruited and I joined the Naval Officer Procurement Office, Widener Building, in Philadelphia. I enlisted in the USNR [United States Naval Reserve] as an apprentice seaman for officer candidate training in V-7. On July 1, 1945 ...
MB: '43, I was at Bucknell University, and, at that time, transferred to V-12 for indoctrination prior to entry into midshipman's school. On August 26, 1943, I was transferred to V-6 for reclassification due to the inability to qualify for deck officer, because of visual acuity. I was sent to Bainbridge, Maryland, where there was a regular indoctrination course. Shortly after, all the clothes were sent to me, or given to me, and I was given a test, a general test, for [the course], as all other people [were]. Surprised as I was, the result of that test was that I came up very high, and modesty keeps me from telling you how well I did, but, immediately, shortly thereafter, I was called to the personnel office of the Navy at the Bainbridge, Maryland, training school and advised that I had done extraordinarily well on my tests, and I'll never forget the smart-alecky little yeoman, first, who said, "Is that you? You didn't do this well, did you?" I said, "Well, my name's Barrett. What do they say about Barrett?" He said, "You did very, very well. There's something in the wind for you," he told me. Now, at this time, I wish to give credit to those people; I had received a letter from the Dean Rivenburg in which he extolled the concerns that I was not going to be able to serve and be useful in the way that he thought I should have. This is Dean Rivenburg. I also obtained a letter from the head of the political science department, extolling my virtues, and one from the Spanish department, of course, Mr. Sprague, Frank Sprague, and from James (Gavings?) of the political science department. So, in addition to which, the head of the sociology department, also who had known me, gave me a high recommendation. It is unknown to me, and I cannot make any allegations, but I gathered that Dean Rivenburg, that the dean of the school had contacted Mr. Marts, Arnaud Marts, who had been President of Bucknell, but, during the war, had been inducted into the service and had become the commandant for the Coast Guard regarding protection and security of ports in the United States. I do not know how much influence it was, but, nevertheless, when the clerk in the personnel said, "This can't be you," and to which he then agreed it was and he smiled, and he told me that something was in the wind and something happened. He said, "I'll tell you what. As soon as quarantine is over," which is usually about ten days after arriving, "and you're finished, come and see me, so [that] you can go home, because, later on, you're going to be transferred out of here." At that time, I was doing KP [kitchen patrol] and, although I was resigned to doing it, I was just certainly hoping that I could get out of there soon, so that the day after ten days, and then, my quarantine had expired, I went to see him, and then, he told me that I was going to be sent to an Army communications school in Missouri. Later on, I found out that it was to be in Neosho, Missouri, which is just south of Joplin, which is a city that I visited once or twice while I was there, and I went to what was then one of the big Army camps, where there was a small detachment of sailors there, and began our training for the work which we later did during the war. I met, at that time, and I remember their names now; I was put on a team. Oh, by the way, when I was a young boy, I remember, once, having gone to Niagara Falls on a Central Railroad, New York, [train] in a Pullman car. When I was shipped out to Neosho, Missouri, I was given a ticket for a Pullman berth on the train. It impressed me very much and I remember that, when I arrived, with my sea bag and my belongings at the train station, and the train was taking people on, this Afro-American or black man, who's a porter, made me feel very comfortable and showed me my bunk, which was over some other man's bunk on the Pullman. I got on and traveled all the way to St. Louis and, early in the morning, I woke up. About an hour or two later, I took a local train, what they called the Katy, was the Kansas train which went on to Joplin, Missouri. At Joplin, Missouri, I got off the train, taken in a truck and taken to the Army camp, a very expansive, very big place, but we were in the section relative to communications, where the typing and some of the introduction for the work we were to do later on was being taught. At that time, I met the people and the questions were, "Do you want to go to the Spanish team or the Portuguese team?" I had played around and had read several books, in phonetics, of Portuguese and I knew a little bit Portuguese. So, I opted for Portuguese, and then, entered the team. Amongst the persons that were on the team, for the officers, I remember, there was Augustus Faust, F-A-U-S-T. He was a Mormon who had done missionary work in Brazil and spoke some relatively good Portuguese. There was, the commanding [officer], the head of the whole group of us, a man named (Fleming?), I forget his first name, but it was Commander (Fleming?) who had been president or vice-president of the AT&T in Brazil, and he supposedly knew Portuguese. There was (Walter Price?), who's from California and had been a movie producer. There was another man named (Turly?), who was not as happy a man as I thought he could have been, (Turly?), and, of course, there was (Stanley J. Stein?), whose friendship I am now enjoying. They introduced us to the problem and the idea of our work. We were to be a team made up of (persons?) and we awaiting further assignment, and, as I've said, it would appear that they wanted to have us invade one of the Portuguese islands in Madeira, if the Portuguese Government did not give permission to the Army for the installation of a radio station to facilitate the communication with planes being flown to England and for the ships that were helping the convoys going from the United States over to Europe and beyond. Most of our work was that and there was a little bit of infantry. We had to march, we had to shoot rifles and we underwent, on your back, crawling under the barbed wire, but the rest of the time was done in a school-like atmosphere. The strangest thing is that, sometimes, when you are granted something or you're rewarded, you feel a little bit awkward. In the school, to facilitate and improve our typing, we were supervised by Army personnel, because that was a big Army communications place and the Navy, instead of starting their own school, sent people there who had to start, maybe, with the fundamentals. I'll never forget, we went there for several times and began improving our typing and everything else, for the purposes of which would used in connection with coding and decoding of messages, and I'll never forget this very pleasant fellow who commented, one day; our Chief Day, D-A-Y, was a man [who] came from Colorado. He had been aboard the Minneapolis cruiser that had been sunk early in the war, in the Pacific. He had been rescued. He had come to and he had been assigned, then, to the Camp Crowder, where I had arrived, and he kept us in line and he was, sort of, our team supervisor for the enlisted men. Again, I can't express enough thanks to Stanley J. (Stein?). He gave me a book and said, "Study and see what happens. Then, we'll give you a test." I read this book and studied, took a test, and, fortunately, I was very successful. Two or three days later, Chief Day came to me and said, "Hey, you're out of uniform," [laughter] which meant that you're off, you're wrong, and I said, "Why? I haven't done anything wrong." To which he said, "Yes, but you've been promoted to yeoman, third," which was equivalent to Army T-4, and, immediately, the yellow patch was put on my jumper and I went to school. When I arrived there, I'll never forget the happy fellow who was our instructor. He said, "My gosh, you guys really jumped up fast, didn't you?" So, I said, "Yes," and so, I was a yeoman, third class, and started [my] active career in the Navy. After two or three months there, we were told we were going to be shipped overseas, and, about in the middle of December 1943, we left Norfolk in a convoy. I never realized how big those convoys were, standing on the deck of the Liberty ship. Of course, they had built these Liberty ships for carrying troops. In reality, these ships were just one big, hollow opening in which they had a series of stands on which canvas had been spread around and you put your mattress on there and your sea bag, with all your belongings, and you slept all the way through, whenever you could, or just showed up for chow. In life, sometimes, things go wrong, sometimes, they go right. The third day out of Norfolk, the ship, they passed the word around that there was a breakdown in the stove and there would be no more bread. Three or four days later, we were beginning running out of food, and the only thing that they had was chocolate mishmash you could use. Water was one canteen of water a day and, if you wanted to shower, you could take a shower with saltwater and some special soap, which would leave you clean. As the trip continued, it took us twenty-three days, all the way across, and I could constantly see the little picket boats running around the side of the big, cumbersome and old ships, which went at a very slow speed, and the convoy could go no faster than the slowest ship. Some of the ships were carrying ammunition, some were carrying armored vehicles, some were carrying tanks, and all sorts of things, but the one ship that I was aboard was just strictly personnel, and there was one group of New Zealanders there who had been shipped to the United States for training and, now, they were joining us and they were going to go over to England. Apropos, as aside, years later, when I was in Venezuela, working, I ran into a man with whom I became very friendly and he described to me an incident on that convoy, after the convoy had gone through the Straits of Gibraltar. Spain, at that time, was sort of neutral and Franco was keeping Hitler at bay, although, promising maybe he would help them in one way or another. I found out, later on, in some of my readings about people from the town where I was born that, evidently, the Germans also occupied part of the little town, but, anyway, as the ships went past the Straits of Gibraltar, Gibraltar had held out and they had not been attacked by the Nazis, because they would have had to go through Spain and Franco had kept them out, but, as the ships went through, there were big spotlights and the Germans could keep track of all the troops, troopships or ships carrying armaments, going through the Strait of Gibraltar towards the Mediterranean Sea. As I've indicated there, Frank (Slika?), who I met many years later, in Venezuela, told me that he was aboard the convoy that I was, because the way he described it. Fortunately for me, and I'll say this over and over again, somehow, luck was with me and my ship was about the third or fourth after we passed Oran in North Africa and they disembarked us. Our ship continued, but some of the New Zealanders and some of the Army troops that were going the old way, all the way to India, because the United States did not control the Pacific Ocean, but this was a good way and it was all under control of the British. So, about half a day after we were disembarked, the convoy continued. All of a sudden, planes flew overhead and bombed one of the ships and it went up like a big bang. Well, later on, I found out, it was an ammunition ship. What the Germans would do was take their planes and fly them way up high, and then, make a dive, could descend quickly, drop bombs on the ships and continue on to France, which was then under control of the Germans. So, they could land in their airports in France after they made their attack. That one ship who blew, evidently, was very close to the ship that Frank (Schliker?) was flying. He was an engineer, graduate of Texas A&M. He was on his way to India, where the Americans, with the help of the British and some of the loyal Indians, held the Japanese at bay. He mentioned it, and then, it reminded me of the time when I had been up on the high hill in Oran and saw that explosion. I said, "I wonder what it was?" Then, I [was] just thinking, "What would have happened if I had been aboard that ship?" Well, not only was that ship damaged, but, also, some of the adjoining ships were damaged. I never found out what the casualties were, because people didn't talk about those things. It was prohibited, but, anyway, that was one of the first times I began to feel, "Whoa, I missed it." We landed in Oran and we stayed overnight in Quonset huts up on the hill. The next morning, we were told to get ready and to report down below, because we were going to go to Bizerte. They put us on an LST [landing ship, tank], which was intended to be sailed into Palermo, in Sicily, where the United States maintained a big shipping repair yard. They put us aboard this LST. It was slow and cumbersome, whatnot, but we were on our way to Bizerte. About that time, the Allies, pursuant to the nagging of Churchill, were making an invasion in Italy in a place called Anzio, and, when anybody mentions, Army [veteran] mentions, Anzio, they just are repulsed by the fact that they had gone there. The Americans had attacked the Italian coastland called Salerno, but Anzio was in-between and Mr. Churchill insisted that the way to get up fast and get past Rome and everything else was to go [through] Anzio. Well, when we arrived at Bizerte, in the late afternoon, we were advised that the fleet had left early in the morning for Anzio. Since we were in communications, we knew what was going on and we just kept our mouths [shut], didn't talk to anybody who was not on our team or who was not in communications, but seeing all the problems; the small ships and the picket ships were all been blown out of the water by the German anti[aircraft] eighty-eight-millimeter guns, which were excellent guns. We had a ninety-millimeter gun, but it never functioned as well as the German eighty-eight guns, and they blasted everybody. The United States attempted to help by having two ships bomb the enemy positions. One was the [USS] Brooklyn [(CL-40)] and the other one was the [USS] Philadelphia [(CL-41)], which were cruisers, but [they were] all out of shape, anyway, according to some of the people aboard them. They didn't function very well, but, anyway, at Anzio, I missed Anzio, second good luck, and nothing happened to me. We stayed in Bizerte for a while and enjoyed the shelter of the, it was a Navy, French Navy, seaplane base. They had the railroads in which these seaplanes would be taken down to the water, but, of course, all that had been bombed by the Americans in connection with their progress towards Sicily and, eventually, on to Italy, when they landed at Salerno, which is south of Naples. We stayed in Bizerte about two weeks, but, during that time, I was very fortunate enough to, one day, be able to get out on a light rail and go all the way to Tunis and look at the house of Doris Duke, who had a beautiful house in the City of Carthage, in North Africa, beautiful, wonderful, saw it. We took enough food to have lunch, and then, come back, free. We stayed in Bizerte a couple more weeks, and then, we were told we were going to go to Palermo. Oh, by the way, not to describe hard life in the military, when we were in Oran and we were going to be shipped out, we were on the ship, with facilities, food and everything else, and shelter, some of the Italian two teams, they were handed big blocks of toilet tissue and a big box of K rations, which is hard tack and things, and told them that they were going to be shipped, and they did, overland from Oran all the way to Bizerte in this little narrow-gauge trains. I'm not going to get into the matter of how people were able to [alleviate themselves], because of lack of facilities, how they had to arrive there. When we arrived in Palermo, later on, and talked to the poor guys who had been on the two Italian teams, what horrible thing, and they asked, "How did you guys get that ship instead of us?" to which I said, "I don't know," which is the truth. It was a wonderful, little [bit of luck]. Somehow, in spite of everything bad, somehow, little things were adding a little comfort to the military service. While I was in Bizerte, then, I really got introduced into the matter of the messages, the recording and the documents there. Just because this is way, way past the time, there were all sorts of signals and arrangements in connection with communications. The most difficult [issue] they had was the one of planes flying overhead, so [that] they would not be shot down by friendly fire. The remark was that planes were given a letter, which, during a certain time, for three or four hours, if anybody challenged them, that they would signal, "A," that they were friendly planes. The purpose of this was to avoid what had happened there in connection with the war, and, later on, we found out about it. When the Americans were attacking Sicily and were overrunning the Italian troops, towards the end and before they were going on to the boot of Italy, one day, while the boats were there and with their guns and those supporting troops, supporting Navy personnel, some German planes had gone overseas and dropped a couple of bombs over it. Subsequent[ly], when the American planes were going overhead, there was a foul-up in the communications. When the planes failed to give the recognition signal to the troops below and to the Navy, the Navy opened up all their guns. Before you knew it, a large amount of the planes, American planes, flying overhead were knocked out. [Editor's Note: Mr. Barrett is referring to the loss of Allied aircraft, due to friendly-fire, carrying paratroopers into the initial landing zones in Sicily on the night of July 9-10, 1943.] That is not a story that's repeated over in connection with the wonderful achievements we have, but those of us who were there and saw the communications, which showed what had happened, it was just a terrible disaster. Later on, I think that General [Mark] Clark, who had commanded the troops in Italy, was relieved of that command and he was blamed for it, but the problem was that the Navy was very trigger concerned. When those bombers went over, they thought they were enemy planes, because they had been subjected to attack from the German planes, they just knocked everything they could out of the sky. We heard about that, and now comes Anzio. The troops go off to Anzio and, when they came back, and we had missed it, because we had arrived one day too late, when they came back, I had to interview all these officers, including one young ensign whose face was really young, looked like [as] if he belonged in high school, because we were concerned that the publications giving signals and codes relative to operations may have been compromised, because there was a question [as to] whether or not he had put the bricks, which he was supposed to insert, into the bag with all the communication ships' [secret materials] as his little boat was being sunk. I interviewed him and I wrote in my report, and I could feel his concern that something seriously would happen. Well, fortunately, somebody was able to testify that he had put it in there and the communications man on the little boat had put in enough weight for the bag, which contained all the communications, [to sink] down to the bottom. So, that was the second good luck, that I missed when [the fleet was] at the Anzio [operation]. We stayed in Bizerte a short while, and then, we got put on another LST and we arrived in Palermo. Palermo was a very efficient ship repair yard operated by the Italians, who were hired by the United States, and they were loyal to us. We were lodged in a big, hotel like substance. While there, I remember, what happened, all the furniture had been just removed and whatnot. What we had is these two-layer bunkers, bunks, in which we stretched out our mattresses and our clothes and our personalities there. While there, which we enjoyed very much, I remember going into one of the floors and there was this very extraordinarily large tub bath, and I hadn't had a tub bath for a long time. [I] took a tub bath. You had to plug it, the hole, with paper. Overhead, or on the side of one of the walls, in that complex part, was the picture of George V, who was the King of England in World War I and had gone on to remain. When he died, of course, Edward VII [VIII] married Mrs. Wallis Simpson and he gave up the throne and the present Queen's father became the King of England, with her mother. Evidently, according to one of the little workmen, the Italian workmen, that he remembers hearing about how George V and his wife, I think it was Queen Mary, had stayed at that place for their honeymoon in Italy. The climate was very desirable and very good. Amongst the many things I remember about it, once, I went up to a place, up on the hill, and there was a little church there and there was a wedding going on and I had my camera. By the way, all you had to do, [was] be sure what you were shooting and don't show anything, military aspects of the war, to anybody, but there was a young lady there. She was getting married and there were people who sung. I walked up to them and, [in] my Spanish and Italian together, I asked the father and mother if I could take pictures of the bride. She said, "Oh, yes, yes, yes." So, I took pictures of the bride and groom, and then, the family and whatnot. Then, the young lady said, "Why don't you send it to my father?" So, I said, "Your father?" She said, "He lives in Brooklyn. You know where Brooklyn is." I said, "Yes. Brooklyn is a very, pretty big city, young lady." So, she gave me the address for him, because, evidently, communication was poor as it was. I made copies. I ran off the film and I went to a place where it was authorized that you could present your film for processing, made some copies and sent them to the United States. Of course, I was very discreet about giving the address where it was, but I gave them my address in the United States, rather with my address over there, because we were not allowed to do that. Apropos that, throughout the whole war, for a long time, all our correspondence going home about it, they didn't want us to boast about where we were, how successful we were or how bad [off] we were, and it was censored by some of the officers of the team. In connection with that, I always felt very thankful that Stanley (Stien?), when he reviewed my correspondence, always gave it the approval and I could send it out. Of course, I never treated military matters, and so, I had no problem. We stayed in Bizerte; now, we were in Palermo. We stayed there for a while. Some of the crazy ideas that were done; there was, on my team, a fellow named Don (Walsh?), who had gone to the University of Wisconsin, had worked in intelligence service for the Navy, but, somehow, when he was a young boy, evidently, he had made some remarks or noise about [the] military or this and that. So, they pulled him out of the intelligence unit, which was located in Chicago, and they sent him to Neosho, Missouri, and he joined my team. I had told him that I played tennis, now and then, and I had my tennis [racket]. What I did is, I stuck my tennis racket in my sea bag, and with a couple cans of tennis balls. He had a tennis racket and he took it with him. So, when we arrived, shortly after we arrived in Palermo, we were at the (Villa Ingrasa?), had the beautiful courts. The Army had hired this instructor. I want to say that, in connection with the occupation of any part of Italy, it was always very friendly. Never once did you have to walk around, when you walk around, look up and see if anybody's rifle was peeking out of a window. That would have been a terrible thing, but we never had to worry about them. We were able to buy oranges. On the midnight watch, the work in Palermo really became very definite. There were three watches, four-to-twelve, twelve-to-four, and then, four right on through eight. You had rotating [shifts] or you changed; you went three or four, almost a half a week, on one watch, and then, you switched over. In the middle of the morning, somebody would go out and, for a military dollar, which we were issued, you could buy things in Italy. Usually, in connection with our work, the four to midnight was usually one of the busiest. The midnight to eight in the morning was not so bad. The eight in the morning until four was all right. Every time you finished each watch, you were obligated to go through all the scrap papers and the corrections, or duplicates, or any paper that had any typing or information about it, you had to burn, the burn detail, and that was supervised by one of the officers. We burned it. That was part of the thing. It was on some of those trips, and things like that, that I met Stanley (Stien?) and he was very friendly and we conferred and talked about life back in the United States. The work was, what [was] done, was what they called decoding. Now, the machines today are so much [more] advanced, whatnot. For all intents and purposes, a message was received by their radio operator. Then, he typed it up; it was given to us, and then, there were certain little codes or information, which meant that we, as enlisted men, could not read and we had to give it to the officer or some[one] that had to take it then all the way to the communications officer, because that was only for his [eyes, that type of] idea, but all the other messages, we came through, location of buoys and things like that, which were secret, secret, secret. Nevertheless, we could read it and whatnot. For a minute, I want to divert a little bit. While I was in Naples, I'll never forget one message that went out and was passed on to the combined communications offices in the United States, where the British had several Army generals, British naval people, and our people, in the combined communication chiefs, combined chiefs committee. One day, this message, which went out, that I saw, I think it was kind of restricted and whatnot, suggested to the combined chiefs in the United States that it would be desirable, I think it was for Christmas of '44, that the troops, or whatever spare food and extra stuff was had, that it should be given to the then Allied, friendly government, so [as] to make the life of the Italian people a little more pleasant, because they had suffered great troubles in connection with the Americans trying to dislodge the Germans with the damaging and killing of many Italians. At that time, when I read the letter, I think it was Marshal Alexander, who eventually became Secretary of Foreign Affairs in England, [it] was a very lucid explanation as to why the Americans should make an effort. Of course, he was talking, because the Americans were the ones who were carrying all the food and everything else, to the Americans, so that the life of the Italians would be a little more nicer for the Christmas [holiday]. I always remembered that letter, because I asked myself, "Why in heaven's name isn't somebody in the United States Army or Navy writing something good like this?" but I don't know. Sometimes, I think that we were not as literate as some of the British. On the other hand, the British were kind of; every lieutenant or ensign in the British Navy, most of them had one of these big, beautiful cars you see, sometimes, like taxis in London, and there'd be a woman driver for them, which seemed, to me, unnecessary, but I was a conservative person about money and assets and other people's time. Well, I was in Naples a short time. Then, they sent us to Algiers. At that time, Eisenhower was preparing to leave and there was going to be a great change in the thing and the question is whether our team would stay there or something else. We went to Algiers. While I was there, I'll never forget, one day, I went; oh, we were staying in this Catholic school for boys and the young boys were separated, and then, there was another section, which was all separated, for girls. I think they may have been orphans or whatnot. The rest of us, which were not so numerous in that section, occupied our places. It was always recommended to us that, because they didn't want to be too overt about it, that when you're taking food from them, take a little extra, and then, very deliberately, don't mess it up, and dump it into one of these containers that they had there. I don't know who dreamed that up, but that was a good idea. Then, after we had finished and everything, of course, we used metallic trays and this cup, water cup, and fork, and then, if we were done, dump all the stuff which we hadn't eaten, and, of course, I always made it a point to sort of separate that which you'd eat from the others, and I dumped it into these garbage pails that they had. Then, the nuns, after we had finished, they would come and collect them all, collect the pails, and feed the children. This was in Algiers, when this happened. Life in Algiers was kind of a French; there were more French colonels than I've ever seen in any place in my life. Everybody's a general, everybody was a colonel, whatnot, and I asked myself, "Why in the hell don't they cross over the ocean and go and fight the Germans?" As war developed, de Gaulle was quite an assuming personality and Churchill liked him and Roosevelt thought he was a pompous man, but he did unify the country and that's what they were looking for. Sometimes, after work, I would go down to the city, and I ran into a man who was a second or third-generation, second-generation Spaniards, who had come from Spain into Algiers. I'll never forget the man. I saw his name. I walked in with (Walsh?) and we asked him and he told me that he was Spanish. His father had come to Spain [Algiers] years before, when Franco took over Spain, and he was a Republican. He also told us that, on such-and-such a day, there was going to be a big meeting in the hall of so-and-so. Don (Walsh?) and I went there, just for the fun of it, and then, the first thing they sing was the Internationale, the hymn of the Communists. So, we got out of there fast and went back to our barracks. Another day, the beach for Algiers was in a place called Arzeou, A-R-Z-E-O-U, [Arzew]. I went there and everybody's in their bathing suits, so, you don't know who's the general, who's the admirals and whatnot, and there's a very stout man [who] was walking around with this beautiful, little camera, which was what everybody considered a spy camera, which you would shoot pictures of documents, et cetera, and whatnot. I saw him and he said, "Hello, how are you?" I had my little Kodak and I was taking some pictures and I said, "May I take your picture?" and I took his picture. "Yes," he says, "how do you like my camera?" and showed it to me. I said, "Gee, that's a spy camera, isn't it?" He says, "Yes, I know. I know; you don't know," and he didn't have any stars or ribbons or anything on his shorts, so, I couldn't tell, but he says, "I'm General So-and-So." [laughter] So, I said, "Wonderful." Then, he walked over to the thing and there was this beautiful woman there, who, evidently, was a French lady and was his companion during the war, but, anyway, that was a beautiful beach at Arzew. The waters of the Mediterranean were always beautiful, whatnot. So, [I] stayed in Algiers for a while. Then, the next time, they took us by plane to Naples, and they took us on these planes you sometimes see in the movies, people dropping out of the skies, where they have airborne [soldiers who] are dropped off. They took that and sat down, strapped us in, and a B-24 Liberator carried us to Naples, but, by that time, things were quiet. The front was kind of quiet and the only thing that was going on was the Monte Cassino bombing by the American troops and Air Force, much to the regret of many people, many protests and injuries. The reason, of course, that General [Mark] Clark wanted to get rid of Monte Cassino is because Monte Cassino was up on a hill and there was just a little trail, a little road, down below. Anybody could pick up a rock and throw it down there and probably disable a vehicle, and the Germans had their eighty-eight-millimeter guns and they just kept everything from moving to there. So, you couldn't even go up. Once Monte Cassino was bombed, and all the clamor and complaints all over the world about the destruction of such a beautiful place, which is a monastery for some religious order, when that thing sort of quieted down a little bit, that was a secondary thing here. The Monte Cassino, the Americans went there and they were shattered by the Germans. Then, the English went there and, of course, the English were really beginning to run out of troops. They just were not able to dislodge the Germans, but, then, there was a group of Polish who had been able to immigrate and get out of Poland when the Nazis took over Poland and they had joined this group that was commanded by the English, and they eventually dislodged the Germans from Monte Cassino. Apropos and sort of an aside, in connection with the attack which was made by the Americans, it's surprising how, in life, sometimes, you run into it; I worked with Al (Castelano?), a lawyer here in Morristown, for several years. I did some of his work and worked whenever I wanted to and felt like [it]. I was sort of semi-retired. He told me the story about his brother, who was one of the infantrymen who was on his way to Monte Cassino. What happened is, when one of the mortars went off, some of the elements of the mortar landed on his helmet and drove it into his head. They had to [drill] really deep into his head, they had to cut it out and whatnot, and he said his brother was never the same. Al (Castelano?) did not talk too much about it and I didn't think it was a pleasant experience just to satisfy my curiosity. While I was in Naples, once or twice, I was having trouble with my speech and problems. So, I went to see this, what they called sick bay, which was an infirmary, and met this young ensign who had graduated from the Yale Medical School. He examined me and he said, "Gee, you're really sick," he said to me. Evidently, I had very diseased tonsils and there was concern that it was going to spread all over my body and [they] couldn't tell what would happen. So, he immediately wrote an order and they sent me up to the 42nd Station Hospital, which was up on a hill, a beautiful place. It had been an old Italian Army hospital, and I went there. By the way, at that time, penicillin was not a common [thing], or some of these antibiotics which we now think of [as] just nothing to it. At that time, there was really a sincere concern about my health, because of these diseased tonsils. As a matter-of-fact, they had a very competent man [who] came in, "Open your mouth," took a shot into my tonsil, one side, another shot, and took it [out]. I could hear the crunching as he removed them, went out, and then, went back, and they gave me a little sleeping pill and I went to sleep. I think I slept for about a day-and-a-half. Finally, the nurse, I'll never forget, Miss (Spain?), came in and woke me up and she says, "How are you feeling?" I said, "Oh, not so good." So, she said, "Oh, I'll tell you what; I'll get you some ice cream." [I replied], "Ice cream?" We're in the middle of the war and I'm having ice cream. So, I remained in the hospital for approximately almost more than two weeks. It's surprising, down on the hill, where I was, and some of my teammates and shipmates, I don't know if they were sincere about my health or they were just curious, but they were asking, "How long [are] you going to keep him?" I know why, because they were short on men. I was one part of that team and one watch that, really, I guess I ran it. They said, "No, no. When he's well, we'll send him. In the meantime, just be patient." When I look back, that anybody in the military life was in the hospital for two weeks, you must have been either a goof-off or you were really sick, but, be that as it may, when I got out, I went back to work and everybody received me well and whatnot. I know that they had this sometime, because they were short on help. The other incident about my stay at Naples which is worthy of retelling is that, while we were at Naples, all of a sudden, one day, a whole group of communications people, including yeomen; by the way, after the war, a new description came for the work that we did, was called "cryptography," and, mostly, it was done by women and there were ratings, in other words, like, communications yeoman, this and that. They then created the new work called cryptography, which was [what] we were doing, but, in reality, we're doing it under the clerkships rating, which we had. While I was there, one day, they rounded up a whole group of us and put us on a ship called the [USS] Catoctin [(AGC-5)]. [Editor's Note: The Catoctin, an amphibious force flagship, participated in Operation: DRAGOON, the invasion of Southern France, beginning on August 15, 1944.] Now, the Catoctin had always been a communications ship. For instance, for those laymen, when they went on an operation, the Catoctin usually stayed behind and it usually was surrounded by little boats and the cruisers and destroyers, so [that] it would not be sunk. In the main room of the Catoctin was a big place in which they would put military maps, indicating the troops, and, when the operation began, for instance, the one that I knew a little bit about is when we invaded Southern France, the General and whatnot would give instructions to the troops which were to be moved, and the ships, boats, were to obtain and place themselves in position to be able to receive the troops, to bring them ashore. While I was in Naples, they grabbed a whole group of us and sent us down to the Catoctin, to Palermo, where the shipyard was. While we were there, I always laugh about [this], "This is top secret. Don't tell anybody," and whatnot. While we were there, on the yard, I visited the place and the Italian workmen, the welders and whatnot, were talking about the fact that they were installing a ramp. So, I asked one of the Italians, in my Spanish-Italian language, "What's going on? What gives?" He says, "Oh, we're building a ramp." I said, "What for?" "Oh, the President's coming." This is a little welder and he knew all about what was going to happen. Well, what had happened is, they had used a cruiser, I think it was the Memphis, which was one of those ships you wouldn't want to be on unless you were in the captain's cabin, and took Roosevelt over to Palermo, Sicily, and then, he was on his way to Yalta. Then, everybody was already talking, "They're going to Yalta." Being a college kid who'd been pulled out of his junior year of school, after his junior year, I said to myself, "Wow, this is interesting, maybe go there and see. I'll remember when it's all over." Well, about a half-a-day through; by the way, that was the first time for a long time I had ice cream, when I [was] in the hospital. So, I had some ice cream there and they had a soda fountain. It was a beautiful ship and whatnot. I said, "Gee, this is the kind of duty I'd like to have," but, anyway, I was there, and then, one day, somebody began thinking, "Whoops." So, they decided there were too many communications people aboard. So, they lined us all up and there were about two or three teams there, and they practically had cleaned out Naples. They went, "One, two, three, four, five; fifth man, stay. All the others, get over there. One, two, three, four, five; fifth man stay. All the other men, go there." Some guys were shifting around to see if he could change it. He said, "None of that," one of the chiefs was telling the people. So, one of the three, four men, I was one of them. So, I didn't get to go to Yalta. Later on, the ship was finally [complete], the work was prepared, Roosevelt rode into town on the [USS] Memphis [(CL-13)], and then, the Memphis was the ship I had to take back home to Naples. As the crew of that ship was very small and they had very few beds for them, bunks for them, I had to sleep inside the turret of one of the four-inch guns that the ship had aft, in the after part, and went back to Naples. After I was there a while; oh, in connection with the conduct of the war, I gathered, from the communications that I saw outright, and some of them that I got to "look under the blotter" stuff, Churchill always was very sensitive about the criticism he had received in World War I when he was head of the Admiralty of the British Navy, when he put ashore, in Turkey, the New Zealanders and Australians in a feint against the Turks and they were slaughtered, because they really were not ready. [Editor's Note: Mr. Barrett is referring to the failed Allied landing and campaign at Gallipoli from April 5, 1915, to January 9, 1916, during the First World War, which resulted in Churchill being removed from the Admiralty.] Churchill always felt hurt by the criticism which, supposedly, he was given. After that, when General Marshall, who had planned how the United States was going to invade France, and before Eisenhower got sent [to England], when he was waiting for all this, Churchill kept on chirping about [how] the best way to attack the Germans was up through the Rhone River, through France, Southern France, and just march up, because it'd be nice and easy, go right into the center of Germany. Of course, he didn't figure what would happen to all those troops and whatnot that the Germans had on the Western Front. For years and years and years, they knew that the Americans and the British were going to cross the sea and come at them there. So, the question is whether it was up in Dover, up northern, or south, or whatnot. The Germans were getting ready for it. So, Churchill, again, in order to avenge or secure a big victory, wanted to go there. General Marshall said, "No," and he kept on that and, of course, Churchill was always kicking and complaining to Roosevelt. So, Roosevelt told Marshall, "Why don't you get some operation there, just to keep him quiet?" So, the Catoctin went on to Southern France. They landed some troops, and you don't like to talk about people, but we had some French troops aboard a couple of those transports of Americans. When they got off Corsica, in Southern France, they failed to get off. I was told the captain from their ship told some of his gunners, "Turn the guns on these so-and-sos and, if they don't get the hell off, shoot them," but, eventually, they did land ashore and they went ahead, the American troops, whatever contingent that Marshall had given to the general there, and they marched right up, but they only got so far and they stopped. Then, they kept on sending most of the troops and everything else over to Northern France. Apropos [to] that, I wanted to tell one thing; when I was in Algiers, one day, and I was walking downtown, all of a sudden, somebody was yelling at me, "Manny Barrett, Manny Barrett." [laughter] I asked myself, "With all these things that had [been] done and intervened, who the hell is that?" and who's that? He was (bombed?). So, I turned around and I saw Chet Podd, P-O-D-D. By the way, he died about two or three years ago. He had been a football player at Bucknell University when I was there and I'd met him and he had sort of a soft spot for me, because his girlfriend was not doing well in Spanish and I somehow managed to get her a "C," to get through. So, he remembered that and he mentioned it to me. So, he said to me, "Well, what are we going to do?" I said, "Well..." He says, "Where can you get a good drink around here?" I said, "I don't drink." He says, "Ah, just once, for my sake." So, [we] walked into one of those cafes in the square in Algiers and a young lady came over and I said, "No, we want some champagne, cheap or whatnot." So, I had some champagne with him and whatnot, and then, he says, "Gee, this is good. I'm going to have a rest-and-recreation," and I just couldn't contain myself. I said, "Chet, you know I'm in communications?" "Yes, I heard you got [that through] the boys." I said, "This is off the record," I said, "but get yourself ready. You are going to Palermo. They're going to repair your boat and you're going to take part in the invasion of Southern France, in accordance with the wishes of Mr. Churchill." He says, "So-and-so," for three or four words of oaths, about how he had been deceived and he felt that he had been imposed upon. I said, "You'll like [it] in Palermo. We were there. It was very nice." He says, "Yes, you pen pushers, everything's fine, but look at me." He says, "I was in the invasion of Northern France," with the rocket [vessel]. He had a small, little ship that launched rockets. Those rockets, all shooting off, had vibrated the ships, that most of those seams were opening up. That's why he was being sent over to Palermo, to have that repaired. Then, he was going to take part in the invasion of Southern France, which [was] in accordance with the wishes of Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill. So, I never got to see him. Once or twice, I went to Bucknell, [to] see if I could see him and talk to him, didn't see [him]. I guess, sometimes, he must have thought about the time when he met me, but I had to give him the bad news. I said, "Gee, don't tell everybody, but, just for your own sake, relax and enjoy it and delay as much as you can that repair," I said, "because they're going to send you out. You're going to go in on the Southern invasion," because he says, "How do you know?" I said, "Well, I saw several ships going out. I don't know why the hell they would just send you off to Palermo, unless you were going to get your boat repaired." So, after that, I continued in the [center] at Naples and, as the Americans advanced; oh, I want to say something. During the time I was in Naples, once or twice, for ten days, we were sent up to Rome, because the Germans had vacated Rome without a fight. They went north and, of course, even carried on a campaign, even at Monte Cassino, and then, the Americans broke up and things began to open up. When I went to Rome, they put us in a place that had been scheduled to become the 1940 World Olympics, a museum, forum, [for] Mussolini, that had beautiful statues of him and everything else, beautiful places. If I'm correct, I think I even played tennis on the beautiful tennis courts they had at that place, beautiful rooms, beautiful buildings, beautiful statues, beautiful Italian marble and whatnot. I went there a couple of times, but, usually, what I used to do, and my wife and daughters just mentioned it, I would go into the Vatican and go into their museum. Now, if I had been there one year and went every day to the Vatican Museum, I still couldn't see everything, but I did enjoy it. It was beautiful and the things are done. In addition to which, I met one or two of the curators of the museum and I asked [about] several pictures and he told me, he says, "Have you seen such-and-such?" and he mentioned out to me several little churches where there were paintings from some of the so-called big artists of Italy, Da Vinci, (Corigliano?) and some of those other people. Not all the paintings of the Italians are either in the Metropolitan Museum in New York or the Modern Museum [of Art], or the Louvre or the Prado in Spain. I've always enjoyed that and I've always thought; I have had two or three doctors with whom I've been very friendly and they all say, "If you only had one museum to go [to] in the world, the one you'd go [would] be to the Prado in Spain." Now, in addition to the Prado, there's another museum next to it, which is named after the Queen of Spain, which was a gift from a German industrialist who had acquired many, many wonderful paintings and sculptures, and they're all in this, I think, Queen something or other [Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía], outside of that, but, in the museum in the Vatican, just beautiful. One of the trips I was there, we were told that the Pope would give a special audience to the American troops who were in town. So, the friend that I had with me, he says, "Come on, let's go." So, we went there and met, it was then Pius XII Pacelli, who, later on, was criticized very much by the people of the Jewish faith because they said that he could have done more for the Jewish people when they were being persecuted by the Germans, when the Germans were occupying Italy. However, I see that there were some limitations [to] what he could do. After all, as Stalin once commented about the Pope, he said, "The Pope, how many divisions of troops does he have?" He didn't have any divisions. All he could do is parrot and say, "Take care of people," and whatnot, but the Germans, although not hostile, exactly, to him, I still don't think that they would have done anything more, but he was the Pope at that time. Subsequently, of course, when the next Pope came in, I was not in Italy anymore. So, things kind of got down to the itty-bitty of everyday life. As the Americans progressed up the "Boot" of Italy, because the German general [Colonel-General Heinrich von Vietinghoff, who surrendered all German forces in Italy on May 2, 1945] who was in charge of that area was about ready to surrender, even before the other troops over in the western and the northern France, and after Paris and all that, did. They were ready to do that. Then, they began to cut back on places. One day, we arrived in for work and they told us that they gathered a group; I forget what hour it was or something, that they had decided to send some of the troops home. Before I say that, I want to say something. In connection with my work, whether justifiable or not, there was a feeling amongst the people with whom I worked that I was adequate. That's not the word. I hate to say it, but I was very good. When, all of a sudden, somebody thought of it, and I have it in here somewhere, I was recommended that I be commissioned as an ensign in the Navy. Now, I noticed the Army had that system that, if a man in the field was good, they'd promote them. When I was in the hospital in Naples, I was there, I sat next to some fellow, he must have been from the South, and somebody went over to him and told him that they were recommending him to become a lieutenant. He was a staff sergeant or a first sergeant, or something, and he said, to use the vernacular, "I don't want to be worried about so many bodies." He didn't use the word bodies. He says, "I already have a company and I have trouble keeping these guys in line and, now, they want to give me several companies and put them all together and put me in charge." He says, "All I want is peace. I want to get out of here." So, I said, "Look, they're going to give you more money. Be happy and go along with it." He said, "Oh, well, I'll listen to you," he said. I said, "I just hope you [do well and] wish you luck." Well, somebody in the Navy thought that Barrett should be commissioned. I have the papers here and a group was set up to review my work, my recommendations. I have all sorts of recommendations, from three or four of the officers, including Stanley (Stein?), recommending that. I don't know where the hell it is; oh, here's Stanley (Stein?), here's (Jay M. McCoy?). This is the one, "From the communications officer to the commanding officer in Naples; Subject: Reference: Commission," so-and-so, "Copy of reference," so-and-so, "Enclosure A and B, I forward to you for the commanding officer's information and consideration." This was (McCoy?), who was then the communication officer, was giving it. Then, "The Communications Division Examining Board submits results of board meeting, 18 December, 1944. It is the opinion of the majority of the board that Barrett's application should be forwarded, there being no other matter," so-and-so. So, they recommended it to the commanding officer, and then, the commanding officer, of course, would probably have to get Washington [to] approve it, because commissioning a man from the ranks into a position, they felt you hadn't gotten the (deliverables up there?), rather, but, in reality, I don't want to minimize it, being part of an officer [corps], there's certain little niceties that go along with the whole thing, but, in my opinion, it's the guy who does the dirty work or dirty (di-di?), something, that really should be commended, but, anyway, they recommended me for the commission. Now, I said, "Why do I want it?" He says, "Well;" apropos that, the difference between a seamen, first class, or a third-class non-commissioned officer, it was about twelve or fourteen dollars a month. [laughter] I know it means nothing today, but, at that time, it was a lot of money. I thought about it, and so, I told them, "Well, let's forget it." I told them, "I'm not interested in that." By the way, they said that I asked for [this]; no, someone else had recommended it, but they'd made me fill out the application, signed and went through it. If I had, I would have done just the work I was doing, except, now, when some messages come in, I'd be able to handle [them]. I wouldn't have to, but, in wartime, believe you me, some little things are done that the rulebooks would have prohibit[ed], but, sometimes; I'll never forget, one day, there was a message sent in. I'm telling you nothing [of] military significance. At the beginning of each message, there'd be all sorts of numbers or instructions. When you put that on the machine, it told you how to set up your machine. There's a book called A Man Called Intrepid. [Editor's Note: A biography written by William Stevenson about World War II British intelligence figure William Stephenson.] Did you ever read it, about the ENIGMA machine?
MB: You've heard about it?
SI: Yes, I have heard about the ENIGMA machine, but I have not read the book.
MB: Oh, well, let me say something to you in very simple terms; what happens is, these machines take words, and then, scatter numbers or letters all over. At the beginning of each message, when you get a message, date so-and-so, there's something in it, of course, today, it's computers that tells you how to set up your machine. What you did, you had four wheels, with all the alphabet letters on them, you understand. Originally, the ENIGMA, which was the German [code]book, and which was stolen by a Pole and given to the English, the English putt-putted around, but, eventually, gave it to the United States and the United States, of course, had the facilities to manufacture many of them, and they were distributed to the fields. When you opened up the machine, you'd have four wheels and each of them had letters. The question is, "How do you get whatnot and how do you set them up in order that that will break all this garbage or gibberish into language that you could understand?" but everything started off from the top, which gave you how to set it up. The message came in. Well, then, something was going wrong, going wrong, going wrong, and nobody was able to break the message. So, I'm listening to everybody. When you work with somebody, you have to respect them or whatnot; don't be the smart-alecky, "I know," and stuff. I had some notion something was wrong there, but I thought it was all in the beginning. So, I suggested it to one of the officers. He says, "Well, no, we have to set it up as it says here." So, I said, "Look, the Army has a machine like us and they're right next-door to us. Can I go there?" He says, "Yes." So, I created some doubts; I went in there, funny things, don't look at the man's badge or colonel's [insignia] or stars on his thing. That is not, definitely, the way you establish things, you understand? So, I went next-door and there was a little sergeant or a corporal, I don't know, in the Army. He looked out and I said, "I'm having trouble. They're having trouble inside and whatnot." He says, "Has anybody looked at the idea of maybe the guy who sent it screwed up or maybe it was a certain time zone," because some of these messages came out of Washington and we were ahead of them, time-wise, you understand? So, he says, "Has anybody [considered that]?" I said "No." He says, "Well, let me try." He put it in. He says, "Oh, yes, this is it." What had happened is that the time element and instructions on top had been garbled, that's the word that we used in communications, so that the message was not coming over right. So, that was done. Those things like that, well, then, everybody says, "Well, this guy woke up." He said, "No, I didn't wake up," and little things like that, now and then. I've got some things in here that just; (that hurts me?), that they'd [say], "So-and-so and so-and-so," no. Here's (McCoy?), who was then the communications officer, who recommended that, the recommendation of the committee. By the way, the committee who passed on it, the communications division examining board, to the communications officer, a guy [named] Ed (Murphy?). These guys were lieutenants. Lieutenant, in the Navy, is equivalent to a captain in the Army. There were five of them and they looked at all my papers and the recommendations that all these officers had given about me, as if they were going to make an ensign. When anybody tells me about it, I said, "Nope, I never made an officer. I was always [enlisted]. Way back when, the Navy washed out and sent me off to be a regular guy, regardless." So, I said, "However, luckily for me, I did well." To this day, I don't know what was the influence of Mr. Marts, as the commandant for the Coast Guard, or besides all these people [who] were the heads of all these departments who recommended me, what they did and what they pulled. Now, I am grateful, because I got assigned to relatively nice duty, let me say that. I have a letter there from Stanley (Stein?). I met with him. I went down to meet with him and say, "Hello," to him. My daughter came here, brought her son, who was thirteen, and the daughter, who's fifteen. She's a sophomore in high school now. I told them the quote that my mother says, "Your great-grandmother said, 'Knowledge does not occupy space; go learn, learn, learn,'" and that was the thing. As I told you, my disappointment was, I didn't go to Yalta. I would have liked to see Yalta. So, I took my daughter and we went down to Princeton. So, they had a routine and they gave me what you need and how they admit you and all that. So, my granddaughter's too young for it, yet, but she's a big girl. So, you look at her and you'd think she could be a freshman already, or a senior in high school. So, they had all these meetings, and then, on the way out, there was a lady there and I walked over to her. I said, "Say, I know it just seems ridiculous," I said, "but I was in the war with Stanley (Stein?). Do you know if he's still here?" You start talking about people, seventy, eighty something, you start thinking, "Well, he's gone." Look, I know that, it's going to be [that he is] gone. So, she says, "Oh, no, he's here yet." She said, "He's right down [in] that building down there." She gave me a picture of him and whatnot. She pulled out the thing. She says, "It isn't color." I said, "Don't worry about it." So, I went down there, walked down there, and I walked up to the floor and walked through the four steps up and walked in. A very tall, distinguished looking man came out of an office, says, "May I help you?" I said, "Well, they told me that Professor (Stein?) is here and I know him." [He] says, "Stay right there. Don't move. I don't want you falling down the stairs," he said. Up comes Stanley (Stein?); he sees me, he hugs me and whatnot. Oh, he was so happy to see me, so was I happy to see him. He told me that I'm the only one who's contacted him since the war ended. Hey, look, I can see it. Hey, I'm eighty-seven, you understand. By eighty-five, people are dropping, at seventy-four, seventy-six, whatnot. So, we went in and talked to him and he began talking to him. He heads, he says, professors of Spanish culture, so-and-so and whatnot. He, evidently, really got himself a nice job when he came from Harvard into Princeton. So, he meets my granddaughter. My granddaughter and the son, or my grandson, are walking around. My daughter's with me. She's also concerned about my welfare. He starts talking and we start talking about some of these incidents we had in the war, and he says to me, "Why don't you tell these stories, whatnot, put them down?" I said, "Well, my daughter has a little equipment we're trying, but, nah, scratch it." He says, "No, no, no, don't do that." He says, "What you have to do is, you have to contact," he said, "the law school," I don't know why he said that, "of Rutgers and they have the thing and you can tell the story." "I'd like to remember," he says, "you know, I'll be honest with you, I don't remember any of those names." I said, "Well, the enlisted men were (Manuel Almeda?), (Alfredo Cabral?), (Antonio Sousa?), so-and-so, and there was a guy named (Garrett?), and Don (Walsh?) and I." He said, "How about the officers?" I said, "You had (Turly?); I don't know what his first name was. Then, there's Augustus Faust, there's you, there's Walter (Price?), there was Fleming, and (Ford McGowen?)." He says, "You're a source of all information. You've got to give it." I says, "How do I do it?" He says, "Simple." He says, "Now, Rutgers has a wonderful service and whatnot and they can tell you all these things and how to do it." So, all of a sudden, I got an application to fill out. My daughter, Laura, who visits with us, says, "(Stein?) must have done something." Then, before we're done, now, we're continuing visiting with him, he says to my [grand]daughter and my grandson, Scotty, walking around, [had] come in and arrived. They told them this is where they are. Walks in, and (Stein?) meets her and talks to her and says, "When are you applying? When are you applying?" So, then, my daughter said, "Professor," she said, "she's only a sophomore in high school. She has about two-and-a-half years more to go," or whatnot. He said, "Oh, for God's sakes." He says, "Look, when you're ready to come, please, don't apply without seeing me."
SI: Very good.
MB: I'm not going to interpret that, but everybody that our daughter tells them about it, they said, "(Josh?), wonderful, wonderful, wonderful." My granddaughter is quite bright, quite a dedicated girl. She does an awful lot of charity work, she goes to the library and works, spends many hours in helping storing books and doing things. She's good on the computer, and my grandson is. My grandson, when he was three years old, he was doing fourth grade math. Recently, he got a medal. There was a whole group of schools got together and the fifth, sixth and seventh grade were competing in this math marathon, and he got number one and they gave him a medal. Then, he and three or four of the men from his school went against three or four of the others and they all got [in]. So, I said, "Well, how did you do?" He said, "Grandpa, I did wonderful," he said, "but the others didn't do as well, so, we got;" I said, "So, how did you fare?" He said, "We got two. We were second." [laughter] "You don't have to apologize. That's very good." He's a very wonderful little grandson. My granddaughter, we took her to Bucknell. Bucknell, in some ways, remembers. When I was working for Standard Oil, I don't know if I told you, I was a supervising attorney in Maracaibo. You've gathered, I'm kind of fluent in the Spanish language.
MB: And literate. I got hired and I went down there. Now, every so often, I have to tell the story, to keep reassuring me that it isn't what you see, as my mother said, "It isn't that it shined," or whatnot, there are a lot of people that are good and they're not going around all talk. My children, we enjoyed a rather nice life there, including the young man who, as I told you, died when he [was making his] graduation. He was born with spina bifida, which is a very serious thing. We went to there and we did well, and Standard Oil was very generous to me, (see this?) and whatnot, wonderful, wonderful. Now, I like to feel that I was worthy of it, and I was. They told me that. When I finally had to come [back to the United States], because I thought maybe we were going to be able to do something for my son, which we didn't know anything was going to happen, but my in-laws were unhappy, because their one daughter, their son, they had a son, he's dead, they have one daughter and the daughter's off somewhere. I have not assumed the same attitude. My son is in Phoenix. I would love to have his children here and whatnot.
MB: As it turned out, as the men were being removed, bit-by-bit, I was advised that we were going to cut back on the men, and the question is, "How, amongst those in our group, [we] would go be sent home to further service, perhaps in the South Pacific?" So, the question came [to] pulling a number out of a seaman's hat. Everybody picked up a number and everybody said, "You pick [the] first one." So, I picked it and held it, and everybody else got a number. Then, I said, "It's too bad. You guys gave me the one that I'm going to win with." They thought I was being very silly about it and obnoxious, but, in reality, when everybody opened up the little paper, I'm number one. So, somebody came to me and says, "Look, if you let me go home, I'll give you this," so-and-so. I said, "No." I said, "This was fair and square. I got it. I'm going home." I came home, I got vacation, then, I reported to New York, and New York started telling me that, "Where would you like to go, on an aircraft carrier and get into the air [wing]? It looks like you're a bright guy. You can go into meteorology," and this and that. "They need you on an aircraft carrier." So, I said, "No way. I'm not getting [on] any aircraft carriers." [He] said, "What do you want?" I said, "Well, send me back to Italy, send me to Brazil, or whatnot," and they said, "Ah, you're dreaming. Let's get realistic; what do you want?" So, I said, "Put down anything you want to, but I'm telling you what, I'd like to be in New York." I said, "I have my family here and my mother. My sisters are all sick or married. I have my mother. After all these years now, maybe I can just (authenticate?)." So, he says, "Okay, we'll put it down. All right, go on vacation. Here's your vacation. You've got to come back on such-and-such a day." I returned on the such-and-such a day and the [sailor asked], "Well, what's your name?" "So-and-so." "Oh, you're part of ship's company." Well, what had happened is, the Navy had an old, old [ship], the Seattle, an old Spanish-American War [ship, like] when the Maine got sunk in the harbor, that kind of an old ship there, because it facilitated [the men], because there didn't have to be any barracks or whatnot, because they could have bathrooms and places to sleep on the ship. So, I got into personnel work, discharging other people. So, I sat there, day in, day out, discharging people. I already had computed it, "How do you get out? How many points you need?" and whatnot, and I'm discharging people. I walked in and asked somebody. He says, "No, I'm sorry. You're in personnel. We can't replace you." I said, "What do you mean you can't replace me?" "We can't replace you." So, the war ends at the end of August 1945. I'm kept doing personnel work and whatnot. So, I did an honest job, and then, there was an ensign who had gone to Yale and talked to me. He was the head of our section. Remember, I'm not an officer, anyhow. So, I told him. I said, "I'm thinking maybe I'm going to go to Columbia University, pick up some points, get some towards my degree. I'm just shy, a little bit under. Half a year, or just over half a year, I've got to go and maybe I can get it." So, he says, "Okay. Whenever you have to go to class, you let me know and I'll get somebody." Then, there were some other fellows there who were there; there was one fellow from Kansas, I think. He says, "Look, I've seen every movie, I've been to every play and everything else; I've been here," something, I forget how long, fourteen or fifteen months, in New York. He said, "Whenever you have to go to school, I'll gladly fill in for you." Then, several of them had said that. So, twice a week, I used to go up to Columbia University and took some courses. I did well and it made me six points towards my degree. So, when I went into Bucknell and did this, this and that, that it took me into the art appreciation and I described to them what I had seen at the Vatican Museum and whatnot, and they gave me a couple of points for that. All the other points, I made, with what it needed and whatnot. So, when it was all over, I got a degree in May or June 1946. So, I started in '43, '46, three years of my life were [taken], but I'm grateful. I finished, whatnot. I then applied for Harvard. Harvard would accept me, but no housing. In the meantime, I'd fallen in love with my wife and we decided we're going to get married. I thought and said, "Hell, with what I've got and what I need, somebody wants," because they were going crazy looking for lawyers who spoke Spanish. In the State of New Jersey, when I got admitted, there was one other lawyer here, a guy who eventually became a judge. In New York, I worked for an outfit that represented the electric light companies all over Latin America, Cuban Electric and Light and whatnot, the Brazil Corporation in Rio De Janeiro, and all that. These were lawyers that represented a big company called Electric Bond and Share, which was a holding company and all these little companies were in there. [As a] matter-of-fact, when I was with them, with this law firm, I saw a deed in which John Foster Dulles, people forget about him, he was with Sullivan and Cromwell, which is still one of the biggest outfits in the world, a deed transferring a small company in Panama to Electric Bond and Share, and, now, there were in the process [of selling it], because, under the holding company act, you had to get rid of this. If you had a company that was not functioning in the function, but it was just a holding company, like Standard Oil was, Standard Oil of Indiana and all, all worked together in Standard Oil of New Jersey, but the 1914 decree said, "You've got to separate them. Get rid of it." [Editor's Note: Mr. Barrett is referring to the 1914 Federal Trade Commission Act, which set up a committee to monitor unfair business practices by large corporations.] So, you had to; they didn't say, "Tomorrow," because, gee, your stock would drop into hell, but that's the work we did, and I did that for a couple years, but I began thinking, "Gee, is this what I want to do?" I was a young fellow, a young lawyer, so, I said, "Let me go to New Jersey." I came to New Jersey, took the bar, studied the review course, passed the bar. So, now, I'm a New York lawyer; in the meantime, in New York, I'd taken the bar. One day, somebody in one of the law firms I was associated [with] says, "Hey, did you see your name? You're a lawyer in New York." "I forgot. When the hell did I take that test?" I'd taken it in the fall or something. So, it's January and I'm now a lawyer. I still have good standing [in] New York and New Jersey. So, then, I start thinking about this and I said, "Wait a minute. I mustn't forget what Ernst Meyer told me when I was at Bucknell, 'You can start off a little higher and whatnot with what you have.'" So, this lawyer told me, "Go and see So-and-So." I went to see So-and-So. The guy picks up a telephone, he says, "A guy I've got here, so-and-so, he's been reviewed by Roger Sherman." Roger Sherman was then what they called the production man in Standard Oil. By the way, I know a little bit about the oil industry, because I learned on the job, like Bush is learning, except he's not learning, in Washington. I don't know why, but, anyway, I learned an awful lot when I went down there. It was another guy; as I told you from the very beginning, people were nice to me and they helped me out, met some guys who said, "Hey, look, if you want to know something about the oil industry, how you find oil, here, look at this. You want to find out so-and-so, so-and-so." So, I was down there and I ingrained myself into the people who needed me and worked [with me]. So, I went there and, one day, I'm this. Then, once or twice, somebody comes out. I'd like to tell you something that has never occurred to some of these people who were in there. When I decided that, and was recommended, that I might want to go work for Standard Oil, and then, I began talking about it, there was a man who, during the war, was in the Armed Forces, in the Army, and he was a contract negotiator. He had graduated from a school that's called "The Abbey," I think, I forget, St. Vincent's, down in Pennsylvania? and then, he went to Harvard. Now, in the old days, during the Depression and post-Depression years, for many years, all you had to do is apply and you applied. Can you pay the bill? That's all you needed. There was no help, no budget, none of that. This man began that. He had worked for a law firm which represented Standard Oil in connection with an anti-trust matter and he also represented, it was before your time, there used to be a Congressman in Brooklyn, which later on was displaced by Elizabeth Holtzman; you remember her? [Editor's Note: In the 1972 House of Representatives primary in New York's 16th District, Holtzman defeated fifty-year incumbent Emanuel Celler, who was then the House's longest-serving member.]
MB: She, later on, ran for controller, or whatnot, in New York City. Anyway, the guy's name was Emanuel Celler and he hated the big companies, because the big companies would not hire Jews and he was a Jew, and the people complaining to him, and there's talk about, "How can they discriminate?" and whatnot. So, Emanuel Celler hated the big companies. I've never hated any big companies. If they do their job, they pay dividends, there are people who depend on them, fine, but, anyway, Emanuel Celler began some of these things, and this young fellow, hot rod, went there and [worked] in the Congressional committee sort of set-up, and he learned a little bit about it. So, before you knew it, he worked for a law firm. So, somebody got him and put him into the system of Standard Oil, second or third from the top, understand. After that, he began thinking he wanted to go to the top, and he wanted this, he wanted that. He runs into a man who is, who was; there's a charity outfit called Caritas, with the Catholic Church. [One of the] two of the heads of this Caritas was a man named (Lombard?), who had been one of the managers for the Panama Canal Company, which used to run the Panama Canal. He had a son who went down there, who was there; (Lombard?), his name was. He is friendly with a man who's a monsignor in the Catholic Church, Monsignor [James Aloysius] Hickey, who eventually became the Archbishop of Washington, DC. See, some of these people I've seen, seen them from afar, and the Caritas men, these two men in Caritas, in the charity, Catholic charity; by the way, very desirable, wonderful, non-profit company, you understand, for the poor people, but, of course, it's imbued with a little bit of Catholicism, just like the Protestants, when they went to Africa and these places, evangelism. (Lombard?) has a son, who came out of Panama, applies for Harvard, Harvard, got you in, applies for law school, in, he comes out. This guy, who's been second or third in the corporate head, decides he's got to permit nobody to get in the way, so that this guy will eventually get [to the top]. He's planning on becoming the top man of the whole department and he's going to help this guy. Well, along a guy comes, Barrett, whom the production people; remember, the production people are the people who drill the oil wells, who put the pipelines [in], who do all the work about stuff. That's the production department, and all the others, the law department, the medical department, they're just adjuncts to it, but the production department is that. Roger Sherman said to come back, to me. I go back to him and, in the meantime, this is not throwing stones at anybody, but let me tell you, there are many, many wonderful, good lawyers, but I'll tell you what, not even Chief Justice Roberts would have filled that job, you understand? because he's not versed in the Spanish language, he doesn't know the criterion, the culture of these people, you understand? You cannot just arrive and start doing that work. [As] a matter-of-fact, one of the biggest law firms in New York had this (Marsh?) Mitchell; remember Mitchell? He was the Attorney General for Nixon. [Editor's Note: John Newton Mitchell was the Attorney General from 1969 to 1972.]
SI: Okay, right.
MB: And Mitchell was the big deal of politics and whatnot. That outfit has two or three people in there, including the man named (Angulo, Charles Angulo?), but, when his children are born, he names one Carlos and, another one, he calls Manuel. They've got it fixed, because they've gone to prep school and they've gone to Yale, and then, they've gone to Harvard. One of them was (Manuel Angulo?), was very competent, worked for Davis Polk, [a law firm]. Davis Polk, you may not know, Davis, John Davis, was the guy who ran with Smith in '28, when he was defeated by Hoover, John Warren Davis, his name is. [Editor's Note: John Warren Davis ran as the Democratic candidate in the 1924 presidential election, losing by a landslide to Coolidge.] So, all these people have contacts and whatnot. (Angulo?) is a man whose father, from Cuba, came here, (that radical?) company and whatnot. So, his father calls him (Charles Angulo?). Now, (Angulo, Charles Angulo?), has Carlos and Emmanuel. They used it just like my name. (Manuel Angulo?) worked for Davis (Pokemundo's?) outfits. One day, he decided to go work for Standard Oil. His father is a very good friend of the man who's about to become president of Standard Oil, a guy named (Welsh?). [laughter] All of these people have all these contacts. All right, everybody, somehow or another, would get their contacts and call them in. Back in Caracas, they have a man who was there when all these little companies were all being put together and they created one company outside of the name of Standard Oil. They called it Creole, and it's made up of Creole Petroleum Corporation, Lago Transport Company, Lago Oil Company, Standard Oil of Venezuela. They put them all together and make an outfit called Creole, back in 1951 or '52, and the man who had represented these companies over there, a Venezuelan, wants somebody to help him, help understand, "What the hell are these American companies trying to do? Don't they understand that this is what the rules are here?" and whatnot. So, the question is, you have to find what it is we call a "clutch." The Venezuelans want to do this; you've got to tell them, "Wait a minute, we've got to get the Americans to understand that." These Americans say, "Oh, no, we can't. The damn stockholders'll be suing us if we don't do this," and whatnot, because the stockholders, they don't give a damn about what the laws of Venezuela are. They want big dividends. So, you have to have somebody [and] whatnot. So, (Brisees?) hears from (Roger Sherman?) and a couple of other people, a guy named Wilson, that, "This guy, Barrett, he's versed in Spanish, because, obviously, he was still assistant in the Spanish department. He went overseas. Although it was Portuguese (work?) he did, he can do Portuguese," and so-and-so. "This is wonderful for us," but, no, Campbell doesn't want anybody (of deed?), and I met him and I could just see. [Mr. Barrett whistles.] Boy, you're in his way, you're a stumbling block and whatnot. So, in the meantime, in New York, there's a (Tom Monahan?), good, Irish fellow, wonderful man, wonderful lawyer. He had gone to Fordham [University]. Fordham is a wonderful school, don't misunderstand me, but it's not Ivy League, but he had gone to Columbia University, daytime student, you understand? I've always insisted that if you can go to college and you can be on the campus, you're better off than being this, but, anyway, (Thomas Monahan?) goes to Columbia University, gets admitted and, by hook or by crook, he works his way up. He's now the top dog of the department. He starts hiring. One guy walks in who had graduated from Fordham, good man, went to see him. He says, "No, no, you have to be Ivy League. You're Fordham." So, this guy's wondering, "What the?" Later on, he found out, "Damn it, he did his undergraduate work at Fordham. What's he [doing], played a holier than thou attitude?" but he's there. So, they start hiring these guys; you've got to be Ivy League. Let me tell you some of the stories. One guy gets on, they hire him, he's a wonderful man. Look, I'm going to say this, these were accomplished men who had done very well undergraduate work, who had done very well in the Ivy League, you understand? You cannot pooh-pooh them. They're good, but they know nothing about the culture of the country they're going to work [in], and I'm not gloating over that they were not. I just felt sorry for them, but they were wrong. One guy arrives at Maiquetia; that's the airport that serves Caracas. He gets off, he sees the shack village on the hill there, gets off the plane, goes over, has lunch; no, goes on his way to the ticket office, says, "When is the next plane leaving for New York?" "So-and-so." So, he says, "Okay, I'm going to have lunch. I'll be back. Let's figure it out," and he flies back. One guy went there and he stayed two weeks, up on the hill; "up on the hill," because Caracas is up on a hill. Some other guy, he got off the plane and he immediately went home. I told you, they got three or four guys, all of them wonderful, accomplished lawyers, who had had some corporate work and whatnot, but they don't understand the culture of the country. Our country would have said, "The hell with you Americanos." "Norte Yankee go home" stuff, you understand? You have to be there and don't arouse any hostility or whatnot, but these guys couldn't have done it, because they couldn't communicate. So, the guy, the Venezuelan, was always saying, "Don't send me any more guys. If he can't speak Spanish, don't send him down here. My English is bad enough, but I want somebody who understands me when I speak to them in Spanish." So, three or four of these guys come. Then, eventually, Campbell gets sent down there, [to] pacify the old man, because what happens [is], when they sent (Manuel Angulo?) down there, (Manuel Angulo?) arrives and he comes from a big outfit where they're organized. They do this and this and this and this. He has a sense of management of a law firm. So, he arrives in Venezuela and he tries to modify the way they're working it there. He's a wonderful guy, by the way. By the way, he eventually got to be the top man of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost & Mosle, which was one of the biggest world corporations, but he arrives there, but he knows; he knew the culture, but he's not playing to it, (Manuel Angulo?). So, the Venezuelan lawyer says, "No, he can't do it." So, they send down Campbell. He arrives down there, he wants to start learning Spanish. I hate to tell you this, you just can't have a guy who'd taken even three years of high school Spanish or four years, or two years of college, and arrive down there unless he's an extraordinary man, and I've met some of those men. When I was in college, there was a guy there who took German, French, Spanish, and he was a mathematician and everything else. When the war picked him up, you know what they did to him? They sent him to school, University of Colorado, to study Japanese, because the guy could learn, you understand? Now, some people can learn, some people can't good. They didn't know the culture, they didn't know the [country]. (Manuel Angulo?) goes down there. So, the Venezuelan lawyer says, "No, I don't want him as my assistant." So, they sent Campbell down there and he knows how to kowtow, but he doesn't understand anything, either. He stays for a couple years. In the meantime, he's working his cards up in New York, so [that] he could go up there. So, before you knew it, he becomes co-counsel to (Monahan?). Before you knew it, (Monahan's?) retired and this guy takes over, but he's not happy being head of the department. He has other plans. So, he nestles away into being; one guy they call a "little guy," used to be six-feet-four, some Texan, went over to go [to] Tokyo, went here and there. As the operations men used to say, he was a great "AK," ass kisser, and he went forward and he went forward and went forward. You know, eventually, what happens? He died from cancer because of smoking, but, in the meantime, he's holding his job and [saying], "Don't let this guy, Barrett, get in here." Well, eventually, the guy in Caracas says, "Look, don't send me any more of those Ivy Leagues boys. They have no notion of what we're doing here. They don't know the culture of our people and how to work here. I don't care how wonderful they are." That's what he told him. So, now, they finally tell him, "Take Barrett down." I go down there, I arrive, I arrived in Caracas. They sit in a meeting, one day, and they say something in Spanish. He says, "Well, when does this law become effective?" I said, "Hey, you read it, so-and-so." All the Americans said, "We don't do that." I said, "What do you mean, 'We don't that?' They're here, we're supposed to be there helping them, and I understand. Anybody want to question the fact that I know what the hell I'm doing?" [Mr. Barrett imitates his colleagues' shock], but, anyway, after that, this man had been in the military service and he learned the contract guide, how to do things. I sit down there one day. I said, "There's a question of, 'Why not?'" In the meantime, I've arrived down there and he's still unhappy. He sends some guy to go to my house, to my wife's house, to look [at] what she's doing and whatnot, because Dun and Bradstreet had written me up, and all these letters and whatnot, everybody making inquiries here, at Bucknell and whatnot. Everybody says, "Hey, that man was good. We liked him. We missed him. We're sorry he didn't stay." Mr. Sprague asked me to stay. He says, "We'll arrange it for you. You can go to Penn State, get your master's degree. That's all you need. You've got a degree from here, everybody knows you, you've got a job and you can stay here." So, I said, "Well, I've got to think about it." [I] asked my wife. She says, "I don't know. I think that what (Ernst Meyer?) says about your going up in the State Department, I think you'd like that. I think you'd like that," she said. I said, "You know?" She says, "I know, you owe it to him. He's a nice man and whatnot, but he'll understand, because he wants your goodwill and he wants you to progress." So, I said, "Okay, off to school." Harvard, "Come on in." I said, "Whoops, what do we do for housing?" See, I just got out of school, just now. It was almost at the last minute that I finally got into Bucknell to finish my schooling, and so, housing in Newark, housing in East Orange, no housing, nothing. So, my in-laws had a house, three-family house. So, they had somebody upstairs, whom they loved. They had no children, no noise, whatnot, and my father in-law says, "I'm sorry. It's my daughter," he said, "and her husband." So, we lived there. Then, I went to law school and the easiest was Newark Law School. By the way, there were a lot of veterans there with me, you understand? There was one fellow there who had been in ROTC at Princeton, very wonderful man, (Buck?), but they all signed again for the Reserve and Korea came along; they got pulled out. "Whew." Every so often, I'd look into my papers. They recommended me, when I did start working, "Why aren't you in the Reserves?" I would have been pulled in. So, I said, "Nah." I said, "Look, I've been lucky. I've worked hard. I haven't enjoyed too many privileges. I can do something."
MB: We stayed there.
SI: Do you want to record this?
MB: Yes, go ahead. We stayed there with (Clisshun?), who graduated from Yale Law School. He had worked for some big law firm and they had hired him. They hired a guy named (McClendon?), who was a veteran of the World [War II] and the Korean War, and somebody there, he was a veteran and whatnot. I never got anything for being a veteran, frankly, but, when I arrived there, they had (Clisshun?), then, they had a fellow named (Finkenstad?), Fred (Finkenstad?), graduate of Princeton and Yale Law School. He knew some Spanish and he was all right, but he was an alcoholic. So, Campbell gets himself promoted to New York, and then, he puts the guy who has been turned down because he was not Ivy League, who got hired on for another department. Then, he shifted him over to the thing and Campbell felt, "He's a good man, because he's no threat to anything else." They had two lawyers who were from the Southwest, Oklahoma, and one, maybe not, maybe, oh, Louisiana. They were acquainted with the oil industry, but they were not Ivy League, understand? So, Campbell puts them aside and, before you know it, these two guys got married to some local Venezuelan women, very well-to-do, very well fixed and whatnot, and one of them even, I think both of them, converted and gave up their American citizenship and became Venezuelans, but they were not [a threat?]. Campbell couldn't squash me because, in the meantime, I have created some relationships. There was a man called (Woodfin Butte?), B-U-T-T-E, like that city out in Minnesota [Montana]. His father had been the commissioner for the Philippines for [the] United States, way back when. This is an older man and, when I arrived, he said, "Oh, thank God, you (wrote hass?). Everybody was talking about you in New York." He said, "I'm glad you're here." So, a couple times, he came out and he said, "So-and-so." I said, "Look," and I told him, "Everything's Caracas." I said, "I'd like to join that club up there," I said, "you know, up on the hill. You've been very nice, but I want to join the club, so, I can go on and move forward." So, he says, "I promise you, you will not be forgotten," he said to me. Well, what happens, then, they opened up a beautiful hotel in Maracaibo, partially financed by Standard Oil, and then, there was a big party and they had people from all over the world come in to inaugurate it, big deal. We had several of them in and all felt very [good], including Butte. Butte, after that, started looking for me. He says, "Well, what do you want?" So, I said, "[I] just want to join." He says, "Look, I'll take care of you." I'll tell you two or three things in which I'm proud of many of the work that I did. One of the things, this business of drilling an oil well is a dangerous operation. The company used to hire contractors to supplement the people we had and the equipment we had. I'm not going to describe a process of drilling a well in Lake Maracaibo. It's just phenomenal, just extraordinary. What they do is, they get these gigantic piles, reinforced (street?), for 250 feet or whatnot. They bring them down, put them in the dirt and the weight pushes them all the way down. Then, on top of that, they left a twenty-ton block, put it on top and drive it down. Then, they do that all the way around. Then, there's ballast to support them. Then, after that, they cut them all off straight, because some of them go down deeper, some [do not]. Then, they put a platform. Then, they come alongside with [a barge]. The power to rotate the drill comes from a barge, which is attached above that and that's the way they do it, and that's the way I learned all that, all this about this. The other guys, in Caracas, are talking about how they're going to become New York [big shots], (work through this thing?). As a matter-of-fact, I didn't get some big promotion, or didn't get (to do it?), because (Woodfin?), who was a member of the board of directors of Creole, but he's not a member of the board of directors of New York, but he was held as the big person to augment these national and international lawyers operating for the company. So, they pulled him out of that job and they put him directly into Creole, and he's the one who was talking to me when he said, "Yes, people like you around here. They understand you." I said, "Oh, I can talk to him." The problem was that the man who filled the job, which I eventually took over, was a fellow named Bill (Smizer?). His father was the head of the Geology Department of Johns Hopkins University. Are you getting the picture [of] what I'm giving you, how these people are getting into these jobs? He came there; he couldn't speak Spanish. Now, in Maracaibo, they had a club, what you'd call a club. They had a swimming pool, they showed movies, there's a library, there's nice restaurants, there's a haircut, a big fence around the place to keep the undesirables in and everything else. (Smizer?) comes there, but he can't communicate with the Venezuelan lawyers to tell them what he wants and he can't get any messages from the operating people, who, some of these people, have been down there ten, twelve, fifteen years. They still don't speak English, because they don't care; I mean, they don't speak Spanish, and some Venezuelans don't speak English and the Americans don't speak Italian. So, they're not going to [be able to communicate]. (Smizer's?) there and, soon, he feels, "Gee, these guys are all a bunch of big shots, having a wonderful time in Caracas. Look at me, out here. My goodness, why, why me?" So, he's carrying on. So, he's not paying attention. So, the Venezuelans just retire about him and try to go about their business and nobody's going to the meetings in which the decisions and the progress of the company, or the contemplation that is intended, is conveyed to the Venezuelan lawyers. (Smizer's?) going to the meetings, coming home and nothing else. So, then, he begins writing plays for the little playhouse and whatnot, at the club. It's a club, but it's really, you know what I'm saying. It's got a big, beautiful pool and everything else. So, he's there, there, there, and they're complaining to Caracas, to "Old Man" (Brise?), to the Venezuelan chief of his part, and Campbell is second man, but he's not the top dog. So, all of a sudden, they hire Barrett. I don't know how unhappy Campbell is, but, anyway, I arrive. What? within two weeks or so, I translate, from English into Spanish, the contract guide, who can sign a contract, what are his duties, what are not, what do we require? It's a guide of operations. I translated it from English into Spanish, [laughter] but it's just one little book. So, it's coming Christmastime. (O'Malley?) has come to the United States, looked over my wife, my daughter and my son, goes back and tells them, "You can't move the man. He's liked there," because the question is, even now, he would've liked to have undone the fact that I had been hired, Campbell. To his dying day, he was unhappy. So, (O'Malley?) comes and (O'Malley?) himself had been passed over because he was not Ivy League. So, he tells them, "You can't move him. They like him there." He said, "He's protected by Butte, and (Sirovascus?)," a couple of those guys who were there, once. (Sirovascus?) came to me one day, in very plain English, said to me, "We're going to sign a contract with the Sisters. The Sisters are going to operate the hospital. We can't turn the hospital over to the Venezuelan doctors, because they'll rob us." He said to me, "Write a contract." So, I wrote a contract. He says, "Protect the company." So, I wrote a contract, gave it to her, the Sister (Marian?) was there, American nuns, walks in to see (Earl Vasquez?). She said, "Mr. (Vasquez?), this is what Mr. Barrett give me. We can't sign. We're ready to get out of here. We're doing a lot of work for your company and you paid us adequately, but that's not our function. Our function is to do charity work and you're going to have to swallow some of these expenses for the charity work, or else we're going home." He comes back to me. [laughter] He says, "What about this contract?" I said, "I wrote a normal contract. I protected the company." He says, "No. Everything we've said, the tenant occupies, says the landlord will pay." I said, "It's simple as all that, really?" He said, "You know what I want. We want them to stay here. We don't want the doctors to take over. Do you understand me?" I said, "Dr. (Vasquez?), I understand." He, as a Venezuelan lawyer, had gotten there, but he learned English, came to the United States, studied petroleum engineering, went back and he was a very desirable man. Eventually, there was a question whether he would become president of the company down there and the people in New York says, "No. Even his lawyers, jeez, they'll eat him alive, if we don't have somebody down there to say, 'No, no, no, no.'" So, they always had an American down there, saying, "No, no, no." So, (Vasquez?) got promoted and he had a wonderful life in New York. His wife went to the ballet, they went to concerts, a wonderful life and got wonderful things, but (Vasquez?) told me, "Change it and fix it all." I said, "I'll fix it all." So, he says, "All right, you finished? You like it?" I said, "I like it. Everything's going to be paid by you, by us." So, he says, "Good, for our side." He knew. In the meantime, Butte says, "Don't worry about it; I'll take care of you." Only problem is, I worked on it, there were a couple of little things. They were drilling an oil well out there, one of the contractors, not for us, but for other companies, because, in 1956, the government under the dictatorship [of Marcos Pérez Jiménez], they gave new concessions for the oil well. Most of the lands in Venezuela, when the war of independence by the Venezuelans, against the Spaniards, supposedly, but, actually, it was the government of Napoleon Bonaparte, who has had his brother sitting on the throne of Spain, they revolted. When it was all over, [Simon] Bolívar said, "So many states to you," one of his generals, "For you," another of the generals. All the land was given out in deeds and it was all worked out, and whatever was contrary to that was all straightened out, but, in the Lake Maracaibo, that's where the oil was really found good. They were drilling this well and the cable, you see these cables, you know these very thick cables? split and, on the way back, struck the guy, almost severed his leg off. They take him to the hospital and the Venezuelan lawyers [say], "Take his leg off." The lady who was his wife, who was down there, and the man, the manager from the company, that's a United States company that's operating down there, says, "No, no way." So, they walk in on (Herbert Haglin?). (Herbert Haglin?) was a graduate of this Colorado School of Mines, very bright man. I loved the guy, and he liked me very much. So, they come in and he complained to him that the hospital wouldn't let him go and the hospital, this nun, says, "We can't release; we're not doctors. Our position here is very precarious. The goddamn government would like to take over this hospital tomorrow. We're here, we're trying to do charity work, help us out, please." So, she said, "We can't let him go. You've got to get the doctor to release him, so [that] he can go." These people said, "Look, we've got a plane out there waiting at the airport," whatnot. So, the telephone rings, "This is (Shorty Haglin)." "Yes, sir." [He] said, "Come on down here," [laughter] not, "Please," no, "Come on down here." I said, "Why?" He said, "Listen to what the lady has to say." Then, the manager told me about the story. [His leg] was almost severed and they'd take him to Miami and he'll be all right. So, he says, "What do we do?" I said, "Very simple. We don't want to be sued in New York. If these people are not satisfied, they're not going to sue us in Venezuelan courts, because they don't trust the Venezuelan courts. They'll sue us in New York for millions." I said, "No, sir, wouldn't do it." He said, "Well, what do you want to do then?" I said, "Call (Julio Espinosa?)." (Julio Espinosa?) was a United States-schooled doctor who was the head of the medical department who was operating in this hospital owned by the company, rented to these nuns, but the operation is all for the benefit of the company or the charity work that the sisters find themselves. So, what happened is, the sister told him, "Go see Mr. (Haglin?) and he'll call Mr. Barrett and we'll resolve this." So, when (Haglin?) called me up, I go downstairs, they're happy as [anything]. So, I said, "So-and-so, so-and-so? That's simple. Call in (Julio Espinosa?) Tell him." "I'll call him and you tell him," (Haglin?) tells me. I said, "(Julio?), this is an American company. We don't want to be sued in New York and everybody get called up there and whatnot, and then, they don't want to settle. There'll be hell to pay if we don't quiet this thing. Get that doctor of yours to sign the thing. We'll get a release from them, that they'll be responsible for everything and there's no claim against us." I said, "Look, incidentally, we just own the hospital, but this is not our employee. You don't have to worry about it." Our doctors insist on they cure our boys, "And we want that." So, he says, "So, you tell that doctor, 'Go.'" The doctor who wanted to cut off his leg says, "Well, since we're going to Miami, why don't I go along? Why don't I go along, take care of him on the way there?" So, I said, "Sure, go ahead." They take him out to the airport, fly the plane, arrive in Miami, they save his leg. About a month later, the lady comes back, I'm there with the guy, she comes and she hugs me and kisses me, everything else. Her husband's leg has been saved. When you see those things, then, you just say, "Hey, I must be pretty good." You know what I'm saying? No matter how immodest you are or just say, "This is me," as that clerk said to me, "This is you with this high grade, this mark, this wonderful test?" "This is he;" finished, whatnot. That's the way it worked. In connection with looking for oil, usually, they looked for rocks in certain formations. They know from experience, geology, that [is] where the oil is. In the Lake Maracaibo, you have water and the normal way to find [oil], after you look at rocks, you say, "Oh," they come [in with] what they call a gravity meter, which is an electric operated machine. They put it through and it tells them what kind of rocks, hard rock, sulfur, et cetera, gives them a whole detail. These things are complicated, more than I'm making it, that tells them what the probability [is] that there might be oil below, and, if things comes to worst, especially on land size, what they do is, they throw a line here, place all sort of dynamite around it, put the vehicle that has all these meters, I'm simplifying it, on there, and then, they have all this thing, and the dynamite is usually under the custody of the police of the country. So, we get permission to remove it and they come in, and then, they shoot it and the vibration that causes that earthquake, which they call a seismic thing, they can tell, more or less, what the rocks are below and, because the oil is associated with a certain kind of rocks, at least in a certain country, you know about it. Well, when you have to do that in the Lake of Maracaibo, you know what the hell happens, don't you, when you shoot that dynamite, the stuff?
SI: Kills all the fish.
MB: The fish. So, they want to go and do it. So, they're having a problem. The fishermen, in spite of the fact [that] there's a dictatorship, went on making a lot of noise, "We're being deprived of our bread for [our] children," and [et cetera]. That's the thing that these wonderful, good lawyers just didn't understand. So, one of my subordinates who works there says, "Mr. Barrett, we've got this problem," whatnot. I said, "It's very simple. Get the leader of the union to come in, the president of the union to come in, and see me." "How do you do?" "Hablo espanol." Sure, I spoke Spanish. [laughter] Hey, my parents are Spanish, I myself was [Spanish]. I hate to tell you this; that gave me twenty-five points already, out of a hundred scale. So, I talked with him, "What's your problem? This is a very unique operation for the United States and for Venezuela, and the company and the employment and everything else." He said, "Yes, but they're killing all the fish and what are we going to eat?" I said, "I'll tell you what. I can't tell you [about] a commitment yet, but I'll recommend to the bosses upstairs that, instead of you people going out to catch fish to take it to the market, we'll explore it and you guys gather all the fish, and whatever you can salvage, salvage, and we'll pay you as if [it was] the price [as] if you had sold the stuff. In other words, so, you can have twice the price," and he says, "Who's going to determine the value?" I said, "You people determine that. Talk to so-and-so. Here;" I assigned one of the men. I told him, "Be liberal," I told him. So, he says, "Hey, you understand our needs in this country, don't you?" I said, "No. I understand that you need us and we need you, and the better we get along is fine." He says, "Hey, this is good;" the expression they had down there was, "(Masue?)." When I told that to my friends, I said, I told him, "I'm (masue?)," the guy says, "(Masue?); what a man, what a man," well, because, long, long ago, I don't know why, the people, the French or somebody, whatnot, saw, "This is the man," and that was one other thing. After that, (Hegling?) says, "How did you with the fishermen?" I said, "Fine." He says, "What are you doing for them?" I said, "They're going to gather all the fish. They're not going to interfere with our seismic operation and we'll go forward." He says, "Barrett, I like you." I said, "I like you," I told him, because he gave me the (need?). One more, and then, I'm going to let you go.
MB: In connection with drilling on the lake, let me just give you some story for your own edification; years and years ago, when these generals got all these lands, on land, Shell came along and drilled. Somebody, with some knowledge, drilled an oil well on land and it went. After that, everybody else went down there and was looking all the way. Most of the wells on land were Shell. From the edge of the land and the lake to in for one kilometer belonged to Standard Oil of Indiana, the old one. Beyond that, it was Creole and Standard Oil of Venezuela and whatnot, but most of it, Standard Oil of Venezuela, was in eastern Venezuela, which, by the way, today, Chavez, the dictator, whatever you want to call him, they've found oil there and on the plains, where the other companies hadn't gone, because there's a question of how much you can do or how much money you can come up with. It's very expensive to drill that. So, Creole, Standard Oil, was out in the pond, and Standard Oil of Indiana. In 1937, I think it was '37, Standard Oil of Indiana sold, for seventy million dollars, all the concessions in the lake to Standard Oil of New Jersey. In connection with that, in order to drill an oil well, they build these gigantic, two hundred feet or more, [piles], I told you, they put them down. Then, they cut it back and they couldn't drill. Well, when you're doing that, you have to be very careful about certain things, including fish and whatnot. Well, while they were doing all these things, people [began] wondering what's going to happen. Now, Standard Oil of New Jersey, with a lot of money, bought that company up and started buying here and there, started putting all these companies together and they even established, like a separate company, Creole, of which one-sixteenth of all the stock was owned by some guy, (Lobetkin?), some, I don't know, Lebanese or something, who owned the thing, this share, because he had bought shares into one of these affiliates that were finally put together. In order to build those piles for that, you need reinforcing rod and wire in-between, you need cement and you need sand. Well, the company can't do everything. They just put it all together and they'd build these piles in La Salina. The guy who gets the sand and brings it to the company there, so [that] they can build these gigantic piles, that's when they do those piles, is a guy, (John Calindos?), a Greek, influential, whatnot. I don't know how the hell he ever got the contract, but he got the contract. It's none of my problem. I don't know what he did; he ran afoul with the port captain of the city, who's supposed to watch the borderlines, that the people don't run the dirt into this pond, whatnot, what they called a port captain. (John Calindos?) runs [afoul of him]. So, the Port Captain orders, they notify him, "Shut down operations." Some time goes by and there was no meeting that week, so, I didn't know what the hell was going on. About a week later, or something like that, (Heglin?) calls me up. He says, "We've got a problem." I said, "What's the problem?" He says, "That's why I'm calling you." So, he says, "(John Calindos?) has been shut down. We have no sand. We've got about two or three days' [worth of] sand over at La Salina for the piles. We can't shut down. What are you going to do?" You get to the point where, "Hey, I'm just a lawyer here." "No, you're more than a lawyer. You're a guy who could answer my questions, my problems." So, I had one guy [who] said, "I'll get you an appointment for you," one guy who worked for me. I said, "Look, I've got to go down and talk to the captain." He says, "Let me get you an appointment." He called him up, see if he could ask for an appointment. The appointment-ist says, "Tell him, '(Que viengue puede quera?);' 'Whenever he's ready to come down, I'm here.'" I went down and talked to him, "Well," I said, "look, I'm just a little, old lawyer." He said, "Don't give me that." He said to me, "I know about you. [laughter] You're a fixer-upper." I told him, "This is the problem, so-and-so, and you know that's the way we drill oil wells, and, if we don't drill oil wells, there's no production; no production, no money." So, he says, "The problem is that (Calindos?) is, instead of sending his boats off deeper water for getting sand, he's getting close to shore and operates out of shore and whatnot." I said, "Oh, no, that's not right." I told him, because that's what the captain is saying. It was not right. So, I said, "Well, I'll tell you, gee, (Calindos?) does that." I said, "Captain, do you happen to have anybody that might be able to meet our needs, because we need sand. I'm told there's about two or three days' [supply left] and, with that, we'll have to shut down completely." So, he says, "Oh, no, no, no, no, I've got nobody." Now, you still haven't gotten the song, the sound that he's giving me. He thinks I'm telling him, "Get whomever you want to and we'll take care of him," understand? "and then, you can take it and you can get something, Mr. Captain." That's what he's thinking I'm thinking of. He said, "No, no, I want no part of it. That's your operation. It's your work. I've got nothing to do [with it]. All I have to do is make sure that they observe the law." So, I said, "It's just too bad, because, if you had somebody, I would gladly recommend him to my superiors," and I'm thinking, "I'll never tell him that I'm it," you understand. Never, never do that, because, then, they try to start and bargain with you. I said, "Well;" he said, "No, no." He says, "No, no, that's not it. We're not going to do it that way." He said, "I'm going to observe that he keeps up," he says, "and he has to go in deeper into the water to get the sand, to extract the sand, for the construction of the piles." So, I said, "Well, we wish you would consider, because we're running short," and he says, "Okay, nice seeing you," says, "good, glad to see you," and all that. This is a captain in the Venezuelan Navy and he's got this post, which is a very important post in that whole operation. So, I said, "Well, thank you very much for giving me your time," and whatnot. So, I walk out with the man who made the appointments, because I usually had somebody around me or whatnot, because, once before, I had a problem with somebody [laughter] and they thought the guy was going to kill me. So, they were going to ship me back to New York and I said to myself, didn't say anything to my wife, began thinking, "Go back to New York, twenty-five percent salary cut off, the housing allowance goes off? That's not good. It's not too much money, but it is less money. So, I said, "No." So, they said, "Well, aren't you running a risk of your life, the guy will kill you, because you had him fired?" I said, "I didn't have him fired. Somebody else did." [He] said, "Well, think about it," they told me. In retrospect, if I had, at that time, said, "Well, get me out of here," I would have arrived in New York, I would have sat in New York and said, "When are you going to promote me?" but that's not Manuel Barrett, you understand? A day later or so, the man who had accompanied me down there, down to the port, port captain, comes in, he says, "Captain (Fuentes?) says to tell you that he has decided that (Calindos?) can resume operation, [on] condition, of course, that he obeys what I said." Night and day; so, that's it. When (Haglin?) says something, I said, "I understood the captain already gave his permission." He said, "Yes. I thought you would arrange it," he said to me. I was down there twelve years and that was my job. I was a clutch between what the Venezuelans thought should be done, what the Americans [thought] should be done and that there was no collision, and I could do it by speaking to them. So, now, that these [American] lawyers could have done better or whatnot? yes, if they were talking with an American company, but you're talking to a people with different cultures and different ideas. For instance, I knew right away, when I made that remark about, "Do you have somebody you can recommend? We'll gladly consider; I'll take it up with my superiors and see if they will go along with it," and he says, "Oh, no, no, no." See, he's alert. He says, "This guy's going to get me in trouble." So, he now feels, "Hey, this guy, you don't play with him. So, let's see if we can do something and not make it out of the way." Of course, theoretically, an appeal to whom? These guys they've got that are enjoying these posts, they're related to somebody, or something or other. You don't just spit at them, because you're spitting at the top guy. So, within a day or so, the sand was being pumped up, taken over to the shop we had. It was a magnificent place we had in La Salina. That's all they did there. They did a lot of other repair work and whatnot, but that was one of the operations, because it was elementary that you needed these piles to support the thing on which the drill was stirring, yes, and you're talking about tons and tons and tons. So, it worked out, but I knew that if I asked him to see this, he wouldn't be compromised that I had him, because the contract would be given to someone else. It might have [been] done, because, in all probability, (Calindos?) would have called somebody, said, "Hey, I've got all these barges and all these tugs I'm not using now. Why don't we work out a deal? You'll be the front man and I'll be the back." They could have worked all sorts of deals, but we wouldn't. "I was sincere," I told them. I said, "I'm sincere. If you know somebody, we'll gladly use them. I'll recommend it to my bosses." So, those are the ways that I earned my living. Now, did I have something extraordinary? no. I was a good lawyer, don't misunderstand me, but I also could see where you go and where you don't go, when you have problems, and that was the thing that I did. That's the thing I did. My life in Maracaibo was wonderful. My daughter went to Baldwin School in Pennsylvania. [When] she was old enough, she came and she stayed here, whatnot. We got to the point where we were concerned about my son with the spina bifida, and my in-laws were complaining, my father-[in-law] says, "What do you need, a Cadillac?" I said, "Now, I don't need anything." I said [that] I didn't want to take anything from him and I didn't have to, because I had achieved and I was [successful]. I'm not being arrogant or anything; I was able to do what was needed by the people who were in need, and I could do it and they were jealous of me. Should they have paid me more? maybe, sure, maybe not. Once or twice, when I was there, (Manuel Angulio?) would come down and he says, "How you doing?" He says, "So-and-so, what's your salary?" "So-and-so." He says, "Hell, yes, you can go into a meeting with the heads of this, this, this, this, this, you should have a salary equivalent to them or even more, because you're better than they are, because you can serve this company." That was (Manual Angulio's?) [view]. I said, "(Angie?), why don't you take over?" He says, "No, you know that can't be done." He said, "I fell afoul with (Brisse?) way back when." Well, I could understand; he came there and he just saw such a shambles that he tried to put the whole thing together, but it's very difficult to teach somebody who is in power that what he's doing is all wrong. Now, in the United States, you see this, these guys quit the job or they get fired [from] a job. Now, I noticed they're firing people left and right, including this guy (O'Neil?), from Merrill Lynch, 156 million dollars, plus seventy million dollars also in stock options? What the hell is going on? Where's the Securities Exchange Commission? Where's the tax code? That guy doesn't need that much, just so he can have three or four (for him?) and gloat and everybody publishes that he makes, they paid him, 156 million dollars. Were I the boss, I'd fire him. It's nine-point-something billion dollars that Merrill Lynch is losing, because he made some very big mistakes. Everybody's flying. So, today, they are making horrible mistakes and they're getting paid for it. Now, when I was with Creole, you didn't make many mistakes before somebody'd fly you out of there. Once more, stories I'll tell you; I worked in Maracaibo and one of the men, the industrial relations man, was a fellow named Jarvis Garrett, G-A-R-R-E-T-T. The name doesn't mean anything to you, do you?
MB: Did you ever know about Pat Garrett? He's the guy who killed Billy the Kid.
SI: Yes, okay.
MB: This was one of his sons.
MB: One of his brothers was in sales and he was industrial relations. He had worked for Standard Oil in New Jersey, in Mexico. In 1938, Lázaro Cárdenas; you'll notice, I know a little bit of history and geography about people. Lázaro Cárdenas says, "These fucking Americans, they're just robbing us. Get them out of here," and he nationalized the company. "We'll worry about what we'll pay you later on." Everybody expected the Marines to be sent down there, but Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Roosevelt said, "No way. The Marines aren't going anywhere." So, Lázaro Cárdenas nationalized the oil industry. Well, what are you going to do with all these people who [are] working for your company? So, Standard Oil grabbed the people out of there, said, "Hey, you cut the company? Who the hell is going to work for you?" took the people and sent them here and there and everywhere, and Jarvis Garrett arrives in Venezuela and he's there during the time when World War II was [going on] and they're pumping the stuff out of there. He's got knowledge, something else, very good. By the way, he married some Puerto Rican lady, very nice, wonderful fellow, was a skinny guy, mustache. When I was there a short while, one day, he said to me, "I was at a meeting here and, boy, you really said something there. I'll tell you what; forgive me for saying," he says, "I know that everybody holds you in high regard and whatnot, but I want to tell you something, and learn something from me." He says, "You know who I am?" I said, "Yes, Jarvis Garrett," didn't mean a thing to me. He says, "I'm the son of Pat Garrett. My brother's So-and-So and works in sales." So, he says, "You know what? You have to be very careful." He said, "You know why? Because you and I are unimportant. This company makes millions and millions of dollars daily, profit, and so, if you antagonize somebody, the next thing you know, you'll be onboard a plane flying back to the United States." He said to me, "Remember that." He says, "Now, you, you speak their language and whatnot. So, you can't claim you didn't know what the hell you were saying." So, he says, "So, be careful." Then, he says, "By the way, did you ever read the story about this?" "No." So, he gave me a book, I don't know if I still have it, telling the true story of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. By the way, I've noticed they're making it on television again, but he's the one who also told me that. Every so often, you'd get somebody to tell you something. I was about thirty-two years of age. Believe me, for a lawyer, like Obama, you have to have much more knowledge in the business you're in, understand? and I've repeated to you, these wonderful lawyers who were sent down there, they were all dreaming about becoming chief corporate counsels of Standard Oil in New York, and they thought, "I'll go down there and get some polish and whatnot and earn my spurs and everything should be fine." Well, they had it all wrong. The only way you could get your spurs and ride a horse and whatever, you have to have some communication, and that was the story. That was the story. So, I came home, got stationed in New York for a while, married my wife, went to law school, went down there. We did well, and my kids enjoyed it. Every so often, I built a house up on a hill, in the evening, you could watch the tankers go by, loaded with oil, going out and whatnot. One last thing; for years and years, the people wanted a bridge across the river, instead of using these ferries. They built one. The work was done by a Dutch company. Standard Oil was selling a lot of oil to Japan. This is during the bad years. [The] Japanese had no money to pay for it. So, somebody thought about it in New York and they came up with the idea of having the Japanese build a couple ships for them, in payment for all this crude, all the oil that they were giving the Japanese. They built two ships, one, the Esso Maracaibo, one, Esso Caracas. One day, they loaded the Esso Maracaibo and it starts off from La Salina and [was] going past, under this bridge. By the way, that bridge was beautiful. It went over, you just went one, two, three. You didn't have to wait for the [ferry]. They have ferries like they have in Staten Island.
MB: Where did I leave off?
SI: You were telling me about the bridge.
MB: Yes. For years and years, the people were asking, "When are you going to build a bridge?" So, the Esso Maracaibo gets loaded with oil and starts going, leaves La Salina and you have to go under the bridge, then, continue out to sea, and then, you'd go to Aruba or Curacao or bring it to Bayonne, or you'd take it to Europe, the crudes. Most of these ships used to come just to New York. The motor shuts down. The electricity is what propels the ship and, also, steers it. So, the ship, the tide is moving, the ship starts moving, moving, moving, eventually, gets to hit the column. The bridge drops down. You've seen that; remember what happened in Minnesota there. [Editor's Note: Mr. Barrett is referring to the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi Bridge in Minneapolis on August 1, 2007.] Several cars land on the deck of the ship, on the light deck of the ship; some of the cars go down. What had happened is that, in the construction of the tanker, they failed to use the secondary method for steering it, should have had a hydraulic. Even if it didn't work very quickly, you could still make some changes, keep it from going across, because it was the gravitational force from the tide that pushed it against this, whole thing went down. The cars that were going up to the hill, because it was a kind of a hill, "Whoosh;" my wife always jokes about that, "All those cars were just falling into the thing." Well, what happened? They're trying to recover and whatnot, all of a sudden, (Lombard?) arrives from Caracas with this maritime lawyer who's from some so-and-so and so-and-so. We have a meeting and the guy says, "I'm not just trying to impress you or anything else," but the guy says, "We'll declare force majeure." This is Mr. So-and-So from the law firm So-and-So, retained by the company to send down here to help us. So, he says, "Well, it's simple," said, "we'll claim force majeure, an act of God." The man with whom I worked daily, Dr. (Acosta?), who was a Venezuelan; by the way, he looked like half Indian, half Venezuelan. Appearance-wise, you'd probably think he was a beggar, was a very bright, intelligent man. He had started school with an Indian teacher, one of these Indians from (Bahera?), learned, spoke excellent Spanish, in grammar, grammatically correct, everything else. He's sitting next to me, looks at me and I look at him, and the guy says, "Well, force majeure. If anything else [comes up], what we'll do is, we'll take depositions." You know what depositions are; you call somebody in and you ask them questions and whatnot. So, (Acosta?) says to me, "Mr. Barrett, you know you can't take depositions unless you get a court order." I said, "Agreed." He says, "You don't believe it's really an act of God, do you, force majeure, do you?" He's talking to me [in] Spanish, very slowly. The guy from New York, he doesn't know what the hell's going [on]. He's [at] the head of the table and we're down the other end. So, I said, "No, I agree with you." So, I said, "I might as well say something, because they think that we agreed." So, I said, for (Lombard?), who was going to become the chief in Caracas, I said, "Look, our ship knocked down that bridge. Politicians, or other things, are not going to forgive us. Second, you're lucky that it's the Esso Maracaibo, not the Esso Caracas," because the people in Caracas always complained that Maracaibo sent all the money to Caracas and the people in Caracas, being pretentious and whatnot, used to spend all our money. All the administration offices, all the good jobs, are in the office in Caracas, but the ship was not the Caracas, it was the Maracaibo, which is local, and the pride and whatnot of the people is that their ship is the one that, unfortunately, has done [damage to the bridge]. So, I said, "First thing, I don't think we would prevail. Second, Dr. (Acosta?) tells me," I tell them, I said, "Dr. (Acosta?) tells me that he doesn't think that force majeure would stand up in a court here and, second, no depositions can be taken unless you get a court order after the case has been started, and you have to have permission fixing the hour, the term and all, and the depositions are taken before the judge, not before lawyers only, like they do in the United States. So, we recommend that this matter be considered deftly, and that is the recommendation we're making to management locally. I don't know what they'll say to you in Caracas, but that's the story." So, [Mr. Barrett imitates people debating] everybody goes off. (Acosta?) then tells me, he says, "We'd better get to this thing." We went to (Heglin?); no, (Glendenny?) was then the manager, said, "Look, keep the law department out of here, because, [when] you start talking about legal, lawyers, the people, you'll never settle this thing." I mean, I was realistic, you understand? You don't use the law department, when you really want to really knock somebody down, unless he's going to go hat-in-hand, "Please," like I was. So, we told (Haglin?), "We recommend that you get some appraisers from the accounting department, go out there, evaluate the cars, the value of the cars, pay that and even more, or double the price, find out who the people are, how much they're making or whatnot, get a reasonable sum of money and pay people for their injuries and their losses of income from people," et cetera, et cetera, "and we keep us out. Make the people from your industrial relations [department], people who are accustomed to [the] nice way, give them [what they want], and keep us out. To begin with, we don't have enough people for that, we're not in a position to evaluate the value or anything else; you people do and you appreciate it." So, he says, "Thanks." So, we backed out. We never heard about the report he gave them, that phony lawyer, pompous bag. That was the sort of thing I had to contend [with], that you don't stick your foot in your mouth [with] the people that are feeding you, for God's sakes, but, anyway, that was the one thing, that my wife always laughs about it. She says, "Gee, I saw that picture of those cars falling." It was [the] middle of the night and, when the lights went out, the taxis and whatnot, people who [were driving], they weren't watching the lights. They were just going up, [Mr. Barrett imitates a car driving], probably talking to somebody while they're driving, [Mr. Barrett imitates cars falling]. There was about two or three cars landed on top of the tanker. Now, why didn't we have an explosion? because the biggest danger we ever had in the Lake Maracaibo is when two empty tankers would collide, because the tanks are never free from the fumes from the oil, and that's the explosive factor, but these were loaded, I mean, fully loaded, and I never told anybody. Talking to people, I would just talk, listen to me, a naval engineer, I said, "I would have put a secondary steering mechanism on the plant, so [that], when thing shut down, [it could be steered]," but somebody in New York who had ordered those ships did not watch who the hell was building them and how much the electrician [was concerned]. At that time, the Japanese electrical apparatuses and whatnot left a little bit to be desired, at least I think they did, I think as evidenced by that problem. So, now, you're getting an idea of, more or less, what I did, [laughter] what I did in the war and what I did. I enjoyed a relatively nice, good life. The only problem is, as I said, just I would give a million dollars if I could get somebody [to eliminate Alzheimer's]. My wife has Alzheimer's. It's terrible.
MB: My wife was a brilliant violinist. When she was a little girl, thirteen years of age, she already played in the WPA [Works Projects Administration] orchestra. One day, the coffee man; when I was a kid, sugar, no, no, butter, eggs, bread, coffee was delivered home, and a Greek man used to deliver coffee to her parents' home and she was a young violinist, started playing. Her father said, "You're going to play it, so-and-so," was one of these men, "This is what's going to be done." So, she started. She enjoyed it. She always talks about the third floor of their house, was kind of a room for her, she went away from problems of her parents. She had a room and she played, practiced. She said, "I practiced and practiced and loved (emplota?)," because some of these people think it's fifty minutes are up, forty minutes are up. No, no, she says, "I played and played and played. I enjoyed playing. I played for myself." She was good. One day, the coffee man comes in and hears her playing. He says, "Hey, you're good." He said, "Would you like to come in and join us?" and she always refers to "The Coffee Man's Orchestra." In reality, it was WPA, like I told you, and the WPA had [orchestras], so that these [people could earn some money], which this man in Washington [President George W. Bush] can't appreciate. Roosevelt gave people jobs. Not all jobs made you live like a king, [laughter] but it gave you something, you understand? and, in the long run, that's what turned people around and made things [function], and so, when we went to war, we were [involved in] many functions and many activities in the United States which were needed for the war, was going by, because they hadn't been shut down completely. So, she played with that orchestra for a long time. Then, she went to high school, and then, she went to college, she played, and then, when the first, I guess it was the original New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, she played with it, and then, she belonged to what they called the Montclair Operetta Club, which was a club, like a player's club or something, but it was the Montclair Operetta, used to present operettas. They would bring in a good, professional person who would be the lead, the first two leads, and then, the rest would be some of the members, of the people, because Montclair was a very nice, little town, and people there, look, don't misunderstand me, if you have knowledge and whatnot, you are appreciated for your [knowledge]. These people had knowledge, had standing in the community. She played in it for a long time and she played with the man who was her tutor, who was a member of the union, in New Jersey, the musicians' union. They used to play in the theaters and whatnot. [The] Paramount Newark used to have music and an orchestra in the pit, and her teacher or instructor, when she had received [lessons], used to sit and play that, because he was in, a good union member and whatnot. She did that, and then, when she came to Venezuela, she used to practice and play and it was delightful, delightful, and it isn't just because she's my wife. She was good and, when Creole was helping the companies set up, the government and some local people wanted to have an orchestra there and they appointed some Cubans, some Argentineans, some Italians, they all put them all together and the director of the academy of music, to which my daughter was attending, to learn the piano, freebie, no charge, nothing, and had nothing to do with her. I heard about it and my wife was a little bit [bored with her daily routine]. She wasn't having anything to do all day. She had to watch the children, but we had two maids. One did the ironing and washing of clothes and the other one kept cleaning the house. She cooked, she brought up the children, nobody tells us that, and so, I sounded them out, because I knew Creole was putting money into that outfit. So, I went to the public relations man. I said, "Look, my wife plays the violin. She's come back from the United States, she has a new baby, but I think she would enjoy playing [in] it. Do you think she might be able to get into the orchestra?" He says, "I'll take care of it." [laughter] He went to one of the directors of the academy, said, "Hey, an American lady plays the violin. Why don't you give her a try? If she's no good, let her go." She went there. She had a violin, which she had had many years. She played. [laughter] "Hey, wonderful." They didn't think that the Americans could do that, do you understand what I'm saying? This idea that some people, our representatives, go overseas, or in any country or any activity, and they create such a false sense or notion as to what Americans can do, you understand? That's the one thing. So, she played with the orchestra, it was wonderful. Then, they would travel. The orchestra would travel around the whole neighborhood. The orchestra would pay for me, for chaperoning her, protecting her, and then, we would put our children in, have to take them out of school for a day or so, two days. We had a car; we'd take them. We went to Valencia, we went to (Petithote?), we went to some of these places way up in the mountains, nice and cool. A couple times, we went also to a city near Cucuta, which is Columbia, down the end. We traveled all around. It was a delightful life and, as my wife says, it's an exaggeration, she says, "Go on, that was no work for you. It was just like eating ice cream in August." I said, "Well, but you still have to bring the ice cream to your mouth," I told her, and, generally speaking, when I left, they were sad. They knew it was going to be difficult. [As] a matter-of-fact, they never did send anybody to replace me there, whereas I had replaced (Meiser?). I often wonder, "How the hell'd he get the job?" Well, his father was the head of the geology department of Johns Hopkins. That's not a neighborhood school, you know what I'm saying? It's something, but he couldn't appreciate the fact that it was not just practicing law, it was helping the operations of the company and, now and then, you had to say, "Yes; no; no; yes," whatnot, but you learned how to say it and how it was. Like I said, I told you, I got my comeuppance when I wrote the contract for the Sisters of Charity. She said, she went to the guy, said, "Here, we're not going to take this. If you people can't amend this, we'll go home, because we can't operate this big, white elephant for you people. We're here to do charity." So, he said, "Straighten it out." "Yes, sir." You want it that way? The client has a right to demand what it is. I learned that from a previous time when I was in New York with the law firm. Sure, that's the way it works, and so, it was very satisfying. Well, after a while, we were here a couple years, my kids said, "Gee, what a beautiful house we had there." I said, "Hey, this house isn't bad." We could paint this, but my wife doesn't want any paint. It is the saddest thing in the world, watching her to decline, bit-by-bit, and it doesn't decline fast. It's like watching a little child grow up and, now, you reverse the process and it's difficult. We have a very wonderful lady who works for us. She's here full-time. We pay her a good sum of money, but, hey, my kids have said, "Whatever you have, don't worry about us; we got enough. You put us through school, graduate school, everything else. We're doing fine." As you would gather from my story to you, there's something in here that says, "Don't spend so much," but the things that we needed, we needed comfort. We pay her very well and she's happy, get up, she [has] coffee, whatnot. Sometimes, there are things I think I could have done. I was doing it for a while, but my kids said, "No." So, I said, "I don't want to spend the money," I told them. So, they all got together, said, "We'll pay." I called them down and said, "No, nobody pays; I'll pay for it, whatever it is." I said, "What's going to happen is, you're going to have a couple nickels instead of a quarter after we die." They said, "Oh, no, you've got a house that's worth over a million dollars. There'll be plenty for us here. Please, enjoy yourself; take it easy."
SI: That is good.
MB: So, they stayed around, they talk to me. I enjoy reliving some moments in which I could do things, and I was quite successful, but I was prepared, as my mother told me. See, I told you the story, she used to say, "You look at a person, the grandfather did something, great-grandfather did more, father, there he stands, and you don't know how much work he works." [Mother] says, "Now, if you want to, there's no reason for you not to get that." So, I told you, she came out of a family where her cousin's boys were doctors. My father was a different theology. He was the favorite son of his mother. She did him a disservice, but, for all intents and purposes, he was almost a stranger to me. I never met him until I was seven years old. Then, I saw him again when I was nine years old, and, within two years, two-and-a-half years later, he was gone. Those factories, they were just killing people and they just didn't even know that they were getting killed, chipping and all that stuff, and no ...
MB: Ventilation, nothing, nothing on their face and whatnot. Poor guy used to cough, cough, cough at night and couldn't sleep and whatnot. So, he went there and, for a while, he went there in '52 and he lived through '77 or '78. So, the air there was much better for him there, but, in the meantime, a new life was started here. As far as I was concerned, I never came into play, because I was never; we never went to ballgames together, we never went picnicking together. At that time, he was working and, two or three days after we arrived, the [stock] market crashed. Then, after that, he began wondering [about his job]. They used to, prior to that time, work six days a week, about ten hours a day. They started cutting back to three days, four days, and he was lucky that they were keeping him on, but there was no [recourse], like now. You can walk in and say, "Look, hey, these guys are killing me," or killed me. There's none of that today, because they take courses, the EPA and the health department, everything else, but, at that time, it was just work. They paid you well and whatnot, but I was more lucky. My children don't have to worry about my coughing up or dying. I'm just hoping that, my main objective in life now is to make my wife's life reasonably painless. She suffers quite a bit from arthritis. So, I'm trying to do the best I can for that. We've got this lady. She cooks and whatnot, she cleans the house and whatnot, and I get to read the papers, I read some books, I pay all the bills, and I don't owe anybody any money. I've got some outstanding bills, which I got yesterday. Tomorrow, probably, I'll sit down and pay them off. I take my wife, twice a week, to a place where she associates with other people her age and the people there are very understanding and they're learned in that work and they take care of her. Then, she comes home, it's a different change and we have this lady, she cooks for her, she cleans her, makes the beds, cleans the house, whatnot. It's not cheap, but, hey, as my kid says, "That's for you to have and to spend." So, I'm just hoping that she's here a long, long time. She's deserving of it, she deserves all this, because she's done a wonderful job. People say, "Gee, your money's increasing." I said, "Well, my wife used to get 103 pennies on every dollar I gave her." She made some very good investments while we had some money, and, now, with these high rates that the banks are paying, we get along. That's it.
SI: Thank you.
MB: I've been starting all this and my daughter has a camcorder and started doing this [interviewing], but this, I enjoyed doing this for you. I'm sorry I took so much of your time.
SI: No, this is fine. This is about average. Actually, I was thinking that we could do a follow-up interview.
MB: Well, you just go through that and see what you'd like to save.
MB: I gave you some of the stuff, what I enjoyed, and, now, let me say this to you, that when I was washed out of Bucknell, because of my eyesight, I was kind of unhappy about it, or maybe unhappy is not the word. I was kind of down, but I remember, when I took that test and that guy says, "This you?" "I'm he." So, he looked at me, "Honestly, it's me." I said, "I'm he, I'm the one there." He says, "Well, then, you're already [slated], evidently." To this day, as I told you, I don't know who [did that]. I didn't do it all by myself, let me say that. You understand? I think you've gotten that from me.
SI: Yes, you have said that.
MB: Somebody really helped me. I don't know whom to thank or whatnot, but somebody did help me, and I hope, at least I think I did, that, somehow, that whoever reposed their confidence and wishes upon me are not disappointed or were not disappointed.
SI: I think you have done very well and have made those people proud.
MB: It has been good. When I went to see him, oh, he was good.
SI: Dr. (Stein?)?
MB: (Stein?), yes, he's very good. He's still down there and he asked me, he said, "Please, stay in touch with me." He says, "I contacted, for a while, Walter (Price?)." I think Walter (Price?) was a Hollywood producer, of movies or something. Now, we're talking about people sixty years ago. It was a different world and there were many people that I met, and there was one or two members of the Italian team, I'll never forget, a guy named (Nalo?), and I think, once or twice, he said, "Yes, you should be;" I never had no illusions, the idea, "Well, hey, my eyes don't permit me to do it," and it was very funny. I talked to one of the men there and he looked at my record. He says, "Hey," he says, "you know, we can't have you on deck and miss a buoy and the ship gets stuck on a sandbar," or whatnot. I said, "I didn't intend to become a deck officer ever." As a matter-of-fact, after I was in for a while, then, they began seeing, "What the hell? This guy's a cook and this guy's a so-and-so. Why does everybody have to become a deck officer?" You saw that, and they said it, that I could qualify for a deck officer. So, I knew a lot of guys who qualified for deck officer, but they didn't have as good [of] a nice life as that. I enjoyed my stay in Italy and Palermo. Algiers, well, we're running into all these generals and colonels of the French Army. It was a different world and we weren't there too long, because they were on the point of dismember [the unit]. A lot of those people got sent up to England, because there were many operations there. They needed a lot of people. So, they went there. The big disappointment was, as I told you, boy, I could boast about going to Yalta and seeing this and that, but, hey, considering with what I started, I didn't do bad.
SI: Yes. You have done very well in your life.
MB: And my children, they're fixed. They don't have to worry about it. Just, every Christmas and every birthday, we send them a thousand-dollar bond.
SI: That is nice.
MB: We help Uncle Sam, [laughter] help them with their debts, and the children enjoy it and put it away. My son, his youngest daughter, once, when she got the money, she was a little one and Richard said to her, "This is Grandpa and Grandma; they're sending you one-thousand bond, so-and-so." "A thousand dollars, let's have a party." He said, "You've got it all wrong." He said, "Grandpa and Grandma would not be very happy if that's what [you do with it]." Of course, it wasn't intended to behold them. My oldest granddaughter, she's going to be seventeen. I think she has about thirty-four thousand dollars. So, as I said, she at least can buy a car, [laughter] when she gets out. I'm glad for them, and it isn't my accomplishment. Everybody said, "Gee, you did this." I have some niece and she has some children and they all think, "Woo, Uncle Manuel." I said, "No, Uncle Manny was helped by a lot of people, a lot of people," and, even in instances where they wouldn't help me and, if I didn't realize it, I'm not bitter about it. When we were in Italy, when a soldier with a [Combat Infantryman's] Badge came in here, with a rifle, came by, we would salute him. If we saw some guy who's just, we just would ignore him. I'll never forget, one day, we were far away and one of these pompous Navy men, I don't know where the hell we were, he says, "Hey, sailors, don't you salute your superiors?" [laughter]
SI: You just gave him a half-hearted salute.
MB: Well, we didn't want him to yell and go anywhere. You don't know who the hell can throw a little grain into your roller-bearing, you understand? So, you just; I'm very, very lucky, very, very lucky. People helped me very much. I'm very grateful. My mother used to say, "The greatest virtue is gratitude." We have a man across the street who helps us out around. He put that up for me. He does this, he does that, he cleans our gutters and whatever. He's like an angel, I'm saying, "Angel," in the sense he did everything else. I'm always trying to thank him. Once or twice, I said, "Hey, maybe I'd better buy you a car." He says, "No, I don't need it. I like my car." So, sometimes, I said, "Bring me the bill. Let me pay you for it." He says, "No, it's my pleasure." He's a widower. His wife died from cancer. He's sort of adopted us. I don't know what, [if] my son or what my other daughter have said anything to him, but he's very good for us. You can see that we have that log place. He put that in.
MB: He put the mat there and you see, another little thing, he puts out, because we have to roll my wife up in that chair. He does everything to make it comfortable for us and, every so often, he says, "You want me to help you, accompany you?" I said, "No, no," and, of course, the nurse, this lady, she's kind of strong. She does a lot of things that I try to do. She says, "No, no, no." Every so often, in the morning, I go downstairs, I have a stationary bike that I keep going. I can't stop. I know my mind doesn't stop, but, I mean, also, my body. I have to just keep going, because who knows what's going to happen? I am realistic. Alzheimer's may take time, time, time, time. My children are just praying that nothing happens to me. So, I would feel that I had failed her if I wasn't here. She needs me. That's the one thing that guides me. I've got to take care of myself, so that I can be here whenever she needs me. The lady we have here, she's very good and works, and I had hoped, once upon a time, as I tell it, sometimes, when I tell them down at the place where my wife goes, I say, "I thought, one day, I'd retire and I was going to reread the Iliad and the Odyssey, because I read through them once and I remember the story, but the terminology and everything else, those are beautiful books." They said, "Oh, it's all right," but, really, we were in a condition that we could have made some more tours here and there. My son takes me, every two years, to Spain, to go over and look at my property, which I have there. I think I told you, we went to Palma de Mallorca, a beautiful place. We stayed in a hotel out of the city, which is the best of the best, somebody described it, very nice. Then, we went to Bilbao and went to that. I'm just going to tell you, imagine, down in the basement, we have a place where we keep throwing boxes. There are boxes all over and whatnot and that is what the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum is. It isn't like the New York. That's the one that has the [spiral edifice], but, inside, you see the columns and supports and whatnot. It's an engineering feat. It was done by an American architect, G-E-H-R-Y. I don't know his first name, [but his last] is Gehry, anyway, beautiful. We were there a couple days and saw it, beautiful, and I said to my son, I said, "I'd like to go see it." So, he says, "You want to go see it? We go." So, we had a lot of fun.
SI: That is great.
MB: I want to thank you for coming here.
SI: Thank you for everything you have done, for sharing your story and for your service to our country. I would like to come back someday and ask some questions, but this has been a great look at your life. Thank you very much.
MB: Well, if I may ...
MB: I hope that you'll give me a copy and I'll make copies for my children.
SI: Of course, yes.
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Reviewed by Chris Treble 3/8/2009
Reviewed by Damian Kulikowski 3/8/2009
Reviewed by Kristie Thomas 3/8/2009
Corrected by Alex Sutton 6/5/2017