Today, 6 May 2014, is National Teachers Day. Being reminded of this as I surfed the internet last week, thoughts of my high school and college days have hovered in my mind ever since. While far from being the most outstanding student in my class, I was, I think I can say truthfully, somewhat above average and did graduate with honors from both my high school and undergraduate college.
Music, history, social studies, English, literature, and, to a lesser degree, science were my favorite subjects. They were the ones in which I did my best work, and they were the ones whose teachers gave me the most encouragement to keep going. An education in the humanities is an important part of being truly human, in my opinion.
It was music that gave me my identity throughout my years of formal schooling. Although I did learn to play the trombone in high school and played in the marching band, it was my singing that mattered most and for which I was almost always praised. There are two teachers who deserve my undying thanks for this. Angela Boccella was my music teacher in elementary school, and the monthly talent program she held in her classroom gave a very socially awkward young boy a chance to express himself in a way that, except for his always praised reading skills, he otherwise could not.
Herbert Ostrander was the music teacher in the high school that I attended, directing both the band and the chorus. He and Mrs. Erickson, who directed the school's theatre activities, saw and encouraged the talents of a young fellow who was otherwise something of a misfit. I would be named my school's best actor in the high school yearbook of 1952, the year I graduated, and Mr. Ostrander saw to it that I was introduced to one of Pittsburgh's best private voice teachers.
McClurg Miller, who also taught at Duquesne University, patiently guided my singing skills until I was able to win a small scholarship in voice to Maryville College, a small, liberal arts, church-related college in Eastern Tennessee, not far from the majestic beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains.
History was another area in which I excelled. Under the guidance of Mrs. Simon, who was my fifth grade social studies teacher, I submitted an original Civil War story to a competition being sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution. My entry won second place. I still have the small medal I received as my prize.
In high school, my history interests were further honed by John Shope, whose weekly short essay demands always encouraged students to not only think for themselves, but to be certain to provide supportive evidence for what we wrote. He cannot be thanked enough for that encouragement. Our class's high school yearbook of 1952 was dedicated to this always smiling man who warmly greeted his classes as they came through the door to his room. The editors of the 1952 yearbook chose wisely for their dedication, when they dedicated our book to him. The inscription that accompanied the dedication said it all. Taking a line from Kahlil Gibran's beautifully written and inspiring book "The Prophet," the inscription read: "If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind." That was John Shope. And that is every teacher worthy of the title.
The beauties of the language into which I was born have always spoken deeply to the very depths of my being. The masterly written, spoken, and sung words have enriched my life beyond measure. Throughout my years of formal and informal education, there have been so many teachers, friends, and members of my family who have made so many excellent suggestions for my reading, my listening, and my learning. One's education does not – or, at least, it should not – end with the walking out of the school door. So on this National Teachers Day, I wish to express my gratitude to all those who contributed. The wisdom of those words has given light to the darkest of days. Thank you!
Last Updated on Monday, 05 May 2014 14:20
That's right. Agriculture goes back to the Neolithic Age some 12,000 years ago. For nearly as long, there's probably been some form of Extension Work and Farm Bureau organizations in operation. But that's quite a time-span to cover. My intent here is to take a briefer look-back in history at the events leading up to the passage of the Smith-Lever Extension Act of 1914.
Probably unique to American farmers is a sincere interest in self-improvement combined with the desire to control their own destiny. It's why many of our ancestors came here. Being bound to the land, in servitude to the Lord of the Manor was unacceptable. Being unified and educated in practical knowledge was the way to guarantee freedom, a lesson learned well during the War of Independence. Ben Franklin's well-known cartoon "Join or Die" speaks to that sentiment. Still active, one can't help but think Scientist-Statesman Ben had something to do with the establishment of the Philadelphia Society in 1785. That may be the starting point of the many early agricultural societies formed over succeeding years to improve farming practices.
By the early 1800s these regional societies were sponsoring the formation of county associations, holding fairs not only for the sale of farm animals and products but for educational purposes as well. Competitive exhibitions with prizes and orations on agricultural subjects were some methods used. Entries of livestock and produce for premiums included advice on varieties, pest control and fertilization. In an early yearbook we're told of growing: "Mammoth Blue potatoes: after the corn I hauled onto the piece twelve two-horse loads of marsh mud mixed with as many bushels of ashes and fifteen hogsheads of night manure incorporated and plowed in" It seems all essential nutrients were account for as they "produced a fine crop good sized, smooth and free from rot."
New Hampshire 's own State Agricultural Society was organized in 1849 " young, weak, without patronage, yet strong in hope of good to come" My Transactions of 1858 make for interesting reading; familiar names fill their membership rolls, Franklin Pierce a donor, Daniel Webster (deceased) a society orator. Along with what was happening in the state it includes educational articles about: artificial fertilizers, Horsfalls Dairy Management, Sheep Breeds in Great Britain, even a how-to treatise on 'deepening soils'. My favorite article is from "a gentleman of Lancaster" regarding Coos County "but little known to many of the farmers of this state, the opinion being prevalent that its soil is entirely unfit for cultivation" He endeavors to correct that misconception. I am certainly convinced it is the land "flowing with milk and honey "which he describes.
Early on, the necessity of educational outreach by colleges was understood. By 1824 the Rensselaer Institute in Troy was teaching applied science for graduates "to go out and instruct farmers by lectures in towns and districts" In 1840s Ohio, a Mr. Townshend, who would become their Dean of the College of Agriculture, was encouraging the formation of farmers clubs In every town, along with monthly meetings on scientific agriculture. He was also advocating the training of "competent individuals" on an extensive range of subject matters to lecture to these groups. By 1882 Pennsylvania State was holding winter 'Farmer Institutes' consisting of 40 lectures by professors and agricultural specialists. An 1898 Michigan College paper thought extension work should have a standing "like that of research and the teaching of students" but whose "chief business was to teach the people who could not come to college". Within ten years these "Farmer Institutes" -in 14 states, including N.H.- were well established and state governments appropriating funds for them.
A nation of farmers moving westward called for innovative educational methods. In 1904 Iowa the "Corn Special" train was one such pioneering idea to go with lantern slides, lecture outlines, charts, and bulletins. Two trains, fully equipped with all necessary to promote better seed corn, chugged across the plains stopping at farm country stations. It was a hit; I suppose we'd now say "it went viral". Within a couple of years similar trains containing books, demonstration materials, and lecturers had been run in 21 states, with agricultural materials now covering a broader range of topics. Often, though "county roads were deep in mud, attendance was all that could be desired" Probably a whole book could be written about this episode which reached its peak in 1911 when 71 trains in 28 states recorded a total attendance of 995,220 people! Declining in popularity overtime it was observed that: "Unless followed up by continued personal efforts of extension agents there was little practical result after the excitement caused by the agricultural train died down"
With so many people earning their living from the land, farmer organizations of all sorts had been springing up for some-time. As I think most Farm Bureau members know, county-based, grass-root Farm Bureaus predate the national American Farm Bureau founded in 1919 by representatives from 30 states. Already supported by these farmers organizations were a host of "Farm Demonstrators" or "County Agents", Colleges were also developing courses of instruction to prepare them for this profession.
A glimpse back to an article on farm demonstrations (in 1909 by Prof Knapp), whose name you'll recognize, gives us an idea of the knowledge they needed. Besides, it seems, everything from agronomy to animal husbandry..."Agents would be called upon to give much incidental instruction on improvements of the rural homestead, roads, schools, social affairs as well as technical matters relating to fruit and vegetable growing, insect pests and other subjects" Whew! In listing qualifications when selecting a County Agent, one northeast Farm Bureau also wants someone "with a pleasing personality" but, "not an office man, lecturer or experimenter." Thankfully, they also understood the importance of "an active farm organization" to lend them the necessary support. That remains essential today.
Extension Work had become recognized as something quite different from the research/resident student instruction found at our Land-Grant Colleges. (See a previous article "Thanks Abe" about their foundation.) Plans were coming together that would give "extension work immediate national significance". This was to eventually crystallize into what we are presently celebrating the: Centennial of The Smith-Lever Act of 1914. As you can imagine a lot of debate ensued before its passage. In reporting the Bill, Congressman Lever envisioned it as "a system of demonstration or itinerant teaching pre-supposing the personal contact of the pupil in the actual demonstration of the lesson". The role of the county agricultural agent to "give leadership and direction along all lines of rural activity-social, economic, and financial"
"Itinerant" sounds like an archaic word today. It's derived from the Latin meaning, variously, to make a journey, a walk. It's been a Century since the Smith-Lever Act and we've had a long and enjoyable journey together, Farmers and Extension Workers. Looking at my colleagues across the state their total time in service easily surpasses that one hundred years, and of course it's many times that for the Farmers farming, which it's been our pleasure to work with. Here's to the next.
Steve Turaj has worked over 25 years for UNH Cooperative Extension, based in Lancaster, serving as what some would call the Coos County Agricultural Agent. Sort of a generalist on everything agriculturally involving ,outreach education to technical advice. To learn more about their team visit http://extension.unh.edu/Crops-Soils/Meet-Team.
Last Updated on Friday, 02 May 2014 14:00
Once upon a Berlin Time
Hello fellow Berlinites. During the early years, the Grand Trunk had a huge repair shop in the town of Gorham and it employed many men. Work was also done to the trains that were in Berlin utilizing some of the great Gorham repairman.
On Saturday morning, September 26, young Philip Wilson and a man named Lacrosse were engaged in making repairs on a car in a Berlin yard. Wilson was sitting astride the rail working on some part of the break. They had no blue flag out, which would signify caution and that work was being done on a car.
Suddenly, the shunting engine set some cars on the siding into motion and they bumped into the one on which work was being done. This moved the car on which Wilson was at work and passed over one of his legs and an arm.
The well liked young Gorham man was immediately brought to the St. Louis Hospital in Berlin, but the physicians felt that an operation could not save his life. Mr. Wilson passed away by 10 o'clock that evening leaving his mother, father, five sisters and three brothers. It was such a horrible accident that should have never happened. Wilson was 23 years old.
The city fathers and invited guests held their annual game dinner and outing on Tuesday, October 20, 1914, at a place called the "Bay View House" in Dummer, New Hampshire. They left by automobile about 9:30 a.m. and arrived there one hour later.
Once at this famous gathering spot, many activities were undertaken, along with fishing pickerel at the bottom of the hill.
As for the dinner, it consisted of venison, chicken, duck, goose and all the trimmings. What a great feast this must have been. I can just imagine what the road (route 16 today) looked like back then.
By the end of 1914, this famous place in Dummer had burned down and was never rebuilt. As far as I know, the "Bay View House" was on the left side as one goes up "Bay View Hill" towards the town of Errol and before the Cambridge town line. Maybe somebody knows the exact spot.
Headlines in the local newspaper of early October talked of the new city building being near completion and almost ready for occupation. This structure, at the corner of Main and Mason streets, was a notable addition to the number of fine buildings which had heretofore made Main Street and imposing thoroughfare. The newest City Hall replaced the building that once stood here called Brooks pharmacy.
The noted architect for this 100-year-old building was Mr. H. C. Bates and the contractor that built this building was the Gilbert Brothers Company, composed of Mr. John B. and Augustine N. Gilbert. The contract was for $77,825. The Gilbert brothers were well-known for their fine work and built several of Berlin's great buildings back in these days.
If you ran a business in Berlin in 1914, it was wise to remain closed on Sundays. As a result of the activity on the part of the Berlin Police Department to enforce the Sunday closing law; five respondents appeared in the District Court on Tuesday morning, October 13, 1914. They were accused of keeping stores open on Sunday in certain parts of the city.
The prosecution was conducted by W. W. James, while William H. Paine and Ovide J. Coulombe, represented two of the defendants. Three others had no council.
In brief, the stores that sold things other than bread, milk and other necessities of life were fined and shut down. They were also monitored by the police department. Today (2014) some families do all of their shopping on the Sabbath. I wonder if these laws are still in the book.
With the opening of Berlin's newest theater on Post Office Square, the citizens of Berlin now had their choice of three new theaters in town at which to go. The Albert Theater which was all rebuilt inside after a major fire had now been in operation since the fall of 1911. The Gem Theater, located in the heart of downtown Berlin had been operating since 1909. These two playhouses, along with the new Princess Theater which opened to the public on October 29, 1914 at 7 p.m., now provided great entertainment along Main Street for all of Berlin's citizens.
When the Princess opened on its special evening, it was taxed to capacity by the public. They had been waiting some time for the opportunity to get a glimpse of the interior of this new building, of which the management had spared no expense to make the most up to date house of entertainment in the state of New Hampshire.
Manager D. H. Campbell had arranged a splendid bill of pictures for the opening day. They included the latest Paramount pictures which were called the best in the world. The vaudeville attraction of this grand opening was a group called the Pilgrim Quintet, a refined musical and singing act by five young ladies. It was the aim of the management to make sure that this theater would be popular with everyone and also be a place that the ladies and children of this community would like to visit.
The public was promised that the Princess would be as near perfection as human skill and architecture could produce and in no respect did they fail in their fulfillment.
Special attention was given to the ventilation of the building, besides the many windows in the upper part. There was also a system of ventilation through the roof which kept the air pure at all times. In addition, the seating arrangement was such that a perfect view of the stage could be attained from any seat in the house.
The management of the Princess was also congratulated on the successful and fortunate opening of this new playhouse and the city of Berlin was well congratulated on this addition to its new means of entertainment. I would love to have seen this grand opening, as it is sad to see this building in the state it is today 100 years later.
With the opening of our beloved Princess Theater in 1914, an innovation in the theatrical equipment was introduced. It was hailed with great acclaim for all those people who utilized the Berlin Street Railway from the Berlin Mills District, the Cascades and Gorham.
This latest provision for the convenience of patrons was two electric lamps in front of the stage. One bore the words "Car for Berlin Mills" and the other said "Car for Gorham".
When a trolley reached the square bound in either direction, the lamp was automatically lighted, designating which way the car was going. The light came on in sufficient time before the car was due to leave the "Square", so that those who wish to leave had plenty of time to reach the street without any due haste or hurry. By installing these indicators, the administration of the Princess conferred a favor on the theater going public of Berlin.
I will finish with my short history of Berlin 100 years ago in my next writing.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 17:12
Greetings!! It is that time of year again where the Berlin City Council is busy developing the FY 2015 operating budget. Although most of the process has been widely reported in the press, one item has seen little attention. We are shooting for a mid to late July completion of the upper Hutchins Street rebuild and rehabilitation project. At a price of a bit over $350,000, the street will have new pavement and granite curbing. PSNH has already relocated its utility poles and it will really look and drive great. We are working hard to also completely redo lower Hutchins Street from the old Brown Co. Service Garage to connect with the new upper Hutchins Street.
Some years ago Senator Shaheen secured roughly $900,000 to realign Hutchins Street to where the old Floc Plant was. Because of new contamination found by the EPA in test borings, City Attorney Chris Boldt strongly advised us not to take control of that piece of land until the problems have been remediated. Hence, the new project. On the topic of road projects, City Manager Jim Wheeler over the summer will oversee the development of a complete repair of Main Street from the Good Shepard Church all the way to the southerly entrance of the White Mountains Community College. We will have to investigate the conditions of storm water drainage, sewer infrastructure and other associated costs before we know the details of what can be done. Of course, Route 110 realignment project is moving along very well. Completion is expected next year.
Congratulations goes to Bob Chapman and Steve Bouchard for their successful bid to purchase the old EMCA/Car Freshener building on Rt. 110. Both highly successful business people in their own right, there is no doubt that their ownership of that building will be a huge asset for Berlin.
The proposed Jericho Wind Power project is also picking up steam. The developers are finalizing their financing and they hope to begin construction soon. Originally a three tower project, it will now be a five tower project with a proposed production capacity a bit over 14 MW at peak production.
On Friday, April 25, I had the honor of representing the City of Berlin at the 95th annual Androscoggin Valley Fish & Game Association Banquet. There were over 300 people in attendance, and as usual, Lloyd and the crew from the White Mountains Chalet outdid themselves catering the meal. This huge fund raising event has evolved into quite a family celebration of the great outdoors! My hat's off to all the directors and members of AVF&G for all you do to teach young people to enjoy and respect our beautiful resources.
Finally, a project from the heart. The Notre Dame Area will soon have ground breaking for the new $300,000 facelift project. We have many people who have donated money to help, and from the bottom of my heart, we want to thank the community as a whole for your part in making this badly needed project come to fruition. Also, kids on bicycles are now out in force. Please please be extra careful when driving through our neighborhoods. Kids don't always see motorists nor do they always obey the rules of the road. Let's avoid a tragedy from happening by driving defensively.
Until next month,
Paul R. Grenier, Mayor
Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 14:36
A dozen years ago, an article of mine titled "The Most Dangerous Month" appeared in this paper on the 19 of April 2002. The 19 of April, as I'm sure you know, is Patriot's Day in Massachusetts, the day when the "shot heard 'round the world," as the essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson called it, was first fired. The shot that signaled the beginning of America's War for Independence, was first fired, not "by the rude bridge that arched the flood," as the poet proclaimed, but on the green in Lexington. Regardless, shots had been fired, and the skirmish on Lexington's green soon became an all-out war, a war that would not end until the Treaty of Paris eight years later.
That 2002 article that I wrote had been inspired by memories of my high school history teacher, John Shope, saying to his class, in April of 1951, that he was always relieved when April was over, because he believed it to be the most dangerous month of the year. He reminded us that not only had America's War for Independence begun in that month, but America's most bloody war of all, its war with itself, the Civil War, had both begun and ended in the month of April. It was on the 12 of April 1861 that Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charlestown, South Carolina, signaling the start of that most bloodiest of wars, and the war ended almost exactly four years later, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered the remains of his Confederate forces to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on 9 April 1865.
Five days later, on the 14 of April 1865, Good Friday of that year, President Abraham Lincoln would be fatally shot by an enraged actor named John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln would be the first of several presidents to be assassinated while in office.
It was on the 25 of April 1898, that Congress formally declared war on Spain, saying that a state of war with that country had existed since the 21 of the month. Two months earlier, the American battleship "Maine" has blown up in the harbor of Havana, Cuba. Immediately, Spain was blamed for the explosion, although, to this day, the actual cause of that blast has never been definitively proven. Nevertheless, the hawks in this country had their way, and war was declared. Five months later, it was all over, and America had added to its growing empire.
For the United States, April marked the beginning of its involvement in the First World War. Despite his re-election slogan of "He kept us out of war," which he had to know was somewhat disingenuous given the increasing German submarine attacks on all shipping, on the 2 of April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war against that country's increasing belligerence. Four days later, his request was granted, and America entered the "War to End Wars."
It did no such thing, of course, and twenty years later Germany was on the march again. It was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, though, in December of 1941 that would bring America officially into the Second World War. Lest we forget, however, it was on the 9 of April 1942 that the truly heroic American and Filipino defenders of the Bataan Peninsula, starved and riddled with sickness, their ammunition almost gone, and without hope of any help arriving, were finally forced to surrendered to the Japanese forces they had held at bay for four months. The infamous Bataan Death March followed.
On the 18 of April 1942, Colonel Jimmy Doolittle led 16 B-25s off the deck of the carrier "Hornet" to strike the first blow against the Japanese homeland. While the raid did little real damage to Japan's capital city, it sent a message and raised American spirits.
Not only wars have marked April as America's most dangerous month. Do we remember that the Oklahoma City bombing, which should had shattered right then and there any illusions we may have had about our homeland safety, took place on the 19 of April 1995, 220 years to the day when the first shots of the American Revolution were fired.
The Columbine High School shootings took place on the 20 of April 1999, and the Virginia Tech killings took place on 16 April 2007. And we have all just been reminded, in the most moving of ways, of the Boston Marathon bombings that took place on 15 April 2013, just one year ago.
My high school history teacher of sixty years ago now had good reason to fear the month of April.
Last Updated on Monday, 28 April 2014 13:06