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Ithaca Bound: Turning Out

The Red Sox pitching coach who had seen the staff he had coached win a World Series just two seasons ago was fired by the team's management this past Thursday. No definitive reason for the firing was given, but with the awful record the current pitching staff was compiling, someone was going to have to take the fall. That's the way it usually works. Never mind if the person who takes the fall was actually at fault, someone has to take the blame. As we all know, it's seldom going to be anyone with a high sounding title.
So, Juan Nieves is now without a job, and Carl Willis, the new pitching coach, will see if he has the magic formula that will turn the current Red Sox pitching staff into something resembling a major league pitching staff. As anyone who has been following the team since the opening day of the season knows, Willis is facing a formidable challenge.
Much of the speculation regarding the reason for Nieves' dismissal centered around the idea that he simply was unable to communicate with the 2015 staff that General Manager Ben Cherington assembled over the winter months. Perhaps he was. Regardless of how gifted a teacher may be, he or she is all too often simply tuned out.
As I have written in this space before, my favorite biblical quotation is to be found in Isaiah 1:18: "Come now, and let us reason together." Far too many among us, however, will not listen. Far too many of us allow ourselves to become so set in our ways and deeds that no amount of reasoning regarding how we could or should do better finds fertile ground. For far too many of us, the answer to such efforts is "Don't bother me. I don't care."
But such an attitude can have unintended consequences. The ballplayer who refuses to shorten his swing, learn to use the whole field in his hitting, add a new pitch or drop one that isn't working, or change his point of release is not only hurting his own career, he is also hurting his team's chances of winning.
The driver who tunes out all attempts to have him or her become a safer, more thoughtful driver is not only putting his or her own life in danger. The lives of others sharing the road are now at risk, also. The politician who tunes out the needs of all in his or her constituency, as a vote is cast in national or state matters, has turned a deaf ear to those trying to succeed in a society that often puts far too many roadblocks in their path. The member of a congregation who dutifully speaks all the words, sings all the hymns, hears the preacher's exhortations, and then goes out and does what he or she has always done has effectively tuned out all the meaning of what the hour spent in their church has been intended for.
Whether the Red Sox pitchers now under the tutelage of Carl Willis will become better and more consistent major league pitchers remains to be seen. Perhaps Willis, too, will be tuned out. It's a sad story that repeats itself over and over again. Society's unwillingness to heed lessons it should have learned a long time ago continues. None of this is new. The tuning out of what is not wanted to be heard goes on.
Ithaca Bound writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Ithaca Bound is the pen name of Dick Conway. His e-mail address is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 May 2015 12:30

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Poof Tardiff: Men of Longevity

Hello fellow Berlinites. For a short time, the Brown Bulletin, which is in the local papers of 1944, 45 and 46 ran stories of old-time mill workers who gave most of their lives to the company. Some had retired, but some were still working. These Brown Bulletins are not on the internet and came out in the news once a week over 70 years ago. I know that the Moffett House Museum would surely like to get these on their website. It would be quite a task, but might be done someday.

Many of these men of which I will write had children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and manly relatives that still live around here. Some of the pictures of these men were hard to pull from the paper and I don't have them all, hopefully they can do these men justice. I did not have room to put pictures of all the men of which I wrote.

Of course many of these former employees are no longer with us, as they worked for the earlier Berlin Mills Company and then the Brown Company. The name change took place in 1917. The length of time some of these men worked for the company will amaze my readers. This doesn't happen today in any business. I hope some of these employees are your relatives.

I want to start with Mr. Joseph Gagne. He came to work at the Sulphite Mill when he was 17 years old in 1892. His first job was as a painter when the mill was built. He also assisted in the lining of the digesters and helped run out the first digest blown.

His next position was that of "Stock Runner" on the screens, a position that he held until 1940, when he was promoted to general screen foreman, which he held until his retirement.

Mr. Gagne was married to Rose Carrier in 1895 at St. Anne's old wooden church. They had ten children, four sons and six daughters. Joseph was 69 years old and had a continuous service record of 52 years and was still an employee. That was an enviable record, of which both he and the company were very proud.

Another worker that deserved honorable mention was Mr. Alfred Mortenson. Alfred was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1873 and came to Berlin at the age of seven. He entered the employee of the Berlin Mills company in 1887 at the age of 14.

Mortenson's first job was in the "slab hole" of the old sawmill (Heritage Park today). Later he worked on different jobs to include bunching shingles, sawing shingles and teamster on the old horse drawn car. In these days, horses were used to haul small cars through the yards. This was before the Berlin Mills Railway came into existence.

Alfred later worked for 27 years in the boiler house until the Heine boilers were built. After the closing of the boiler house, Mortenson worked on the hydrants construction. At the end of his career he was working as a watchman.

In 1895, Mr. Mortenson married Ms. Amy Olson with the wedding being performed by one of Berlin's famous citizens and former mayors Mr. John B. Noyes. Mr. Noyes had yet to become mayor as Berlin was still a town. Mortenson had five sons through this marriage.

In 57 years of service with the Brown Company, Mr. Mortenson had never lost a day's work through accidents or sickness until March of 1944. That was certainly a record of which to be proud.

Mr. Harold Larson was another member of the half-century club that was mentioned in these old Brown Bulletins. Larson was born in Halden, Norway in 1875 and came to Berlin at the age of 16 in 1891. Within a week he entered the employ of the Berlin Mills Company.

Larson said tat first job was also in the "slab hole", where he worked for 14 years. It seems like this was the place where all the young employees got their start in the old sawmill. It must've been a tough job.

After the sawmill closed in 1929, Larson was employed as an oiler and then transferred to the DC powerhouse as a helper. He remained here until 1940. He was employed after this as a watchman at the Upper Plants. It looked as if as if the Brown Company took care of their older men by giving them jobs such as a watchman.

During June of 1898, Mr. Larson was united in marriage to Helga Peterson and after her loss in 1913, he remarried Mrs. Bridget Anderson. Mr. Larson had four children by his first marriage.

Mr. Joseph Therrien was also another member of the half-century club. He was born in St. Sylvester, Québec in 1877 and came to Berlin at the age of 17. A few weeks after arriving in this city, he started working for the company with the yard crew. Two years later he transferred to the sawmill to work on the planer.

Therrien remained on the planer until 1905, at which time he suffered a serious accident which necessitated the amputation of his right hand. After two months of recovering, Joseph worked as a cleaner at the Planing Mill. One year later he returned to the sawmill and worked on the live rolls shifting lumber. Since 1908, Mr. Therrien had been employed as a watchman and for 15 years he was head watchman.

In 1898, Mr. Therrien married Ms.Philomene Fournier and nine children were born to this couple.

Finally, a grand record for employment was held by Mr. Fred Oleson. Recognition was given to Fred, a saw filer, in tribute to his 66 years of service with the Brown Company.

Mr. Olson began his work with the old Berlin Mills Company in the year 1878 at the age of 12 making paving blocks in what was then called the Steam Mill. This mill was situated where the Berlin Mills Railroad office was.

Throughout his years, Olson had engaged in activities graduating to filing, a job he had since 1880. During his early apprenticeship, conditions were greatly different than in 1944. In his early days Olson got up and left for work before breakfast and used a lantern to follow a path and began his day at 5 AM.

Kerosene lanterns were used in the mill and each laborer was responsible for lighting and cleaning his own. Although this mill burned and had to be rebuilt twice, it was never from carelessness resulting from the system of illumination used there.

A red cloth prominently displayed from the company house was the signal for meals beginning with breakfast at 6:20 AM. Later a bell on the company store was heard for this purpose. The company house was called the "day house" and boarded all the men on the day shift. Another house which was up the street was called the "night house" and was used by workers likewise.

For Mr. Oleson, the work day was completed at 7 PM. The men were paid once a month and a day of loafing resulted in termination for the offender. The original 11 hour week day and nine hour Saturday was changed by Mr. OB Brown to a regular nine hour day, when it became apparent that production on Saturday equaled the 11 hour output.

Mr. Oleson worked with old gang saws, the subsequent rotaries, and finally the ban saws. He served under the superintendents H.C. Sawyer, H. J. Brown, O. B. Brown and W. R. Brown.

Fred had a storehouse of information, anecdote and interesting experiences after 66 years with the company. His loyalty to the Brown Company and length of time of service is unheard of today. I wish that I could have interviewed this man and all the others.

Poof Tardiff writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Questions or comments email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Also, join the many people of "Once upon a Berlin Time" on Facebook and guess at the weekly mystery picture.


Therrien-JosephJoseph Therrien

Oleson-FredFred Oleson

Mortenson-AlfredAlfred Mortenson


Gagne-JosephJoseph Gagne


Last Updated on Thursday, 07 May 2015 11:01

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Sen. Jeff Woodburn: The SB 30 bill is about fairness and process

This week SB 30, the so-called Balsams Bill, faces its final hurdle as it goes before the full House of Representatives. This bill's journey represents the dogged resiliency, optimistic and independent spirit of the North Country. I'm grateful to Governor Maggie Hassan, Senate President Chuck Morse, House Speaker Shawn Jasper, and Deputy Speaker Gene Chandler for their supportive leadership and for melding opponents and proponents together to find not only a compromise but a better way to do business.

This bill creates a process for unincorporated places to use widely available economic development tools and raises the Business Finance Authorities ceiling for guarantying loans.

This bill started as the establishment of a water district and then took on the form of state bond guaranty modeled after a $25 million loan guaranty for the James River paper mills in 1992. We quickly learned that the times had changed and concerns persisted about the role of state government in assisting a private company and that process of parading loan documents and business plans around the Senate.

The new and improved bill is not about Les Otten. Although Les Otten is a famed entrepreneur – built successful ski resorts and led a group of investors to purchase the Red Sox, save Fenway Park and a world series. While everything he touched didn't turn to goal, let's remember – the best hitter in baseball got out 60 % of the time.

This bill is about fairness and process. The question is – should unincorporated towns have the right to use the same economic development tools as incorporated town? There are 26 unorganized places and 24 of them are in my district. They total 14 percent of all the land in New Hampshire and presently they are prohibited from using a tool to leverage economic development dollars.

But when this unfair disadvantage is concentrated in one Senate District, where people work twice as hard for half as much money as the rest of the state and where poverty runs thought it like a river washing away jobs, savings and for some hope – it is a travesty.

What we learned in the Senate is that the process must not be personalized and that there was no need to recreate the wheel – the Business Finance Authority has a proven track record of making wise, prudent decisions. SB 30 gives everyone an equal chance and establishes a process that is fair – with no red carpets and no barred entry.

Sen. Jeff Woodburn is the Minority Leader for District One in the North Country.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 May 2015 11:25

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Linda Goyette: National Letter Carrier Food Drive May 9

Dear Friends and Neighbors

Saturday, May 9 marks the twenty-third anniversary of one of America's great days of giving.
The National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. For us in the Berlin, Gorham Milan, Shelburne and Randolph areas, it is our twenty-second anniversary.

Letter Carriers and Rural Carriers walk through the community every day, often coming face to face with the sad reality for too many people, hunger.

In an effort to help change this, Letter Carriers across the country collect non-perishable food donations from their customers each year on the second Saturday in May. These donations go directly to local food pantries where the food is sorted and provided to people in need of food.

In 2014 throughout the United States people assisted the Letter Carrier's with a collection of millions of pounds of food to help feed people. The combined collection from the Berlin, Gorham, Milan, Shelburne and Randolph areas in 2014 was 9,151 pounds. Over the course of 22 years, the drive has collected well over one billion pounds of food Nation-wide, thanks to a postal service universal delivery network that spans the entire nation, including Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The need for food donations is great. Currently, 49 million Americans (1 in 6) are unsure where their next meal is coming from. Sixteen million are children who feel hunger's impact on the overall health and ability to perform in school. And nearly 5 million seniors over the age of 60 are food insecure, with many who live on fixed incomes and often too embarrassed to ask for help.

Our food drive's timing is crucial. Food banks and pantries often receive the majority of their donation during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons. By springtime, many pantries are depleted, entering the summer low on supplies at a time when many school breakfast and lunch programs are not available to children in need.

Our goal on Saturday, May 9, is to 'Stamp out Hunger'. And you can help us do that right here in the Berlin, Gorham, Milan, Shelburne and Randolph areas.
Small donations of one can of peas, beans, tuna or a box of spaghetti would be great and will be appreciated. But if you can donate several items of food it will improve the chances that a young boy or girl will not go to bed hungry tonight.

The Letter Carriers (City and Rural) are on double duty on this day delivering the mail and collecting your donations. Volunteers from Granite United Way and local agencies who assist the Letter Carrier's put in a great effort to make sure we get the food from your mailbox to the pantries and soup kitchens. All preparations are near complete for the daylong event that will take place on Saturday, May 9.

The Food Drive will not be successful without your help. Please help to make a difference in the lives of children, the elderly and the less fortunate in our community.

I am proud to announce that your efforts to help 'Stamp out Hunger' have been an amazing success over the years and we all thank you very much for your support. We anticipate that we can keep the tradition going if we all pitch in.

We ask that you use a plastic or paper bag and donate (non-perishable foods only). For safety reasons we (will not) accept anything product that has been opened. We do not accept cookies, breads, meats or foods that can spoil. We will have to put them into the garbage.
(We will) accept factory sealed foods. Items like hamburger helper, cans of soup, spaghetti sauce and products that can be added to other foods is very helpful. Also, boxes of cake mix or cans of frosting to put on that cake. We also accept personal hygiene items, cleaning products and paper products.

On Saturday, May 9 your Letter Carrier in the 03570, 03581 and 03588 zip code areas will deliver your mail at the regular time and will also pick up your donation. It is important to place your items by your mail box on this day before your mail is delivered.

If you will not be at home on May 9, you may bring your donations to the Post Office nearest to you. They will have containers available where you can place your donation. Letter Carriers will deliver your donations to a designated sorting location. After the collection the following agencies will organize the products and make them available to people in need who have applied to receive assistance. Feeding Hope Food Pantry, Sister Marie Riviere Food Pantry (formally the Ecumenical Food Pantry), Salvation Army and My Friends Place.

If you would like to volunteer at this drive please call Granite United Way office at 752-3343. We need drivers with pickup trucks or SUV's. We also need students and adult volunteers for sorting the collected items. This is an excellent event for those who need Community Service Credits. We will have a Snack/Lunch at this event for all who are there to help.

On behalf of the Letter Carriers, Granite United Way, our Volunteers, our local Agencies and those who will benefit from your kindness, we sincerely thank you for making the Letter Carrier Food Drive a success to 'Stamp Out Hunger' for more than twenty-one years.

Ron and Linda Goyette are both coordinators for the Distribution Center.


Last Updated on Monday, 04 May 2015 12:41

Hits: 607

Poof Tardiff: 1915 IX

Hello fellow Berlinites. As I get to the middle of November 1915, the headlines in one of the newspapers talks of a champion high diver in Berlin, Gorham and the nearby territory. His name was John Murphy and on Wednesday, November 17, 1915, he plunged from the Mason Street Bridge into the icy waters of the raging canal of the Androscoggin River.

There was a multitude of people that watched this immortal soul jump into these cold waters and come out okay. Murphy was then going to make a jump from the YMCA Bridge, but officials did not let him, as they didn't want to be silent partners in a suicide club. Anybody who ever walked across the YMCA Bridge knows that death lurked down below.

There were indicators in November of 1915 that Berlin had grown more rapidly than any other municipality in the state during the past five years. It had probably grown faster than any other town in New England. Berlin's growth in 1915 compared favorably with the rapid growth of the most phenomenal increase anywhere. The federal census of 1910 gave this city a population of 11,000, while the inhabitants in 1915 were about 15,000. It was not a "mushroom" growth, but it represented the normal upsurge by reason of increased activities and continuous prosperity of the enterprises conducted here.

With a reasonable continuance of present (1915) conditions, with employment reasonably secure, Berlin could well look for a proportionate increase of population, which would make the next census in five years practically double of 1910. That would have put Berlin in the undisputed position of the leading city of this state north of Concord. The population by 1920 did increase, but it did not double from the size of 1910.

The Star Bakery, already one of the best equipped plants in the country, added to its appointments a doughnut machine which cut and dropped donuts into the cooking kettle ten at a time without touching them by hand. With quantity and quality provided, it removed the last possible excuse for trying to get along without doughnuts.

There was also one other bakery that had just got started in the Fortier and Pinette building which was just built after the Cambridge Street intersection on Main Street. It was called the Daylight Bakery, home of the famous "Sugar Loaf" bread, "if you tried it once, you would always use it".

As far as I know, by the end of 1915 there were three large bakeries in Berlin producing some very tasty products. They were the Star bakery on Seventh Street, the Toussaint Bakery (Butter Crust Bread) on the corner of School and Willard Streets and the Daylight Bakery. Berlin citizens surely had a choice of fresh baked goods back then. I can only imagine how tasty these products must have been.

It was decided by the beginning of December that the city of Berlin would have its first municipal Christmas tree. The suggestion by the Women's Club for this first time tree was received with such enthusiasm that the project was practically assured. The board of trade took action in this matter and many individuals joined in the movement.

This would be the initial occasion that such a project had been suggested in the county and the Women's Club was given the credit for this Yuletide movement. Now, the argument of where to put this original municipal tree took place. The first suggestion was Post Office Square (Green Square), and then a proposal was made to put it on the YMCA grounds.

Which ever place was to be selected would be announced in the following week's newspaper. It was thought that this tree would bring a lot of visitors to town with every wish for a Merry Christmas.

On the following week, the issue of where to put the municipal tree was settled to place, time and manner. The location would be in a space called "Church Square" immediately behind the St. Barnabas Church on Pleasant Street, which was roped off for the occasion. This place met the approval of all concerned. The time would be Friday evening December 24th at 5:30 when the chimes would sound from all churches and continue for five minutes. The choirs from all the churches would then break into song with the Christmas favorites. Mayor Rich would make a short address, the band would play and then everybody could head home to enjoy the rest of Christmas Eve.

The Twin State Light Company would light the tree which would be set up by the Berlin Mills Company woods department. This tree and ceremony on the night before Christmas proved to be a huge success for all involved. The community tree came to town for the very first time and it was hoped that each year would have a bigger and better festivity. In 1915, it was the largest celebration of Christmas ever held in this city.

As mentioned the area was called "Church Square" and was a hit of Berlin's Christmas holiday. The only reason that I could see why they called it "Church Square" was because of the nearby houses of worship. They were and still are St. Barnabas, the Baptist Church, St. Kieran's Church, and St. Anne's Church. The other edifices were either in Berlin Mills or on the square, and some were not yet built.

Finally, another of Berlin's prominent citizens passed away. Mr. Eugene Scribner, who was remembered by many of Berlin's older citizens died in Boston on December 11, 1915.

Mr. Scribner was born in Gilead, Maine on March 12, 1852. He was educated at Gould Academy then came to Berlin at the age of 18 in 1870. He then commenced work as a lumber marker for the Berlin Mills Company.

In 1876, Scribner went to California, but one year later returned to the city and carried on a carpentry and painting business. In 1883 he and H. H. Abbott opened a general store under the firm name of Scribner and Abbott. John P. Noyes later bought out the interest of Mr. Abbott and the firm became Scribner and Noyes.

While he lived in Berlin, Scribner was a selectman in 1878, 1879 in 1880. In 1882, he was elected as County Commissioner and served two years. Mr. Scribner was a pioneer during the 1870s and early 1880s in the town of Berlin. He had three children and a wife that survived him.

These nine stories of 1915 were just a short history of Berlin during that year. Many other things happened during this period, but there is just so much room for me to write, so I tried to highlight the important or interesting events that took place back then.

Poof Tardiff writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Questions or comments email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Also, join the many fans of once upon a Berlin did on Facebook and guests at the weekly mystery picture.


Sceibner-EugeneEugene Sceibner

St.-Barnabas-5St. Barnabas

Mason-St-Bridge---OriginalMason St. Bridge


Star-BakeryStar Bakery



Last Updated on Thursday, 30 April 2015 13:24

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