Poof Tardiff: 1913 IV

Hello fellow Berlinites. After becoming a city in 1897, sixteen years of fast growth brought forth the idea from the Mayor and City Council to construct a brand new city building. This one would replace the aged building that stood on Mechanic Street in back of the old Office Products structure, which no longer stands (2016).

Berlin had doubled in size and was now a busy small industrial municipality. So, on Monday evening July 14, 1913, at the meeting of the Mayor and City Council, plans and drawings were presented and accepted for a new city edifice (City Hall) to be erected on the corner of Main and Mason Streets on what was known as the Brooks lot. A place called Brooks Pharmacy and a bar once stood there.

The plans called for a two-story building with a basement. The basement on the ground floor on Main Street would be above grade, with two direct entrances. One of these would be next to the Sheridan Block and enter into the Police Department. This would hold the patrolman's room, judge's room and detention room for prisoners. There would be rooms on other levels for city treasurer, tax collector, street commissioner and city engineer.

The rear wing on Mason Street would provide for a reception hall with a stage, dressing rooms, horse gallery and a hall with a seating capacity of 500 people.

There were many other things to be built into this building and I mentioned them in my story entitled City Hall many years ago. The entire building was to be fireproof, built with steel frames and having concrete floors. The copula on the roof was going to have a large clock, weather-vane and a flagpole. This building construction got started as soon as the working drawings could be completed and the contractor's estimates were ready. It was expected to be finished in the spring of 1914.

A small headline in the newspaper on June 19, 1913 said: “New Jackson Six in City Thursday”. The parade of the schoolchildren that took place on Thursday, June 12, as a connecting link to the high school commencement exercises received many favorable comments because of the use of automobiles.

Together with this parade as mentioned, there was an exhibit of some of the finest machines in this city. Those automobiles were used to convey the graduates and presented a very pretty sight. Among the cars that were given special attention was the 1913 Jackson Six, which appeared in the parade through the courtesy of the firm of Morris and Morse of Portland, Maine. Mr. Morse drove this newest model and demonstrated all the finer points that placed this vehicle in a class by itself. The price was around $1,200. Try to buy one in the same condition for that price today. There were not many cars on the streets of Berlin in 1913, but they were starting to increase in volume and people must have been excited to see these rare vehicles in the parade.

Along with occasional new autos, theater goers of Berlin were going to be treated to something novel in the amusement line at the Albert Theater, when the famous talking pictures that were creating such a great commotion in the large cities, were going to be shown locally.

Ever since the famous talking pictures were demonstrated a few years before 1913, the public had been awaiting this feature here in Berlin. These were shorts and not full-time movies, full-time movies developed later in the 1920's and early 1930's.

These shorts were a way to convey to the audience the meaning of every action and movement by the characters on the screen, which up to this time had been a accomplished vaguely by pantomimist. Makers of these pictures had been able to obtain the services of Raymond Hitchcock, Rose Berger and several Broadway stars to pose for these pictures. How thrilling this must have been to see and hear for the first time.

Of course, we had many different types of immigrants coming into town in 1913 and many times the newspaper did not refer to them by name when they got into trouble. They would only mention them by nationality unless they were seriously injured or deceased.

An August 14, 1913 headline went like this: “Polanders on Exchange Street”. There were 19 in number, who appeared before Judge Ryan in district court and they were charged with noise and brawl.

As a result of numerous complaints received by the police department on Friday, August 8, 1913 “Polanders” were taken into custody from a house on Exchange Street. They were charged with noise and brawl and they were then brought before the District Court on the next day in the morning with a five dollar fine being imposed on the respondents.

From Saturday until Monday morning the local police had a busy time, with the result that 14 of these men appeared in the docket charged with various offenses. The funny thing was that none of them had claimed Berlin and as their home city.

On Tuesday morning, only four appeared before the court, three were charged with being drunk on public streets and one was charged with being a pawnbroker without a license. From the evidence of witnesses, it appeared that a watch had been left with the defendant for a loan of four dollars, with the understanding that interest at the rate of $.50 per month should be repaid.

City Clerk P. J. Smyth testified that no license had been issued to the party by Mayor and City Council and as a consequence a fine of five dollars and costs was imposed. I wonder if this law is still in the books and how did the officials find out about this person buying the watch.

On Wednesday morning, in addition to three ordinary drunks, one culprit appeared charged with noise and brawl and received a fine of five dollars. Another plead guilty to a complaint against him charging assault and from the evidence of the complainant, there was no provocation for the beating. A fine of three dollars and cost was imposed in this case. These were always headlines back then and some of them seem funny today, but this was the law back then, as Berlin had a rough and tumble bunch of people roaming the streets. A fine of five dollars was pretty hefty in these days.

I will continue with the history of our beloved city of Berlin in my next writing.

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

Jackson Six 1913Jackson Six 1913

Hitchcok RaymondRaymond Hitchcock

City Hall Drawing 1913City Hall Drawing 1913

Albert Theater 1Albert Theater

Ithaca Bound: A March of thoughts

Tomorrow, the Boston Red Sox play the first of their spring training exhibition games. They did play two seven inning games yesterday against college teams, but those will not count in their final spring training record.
The Boston nine enter the coming season with high expectations. They almost always do in recent years, of course, especially since the advent of the John Henry-led era; but this year has a certain special aura about it. Question marks exist, as they inevitably do, but the feeling persists that this year, at least, the Red Sox will be competitive. The feeling this year is that, at least, the Sox will not sink quickly to the bottom of their division and stay there. It certainly would be nice to see the team back in post season play.
Team ownership has spent a great deal of money trying to assure a team of annual competitiveness, but it may well be the team’s investment in its farm system that will pay the dividends this year. Some highly promising young players stood out for the Red Sox last season. How those young players perform this season will play a major role in how this year’s team fares.
While the Red Sox play their way through their exhibition season, New England sports fans have the Boston Bruins and The Boston Celtics to keep them entertained. Both teams are playing their way toward end-of-the-season playoff berths. Both teams are competitive. That’s all any sports fan can ask for.
On another topic, green has always been my favorite color. Its suggestion of news, freshness, rebirth, has always appealed to me. Perhaps it has for you, also. And, of course, this month we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and with it, thoughts of the Emerald Isle.
Some years back, my wife and I went on a tour of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. It was a most memorable journey. From the sky, the Emerald Isle certainly lives up to its name. And kissing the Blarney Stone is an unforgettable experience.
What I remember most about my Irish adventure, though, was a visit to one of Dublin’s pubs. My favorite beer is Guinness, and one option while visiting Ireland is a tour of the Guinness brewery. (Yes, my wife and I did go.) But, as I noted above, it was a visit to one of Dublin’s pubs that produced the most memorable experience for me.
Naturally, we ordered a glass of Ireland’s most famous beer. Our tour guide, who went with us to the pub, spoke to the bartender before our drinks were served, and when they were placed before us, the shape of a shamrock had been outlined in the foam. Moreover, it remained there until the glass had been drained. Of all the things to remember! But there it is.
On the far more serious side, today is considered a most important day in any election year. New Hampshire already has had its day in the headlines, of course, but this day is the day when many another state’s voters have an opportunity to mark their ballots. It is always to be hoped that voters have done their homework, have fact-checked what the candidates have said, and considered deeply what each candidate might bring to the highest office to which a man or woman can be elected.
This is the person who represents our country to the rest of the world. That person’s words and deeds ring throughout the globe. What image of this country does this person present to other countries? Do they see this person as trustworthy, a person to be respected, even admired as a leader?
The results of today’s balloting will be highly interesting.
Ithaca Bound writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Ithaca Bound is the pen name of Dick Conway. His email address is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Governing Cancer of Our Time

By David Brooks

New York Times

We live in a big, diverse society. There are essentially two ways to maintain order and get things done in such a society — politics or some form of dictatorship. Either through compromise or brute force. Our founding fathers chose politics.
Politics is an activity in which you recognize the simultaneous existence of different groups, interests and opinions. You try to find some way to balance or reconcile or compromise those interests, or at least a majority of them. You follow a set of rules, enshrined in a constitution or in custom, to help you reach these compromises in a way everybody considers legitimate.
The downside of politics is that people never really get everything they want. It’s messy, limited and no issue is ever really settled. Politics is a muddled activity in which people have to recognize restraints and settle for less than they want. Disappointment is normal.

Poof Tardiff: 1913 III

Hello Fellow Berlinites. I have always said that accidents took the lives of many local men working in Berlin pulp mills and 1913 had its share. Our famous Burgess Mill was the site of an April 20, 1913 mishap that took the lives of two Berlin men.

On this Sunday evening, occurred one of the most distressing accidents that had ever taken place in the city and it resulted in the death of Fred Routhier age 37 and Arthur Thibeault age 21.

During this Sunday afternoon, seven men including the two mentioned, were sent to the screen room of the Burgess Mill to clean and repair a stock spout. Having nearly completed the work, all but these two men mentioned left the spout. Then, someone supposedly thinking that the whole crew was out, turned in a stream of dilute sulfuric acid.

Routhier and Thibeault shouted to stop the flow of this acid and water. It was shut off immediately, but the original volume that had got in was so great that the unfortunate men were unable to escape and partly asphyxiated by the fumes of the acid. This caused them to lose their footing and fall into the liquor, thus drowning them.

As soon as possible, the victims were taken from the spout and Dr. Cobb and Dr. Lavallee called to the scene. On arrival at about 7:30 pm, the doctors could see that the men were beyond human aid, so, they notified the medical referee.

Thibeault was unmarried and lived in the Ramsey Hill district. Fred Routhier was survived by a wife and six children. The newspaper wanted to know and publish all of the facts about these two fatalities or to discuss any possible responsibility as the matter was being investigated. They wanted to establish the exact facts and conditions for Berlin's citizens under which these terrible deaths took place.

May 10, 1913 brought disaster to the Berlin Mills sawmill. By the burning of this manufacturing plant on this Saturday, the company sustained about one half million dollars in damage. At the same time, the city lost its largest industry and a significant force of men were thrown out of employment. This mill was where today's Heritage Park now stands.

It was around 3:30 on this Saturday afternoon in early May that an alarm was rung from box 212 and the fire department responded with its usual routine. When they reached there destination, they could see that the whole sawmill plant was ablaze.

The fire had started from a spark in a motor which caught in waste or some highly flammable material and in a moment the flames were altogether beyond control by any available force. In the least possible time, the department coupled hoses to all possible fire plays in the immediate vicinity and sent back to the firehouses for more hose. The Berlin Mills employees and a few citizens even assisted the regulars in manning the appliances and in a short time there were streams enough to practically exhaust the water supply in the mains.

The steamer and Berlin Mills pumps drew their supply from the river, thus increasing the volume of water being thrown onto the buildings. Before four o'clock the fire extended the entire length of the plant and it was a seething, raging, roaring tornado of flames nearly 1,000 feet long.

At this point, it was feared that the whole Berlin Mills section of the city was in trouble and then at 4:30 pm, a stream of cold water struck an overheated steam pipe, causing a immense explosion which scattered the onlookers in close range.

A request was then sent to Lewiston and Portland for assistance and those cities responded. Lewiston sent a the steamer with a full crew that reached Berlin at 8:30 pm. They went to the Central Fire Station, where they were held in reserve. The group from Portland broke down and didn't arrive until midnight, but they also covered at the Central Fire House.

The men from Lewiston went to the scene on Sunday morning to give the Berlin boys a break, but the Portland firemen were soon called back to their home city because of serious fires there.

Berlin Mills and the Norwegian village were highly populated back then and the report stated that if there had been any amount of wind, this area of town would have been devastated.

The sawmill was eventually rebuilt and men finally got their jobs back, thanks to the great owners at this time, the Brown family.

On the lighter side, plans were being made for the Memorial Day celebration here in Berlin for 1913. The program of the Francis D. Green Post No. 26 ( first man from Berlin to die in the Civil War)) for Memorial Day, called for the assembling of the Post at the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) hall at 7:30 am, whence, under the escort of company L of the National Guard, the they would march to Post Office Square.

Accompanied by the Berlin Band, the Green Post and the WRC (Woman's Relief Corps), would take carriages at the “Square” and proceed to Milan, arriving there about 10 am where the graves of soldiers would be decorated with the usual ceremonies.

Dinner would be served at noon, then all would return to the Berlin cemeteries at about 2 pm. After the appropriate exercises, the Post and WRC would drive to the Boston and Maine station ( the Depot restaurant today), where they would form a line and march to the Mason Street Bridge. Here the WRC would perform the beautiful ceremony of scattering flowers on the waters, as a tribute to the sailors and soldiers lost in the service of our country.

In the evening, the Post, escorted by the police and the National Guard, also accompanied by the Mayor and City Council, would form at Post Office Square. They would then march up Main Street to High Street ,Emery Street, Willard Street, School Street, Mason Street, Pleasant Street and then to the Armory Hall, where Professor Libby (high school principal) would deliver the address of the evening. Other speakers would also follow after.

Everybody was invited to attend and take part in the proceedings, thus making this a Memorial Day not to be forgotten. This year was the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and many Berlin Civil War veterans were still around.

103 years later, World War I and World War II, along with Vietnam and the wars in the Mideast left this city with many more young soldiers who never made it home, giving Memorial Day a deeper meaning.

I will continue with my brief history of 1913 in the next writing.

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

Burgess Early 1900sBurgess early 1900s

Cobb Dr. JJDr. JJ Cobb

Post Office Square 1912Post Office Square 1912

Sawmill fire 1913Sawmill fire 1913

Ithaca Bound: Setting a desired precedent

Yesterday, February 22, the nation celebrated the 284th anniversary of the birth of its first president, George Washington. It is doubtful that very many of us took the time to read the complete text of our first president’s Farewell Address, an act that no less a personage as Abraham Lincoln, our sixteenth president, encouraged the citizenry of his country to do on each anniversary of Washington’s Birthday.
With our country in the midst of yet another rancorous run for the White House, it seemed to me to be a good time to follow Lincoln’s advice, however, and so I did. Moreover, it seemed to be a good time to also consider Washington's efforts to set precedents for future presidents to follow.
In this, he was doomed to fail. He failed, not because his thoughts were wrong, but because human nature seemingly does not allow them. One of his major concerns, for example, was factionalism. Washington always hoped that the nation would always think and act as one, putting the good of the country as a whole ahead of any particular section’s, state’s, or group’s desires. He clearly viewed the rising power and clashes of differing political and social stances with no little alarm. His speech calls it “the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party.”
Of course, he could not stem the tide. Although he himself was twice elected unanimously by the Electoral College as President of the United States, the only president to be so elected, during his second term, battle lines already were being drawn. Although Washington was being urged to stand for yet a third term of office, he decided he had served his country in so many capacities for so long that it was time for him to step aside and let others guide the country forward. But much of the final address he gave to the nation he loved and served so well rings as true today as it did in 1796. Every American should read it - carefully and thoughtfully.
George Washington’s presidency set many precedents. As Washington, D.C. did not become the nation’s capital until 1800, Washington took the oath of office first in New York, the first nation’s first capital, and then in Philadelphia, for his second term.
While the Constitution does call for a set of advisors to the president, it was Washington who established the role that these advisors were to play in relation to the president. While it was during the administration of Abraham Lincoln that Thanksgiving Day became the national holiday that it is today, in 1789, Washington issued a proclamation calling on the country to observe a national day of Thanksgiving on November 26 of that year.
During his two terms of office, Washington vetoed only two bills. One of these had to do with the number of representatives each state would be allowed to have based on the census of 1790, and the other on cutting the cost and size of the nation’s military. Neither of these was overridden by the Congress.
While president, George Washington also signed into law the nation’s first copyright law, a law that protected the country’s writers, poets, and map makers ownership rights over the use of their own works.
Washington’s second inaugural address is the shortest on record, being only about two minutes in length and containing on 135 words. This strikes me as being a great example for all chief executives to follow. However, our first president’s Farewell Address is over 7,000 words long. Of course, it stands as one of our nation’s most revered pieces of advice.
So much of what George Washington said and wrote is as relevant to today as it was in the late 1700s. A birthday well worth celebrating.
Ithaca Bound writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Ithaca Bound is the pen name of Dick Conway. His email address is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..