Hello fellow Berlinites. During the grand celebration of this country's bicentennial in July of 1976, the cornerstone of our City Hall was taken out and replaced. When this first cornerstone was installed in 1913, the year that our City Hall was built, Mr. Elmer Blackburn was walking along Main Street, when he noticed the crowd around the new City Hall building. Curiosity drew this 10 year old to all of the excitement to find its cause and become a part of it.
There, in the middle of all of the pile of onlookers was Mayor Daniel J. Daley. Into a tinderbox, fitted inside a cornerstone, engraved with the year 1913, Elmer watch the mayor and friends pack up a Berlin Reporter, some coins, including a shiny half dollar and lots of other items.
Then, a mason fit the cornerstone into its niche at the base of the City Hall. The mayor applied the finishing touches of the cement molding around the crease where the stones met with the trowel and the proceeding ended.
The day was sunny and cool late in the fall and people around the newly built foundations seem to be proud of what was taking place. There were also anxious to see the building finished later on.
Mr. Blackburn said that he heard the mayor say that people would take out this cornerstone and view its contents in later years, but it did not mean much to him back then. Blackburn worked with his dad selling vegetables off a cart throughout town back then. In 1976 Mr. Blackburn was an office worker at Morin Oil on Pleasant Street and on August 25, 1976 watched a new cornerstone being re-installed.
Elmer lived in Berlin all of his life and never had the urge to leave. The span of 63 years between the two cornerstone installations drifted by Blackburn unnoticed.”Time just passes on”, he said.
He remembers the days when he and his father used horse-drawn carts to market fresh cabbage, bananas and other fruits and vegetables. Elmer also drove his father's taxis (first taxi business in town) and ran himself ragged cranking those things. In 1930, Mr. Blackburn went to work in the oil business and never left. One thing that he would always remember was the installation of the two cornerstones.
In 1930, two New Yorkers decided to leave the the large metropolis with all of its crowds and come to the small northern New Hampshire city of Berlin. They bought the old Sam Lewis clothing store at 57 Main Street and started the Ben Evans Men and Boys clothing store. After running this business for over 46 years, the Evans retired on July 1, 1976. Their only son Jack who was 54 by then took over the management of the business.
The elder Evans first heard of Berlin, New Hampshire from family that had settled here. It was Mr. Sam Evans, his brother. Sam Evans opened Evans Department Store which was eventually run by Ben's nephew Channing Evans in 1976.
Although they were very hopeful about their new business, 1930 was just in time for the great depression. Mrs. Evans said that it hit them hard, as the going was tough in the beginning and they were barely making it.
Mr. Evans remembers the first day that they had opened for business in August 1930. An explosion in the Burgess Mill had just killed three men and not long after this, President Hoover closed all the banks. These were bad omens for a new business.
In 1934 business started perking up and then the big boom came at the end of World War II, when all the veterans came back home. The Evans got their dealership for Levis soon after they opened this store and then became one of the largest selection spots for sweaters.
Year after year the Evans returned to New York City to go to shows and do some buying. At the same time, they would visit their son Jack, who was in college there. After the business started to prosper and Jack returned to Berlin, the Evans were able to start taking time off and start wintering in Florida. By July 1976, with no business to look after, Mrs. Evans was cooking and gardening. They worked hard to make a living and were proud of what they did here in Berlin.
The fall of 1976 brought a centennial celebration for the Holy Family Church in Gorham. On Sunday, October 3, four hundred parishioners attended a thanksgiving mass and 140 people participated in an afternoon dinner.
The special guest for this event was the most Reverend Odore J. Gendron, D. D. Bishop of Manchester. Bishop Gendron was also the key note speaker at this dinner and he congratulated the parish along with Father Bosa a for their work in establishing such a fine church.
The church's beginnings could be traced to the year 1859, when Father O'Neill from Lancaster opened a mission in Gorham and located on the present (1976) site of Holy Family Church. In 1876, Bishop James A. Healy of Portland, established the parish mission here. At that time, all of New Hampshire was part of the Portland, Maine Diocese.
The first full time pastor was Father Maurice Charland. In 1895, Father J. E. Emerson became pastor and the construction of a new church had taken place. Five years later, fire destroyed this first church building and soon after, Emerson and his parishioners built another one.
Father Bosa stated that Father Emerson was the only past pastor of the church who was buried at the Holy Family Cemetery in Gorham up to 1976. For 73 years, this church built by Emerson served the parish until structural decline facilitated another church that Father Bosa and the parishioners dedicated as the fourth Holy Family Church on October 28, 1973.
How many people remember the swine flu immunization? People were getting sick and claimed that it was the awful shot that caused their illness.
No facts existed in New Hampshire to reflect adversely upon the credibility of the swine flu immunization program in this state. Accordingly, neither the Division of Public Health Services, or the Northern New Hampshire Medical Society recommended any deviation from the planned vaccine distribution and administration effort. So, the shots went on.
I will continue with the year 1976 and the history of Berlin in my next writing.