By Ithaca Bound
Today is a very special day. It is one of the most important days of the year. Perhaps, when you come right down to it, when you take the time to stop and really think about it, it well may be the most important day of the year. At least it is for those among us who truly care about the planet on which we are privileged to live. Today, the 22 of April, is Earth Day, a day set aside in which all of us are asked to take some time to reflect on the natural wonders of the world in which we live, and to show our respect for the planet on which we live out our lives by renewing and redoubling our efforts to keep it as beautiful as possible, not only for our own benefit, but to pass on to those who one day will also call this place home.
Whether one believes that the creation of our world took six days, six years, or six million years is ultimately irrelevant. What is important is that it exists, and we exist on it. Surely then, we have an obligation to take care of this place we call home to the very best of our abilities.
When I was teaching music many years ago in the elementary schools of Nashua, one of the most requested songs was a song entitled "Every Day Is Earth Day." Regardless of the time of year, hands would go up in every classroom asking to sing the Earth song. The youngsters knew what was important. The accompaniment tape to that song was always among the equipment I carried from room to room.
The view from the front yard of where I live is reason enough to get my body out of bed each morning. Across the Androscoggin River is a working farm, and beyond that farm are some peaks of the Mahoosuc Range. Sunrises can be exceptionally glorious to see and to photograph. Dozens of such photographs are on my computer and Ipad.
Always when taking in that soul-satisfying view, Katherine Lee Bates' poem "America, the Beautiful" comes to mind. As I have written on a number of occasions, in my opinion, the musical setting of that poem, composed by Samuel A. Ward, should be our National Anthem.
A very popular song some years back was a song called "What a Wonderful World." Written by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele (using the pseudonym George Douglas, it was recorded by Louis Armstrong, and became an immediate hit – justly so.
My wife and I have been fortunate enough to travel fairly extensively. We have been privileged to see and experience first hand, up close and personal, many of the natural beauties of this truly wonderful world.
Of course, as noted above, one doesn't have to travel far to be reminded of the glorious garden in which, according to the scriptures, at least, we were once placed, and of which we were once called to be good stewards. That, too, is what Earth Day is meant to remind us of.
A personal favorite of mine was a song called "I am but a Small Voice." Written by Odina E. Batnag and Roger Whittaker, the latter of whom recorded it, it contained these lyrics: "I am but a small voice. I have but a small dream. The fragrance of a flower in the unpolluted air." On this Earth Day 2014, that pretty says it all, I think.
One of my favorite quotations is this: "Treat the earth well, it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children." The exact origins of that quotation are unknown. It is believed to be Native American, but no one knows of a certainty. Its precise meaning is also a matter of some discussion.
The best interpretation of which I know is one that says that says, when something is given to you, it is yours to keep, to do with as you please. When something is loaned to you, however, it is meant to be returned, and in the same condition - or better - than when it was loaned.
Yes, every day is Earth Day.
Last Updated on Monday, 21 April 2014 13:19
Once upon a Berlin Time
Hello fellow Berlinites. In June of 1914, the local newspapers talked about work on a new theater (Princess). Excavation for this new moving picture theater was well underway, with the contract being awarded to John Stewart, a well known local contractor.
As yet, the agreement for the building construction had not been given, but as soon as the foundation was completed, work would be rushed on the structure. When it was completed it would be considered the finest and most up to date theater in New Hampshire.
Once done, the owner's plan was to give the public the very best pictures and vaudeville obtainable. Today (2014) it is just a burned out building, sitting on the same spot that was so busy in Berlin's yesteryear. I will have more on this theatre when I reach October 1914.
On June 29, 1914, while trying to start a fire with gasoline, a Mrs. Demers narrowly escaped a horrible death. What came near being a fatal accident occurred at the home of the aforementioned lady on Elm Street that Monday afternoon. She had started a fire in the kitchen range with chips and paper and because it didn't get going, she took a bottle of gasoline from a nearby shelf. As she started to pour it over the paper, it exploded and immediately set her clothing on fire.
Demers screamed for help and started to go down the stairs, when she slipped and fell, cutting a severe gash in her head and being severely shaken up. Neighbors came to the rescue and extinguished the flames, but she was badly burned about her arms and lower part of her body. An ambulance was called and she was taken to the St. Louis Hospital, where everything was done to alleviate her sufferings.
The Fourth of July celebration in Berlin during 1914 far surpassed the expectations of the people in the North Country as predicted. The day was perfect weather wise and no accident marred the grand celebration. The greatest parade ever witnessed in the state of New Hampshire took place, as the entire program was carried out to perfection.
For several months, the city of Berlin had held out the promise of the largest Fourth of July celebration ever known in the North Country and it took place on this day. Streets, stores, business places and residences were profusely decorated with flags, banners and bunting, giving Berlin a gala appearance unexcelled in the history of the North Country.
At an early hour, residents of our surrounding towns began to make their presence felt. By train, trolley and by vehicles of all description, buggies, automobiles and other means of transportation came the residents of countless towns, villages and districts, until a conservative estimate placed the number of Berlin's guests at over 5,000.
The most spectacular feature of the day was the parade which started promptly at ten am from Post Office Square. It was the most brilliant pageant ever seen in Berlin, with many businesses having floats of all kinds. There are pictures of some of these floats that were in this parade and they certainly must have taken a lot of work to produce, as they were magnificent.
Many other events took place after the estimated three mile long parade finished and at the conclusion of these events, there was a grand fireworks exhibition. What a day this must have been for all who witnessed this celebration.
Many accidents occurred as the summer of 1914 moved forward. In July of 1914, nine-year-old Florida Lemieux was injured in an accident. What came near being a very serious mishap occurred on Thursday, July 9, when a car owned and driven by Mr. A. Carver was coming along the corner of School and Willard Streets, near the bakery (Toussaint's) that was being built.
At this point, the car met with a team and turned out to make room for them to pass, when the little girl, who was the daughter of William Lemieux, came out to the street from playing in a sandbox.
With great effort, Mr. Carver tried to avoid hitting her and drove his car towards the sidewalk, striking a board which hit the child, knocking her down and breaking her arm. Mr. Carver immediately picked up the little girl took her into her house and summoned for doctors. No blame was attached to the driver, as he did everything possible to avoid the accident and did all that was possible for the child after.
The following month, the body of a man was found on Tuesday morning, August 4. He was discovered lying face down on the rocks of the Peabody River next to the Glen Road by James Baird, a teamster in the employ of Charles Chandler of the Mt. Madison House in Gorham
E. D. Bernard of Boston, Massachusetts had crashed on Monday, August 3, just south of the second bridge and was thrown out of his automobile. Mr. Bernard had left Intervale for Gorham and never made his destination.
In August of 1914, one of Berlin's most famous small businesses, Lauziere's Garage changed hands. Mr. F. X. Lauziere sold it to Joseph Nadeau and William Demers. This business once stood at 138-142 Pleasant Street, an empty lot across the street from Coos County Family Health today (2014).
Local citizens and automobile owners where assured by the new management that their interest would not suffer by the change. The new managers were both well known to Berlin. Mr. Nadeau was at one time with the People's Bottling Company, selling out his interest to Mr. Joseph G. Blais (Blais and Aubin Wholesale). The new firm took possession on Monday, August 3.
Mr. Lauziere had built up an extensive and popular business which he turned over to the new firm. The most experienced and capable operatives were employed in the repair department. To make sure the new business ran smoothly, Mr. Lauziere remained with the new owners for awhile.
Finally, Mr. George F. Brown of Ward 3 in Berlin became a candidate in the primaries for High Sheriff of Coos County. He was a familiar figure in the Berlin Mills district of this city and a life long resident here, taking an active part in bringing about such changes in the city, as he worked for the betterment of conditions political, social and economic.
When Berlin Mills had a post office separate from Berlin Falls, Brown was their postmaster. I am not quite sure if Mr. Brown became sheriff in this year, but he certainly did get voted into this position later and held it for many terms.
I will continue with the year 1914 in my next writing.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 April 2014 13:21
Much of what follows was first written over fifty years ago now as a college English class assignment. It was rewritten over a decade ago as one of my articles for this newspaper. At this season of the year, it seems appropriate to tell the story once more.
Between the years of 1952 and 1956, one of the programs on television was an anthology series called the "Four Star Playhouse." Four well-known motion pictures stars took turns playing the lead role in each week's play. One of the plays was called "The Answer," and it starred David Niven. The play aired a few days before Christmas in 1954.
The play is set in a bar peopled by some familiar characters often seen in Hollywood and television bar scenes. David Niven plays a ne'er-do-well writer who supplements his meager income by betting anyone who will take the bet that he can answer any question posed to him as long as the question falls between certain letters of an encyclopedia that he, the writer, is memorizing verbatim. He has also written a play, and, after a few questions and answers, he is asked what the play is all about.
His play is called "The Answer." Its scenario is that the two most powerful nations on earth are about to launch their weapons of annihilation on one another. The power of these weapons could wipe out the planet and every living thing on it.
The most brilliant minds on earth have gathered to try to think of some solution that will stop this greatest threat to its very existence that the world has ever known. A highly intelligent machine has been built that will be fed the accumulated knowledge of thousands of years of human thinking. Perhaps the machine will be able to provide the answer that will enable the nations to learn to live in peace with one another. Time is now running short. The destructive weapons will soon be released. With only minutes to spare, the machine finally begins printing out the hoped-for words of civilization's salvation. "I am the Lord, your God, you shall have no other gods before me."
One by one, the patrons in the bar add the other familiar phrases. An aspiring, but none-too-bright or particularly talented actress says in a somewhat bewildered voice, "But . . . those are just the same old Ten Commandments."
"Yes," the writer replies, looking at her and the others with a rather sad smile, "the same old Ten Commandments."
Fast forward to April 2014. Was "The Answer" overly simplistic? Too unrealistic." Perhaps so.
Who knows? In the long history of the human race, those "same old Ten Commandments" haven't really been tried yet, have they?
On the filing cabinet next to my desk, held in place by a souvenir magnet, is a clipping I cut out of a "Reader's Digest" a good many years ago. Captioned "Mankind's Golden Rule," it is a one-page condensation of a major theme of a book called "The World's Greatest Scriptures," written in 1946, by Lewis Browne.
The lead-in sentence reads, "Through the scriptures of the world's leading religions runs a single theme, expressed in astonishingly similar form." There follows "Mankind's Golden Rule" as it is expressed in Brahmanism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. They are, indeed, expressed in "astonishingly similar form."
My personal favorite of the seven is how it is expressed in Confucianism: "Is there one maxim which ought to be acted upon throughout one's whole life? Surely it is the maxim of loving kindness: Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you."
Last Updated on Monday, 14 April 2014 12:39
Once upon a Berlin Time
By: Poof Tardiff
Hello fellow Berlinites. With the onset of spring, a headline in the local paper read: "Speed mania on our streets". Also, by the month of May, local residents were anxious for the opening of the new YMCA on Berlin's East Side.
At this time of year, 100 years ago, there weren't many motorized vehicles, but the increased activity on the part of those who possessed automobiles was becoming downright dangerous. The streets of our city were not wide or straight enough to permit scorching (speeding).
The ownership of an automobile did not confer upon the operator the right to terrorize the public any more than the possession of firearms gave a person a right to miss handle them.
When these big cars of yesteryear slammed into a pedestrian at a high rate of speed, there was always death or serious injury. Not only this, but pedestrians were still use of the slower horse and buggy and looking both ways had yet to be completely practiced.
So, the Police Department was asking for car owners to slow down, when they got their vehicles back on Berlin streets during the spring. I can just imagine these big cars coming at a high rate of speed on the muddy springtime streets in Berlin back then.
It was announced during the beginning of May 1914 that the entire North Country would be at Berlin on July 4. The celebration for the Fourth of July was going to be in conjunction with the dedication of the new city building.
A meeting had been called by Mayor Daley at Armory Hall (Mechanic Street), with a large gathering of "Berlin Boosters" being present. At this meeting, different committees were put together to arrange for the biggest celebration to be ever held in this area.
This meeting set up ten different committees to include the general committee, the publicity committee, the soliciting committee, the attractions committee; the entertainment an emergency committee, the transportation committee, the concessions committee, the sports committee, the fire works committee, the electrical committee and the music committee. It seems like there was nothing left out to make this a successful day.
The chairman of the entertainment committee Mr. F. A. Dickmen reported that he had completed arrangements and signed contracts for an airship (airplane) to be on hand as a special attraction. This would be the first time that something like this came to Berlin. Remember, the invention of the flying machine had only taken place eleven years previous.
By June 25, 1914 all preparations for this "Glorious Fourth" event were in place. The huge parade that was going to take place would form on Glen Avenue, Exchange and Pleasant Streets and start from Post Office Square.
The route would be as follows: Main to Eighth Street, Eighth to Sweden St., Sweden to Fifth St., Fifth Street to Main Street, Main Street to Pleasant Street, Pleasant to High Street, to Hillside Avenue, to Willard Street, to Oak Street, to Mason Street, to Main Street and back down to Post Office Square.
That was quite a walk and would cover many sections of this city, so that the disabled and elderly would be able to see this great parade.
On Sunday night, May 10th, 1914, the contagious hospital, which was built by the city a short time previous, was destroyed by fire. The building and its contents were completely destroyed.
This hospital was quite some distance from the city and located in the Jericho District. No one was in the building at the time when this fire of incendiary origin took place.
The hospital, which was where the Spartan weightlifting building used to be, was well fitted out for the care of contagious diseases. I believe that another building was built on the same spot later.
Monday evening May 25th, 1914 saw the grand opening of our beloved YM CA (Community Club). An address by Mr. Charles H. Houston was given to 700 people. The keys to this brand-new beautiful building were presented to the president, Robert B. Wolf by the president of the Board of Trustees, Mayor D. J. Daley. All week long, this grand opening was held. On Tuesday, May 26th, it was Women's Day. On this evening 1,500 woman came to view the new building and listen to guest speakers.
On Wednesday evening, May 27, occurred something of intense interest to the citizens of Berlin. WW Brown, whose memory was still green in the minds in the hearts of Berlin people and whose generosity made possible this beautiful building on Berlin's East Side, received some thanks and expressions of gratitude.
A grand portrait of this noble man, given by his family, was unveiled with appropriate ceremony and short addresses by Mayor Daley and Freemont D. Bartlett. The high school band was also on hand to play music. I believe this picture was eventually moved to the Brown Company House when the Community Club closed or even before that. I do not know if it still hangs there.
Thursday also had a program with a guest speaker and music by the Boys Quartet.
By the end of the week, on Friday, there was a general reception with the directors in the receiving line, greeting people from all over the state who wanted to see this brand-new YMCA in Berlin. There was a group on hand for this reception called the 3- BB-3 orchestra.
On Saturday, May 30th, the Imperial Orchestra produced the music and the Wizard of magic, Bennett Springer performed.
To finish this week long of activities for the grand opening of our beloved YMCA, Sunday May 31st was of interest to all church people with special services being held in the new gymnasium. Music here was performed by the Congregational Quartet. Each of these exercises on opening week began at 7:30 pm. Except for the Sunday church services and each day was a full house.
Children under 10 years of age were not allowed in the building after 6 pm during this dedication week, but were welcomed all week long during the daytime hours. Along with this, applications for membership were received during the week. It was certainly a great opening week for this long lost building.
The whole city of Berlin was proud of this magnificent building, which was just completed and opened to the public in May of 1914.
Almost 60 years of Berlin citizens enjoyed all the athletic and social activities that took place in this structure, before it was formally closed and sold to a private citizen.
I will continue with the year 1914 in my next writing.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 17:04
By Ithaca Bound
For as far back as my memory will take me, I have been considered by many of those who have met me to be something of an oddball. I mentioned this in passing in last week's column on poetry. Being something of an oddball has never bothered me, particularly. It is who I am. According to my thinking and to what I have come to believe as a result of my thinking, it is who I was meant to be.
What has prompted the foregoing rather serious sounding paragraph is that tomorrow, Wednesday, the 9 of April, will mark my 79 birthday. Never having been much of a party-loving person, I will probably spend the day quietly working on something that calls for applying creativity: an article, a poem, taking photographs, or singing some songs that I have been privileged to professionally perform over the years. It is such challenges that have informed the long life that I have been allowed to live.
My wife and I will probably go out to dinner somewhere, and that will be he extent of our celebration. We will save our pennies for the travel that is our passion.
At least part of my day will be given to reviewing the principles by which I choose to live my life. A favorite author of mine has written that he makes it a practice to frequently review his beliefs, his Credo, as he calls it. He does so to see if he still holds to that Credo, or to consider what has prompted him to change some of his long held assumptions. It is a highly challenging exercise, to be sure, but one that is well worth the effort. What do I truly believe about life and how I should live it? Here! Now!
From the time I was a child in elementary school, I was attracted to and embraced all that was beautiful. It was beautifully crafted melodies and beautifully crafted words that I tried to sing as beautifully as I possibly could that defined who I was when I was going to school. It was my identity then. Poetry and great literature also spoke to the very depths of the young human being that was me. And the natural beauty of the world in which I lived fascinated me. It is love of all that is beautiful that still gives me reason to get up in the morning. As I grew older, I began learning all I could about history, art, geography, comparative religions, science, and philosophy. Although I enjoyed playing in pick-up games with the neighborhood boys, it was always the things of the mind that challenged my days.
Learn as much as you can about as much as you can has long been part of my personal Credo.
As I review the values by which I try to live my life now, sixty-two years since graduating from high school and fifty-four years since receiving my B.A. in Liberal Arts from college, I find that that part of my Credo has not changed. Using the intelligence with which I was born has remained key. "Come, let us reason together" remains my favorite Biblical quotation.
Part of my Credo is to always pause and think deeply before allowing myself to be drawn into the popular culture of the day, be it clothing, language usage, social graces, foods, music, movies, television, or what-have-you. When I was teaching in Nashua, one of the classrooms in which I taught was directly across from the school's gymnasium. Over the doors of that gymnasium, the teacher had placed a sign that read "What is popular is not always right. What is right is not always popular." That holds a special place in my Credo.
In one significant way, I have changed my belief. In my younger days, I was much more conservative in my thinking than I am now. I was never, however, a far right conservative. My conservatism was always more middle of the road, always taking into consideration the very real needs of those less fortunate than I. That is why I am now registered as an undecided voter, for example.
There you have it. Much of what I have just written has, indeed, made me something of an oddball throughout most of my life. Well, so be it. What would you write were you to write out your personal Credo?
Among poet Robert Frost's most familiar poems is "The Road Not Taken." The poem is one of my favorites, being one with which I closely identify. Do you recall its ending? "I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference."
Last Updated on Monday, 07 April 2014 12:52