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Poof Tardiff: 1973 IV

Once upon a Berlin Time

Hello fellow Berlinites. As I go forward with the short history of 1973, the end of June during this year brought a gas shortage to the city of Berlin.

According to reports of area service stations, their suppliers were limiting them. Some stations closed early and others that sold their monthly quota of gas were out until the next month's supply arrived.

The summer migration of tourists up to New Hampshire's open spaces was an important factor in area gas supplies. As the summer months continued though, the supply of petrol seemed to level off and people were getting by.

By the end of June, the Gorham selectmen gave their permission to the Drucker Corporation to build a 90,000 square foot shopping center on the Berlin-Gorham Road. The building permit issued by the selectmen described the shopping center that would be called the Mountain Valley Plaza, as a three unit building that would contain a department store, a supermarket and specialty shops.

Construction was scheduled to be completed in February of 1974, thus giving the town of Gorham two separate shopping centers on the Berlin-Gorham Road. The other one was the Globe Shopping Center, which was eventually torn down to erect a Super Walmart several years ago.

During the last days of June 1973, a deluge of rain struck our North Country causing flooding and ruining almost seventy five percent of crops for local farmers. The rain was enough to wash out roads, turn brooks into rivers and create roaring streams where none ever existed before.

Rangeley Lakes in Maine, headwaters for the Androscoggin River watershed were at full capacity, with the three dams on the lakes and Errol Dam on the Androscoggin wide open from Sunday through Tuesday during this rainstorm.

By late Monday night of July 1, there was fear of flooding along the Androscoggin, when Dummer selectmen O'Neil Croteau called the Berlin City Council in the middle of their meeting to warn that the Pontook Dam in Dummer might give away.

State police were on the scene after this call and a Brown Company dispatcher, who coordinated the flow of all the Androscoggin along with the Union Water Power Company, said that engineers were not worried.

It was a disastrous time for many North Country residents, with water flooding many areas and wrecking several roads and bridges which eventually had to be repaired to the extent of over $200,000. This time went on record as the flood of 1973.

In the beginning of July 1973, funds for the Berlin Twelfth Street Bridge (Veterans Memorial Bridge) were approved by the state legislature and construction of the bridge would commence in the fall, according to Mayor Sylvio Croteau.

The legislature had set aside $556,000 in the state highway department bridge fund for the state budget which had been just approved. The city of Berlin would match this money with an equal share of revenue to cover the total cost of this structure.

This new bridge was going to provide a long needed truck route across the Androscoggin River to Berlin's East Side and the Mills.

In August of 1973, the Berlin Fire Department received a brand-new 35 foot long American LaFrance aerial fire truck. This truck was equipped with a 100 foot ladder, a 350 hp diesel engine and was the largest of its kind produced to date.

Pictured with this truck were two of Berlin's firemen in 1973. They were Captain Ken Dube and Robert Theriault who were being trained to operate this new piece of equipment. Believe it or not the price for this truck was $67,000 forty one years ago.

In August of 1973, senior citizens in Berlin, Gorham and Milan got "Wheels". If you were over 60 years old, lived alone and didn't have a vehicle, you were a typical elderly citizen of the Berlin area and needed transportation.

If you found it hard to get transportation for doctor's visits, grocery shopping or visit with friends at the Holiday Center, this was coming to an end.

A new transportation service for the elderly was being offered by the Mt. Washington Valley Senior Citizens Incorporated and it was called "Senior Wheels".

"Senior Wheels" would provide free rides within the three communities previously mentioned for its elderly citizens. This would be accomplished with two late model station wagons that had just been purchased.

Priorities were listed as medical needs, appointments to doctors, dentists and hospitals as number one. Next, would be shopping, personal business, social and recreational activities, church activities and more. I am sure many of my readers remember the vehicles that said "Senior Wheels" on them.

Finally, the summer of 1973 brought Dummer, New Hampshire's biggest celebration ever. It was their 200th birthday. This town had been preparing quite some time for this grand bicentennial celebration.

In the process of planning this event for the people of Dummer, East Dummer, West Dummer and Pontook, they also put together an interesting book called "The History of Dummer, New Hampshire".

In addition, a Dummer bicentennial coin was established. The face of the coin depicted the hand propelled ferry which operated across the Androscoggin River from the Ephraim Wentworth farm on the East side to the Charles Howard farm on the Errol Road or Route 16 today. This ferry was approximately 24 feet long by 12 feet wide and could carry three single teams or two doubles. The ferry landed on the river bank somewhere just above the entrance of today's Newell Brook Road. This service was discontinued in the early 1900"s.

The reverse side of this bicentennial coin showed the Pontook Dam built by the Union Water Power Company around the year 1890.

During the celebration forty one years ago, the 230 residents of this community were joined by visitors, relatives and former residents from all over the country. A parade consisting of 40 floats and 2 dignitaries took place on Saturday afternoon. This great two-day event was termed a huge success by everyone who attended. All of the events that took place after the parade kept people very busy and these culminated with the largest "bean hole" supper ever staged in this area.

I will continue with the history of Berlin in 1973 in my next writing.

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 Time" on Facebook and guess at the weekly mystery picture.

Pontook-DamPontook Dam, Dummer. 

Ladder-Truck-1973Captain Ken Dube and Robert Theriault of the Berlin Fire Department with their new Ladder Truck in 1973.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 12:52

Hits: 1959

Ithaca Bound: A Great Line

"The bases were loaded with fool's gold."
That is one great line. Perhaps you read it yesterday. It was the Boston Globe's Julian Benbow's opening sentence in his account of how the Boston Red Sox lost the last of their eleven-game home stand to the Seattle Mariners this past Sunday afternoon.
As every fan of the Boston Red Sox knows, the season of 2014 has not been kind to the World Series winners of 2013. Their defense of baseball's crowning achievement has been as ineffectual as any supposedly impregnable battle line put up by any nation against its enemies. Far more often than not, the battle line's weaknesses have been found and exploited, putting its defenders to rout. For this year's Boston Red Sox, their opponents seemed to have the book on all of them.
The timely offensive fireworks of last season have more often than not done little more than fizzle in futility this season. Benbow's "fool's gold" line was right on target. While Boston's offense has looked a bit better of late, has shown more aggressiveness over the past couple of weeks, it still has not had the right batter at the plate at the right time.
Sunday's game provided an excellent case in point. Kelly Johnson looked to be totally overmatched against Mariner's closer Fernando Rodney. To be fair, Rodney was having control problems in that inning, having walked two and thrown a wild pitch or two, but his fast ball was in the high 90s, and his off-speed stuff looked to be good also. Johnson had reason to approach his bases loaded at bat carefully.
Still, one shifted a bit uneasily in his or her chair when it was Johnson at the plate, instead of David Ortiz, who had left the game earlier after fouling a ball off of himself. That Ortiz would have turned the fool's gold into the real thing will never be known, of course. He has made his share of outs in such situations. But his overall record as a clutch hitter gives the fan far more reason for hope for his coming through than that of any other hitter on the team.
But David Ortiz was not at the plate, and the hitter who was struck out, looking rather feeble in the attempt. Benbow had his great opening line, and the Red Sox ended their home stand with a head shaking two wins in eleven games.
Fans always look to place blame on someone for their team's failures. That seems to be human nature. Things are going wrong. Something is not right. Someone must be to blame.
Well, not necessarily. When one stops to think seriously about a situation, it usually turns out to be far more complex than that. A number of miscalculations have been made. No one individual is to blame. Collective errors have been made, and a collective effort will have to be made to correct them. And it may take longer than any of us would like to think.
Most of us have fallen for fool's gold at one time or another, I imagine. It's so easy to do so. Fortunately, Sunday's incident was merely a baseball game.
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. .

Last Updated on Monday, 25 August 2014 13:17

Hits: 1831

Poof Tardiff: 1973 III

Once upon a Berlin Time

Hello fellow Berlinites. Anybody that knew about the Brown Company Woods Department in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and the 1960s had heard about how great some of the cooks were in their logging camps.

After serving Brown Company as a cook for 37 years, Mr. Carroll Wentzell retired in April of 1973. There were actually two men from the Woods Department who were retiring at this time; the other man was Elmer Pettengill, a woodlands controller. About 125 close friends and relatives of both men gathered at the Town and Country Motor Inn to honor these men.

It is certainly Mr. Wentzell that I want to write about and it all started for him early in life with his love of cooking, when he helped his mother working around the kitchen. It was here that he picked up his first lessons and then he went on to learn much more on his own.

Before coming to the Brown Company, Wentzell cooked for a jobber. Then later he stayed at the Brown Company woods camps in several places preparing meals for 100 men, but that was during his early years. By the late 50's and the 60's, woods camps were much smaller with the average group being about 35 to 40 people.

Besides being a great cook, "Carroll was well known for making pastries", commented his wife Mildred. She even cooked with him before he retired.

His last years as a woods camp cook were at Clear Stream in Errol. He worked there for almost eight years, feeding the hungry woodsmen. There were many good cooks in the old lumber camps, but Carroll Wentzell was a cut above the rest and his men never went hungry.

On the local sports scene, the 1973 Berlin High School baseball season was just starting out and the fans were wondering how their pitching was going to be in the coming season. That question was answered on Wednesday, April 18, when a young lad named Mike "Stump" Legere tossed a no hit, no run baseball game against the Telstar Rebels, winning the game 3-0.

The Mountaineer's offense got "Stump" three runs and that was all he needed to shut down the Telstar bats and join the rare breed of local pitchers to accomplish this feat.

Mr. Legere probably can't pitch as well today, because it is 41 years later, but he had what he needed in his arsenal of pitches back then. Remember that game Stump?

On April 27, 1973, the city of Berlin lost its great music man, when E. Ward steady passed away. Mr. Steady left behind many wonderful memories as a music teacher, organist and all around master of music in the North Country.

Steady was educated in the Berlin schools and was a graduate of Bates College in Lewiston, Maine the class of 1918. He also attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston for one year and spent a summer at the American Institute of Normal Methods at LaSalle College. Mr. Steady played the organ for silent movies in New Hampshire and then at the Auburn Theater in Auburn, Maine.

After the era of the silent movies had come and gone, Ward went back to the New England Conservatory and received a bachelor of music degree with emphasis on school music. He then taught for seven years at Berlin Junior High School.

Steady's other music talents were singing with the Century Quartet and playing piano in accompaniment. This quartet was a part of the famous Chautauqua, a summer music program. He was also a songwriter and an accomplished flutist.

Mr. Steady was in great demand for various organizations and functions of the North Country and had played for the Joliet Snowshoe Club during his later years. At the time of his death he was the organist for the local Congregational Church.

The City Council was hoping to start the construction of the Jericho Lake recreation project during the summer of 1973, but no builder wanted the job bad enough. This now delayed the project for another year.

The Soil Conservation Department which was going to pay half the cost of this project, sent bids out to over four hundred contractors and only one answered. The one that responded was out of Portsmouth and wanted $100,000 more than the engineer's estimate of $315,000.

So, the Council turned down this company and voted to send out bids again in the fall, with hope of completing this project in 1974.

The local papers used to pay tribute to all mothers, but they always chose one special "Mom" for Mother's Day. In 1973, this selection was Mrs. Alice Gauthier, a mother of 14 and "Grandma" of 36 children.

Mrs. Gauthier, like most of our wonderful elderly citizens had made a major contribution to society and in 1973, continued to share her talents. She taught ceramics at the Holiday Center on Green Square, where she enriched others in her leisure hours.

Mrs. Gauthier did not take life easy after raising her 14 children. She became very busy making many items with her other talents.

One of the remarkable things about this great lady was that she raised her large family in an almost silent world, having lost her voice in 1950 after a serious illness.

During the depression years, Alice and her husband had eight children and her husband was bringing home sixteen dollars a week. This is when Mrs. Gauthier did all off her own sewing, cooking, baking etc. She also knitted mittens, stockings, sweaters and mended clothes until early in the morning. There were so many things that Mrs. Gauthier did after coming to Berlin from Canada in 1923 and becoming an American citizen.

Mrs. Alice Gauthier, who probably has many relatives still living in Berlin certainly deserved the mother of the year award in 1973 and there were probably many other candidates who were just as deserving. Anybody who would like the whole story of this fascinating lady can just send me an e-mail.

In June of 1973, the oldest Catholic school in the city of Berlin closed its doors to students, as Berlin Catholic schools were fighting financial problems.

There were three plans on the table for which one hundred and eighty parents voted. Plan A would be one Catholic school, Plan B would be two Catholic schools and plan C was to maintain three buildings. Their choice was Plan B.

So, the decision was made and the Catholic schools would be put into two buildings. Under this plan, the St. Regis Catholic Junior High building, next door to St. Anne's Church would be closed and grades one through eight would be housed in two remaining schools called Catholic East (Angel Guardian) and Catholic West (St. Patrick's grammar school).

As the years passed, Berlin, which had seven Catholic schools at one time, that included Notre Dame High School on School Street and St. Patrick's High School on Emery Street, eventually came down to only two left. Today (2014) we don't have anymore Catholic schools in operation, with some of these buildings being used for apartments.

I will continue with my history of the year 1973 in my next writing.

Poof Tardiff writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily. 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 Time" on Facebook and guess at the weekly mystery picture.

Legere-MikeMike Legere

Steady-WardWard Steady

Gauthier-AliceAlice Gauthier

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 13:59

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Ithaca Bound: Fact vs. Fiction

This article began with three words and a date. The three words were "Malcolm slays Macbeth." The date was 1057.The source was the "Today in History" website to which I subscribe and which delivers a listing of the historical events that took place on that date each day to my inbox. The three words brought on a flood of memories. Some of you may share in them.
When my family and I moved up this way, thirty-three years ago now, there was a thriving community theatre group called Theatre North. Sadly, Theatre North is no longer with us. But in those days, it was known statewide for the well-above-average quality of its productions. And it was not afraid to take on theatrical challenges that most other community theatre groups would not. One of these was a production of William Shakespeare's powerful drama "Macbeth."
Being a theatre man myself, I had taken part in a few of the group's other productions prior to the group's decision to take on the challenge of a production of one of Shakespeare's most powerful works. Most every actor or actress I know wants to do a Shakespearean play at least once in their lifetimes. I was no different.
My role would be the small but not insignificant role of Duncan, the Scottish king who, in the play, is murdered by Macbeth and his wife. Reading the three words quoted above brought back many a memory of that production thirty-two years ago. Speaking aloud on stage the powerful words of the man considered the world's greatest playwright is an experience like no other. Even though the words I spoke in the play were few, I have never forgotten - nor will ever forget - having the privilege of saying them on stage before a live audience.
Underneath the three words and a date listing for this past Friday, 15 August, was a link to the site's History Channel home page. There, one could find further information about the historical event and the story behind it. Something in the story caused me to seek out further information. Therein lies the title of this article.
It turns out that Shakespeare's powerful drama has little to do with the actual facts of the matter. For example, Macbeth and his infamous wife, as she is portrayed in the play, did not murder Duncan as he slept as a guest in their home. Duncan, who was a much younger man than the play makes him out to be, as well a much lesser man and poorer leader than he is portrayed, was actually killed on the battlefield - by Macbeth, according to the research I did, but not murdered cowardly as he lay sleeping.
And Macbeth's claim to the throne of Scotland was not without legitimacy. Contrary to Shakespeare's characterization of him, Macbeth ruled his realm well, not for just a year, as the play has it, but for seventeen years. In some respects, he was a man ahead of his time. For example, he made it possible for daughters to have the same rights of inheritance as sons. He seems to have been a just and fair king. He was slain on the battlefield by Malcolm, who also laid claim to the throne, on 15 August 1057.
A major role in the play is that of Banquo. Whether Banquo was an actual historical person or not seems to be a matter of some dispute, depending on which website you visit. Shakespeare had his reasons for giving him such a significant positive part in the play, however.
James I (He of the King James Version of the Bible fame.) was King of England, when Shakespeare wrote "Macbeth." He had been James VI, King of Scotland, before ascending to the English throne. James, rightly or wrongly, traced his lineage to Banquo. As the play's premiere performance was to be before the King and his court, Shakespeare made certain that his play played to James' vanities.
The three witches in the play are also there to please James I, because the king was obsessed by the subject of witchcraft. In fact, he had written a sizable book on the subject himself.
So, Shakespeare's great tragedy is largely a work of absolute fiction. The actual facts of Macbeth's life paint a very different picture from the murderer the world's greatest playwright made him out to be. But then, playwrights and script writers have always taken liberty with the truth. William Shakespeare was no exception.
Shakespeare's plays are indeed great products of the human mind, and I have always enjoyed reading and seeing and speaking them aloud. Still, put me down as being with those who prefer fact to fiction.
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. .

Last Updated on Monday, 18 August 2014 13:54

Hits: 1929

Poof Tardiff: 1973 II

Once upon a Berlin Time

Hello fellow Berlinites. In February of 1973, there was an interesting article by Mr. Paige Jones which said that strong leadership had given Berlin the nickname of "Hockey Town USA".

At this time, Notre Dame and Berlin High School's hockey team records over the years in state and New England competition verified how well Berlin deserved this slogan. Also, the astounding record of Berlin's Youth Hockey Association, along with the Berlin Maroons reinforced this fact. There would be more high school state championships until 1976, but that was the end and there haven't been any since.

According to Mr. Jones, all of this got its start from the leadership and ability of two men who demonstrated what could be accomplished by strong direction against surmounting odds. Of course, I believe that there were other people who factored into creating this great hockey town.

The inception of the Notre Dame Arena went back to the early 1920s and to one man and that was the late Monsignor Omer S. Bousquet. His efforts to make hockey better, really got started when he purchased the Coulombe property along the Dead River. This area went from a skating rink to the erection of the Notre Dame Arena.

After the death of Father Bousquet in 1958 and eleven years after the arena was erected, his able assistant Monsignor Alpheri Lauziere stepped up to the plate and kept this arena going.

In the years that followed, we somehow lost this name "Hockey Town USA" and we also lost the signs that stated this. People often ask me what ever happened to the signs, the puck and the two goalie sticks that hung over the entrance of Berlin, but I cannot give them an answer.

It goes without saying, that Berlin had great hockey programs in its past, just as it had great skiing programs and carnivals back in the day, but that is now history.

The town of Gorham lost a much honored resident; when Judge Leo E. Ray, 81 years of age, passed away on Saturday, March 24, 1973. He had been a resident of this town for 55 years, after he had come to Gorham to work for the E. Libby and Sons Company. At the time of his death, Judge Ray was the President, Treasurer and Chairman of the Libby Company and the Mt. Washington Summit Road Company.

Ray was also prominent in civic affairs, serving on the Gorham School Board and being a Municipal Court Justice from 1940 to 1961. He also served as selectmen from 1946 to 1961. He was also a member of the building committees which were responsible for the construction of the Gorham High School in 1924-25 and the expansion of this same high school along with a new wing at the Ed Fenn School in 1968

He was a veteran of World War I and was a charter member and former commander of the Gorham American Legion. Ray also served as Department Commander for New Hampshire in 1938-39 and was National Vice Commander of the American Legion in 1939-40.

Judge Ray was also a director of the White Mountain Trust Company and the Gorham Building and Loan Association prior to his retirement in 1972. He was also an active member of the Berlin Lodge of Elks and Fraternal Order of Masons in Gorham. He was survived by a wife and two daughters.

On Monday, March 26, 1973, City Manager Joseph Burke was authorized by the City Council to contract with the Soil Conservation Service to build the recreational facilities at Jericho Lake. This was not done without some objection, when Albert Theriault thought that the recreation project would be an added burden to the city at a time of high taxes.

The council approved the new plan for Berlin to build the road into the recreation facilities and put out bids for building such a place for its citizens and tourists to enjoy. This, along with today's ATV Park is a great place to enjoy oneself.

There was talk of building a new bridge across the river at Twelfth Street earlier in the year of 1973 and it was thought that the state bridge funds for this project were eliminated from the state public works department.

The funds were still there however and the comment concerning the elimination of such funds for this Berlin bridge was erroneous. Thus, this project would eventually move forward.

Word came down from the board of directors of the Berlin Community Club that they would close the club facilities on June 15, 1973, unless the city purchased it, when they met with the City Council on April 11, 1973.

In an argument brought up by the councilmen who were both for and against bailing out the Community Club, it was stated that the people of Berlin didn't want to dig into their pockets to support this club, then why should the city.

Before the matter came to a vote before the council, Mayor Sylvio Croteau said the city fathers would meet with the recreation department directors and study the Community Club fact sheet that they had prepared. Our beloved Community Club was now on the verge of being doomed.

Anybody that knew about the Brown Company Woods Department in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and the 1960s had heard about how great some of the cooks were in their logging camps.

After serving Brown Company as a cook for 37 years, Mr. Carroll Wentzell retired in April of 1973. There were actually two men from the Woods Department who were retiring at this time; the other man was Elmer Pettengill, a woodlands controller. About 125 close friends and relatives of both men gathered at the Town and Country Motor Inn to honor these men.

It is certainly Mr. Wentzell that I want to talk about and it all started for him early in life with his love of cooking, when he helped his mother working around the kitchen. It was here that he picked up his first lessons and then he learned much more on his own.

Before coming to the Brown Company he cooked for a jobber and later Wentzell stayed at Brown Company woods camps in several places and prepared meals for 100 men, but that was during his early years. By the late 50's and the 60's, woods camps were much smaller with the average group being about 35 to 40 people.

"Carroll was well known for making pastries", commented his wife Mildred. She even cooked with him before he retired.

His last years as a woods camp cook were at Clear Stream in Errol. He worked there for almost eight years, feeding the hungry woodsmen. There were many good cooks in the old lumber camps, but Carroll Wentzell was a cut above the rest and his men never went hungry.

I will continue with the history of Berlin in 1973 in next week's story.

Poof Tardiff writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Question 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 Time" on Facebook and guess at the weekly mystery.

HockeyTown-1Hockey Town USA

Ray-Judge-LeoJudge Leo Ray

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 August 2014 13:19

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