Poof Tardiff: 1974 III

Hello fellow Berlinites. The year 1974 saw a name change for our old St. Louis Hospital, but it would be a few more years before we actually had a new building. A new sign was placed in front of the old hospital on Main Street showing the new name as being Androscoggin Valley Hospital. The sign was made by Floriam Bourassa, a Brown Company worker, being placed between the St. Regis Academy and the old hospital.

Plans were being made to celebrate Randolph's 150th year of existence which took place in 1824. Townspeople considered this many years of history enough to celebrate, so a sesquicentennial celebration was being scheduled for Saturday, August 3, 1974. A medal was designed and produced for sale to mark this event. I will write of this celebration as I come across it in the old newspapers. How many people still have their medals?

A boating accident claimed the life of a young Berlin girl in May of 1974 and caused Chief Conservation Officer Arthur Muise great concern. Worried about the bunch of canoeing accidents of the recent days in the North Country, one of which took the life of 16 year-old Linda Guerard in the Mollidgewock area, where the waters of the Androscoggin River were thirty-eight degrees, issued a warning.

He said that life preservers were made to be worn and not stashed under a seat. Muise also said that most of the seventeen people involved in the accidents on the weekend of May 11 and 12 were not wearing life preservers, including the young Berlin girl who lost her life. These accidents still happen today for the same reasons that officer Muse explained over forty years ago.

In May of 1974, a public hearing was held on a proposal that eventually resulted in more than a $1.2 million project. This project scheme would first rebuild the dam on the Androscoggin River just below Pontook Reservoir, build a road across the river using the dam as a base and develop a camping area to include an estimated 20 campsites, beach, picnic tables, boat launches and more.

After many months of wrangling and other major problems, the Pontook Dam did finally get built. Needless to say, some compromises had to take place, as today (2015) there is no road across the dam. A campsite area was not built, but a great parking lot and boat access did become a reality. Also there was no beach built like there is up at Jericho Lake Park.

Many canoers, kayakers and tubing enthusiasts do use this area as a starting point to go down the river and many also use the boat launch to travel up into the waters of Pontook. With something this huge, concessions must always take place and in this case they did.

The Berlin Police Department was making headway in the technology field, when they received a new piece of equipment which helped put them one more step ahead of fighting crime in the end of May 1974. It was called a telecopier; this machine electronically sent and received photographs, fingerprints, charts and documents over a telephone line. It would be similar to today's fax machines. Back in 1974, this almost sounded like science fiction, but it was now here in the "Paper City". This device went into operation on June 3 of the year of which I am writing.

If the police wanted to get pictures of a convict who had escaped from the state prison in Concord, they would call Concord police, who also had a telecopier and put their phones into the respective machines. This was another step forward in communications said former Assistant Marshall Carl Giordono, who is seen in the accompanying picture with the new piece of equipment. Before this gadget came into existence, it would take a few days to get all the information and pictures needed. With a telecopier, it took just a short time.

This machine came to the BPD by way of the Federal Crime Commission funds and was here on a one-year trial basis. Things have certainly changed in forty-one years and with the new technologies that our police officers have, information gets to them almost instantly.

Our huge paper mills of the Brown Company in this city were certainly the reason for our existence, but in 1974, their struggle to keep operating hit another of many bumps in the road and many people just didn't see the problem arising.

The Brown Company, who had just embarked on a $12 million program to combat water pollution (which we certainly needed) in Berlin and Gorham at its mills, was encountering some opposition to the plans.

It seems like a Cascade resident was upset because the pollution control construction took away a playground in the area and a petition was signed by some residents to save this part. This $12 million program had been just started as part of a $28 million project by the Brown Company to clean up the air and water in the area. This meant that separate treatment facilities would be planned, one in Berlin on the east side of the river and one in Gorham at Cascade Flats.

Construction of the new sewer lines and lagoons was scheduled to start in the summer of 1974 with a permit given by the Environmental Protection Agency. This was conditional on meeting a time schedule for completion of the treatment facilities, so time was of the essence.

The schedule had called for part one of the program to start by May 31, 1974 and required the system to be operational in mid-1975. So, as one could see, even though the Brown Company was trying to keep up with the requirements of the EPA, local problems would arise with many of their pollution undertakings. All of this came at a cost for a company that was struggling in a city that was trying to clean up, keep its mills and remain in existence. .

How nice it would've been for the Brown Company to slowly clean up their act and the employees to keep their jobs in the paper mills. This was not going to happen though, as they sold their mills to James River six years later and by 2006 all the mills in Berlin were no longer operational.

I will continue with the year 1974 in my next story.

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.

Giordono-CarlCarl Giordono

Randolph-MedalsRandolph Medals


Brown-Co.-early-1970sBrown Co. early 1970's

Rick Samson: Problems facing the North Country

It has been a while since I have written a column, but I am back and will try to be more consistent with the columns and information that our constituents should be getting. Pneumonia and a lung infection plus the long old- fashioned winter are now behind us.
There are a number of issues confronting the county, the commissioners, the delegation, the employees, and the taxpayers that need addressing in the immediate future.
The county is in the process of adjusting to the loss of our long time Director of Nursing, Diane Hobart after 34 years of service. I am disappointed in the lack of public recognition by not only the County but also the press, as that length of service is a rare thing these days.
The employee surveys that were completed on February 28th need to be reviewed and we, as commissioners, need to responsibly address and answer the questions and comments and concerns of our employees.
The turnover of personnel at the House of Corrections and the nursing homes, the shortage of nurses and LNA's; all of these need to be at the top of the commissioners list. The White Mountain Community College's nursing program is reinstated and hopefully we can benefit from that. Our having to pay for traveling nurses is an extremely expensive way to care for our elderly.
Coos County and Strafford Counties are the only two counties that do not have a full time Human Resources department. This is a must with any organization with over 50 employees. In order to meet all federal guidelines and rules, this needs to be a full time job.
We need to make some serious decisions concerning our water at the Stewartstown facility. A study is ongoing at this time and one of the options is to become a partner with the towns of Stewartstown, Canaan and Beecher Falls. At the present time we are simply band-aiding our current system. We need to determine the best solution to fixing the water problem. One possibility is to upgrade our own system and maintain it entirely. A second option is to join with Stewartstown, Canaan and Beecher Falls as they install a new system.
The lease for the farm and land is almost finalized but we also need to redefine and mark our property lines. The county forester is in the process of developing a forest management plan for our wood lands.
The commissioners need to appoint a zoning board of adjustment for the Unincorporated Places to possibly assist with the proposed Balsams project.
I feel that all of the above mentioned issues cannot be fairly and thoroughly discussed and decided with only a single meeting each month. We as commissioners need to look at the amount of time we meet to make good informed and beneficial decisions that affect our county government and its costs.
In future columns I will be addressing each of the items referred to in this latest but long overdue column.

Rick Samson is the Coos County Commissioner for District Three.


Mike Ramsay: ATV/Snowmobile Bridge in West Milan is now complete

On behalf of Jim Feldhouse, president of The Milan Trail Huggers ATV Club, I would like to thank all the volunteers and donors for their help with our new ATV/Snowmobile bridge in West Milan.

On May 31, with more than 15 people, two excavators, 11 hours of labor and lots of ambition, we built a new 66-foot ATV bridge across the North Branch of the Upper Ammonosuc River, approximately 30 feet east of the Route 110 bridge near Gord's Corner Store.

This bridge will be a key to allow ATVs (and eventually snowmobiles) to get fuel and food. This will be part of the Corridor D ATV trail, connecting Cedar Brook Road in Dummer to West Milan, through Stark and into Groveton. Please be aware that this bridge and trail are presently closed as we work on opening the local road system in the weeks to come.

We were able to secure several critical donations for this project. Major contributors include Gordy and Janet Roberge from Gord's Corner Store, who donated the lumber for this project, but were also a driving force in making this project become a reality; Bob and Bud Chapman donated the steel and the transportation for the bridge frame. Leo Chaloux from Stark donated his excavator and expertise, and an additional excavator was provided Steve Binette from Ray's Electric and operated by Jason Lavoie.

Another donation was received from Mason Homes and Excavation to finish the dirt ramps leading up to the bridge. I cannot express enough that this project would not have been possible without these generous donations, and we appreciate each of them.

After the bridge was built, Absolute Power Sports gave a cash donation to the vlub to be used for installing gates and rock barriers to keep 4WD drive vehicles and ATV's from accessing private land where they should not be riding.

Last and certainly not least, I would like to recognize the more than 15 volunteers who showed up Saturday, May 30, to help us finalize this project. We had not only an unbelievable group of local ATV and snowmobile riders, but some volunteers came from southern New Hampshire and as far away as Massachusetts to help with the project. Over the course of the 11-hour day we were able to unload the bridge from Bud Chapmans trailer, walk it into position, deck it and install and railings, and construct the retaining walls for the approach ramps at the north and south ends.

To all those who helped with this bridge, your hard work and dedication reflects great credit upon each and every one of you. I would like to personally thank The Milan Trailhuggers Trail Master Larry Gomes, who together with Gordy Roberge had the vision and drive to see this project from an idea to reality.

The Milan Trailhuggers ATV Club was founded in 2014 by local area ATV enthusiasts dedicated to opening and maintaining OHRV trails in the Milan and Stark area. We are currently working on several trail projects in Milan, West Milan, Stark and Dummer, and we graciously accept any and all donations towards those projects. We encourage safe riding on all trails and ask riders to only ride on trails and roads that have been specifically marked as open for ATV riding. Most importantly have fun and be safe!

Mike Ramsay is the vice president of the Milan Trailhuggers ATV Club.




Poof Tardiff: 1974 II

Hello fellow Berlinites. A late night and early morning fire destroyed the Bowlodrome at 410 Glen Avenue on March 26, 1974. Owner Herve Villeneuve closed up his candlepin bowling establishment around 10:30 as the evening leagues finished for the night. He then packed up his money and went home.

By 11 p.m., just one half hour later, the somber tones of the city fire horn cut through the night air and the fire and police department went to work. Many curious onlookers also came to see where the fire was. What they saw was the C+S Bowlodrome on Glen Avenue and near the Androscoggin River in a mass of flames.

Firemen continually pumped water on the building from the river across the street, but to no avail, as the dry hardwood of the bowling alleys rapidly went up in smoke. Chief Lucien Lamontagne said that the cause of the late night fire was unknown and under investigation by his department and Steve Emery of the fire inspector's office. By the time the fire department got there just after 11 p.m., the whole building was an inferno. The chief said that the firemen didn't stand a chance in this battle. Today, a new building stands on 410 Glen Avenue with several businesses in it. Many people still remember the old Bowlodrome.

After the election of Berlin's first ever woman on the City Council, Yvonne Coulombe was not all surprised to be elected to the this city seat in March of 1974. Much of the credit for her victory at the polls was due to her 16-year-old son Raymond in her husband Henry.

Her campaign strategy was simple, the campaign manager, Mrs. Marie Berthiaume, who was a mother of eight children in school, would get together with other friends over coffee and decide which street Yvonne would go door to door and ask for support at the polls.

Sometimes her lady friends would take one side of the street, while she took the other side and it all paid off. Before being elected to the Council, Mrs. Coulombe had already been active woman in Berlin.

She was a member of the St. Joseph Goldmine Club, the St. Kieran's Altar Guild, the St. Kieran's Guild bowling league and the Androscoggin Canoe and Kayak Club. So, as one can see Yvonne Coulombe was pretty active. She even became mayor of this fine city in 1994.

The story of a local truck driving hero took over six months to hit the home news and when it did, Jean Kelly didn't know how much of a hero that he really was. A neighbor of Kelly stopped by the local newspaper office on Monday, March 25, with a story from a magazine published by the National Agricultural Transportation League. This neighbor thought that this city's residents should know what Gene had done. The headline in the story read: "Trucker Kelly aids in multi-truck pileup".

It was the story of an accident that took place on the New Jersey Turnpike in October of 1973, when the fog mixed with smoke from a nearby marsh fire created low visibility and a number of accidents had taken place. When it was all over, nine people were dead, 42 were injured and according to accounts in the magazine, dozens of trailer units were destroyed.

Kelly, who lived in the Jericho area of this city spoke to the newspaper of the incident and said that he was on one of his weekly trips to Maine – Florida – Montréal. It was a clear night and all of a sudden there was smoke. Then Gene saw an accident ahead and managed to stop along with three others behind him. After this he could hear vehicles slamming into each other to his rear.

For the next 12 hours, Kelly and others worked continuously to take other truckers, either wounded or dead out of wrecked cabs. It took three and one half hours to get one person out, because they could not use torches or even saws because of a load of oil involved.

During his 12 hour stretch on the turnpike Kelly said he opened the box of his trailer, got out a couple of orange crates and gave some to people for nourishment caught up in the accident.

Indirectly it was a load of citrus fruit that he was transporting, that resulted in the National Agricultural Transportation League giving him a plaque for his "Outstanding help to truckers in the tragic New Jersey Turnpike multiple accident in October 1973".

This whole incident forced Mr. Kelly to get out of the trucking business and go to work in the woods, where he said it was a lot tougher on his muscles, but easier on his mind.

As for changes, Today (2015), the business in the old Mountain Valley Plaza on the Berlin- Gorham Road is called Tractor Supply, but it had a different name 41 years ago. The new store that was all set to open in the spring of 1974 was called Rich's Department Store and it was going to be the biggest store in Coos County, according to its builders. It would also be the eighth in a chain founded in 1962.

For the last few months, goods had been arriving by truck from all over the country in preparation for the opening day on May 7. Manager Leo Paradis said that everything was all set to go for this first Tuesday in May.

Rich's self-service department store in Gorham would feature name brands and labels in all departments, including family fashions, basic clothing and accessories, sporting goods, domestics, men's, boy's, appliances, toys and much more.

Paradis said that there were 120 people working at this new store in preparation for the opening. Most of them would be kept on after the store opened. A quick check with the bookkeeping department told the new manager that the store would bring about one quarter of a million dollars yearly in new paychecks for the area.

Mr. Paradis was not a stranger in the North Country, as he worked at the Globe store in the shopping center between Berlin and Gorham and then managed the Globe store in Littleton.

I will continue with the year 1974 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 Face book and guess at the weekly mystery picture.


Paradis-LeoLeo Paradis

Kelley-GeneGene Kelley

410-Glen-Ave.-2015410 Glen Ave. in 2015.


Ithaca Bound: Glory Days

With athletic skills that were - and are - decidedly limited, the only sport I could play with any degree of success was softball. Even so, as a youngster in school, most of the time, I was the last would-be player chosen, and most of my playing time was spent in right field. Most of you surely know what that means. Playing right field means spending most of your time standing out there watching the grass grow. Most elementary school batters being right handed swingers, seldom was a ball hit out to right field.
That was just fine with me, as judging fly balls was not my long suit. If you've watched Hanley Ramirez play left field for the Boston Red Sox, you have some idea of how bad my skills as an outfielder were. Ugly is the proper operative word here.
My skills playing ground balls were much better, but in school gym classes, opportunities to play the infield never came my way. Those positions always went to the first players to be chosen for the team. Being the last player picked to play, meant that being the last hitter in the batting order was a given, also. Since gym class games seldom lasted more than two or three innings, that meant I might never get up to bat.
Only twice during my school years was there an opportunity to do more than be guardian of the right field grass. For two gym classes in a row, I was called upon to pitch for my team. Really and truly! I was my team's pitcher! Glory be!
And I was pretty darn good, too. Between my two chances at pitching, I threw six innings, and gave up one measly hit that resulted in one measly run. And, naturally, it was my best grade school buddy that got the hit that drove in that one run! The player that scored the one run had gotten on base because of a throwing error by one of the infielders. A series of errors on my buddy's lone hit allowed the run to score. My gym teacher even made the comment, "C'mon, you guys, ol' Conway's pitching himself a pretty good game here."
But those two days of "stardom" marked the end of my days as a pitcher. After a few days of sickness, the team's regular pitcher came back to school, and it was back to right field for me. No more days of glory.
My softball playing days were not quite over, however. With my graduation from high school, I had thought they were. Make that, I had hoped they were. But, no, not so. In my late thirties, the associate minister of the church I attended decided to add a softball team to the activities the church sponsored. My best efforts at declining to take part were futile. Reluctantly, I showed up at the team's first game figuring there would be enough guys to play, and I would help keep the bench warm.
Well, no. There weren't enough guys. I was to try second base. Amazingly, I did alright. I handled the one or two balls that were hit my way and even got a hit myself. Now I was the team's second baseman. But not for long. At the next game, I did get another hit, but the old legs let me know that they didn't like what I was doing. Walking was painful for the couple of days. It was a couple of weeks before they felt normal again, but my playing days were clearly over.
Well, a tally of my two game career was not too bad. The two or three chances I had had in the field had been handled without error and I had had two hits in seven at bats. So, what with my pitching performance in grade school and my brief stint with church team, I figured that I had had a couple of glory days, anyway. Well, yes, you're right. "Glory" is too strong a word. But you know that I mean.
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..