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Poof Tardiff: 1945 VI

Once upon a Berlin Time

Hello fellow Berlinites. In August of 1945, the headlines of the local paper read "Will Berlin be the key city of Northern New Hampshire"? Berlin had splendid natural advantages, year-round facilities for recreation, sports, swimming, skiing etc.

Cities in close proximity to Berlin were laying plans for air transportation that could deprive us of being the key city. Our town back in 1945 had great natural advantages. It was a big business town; operating year-round and it was supplemented by year round recreation, including sports, fishing, hunting, winter sports and more.

However, one had to consider travel time necessary to reach Berlin by highway. The only answer back then was air transportation to bring people here to trade and to enjoy the natural geographic advantages.

There were many suggestions in the article that covered two pages of the paper, with a great airport and air travel being the number one item. Airlines did fly in and out of our airport, but after about twenty five years that eventually fizzled out, as there were not enough passengers to make any kind of a profit.

Our major business also died, but the distance to travel still remained the same. This certainly did not help matters. We still are the "Key City" in Northern New Hampshire, but it has been a struggle.

Now that the war was over, people were still feeling its effects. Hunters were limited to 100 shotgun shells during the 1945 hunting season. Rationing in the first year of peace would be the same as in the last year of war. The War Production Board had announced that due to the shortage of lead, the same limits as 1944 would remain in effect.

In addition to 100 shotgun shells of any gauge, a hunter could also purchase 150 rounds of 22 caliber rim fire cartridges and 40 rounds of center fire ammunition, or 50 rounds if packaged 50 to the box.

This made a total of eight boxes of ammunition of all kinds and to get it, a hunter had to sign a certificate provided by the War Production Board suppliers. The hunting season must have been pretty good back then. My father never told me about this, but he did say that during the deer season, it only took one shot. Sure!

Due to the great construction projects which were getting underway, two of which were the rebuilding of the Brown Company Mills and the new power plant that was being erected by Public Service Company, Berlin was confronted with a serious housing situation.

For this reason, everyone who had a rent, apartment or room to let, was asked to call the Chamber of Commerce and register any available space which they had.

By the end of the summer, representatives of all filling stations selling high quality gasoline met on September 13, 1945 with the Berlin Chamber of Commerce in order to set up new hours to serve the public in this area to a better advantage.

Officials of the OPA and the Chamber of Commerce commended the filling stations for their excellent service given the citizens of Berlin under wartime restrictions and hoped that motorists would continue to patronize these same places.

With the heavy restrictions during the war, a number of stations operated at no profit, but remained open and gave their usual free service. Now that the war was over, these local filling stations were going to operate under new hours. The plan called for one gas station at either end of town to remain open until 10 p.m. Also two stations would remain open on Sunday until 6 p.m.

Stations would alternate on this schedule so that all involved would be included to share the business. A calendar was printed out showing when the various filling stations would be open. These calendars were displayed at all these businesses, so that the public knew where to go. I wonder if any of these businesses broke the rules, as this was just an agreement among each of them.

One of Berlins longtime sports writers and teachers, Mr. Richard Wagner was returning to the classroom in October of 1945. Wagner, who started his teaching career in the beginning of the 1940's, was recently discharged from the U.S. Army. He was now going to resume his duties as an instructor of science and physical education in the junior high school on October, 1, 1945.

Mr. Wagner attended Berlin High School, Hebron Academy, Norwich University and attended McGill University. He was a member of the Berlin High School faculty before entering the service in August of 1941, serving overseas for 32 months.

Dick Wagner also coached varsity basketball for a time and eventually became the sportswriter for the Berlin Reporter after the great Leo Cloutier moved on to the "Union Leader".

It was called the Drapeau Convalescent Home for the aged and it was located on 625 Lincoln Ave. overlooking Berlin. This home was opened and had its first patient on February 4, 1945. Since then and by October of 1945, the number of patients ranging from 54 to 80 years old had increased to 10. Most of these patients were state welfare and county cases with a few private ones added.

The home which was located at a 15 minute distance (more like five minutes) from the center of the city could accommodate 12 patients. Mr. and Mrs. Drapeau had plans to add a wing to this home in 1946, thereby providing 40 more beds for additional patients.

Most of the patients were local people, with Mrs. Drapeau taking personal care of them. They were provided with books, newspapers, a radio and a phonograph. This enterprise which started as a small venture, promised to develop into a well organized establishment. This business lasted up until the mid 1950s, but I cannot find that address on Lincoln Avenue now.

I will continue with the year 1945 in my next writing. I do have readers that said they well remember the crowds that gathered downtown when the war with Japan ended in August 1945.

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, join the many fans of "Once upon a Berlin Time" on face book and guess at the weekly mystery picture.

Wagner-DickDick Wagner


Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 12:52

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Rick Samson: Commissioner's Corner

A brief update on what is transpiring at the Stewartstown Nursing home and the Coos County farm and land will be of interest to all Coos County taxpayers.
The administration has had meetings with several different companies concerning the water system at the Stewartstown facility. The towns of Stewartstown, Canaan and Beecher Falls are in the process of installing a new water facility. We are looking at the possibility of the County joining in the project to benefit all parties concerned. The possibility exists that it could save all parties considerable expenses.
At the commissioner's regular March meeting, the commissioners agreed to have our county forester Brendan Prusik establish a long range sustainable forestry plan for the county's forest land. Coos County was the only county in the state without a forester doing this.
With last year's decision by the commissioners and also the delegation not to sell any more county property, it will give the commissioners an opportunity to save and manage our county land for the benefit of the entire county.
The commissioners have just signed a one year lease for the use of the county farm land with CJEJ farm of Columbia owned and operated by Chris and Joyce Brady and Blue Mountain Farm, also of Columbia, owned and operated by Scott and Debi Dublois.
Both farms work with Coos County Extension Service office and the USDA Rural office in Lancaster. They rotate their crops, manage their land with the greatest of care, and also are trying different crops in our area. They are also educating and working with young farmers.
The outside correction officer and some of the inmates are doing a great job of upkeep and lawn maintenance to make the facility look as it should. Most of the old fencing and eyesores have and are being removed.
On a bothersome note, I wonder why some of the papers are not reporting on the positive events that are taking place at the Stewartstown facility. I am more than willing to provide a tour to any reporter that would like to see firsthand what we are trying to do with our facilities. Not reporting the positive and ongoing things in Stewartstown will not make the facility go away nor does it do the farm justice.
Times have changed and we commissioners and the delegation are willing to change and remake the farm into the showcase that it once was by working with these two farms. We are trying to save and restore this farm that once was a "Dairy of Distinction" in 1987. Milking is not our goal but to allow the use of the facilities by farmers that have the best interest of the farm and land is.

Rick Samson, Coos County Commissioner District Three

Last Updated on Monday, 30 June 2014 14:02

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Ithaca Bound: An Ominous Move

Haven't we been down this road before? It seems very familiar. Our government announces that it has decided to send a few hundred of our troops to a foreign land fighting unwelcome insurgents attempting to overthrow the duly elected government of that country. Our troops are only being sent to help train the armed forces of that foreign land to better resist the insurgency, not to engage in actual combat. At least, that is what we are told.
Before long, however, we are told that it is now necessary to send more of our men and women in uniform to do some actual battlefield fighting, that our own national interests are at stake. Little by little, there are now more and more thousands of our battle-clad troops doing more and more of the frontline fighting, and we soon find ourselves involved in another never-ending quagmire necessitating more and more of our military forces spilling more and more of their blood and draining more and more of our dwindling national treasury.
The Middle East has been a battleground from the beginning of recorded history. Iraq is a country cobbled together, largely by the British, at the end of World War I, without regard to its deep ethnic and religious divisions. It is hardly surprising that deep unrest and occasional uprisings have marked its rather brief history. For years, the only thing holding the country together was the brutal suppressing of such anti-government activity by an unconscionable leader, such as Saddam Hussein.
Other nations in the Middle East tolerated such a man because at least they knew who and what he was and how best to deal with him. Keep in mind that Hussein was left in place at the end of the First Gulf War. How much did the other nations in the Middle East have to do with that? Did they find it best to deal with the devil they knew?
The ill-advised Second Gulf War did little to enhance our nation's image, not only in the Middle East, but around the world. As some tried to tell us, the weapons of mass destruction that we were told Iraq had and was near ready to use proved to be untrue. Hussein was our sworn enemy, true enough, but he never had the means to do much of anything about it.
Many of us who voted for him hoped that Barack Obama would end such ill-advised adventuring into the affairs of other nations and regions. To a certain extent, he has, almost always against the opposition of those who believe that only military action is always a cure-all. (Why we are still in Afghanistan, though, is still a mystery, however. It seems that we never learn anything from history. Despite numerous and prolonged efforts by other nations, Afghanistan has always remained a nation in name only. It is unlikely that we will change that, regardless of how long our troops stay there.)
Now, in my opinion, President Obama is making the same mistake that others before him have made. We should allow whatever happens in Iraq to happen. Let the other nations of the Middle East deal with the issue. We have enough internal issues of our own right here in the United States.
Spilling more of our own blood and spending more of our own treasury is not going to resolve Iraq's problems. Only Iraq can solve Iraq's problems.
Religious differences in the Middle East run deep, and the spilling of blood over them is never far from the surface. (Christianity's own history is a bloody one, for that matter.) Iraq's duly elected leader has made his position on the religious issue quite clear. We are not going to change that.
The oil issue will always be with us, at least it will until we can find acceptable alternatives to it that will not be opposed or suppressed by the oil industry. And does our own overuse of oil justify the spilling of our own precious blood to sustain it?
Three hundred "advisors" have been sent to Iraq. Where will it end?
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, 30 June 2014 13:43

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Poof Tardiff: 1945 V

Once upon a Berlin Time

Hello fellow Berlinites. In last week's story I mentioned the meat shortage in Berlin. The following week Congressman Merrill rushed to the "Paper City" to investigate this problem.

For the first time in its history, the city of Berlin had a meatless weekend. As acute as a shortage had been in the past few weeks, it had not reached the point where the stores had nothing to offer in the form of meat until the past weekend.

This shortage reached its peak in the end of June when Berlin and the vicinity were getting only seven percent of their normal meat quota.

Congressman Merrow came to Berlin between speaking engagements to view the situation here. Mr. Merrill immediately wired to the WFA in Washington requesting an emergency shipment of meat for this area. Even though the shipment came, the problem was not quickly solved.

Mr. George Brassard of Brassard's Market said that the shortage was also due to an influx of summer tourists in the state and fewer shipments of beef from the Midwest. Restaurants and hotels were also faced with a serious problem of finding enough foodstuffs. The problem was supposed to be alleviated by the end of July 1945.

Another death was contributed to the war when the newspaper announced that Roland G. Rasmussen was killed in action the ninth of May 1945. First Class Petty Officer Rasmussen was the first member of the St. Paul Lutheran Church to give his life for his country.

He was born in Berlin December 18, 1914 and graduated from Berlin High School with the class of 1934. Rasmussen enlisted in the U.S. Navy the same year, where he served four years. He reenlisted for service on June 23, 1942 and took part in the campaigns of Africa, Sicily and Italy.

During the middle of August 1945 Berlin's population reacted in two sharply contrasting ways when they heard the news of the official surrender of the Japanese. Thousands of people had been listening tensely to the broadcast on the radio, hoping to learn that the end of the war had finally come.

Then, amidst tears and joyful shouts, countless thousands rushed out of their homes the moment that they heard the long awaited message and they shouted, "It's over, the war is over".

While the majority rushed down the street to join the jubilant crowds, others humbly made their way to church where in the peace and quiet of the sanctuary, they let go their pent-up emotions to thank the Lord for the victory and protection accorded their sons, or to find solace upon the realization that there boy would never return home.

Joyful celebrations streamed up and down Main Street, tooting their car horns, gathering papers and shouting at the crowds lined up on the sidewalks. Over 8,000 Berlin citizens stood on the sidewalks for two long hours waiting for a grand parade that eventually took place.

Church bells rang every half hour, in concert with the mill whistle and the sirens from the fire department. All of the stores closed immediately following the news and remained closed the following day.

Our greatest generation had just won their great fight for freedom and celebrated the victory that they had just gained. These were true Americans and they were proud of it.

The end of August and beginning of September brought two sad incidents to the city of Berlin. In this city, on Tuesday, September 4, 1945, twelve year old Maurice Letarte of Third Street drowned in the Androscoggin River at the mouth of Bean Brook, just under one mile from his home.

The young lad apparently slipped and plunged into the water while walking along the bank of the river. The boy was clad in swimming trunks and was accompanied by his nine-year-old brother, who ran home when Maurice failed to come to the surface

His mother called the fire department immediately, but the body was recovered by a truck driver for the Brown Company, who was at the Motor Mart across the river when the accident occurred.

Once the firemen arrived, they tried artificial respiration without success. Young Maurice was the son of Joseph and Rose Belanger Letarte and was in the fifth grade at St. Regis Academy. Besides his parents, he left seven brothers and three sisters Maurice was one of several drownings that took place in the summer of 1945.

The other sad incident took place near Osnabruck, Germany when a Berlin boy was murdered by German civilians. I remember writing up this story over 13 years ago.

Although it took quite some time, the news of the death of Sgt. William A. Dumont, reached his parents in the middle of August 1945, through the War Department. For months, the Dumont family had anxiously awaited for news of their son who failed to return from a bombing mission over Germany.

They received a letter from the Adjutant General's office that read as follows: "It is with deep regret that I am writing to confirm the recent telegram informing you of the death of your son Sgt. William A. Dumont. The records of this office showed that Sgt. Dumont was a crew member of a B-24 (Liberator) type aircraft which failed to return from a bombing mission to Hanover, Germany on 24 August 1944. The airplane encountered enemy antiaircraft fire over their target and his bomber last seen in the vicinity of the target.

At a war crimes trial held in Darmstadt, Germany, before a military commission of the Seventh Army in which eleven German civilians were charged with violating the "laws of war", testimony was submitted that your son's bomber crashed near Osnabruck, Germany on August 24, 1944 and he was captured. It was later revealed that while en- route to a prisoner of war camp and under guard, your son was murdered by German civilians on August 26, 1944.

You may be assured that swift justice was being meted out to the perpetrators of this crime. I deeply regret that so long a delay had occurred in receiving this information for transmittal to you and I know the suffering that has been yours during these long and trying months since he was reported missing in action.

The War Department was dependent upon the theaters of operation for the prompt transmittal of casualty reports and why the information regarding your son was not furnished at an earlier date is sincerely regretted.

You have my deepest sympathy in your sorrow and I hope that the knowledge of your son's heroic service to his country may be of sustaining comfort to you". It was signed by the acting Adjutant General of the Army.

The body of Sgt. Dumont was eventually brought back to the United States and Berlin for burial. This soldier is buried along with his mother and father in Mount Cavalry cemetery on the road to Cates Hill.

I will continue with the year 1945 in my 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 fans of "Once upon a Berlin Time" on Facebook and guess at the weekly mystery picture.

Berlin-circa-1945Berlin circa 1945

Dumont-William-AWilliam A. Dumont

Rasmussen-Roland-GRoland G. Rasmussen

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 15:15

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Ithaca Bound: A War Forgotten

Two young girls of high school age came up and stood beside me for a moment. They seemed to hesitate. Then, one spoke up. "What was this war all about," she asked?
We were standing before the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C. A few years back, my wife and I had joined a tour group visiting our nation's capital. Despite the services of a highly knowledgeable and well-spoken local guide, I frequently wandered off on my own or lagged behind when something of greater interest to me caught my attention. So it was that I was standing in front of the line of nineteen United Nations garbed statues that make up a major part of the Korean War Memorial.
From what they were wearing, it was obvious that the two girls who had asked me about the war were also part of a tour group, this one being a school group whose chaperones had given them some leeway to gather some information about the memorials and monuments on their own. For whatever reason, they had decided to ask me.
As best I could, I told them about the reasons for the three-year conflict between North and South Korea that had never had a definitive end to it. It was a war that drew other nations into it, as communist countries tried to exert their influence over the Korean Peninsula and mostly democratic Allied countries tried to stop what they saw as a serious threat to their way of life hat could lead to a third world war. An uneasy truce has held ever since 1953, but technically, the two sides are still at war. The girls thanked me for the information I gave them and went on their way.
Tomorrow, the 25 of June, marks the 64th anniversary of the beginning of that highly bloody conflict that was fought on some of the most inhospitable terrain in the world. I had just finished my sophomore year in high school when the highly trained and well-equipped North Korean Army invaded its South Korean neighbor, swept away the poorly trained and ill-equipped army that stood in its path, captured the South Korean capital of Seoul. and very nearly were able to claim victory before any serious opposition could be mounted in response.
Led largely by United States troops, military contingents from around the world quickly gathered and finally were able to halt the North Korean advance and begin to push back. When the Allied forces made moves that threatened the Chinese mainland, the Chinese entered the conflict on the side of the North Koreans. The battle ground to a stalemate and both sides agreed to peace talks. Talks dragged on for two long years, the issue of prisoner exchange being a primary sticking point. Unable to reach a final peace treaty, the two sides agreed to a truce. A dividing line was established at the 38th parallel, with a two-and-a-half-mile wide no-mans land separating the two warring forces. Sixty-four years later, that is where the conflict still stands. The Koreas are still divided, and every so often the North makes threatening gestures against the South.
The Korean War was an especially bloody one, particularly for civilians. Half of the estimated five million casualties in the three-year conflict were civilians, more civilians than in either World War II or the Vietnam War, according to a couple of sources I researched for this article.
Ironically, however, this war has become an almost forgotten war in this country. Perhaps this is because it ended in a stalemate that is still unresolved. And then, of course, there is the bitter experience of the Vietnam War, and the more recent battlegrounds of Afghanistan and Iraq, which cause many of us to question the decisions of our country's civilian and military leadership over the last decade and a half.
The Korean War Memorial has always reached deeper into my soul than any other but one, which I will discuss shortly. The faces on the nineteen battle-weary young men tell a story about war that no amount of words, no matter how brilliantly penned could possibly convey.
Not far from this Memorial is the Vietnam Women's Memorial. To me, it makes a far more universal statement. The Memorial depicts three woman, all in nurse's uniform, one looking skyward, another praying, and a third cradling a wounded soldier. The women are meant to represent Faith, Hope, and Charity.
This highly expressive piece of statuary never fails to remind me of the opening scenes of the highly acclaimed television series M*A*S*H, which was set in a field hospital in South Korea. Perhaps you remember, too. There is the shot of the incoming helicopters bearing the wounded and the dying. The grim faces of the men and women of the field hospital unit hurrying to see what they will have to do this time, who will live and who will die. It is ironic that this serio-comic television series told many of us perhaps all we know about this Forgotten War.
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. .

Last Updated on Monday, 23 June 2014 18:33

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