Once upon a Berlin Time
Hello fellow Berlinites. Tragedy struck the small town of Milan, New Hampshire, when Mrs. Ellen Marie Clement, 27, took her own life and the lives of her two small children.
Mrs. Clement had taken an overdose of sleeping pills and gave similar doses to her children on Saturday, October 6, 1945. Dr. L. P. Beaudoin, coroner and Dr. T. C. Pulsifer, attending physician both attributed the deaths to an overdose of drugs.
Mr. H. Dewey Hodgdon, father of Mrs. Clement, called Dr. Pulsifer Saturday night, when he returned home to find that his daughter and her children were all asleep in one bed and could not be awakened.
Mrs. Clement died Saturday night at her home, soon after Dr. Pulsifer arrived. The son, age 4, died at home on Sunday and the daughter, age 6, died at the St. Louis hospital on Sunday.
Authorities said that no motive had been found for this sad misfortune, but that Mrs. Clement had attempted to take her life previously and a search through her personal belongings revealed about 1,000 sleeping pills in her handbag.
The sad part is that she took the children with her. I am sure that there were other underlying problems that sparked these three deaths. As is the case today, many Berlin people must have known or were related to this family and saddened by their deaths.
On Sunday, October 21, 1945, the 50th anniversary of the dedication of Mt. Forist Methodist Church was celebrated. Flowers were sent from the church to Mrs. Eva B. Day, who was the only member of the original Berlin Methodist class still living in Berlin. This class was organized in 1888 in the home of Mrs. Day and her late husband, George B. Day. Mr. Day was Berlin's City Marshal in the early 1900's.
Prayer meetings were held in the homes of the members of the class and as their numbers increased, preaching services were held in various halls and then in the Universalist Church on Exchange Street.
Until 1892, Berlin Methodists held their membership at the church in Gorham, New Hampshire. In that year, Mt. Forist Methodist Episcopal Church was made a separate charge.
In 1894 and 1895, a church building was erected, with a dedication that took place on October 2, 1895. During this year of 1945, a long-standing debt upon the property was paid off and the sanctuary was beautifully redecorated by Mr. Felix Pisani. This October the church on the corner of First Avenue and Mt. Forist Street will be 118 years old. It certainly has a lot of history.
I never knew that the U. S. Rubber Company had a business in this city, but a headline in the paper of November 1, 1945 stated that this company was closing its doors in Berlin.
The U.S. Rubber Company located (?) here, discontinued operations before the winter arrived. This came about as a result of the end of World War II and the cancellation of Navy orders for the B-4 vests.
Berlins Chamber of Commerce expressed its appreciation to the manager and asked the employees who had faithfully served the company up until this time to stay on the job until the present contract was fulfilled.
The Chamber of Commerce had been in close contact with the US Rubber Company, interchanging ideas and working out problems concerning postwar activities. Mention was made of building a permanent plant here in Berlin, but no definite plans were ever made.
Mr. Daniel Dundin, superintendent of US Rubber, regretted that this company had to leave Berlin. He said that the employees were great, cooperative and sincere.
This attitude on the part of the workers could have had favorable influence on the company officials in their decision to consider Berlin as a possible site for building a permanent plant. Sadly, this did not bear fruit just like many other businesses in Berlin's past.
In late November came the news from the busy office of Berlins Chamber of Commerce that a decision had been made by the White Mountain Broadcasting Company to established its headquarters here in Berlin. Originally, the radio station would be built, barring unforeseen difficulties, on Riverside Drive.
This company was organized by Gerald E Stetson, a New Hampshire boy who became its president. The station which would operate under 1,000 watts would also have a radiation of over 100 miles. Its programs would run from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. and in case of an emergency, the studios would remain open twenty four hours a day.
Large parking areas were also included in the planning to accommodate automobile owners who would wish to visit the studios or attend a broadcast.
In November, vice president Archie Anderson was in New York purchasing the necessary equipment for the station, which according to plans would be completed by the spring of 1946.
Stetson was collecting data, preparing blueprints and more as required by the federal government, before final permits could be granted to set up the station.
It was felt that a broadcasting station would be a great advantage to this community, both as an advertising medium to sell Berlin within a radius of 100 miles and in giving county and city officials, clubs and organizations the facilities of putting out their message directly to the public.
In case of emergencies, floods, heavy snowstorms, and when all outside communications were down, Berlin would be in a position to keep in touch with the outside world.
The three men involved in getting this station operational here in Berlin were, Gerald E Stetson, Archie S Anderson and Richard B Washington. They were all veterans of World War II and met while serving in the Navy. All had done extensive radio work and were well-equipped to operate this station successfully.
Although basic financial requirements were met by the parties engaged in a management, local participation was invited in the financial structure in order for Berlin citizens to share in the pride and profits derived from this public service.
Many things changed before the station went on the air and fixed all the problems that arose. In October of 1946, WMOU became alive and I will tell you about it, when I write about that year. Many people still remember this station's first sports announcer, the great Jock MacKenzie, whose picture accompanies this story
I will finish with the year 1945 in my next writing.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 July 2014 13:31
This past holiday weekend was a particularly quiet one for my wife and me. She is recovering from recent hip replacement surgery, and I have been doing the dinners and the into-Berlin errands that need to be made. Writing and photography have been put on the back burner for the moment. And I haven't been asked to do any public performing in quite a while now. So, the weekend was a rather quiet one.
For a good many years now, parades and fireworks and circuses have not been a part of my personal observance of Independence Day. That day is usually spent rereading the Declaration of Independence, watching the motion picture version of "1776," and revisiting several articles on those often contentious days in the Philadelphia of 1776 that finally produced the document that has been all but forgotten in our celebrations of Independence Day these days. (Was there any public reading of it anywhere in the area this year? Do we all really know what is actually in this remarkable document?) Well, perhaps another year the document will play a more central role in our observation of the occasion.
Over this past weekend, the Boston Red Sox played a couple of afternoon games that afforded me an opportunity to watch an inning or two. Mostly these days, I get my baseball news via the newspapers that I can read online. (As most of my regular readers know, baseball is the only game that has much appeal to me these days. Physical violence is too much a part of other games these days to suit my tastes.)
As even the most casual of baseball fans knows, the Red Sox are having a horrendous season this year. All of the things that went so right for them last year have mostly gone wrong for them this year.
The timely hitting that characterized last year's team is noticeably missing this year, and, while aggressiveness on the base paths is usually an important quality for a baseball team to have, being overly aggressive can also be highly detrimental to a team's success. Such base-running blunders have been all too common for the home team this season. Of course, with such an anemic hitting lineup with runners on base, it's little wonder that the team tend to take more chances than they normally would. It's a definite Catch 22 situation for the floundering team that entered the season as World Champions.
To his credit, Manager John Farrell rightly chose only one of his players as being All-Star Game worthy this year. (A second, Koji Uehara, might be named to that team, also.)
Perhaps some of this can be linked to the team's having so many first year players on its roster. Highly touted "phenoms" frequently fail to turn out to be the "phenoms" they were touted to be. Chalk this season off as finding out just how phenomenal these highly-hyped players actually are when confronted with the realities of playing every day at the major league level.
Finally, you must allow me a bit of fatherly pride at this point. Our eldest son's latest book, titled "The Collapse of Western Civilization," has just been published by Columbia University Press. Erik M. Conway wrote the book in collaboration with Naomi Oreskes, his partner in an earlier and widely acclaimed book titled "Merchants of Doubt." That award-winning book found the two of them, collectively and individually, being invited to numerous speaking engagements both in this country and abroad. (For those who may not know, Erik is an honors graduate of Berlin High School, Class of 1983.)
"The Collapse of Western Civilization," subtitled "A View from the Future," suggests that many more such requests for interviews and speaking engagements will come their way again. My copy has just been downloaded onto my IPad. Needless to say, I look forward to reading what our first-born son has to say about the future of our world.
Last Updated on Monday, 07 July 2014 13:55
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.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 12:52
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
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?
Last Updated on Monday, 30 June 2014 13:43