Ithaca Bound: Forgotten

Once again, as I scan the events of our local Independence Day observance, there is not a mention of what the day is actually all about. All the fun events find a place in the special publications and all the other advertising about what’s available to do, but not a word about the actual document.
Not that that’s much of a surprise. We live in a society that wants to be entertained, wants to have fun. Enlightenment holds little place in such a society. But, then, that has been true about most lands throughout history. Bread and circuses have time and again won the day. The efforts of those who brought about the signing of the Magna Carta by King John of England in 1215, agreeing to an array of common law under which he himself would be subjected, and those who looked to that document as a model for their writing of America’s Declaration of Independence, are quickly forgotten. Parades, circuses, fireworks, family get togethers and barbecues, and, of course, sales and the making of a buck become the order of the day.
This is not meant as a rant against such activities. Those events have their place. It is a plea for a moment of thoughtfulness that allows us to consider the true meaning of Independence Day. Those who wrote the Declaration and those who put their names on it were putting their very lives on the line by doing so. Had our War for Independence not been won, who knows how many of those men would have had a hangman’s noose tightened around their necks and hung in a public place of execution for all to see and so be warned against such acts of insurrection against the established order.
A public reading of the Declaration takes roughly twelve minutes. Working at Heritage-New Hampshire, when it was still open, I read it aloud outside its golden doors for three Independence Day celebrations in a row. It was an exercise in futility. Few bothered to take the time to come and listen.
The most satisfying moment of my three readings came when a family that had taken the time to come and listen thanked me, and then said, “We never knew that all of that was in the Declaration. It really is a remarkable document, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is.”
This Independence Day, my wife and I will be out of the country on a trip to Greenland. At some point during the day, however, twelve minutes will be found to read the copy of the Declaration of Independence that I carry on my iPad. In my opinion, on this Fourth of July, every American should find a copy of its stirring language and take twelve minutes to read it. And remember.

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..

Poof Tardiff: American Legion Champs 1965

Hello Fellow Berlinites. I was reading about Gorham's Doug Willy being drafted by the Los Angeles Angels the other day and it reminded me of the great years of American Legion baseball that this North Country produced years ago. One of its finest teams ever was the American Legion Post 36 squad of 1965, which won the District 3 laurels, along with the New Hampshire and New England Championships, then went on to the national competition in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

Living in the great North Woods and having less than five months to work on your baseball skills and abilities, this area has still produced some fine players that have been able to compete with young men from many states and other Latin American countries that play this game year round.

When American Legion baseball was in full swing here in this area, top players from the local area high schools, would be encouraged to try out for the Post 36 team here. Notre Dame, St. Pats, Berlin High, Gorham, Groveton, Colebrook, Littleton, Lisbon and Woodsville, were all invited to try out for Berlin's legion team. This all started as soon as the high school spring baseball season and playoffs were complete.

For the year 1965, the American Legion tryouts took place at Berlin's Memorial Field on Sunday, June 13. Coach Warren Langley and his assistant Dick Mortenson ran morning and afternoon sessions after which the candidates for the 1965 squad were chosen. Ten days later, the Legion team would play its first game of the season and they would go on to become one of the eight national finalist in this country.

The first game was under the lights and against a team from the Rumford American Legion of Rumford, Maine. Next, was a Saturday night encounter against Concord and then the Dover Legion at the “Common” in Gorham on Sunday. The locals won all three of these games by one run to start the season in fine fashion, thrilling the local sports fans with some fine play.

By the second week of July though, the local Legion team had also gone down in defeat. One of these losses was a game against the New Auburn Maine Legion at Pettengill Park in Auburn, Maine. It was part of an opening twin bill for these two teams. The second game was won handily by Berlin.

The other loss was to the Belmont, Massachusetts Legion team at the Memorial Field, but Berlin turn the tables on the next day. Already, the halfway point of Berlin's regular-season was being reached.

By mid-July the Post 36 Legion team was winning its share of games. Anybody that had handed the locals a defeat was beaten in the return match and the fans were witnessing some fine pitching and hitting. This now showed that our local Legion ballplayers had the ability to beat all of their opponents.

Near the third week of July, the Ryan-Scammon Post 36 was having its ups and downs on the ball-field, after 15 games, their record was 10 wins 4 losses and 1 tie. Their big obstacle was the Legion team from the Capital City of Concord, New Hampshire. They had beaten them once, but the team from Concord only had one loss.

Berlin went on to play and win against the Barry, Vermont Legion, but was handed a defeat by the New Auburn Legion in the same week, when one big inning became Berlin's demise. The week was rounded off with a Saturday night game under the lights at Memorial Field and then a crucial contest in Concord the following day.

These two games really helped Berlin get going, as Portland was defeated handily 8-2 at the Memorial Field and then Post 36 played his best game of the season at Littleton against the highly touted Concord Legion. Just the previous day in Concord, Berlin had been bombed 16 to 6, but this was a different day. To start with, Berlin's Steve Plante hit a lead off home run in Littleton and Rollie Goulet fashioned a great four-hitter. As a matter-of-fact, Plante hit two home runs, but did not touch second base on the second. This left him at first, but his teammates took care of that, banging out back-to-back triples and to bring him home again.

So now, the opening round of the State Legion Tourney was about to take place in Keene, New Hampshire and Berlin would be representing District 3. The start of this tournament was on Friday, August 6, 1965 with Berlin meeting Sweeny Post of Manchester. This competition was to conclude on Sunday and the locals had just as good an opportunity to win the title as any of the other New Hampshire teams. This great baseball team that was made up of area players brought great pride to the North Country, during the short span of three weeks.

The New Hampshire championship game saw Berlin defeating Exeter Post 32 on Sunday, August 8, by a score of 8-1. Berlin’s Dave Chase pitched a two hit masterpiece to become the third Post 36 pitcher in a row to go the distance and win in the tournament. It was Dick Blais who singled and for his third time he hit a home run in the four games to pace the attack. The other outstanding features of this game were a home run by Greg Holmes and three singles by Rollie Goulet.

Berlin wasted no time scoring in this final match up, when they got three runs in the first inning and never looked back. This win set the stage for a trip to the New England championships the following week in Manchester, New Hampshire.

In the games at the “Queen City”, Berlin had a rough start, when they lost their first game to Middletown, Connecticut. This must have been a wake up call, as they then came up from the loser’s bracket to win four straight games and the climax was their final victory against the same team that beat them originally.

Berlin put the final game away in the early innings with some solid hitting and great base running. The game opened with a walk to Rusty Ross, a stolen base and a safe bunt by Steve Plante to move Ross to third. Ross then came home on a wild pitch and Rollie Goulet doubled to score Plante. Berlin now had a 2-0 lead.

The locals sealed their bid to become the best American Legion team in New England for the year 1965 in the fourth inning and they made sure of it. Plante beat out another bunt, stole second and came home on Goulet’s second base hit of the game.

Greg Holmes reached on an error; Art Ellis singled Goulet home, then stole second and Denny Sinibaldi then got a hit that plated Holmes and Ellis. Berlin was now sailing away with a 6-0 lead.

The “never say quit” Connecticut team managed to push across 5 runs before the game was done, but Berlin also countered with two more of their own and this gave them the 8-5 victory.

With this, Coach Warren Langley’s great team was on its way to this country’s American Legion World Series in Aberdeen, South Dakota and we would be able to listen to it on local radio with our great announcer, Rod Ross.

Although they did not win out West, they certainly brought baseball self-respect to New Hampshire and this small city in the North Country. They were without doubt one of the fine bunch of athletes that played for a team that is still remembered in this area’s baseball ranks as superstars of their time. Every player left their mark in this teams history, even if I did not get a chance to mention them.

After finishing their seasonal playoffs and playing in the national championships, the local team and Berlin fans had a lot of which to be proud, after facing the best American Legion teams in the USA. Not only did they play their hearts out, but the top batter in all of these playoffs was Berlin's Rollie Goulet. He surpassed all batters in the playoffs with a .541 average. This, in itself was a local achievement that would never be matched again.

The members of this fine baseball team in the picture are: Seated, Ricky Mortenson, left and Dave Quimby, right. Kneeling, left to right are Rusty Ross (holding District 3 Championship Trophy), Pete Langley, Dom Sinibaldi, Steve Plante, Art Ellis and Phil Ross. Standing, left to right, are AL Dept. Commander Don Still, who presented the trophies, Dick Blais (holding New Hampshire championship trophy), Coach Warren Langley, Ray Nolin, Paul Daley, Dave Chase, Bob Butson, Rollie Goulet,Greg Holmes, Asst. Coach Dick Mortenson and statistician John Ellis.

The baseball bat signed by all of these players fifty-one years ago hangs on a wall at the new American Legion Headquarters on Main Street in Berlin.

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.

Rollie Goulet and Dick Blais June 2015Rollie Goulet and Dick Blais June 2015

Post 36 NE ChampsPost 36 NE Champs

Legion BatLegion Bat

Blais and Goulet 1965Blais and Goulet 1965

Ithaca Bound: Heads high New Hampshire

How many of you reading this article know what day this is in New Hampshire history? It truly would be interesting to know. A ventured guess would be . . . not many.
True enough, it did happen 228 years ago, so allowances must be made. But a day of what should be considerable pride for our state should at least be duly noted. Some help needed here? Okay. It was on this date in 1788 that New Hampshire cast its vote in favor of the newly written Constitution of the United States. The significance of that? We were the ninth state to do so, thereby making it officially the new law of the land.
Ratification of the Constitution did not come easily. In many states, including New Hampshire, it passed by only a handful of votes. It would take the immediate writing of a follow-up Bill of Rights to satisfy many who were uneasy with the wording of the original document and wanted more clearly defined rights. Even so, there were dissenting voters among a state’s representatives who refused to sign their names to it.
New Hampshire’s state flag commemorates this by having nine stars among the laurel leaves surrounding the picture of the warship Raleigh. The frigate Raleigh, built in Portsmouth in 1776, was among the first thirteen warships authorized by the Continental Congress in that year. It had a rather checkered career, however, as it was several months before it could set sail due to a lack of armament. Its first captain was dismissed for what was deemed his incompetence.
A short time later, however, the more famous Ranger would be built in the Portsmouth yards. Its captain would be John Paul Jones, whose exploits at sea exist to this day.
While working for Heritage-New Hampshire when it was still open, part of my responsibility was to talk with the school groups that would come. My talk mostly centered on the three flags that proudly flew in the yard in front of the building. It was especially interesting when talking about New Hampshire’s state flag. Only a very few knew what the nine stars meant. Some guessed that the ship was the Mayflower.
The accompanying adults didn’t do much better. Few knew anything about the symbolism represented in the flag. Well, now you know.
So, heads held high New Hampshire, you have much of which to be proud.

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..

Poof Tardiff: 1976 IX

Hello fellow Berlinites. After two months of blasting ledge and lugging the countless boulders, the earth work subcontractors were almost done doing their job at this city's newest hospital site. 6,000 square yards of ledge had been removed to make room for the access road and the hospital facility, by the first week of November 1976.

Salter Corporation of Maine was already three weeks into the work of the hospital's foundation and one recent development was the newly completed negotiations to acquire the B I M building which abutted the hospital property. By the way, B I M stood for Bouchard, Isaacson and Morris.

This corporation had hoped to a close up about sixty percent of the first level, before the extreme cold could sit in. Even though the new hospital was not set to open until June of 1978 water and sewer was started to be installed and public service was working on the electrical portion, to include power, street lighting, fire alarm and cable television.

Meanwhile, the hospital had embarked on a program to purchase $900,000 worth of new movable equipment, along with coordinating the plans to move from the old building into the new one. So, this new hospital was starting to develop rapidly.

During the latter part of November 1976, another small business in Berlin was closed. This business was called Leo's Electric and was situated on 44 Mason Street. Leo Therrien had passed away on September 28, 1976, and this left his wife Anna, along with an electrical shop that the both of them had built over the years. Now, his wife was in the process of closing things down.

It was in May of 1932, during the depths of the depression that Leo Therrien had taken over from his boss J. P. Chouinard, who had passed away in March of 1932. When Mr. and Mrs. Therrien bought the business, they were very poor said Mrs. Therrien. They were only able to make the purchase because of Leo's father.

Leo had one year of schooling in the electrical contract business between 1924 and 1925 and after the death of his mother, came back to Gorham and graduated from high school in 1924. He then learned the rest of the trade from Mr. Chouinard, who had built his store in 1923 on the same spot it set in 1976. It took eight years before the Therriens had made enough money to purchase the total building and Leo charged one dollar an hour for his services.

Mr. Therrien and was born in Groveton, New Hampshire and moved to Gorham early in life. Mrs. Therrien and was born in St. Narcissus, Québec and made her way to New Hampshire in 1923. She was a hard working, naturalized citizen of the United States, speaking very little English, working 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., doing bookkeeping, dressing up windows, building counters, clerking and doing repairs. After work, she would go up stairs, clean the house and fix it up dinner for both of them.

Leo was out contracting and he was busy six days a week. On the seventh day, they rested or went on picnics, whether permissible. In many instances, Leo left behind a reputation as a well-liked gentleman, hard-working professional electrician and a loving husband.

It was said he was almost like the doctors of yesteryear, giving emergency service 24 hours a day, even at the hospital where he also worked for 40 years. Today this same address houses Dr. Leonard Shaw, the optometrist. They were certainly one of the great mom-and-pop businesses in this area for many years.

The new Berlin Water Plant on the East Milan Road was about ready to be commissioned near the end of 1976. It was completed and ready to start pumping water out of the Androscoggin River and into the city mains and the final check by the New Hampshire Water Pollution Control Committee was about to take place.

By the time this new filter plant went into operation, every home had a water meter with about 4,000 meters of operation at the same time.

Sadly and during the Christmas season of this year, a house fire made it very difficult for some Berlin citizens to celebrate. Hot ashes from a cigarette were the apparent cause of a fire that left the residence all eight apartments in two Burgess Street buildings homeless, early on Thursday morning December 16, 1976.

Fire broke out on the third floor apartment of Mrs. Patty Letarte sometime between 1 a.m. and 3:35 a.m. of the aforementioned day. Before firefighters could get the blaze under control, that building and the one next door at 638 Burgess Street were heavily damaged by the effects of smoke, fire and water. The building at 622 Burgess, owned by Leon Guitard was a complete loss. The other buildings, owned by fire Captain John Laliberty, also sustained severe damage.

According to Fire Chief Lacroix, the fire itself was caused by either a cigarette or the hot ashes from one. Bob Pemberton, a guest in the Letarte apartment, was playing with a dog on a bed in the rear bedroom of the third-floor apartment at about 1 a.m., when the dog knocked the cigarette from his mouth.

The story goes on to say that Pemberton's cigarette ignited an afghan which ignited the bed. He then took the cover into the bathroom and distinguished the flames by putting it into a bathtub. Mrs. Letarte later fell asleep in front of the television in the front bedroom and Pemberton fell asleep on the living room couch.

Pemberton woke up later, to find the rear bedroom full of smoke from a mattress fire manifested by the initial cigarette ash. He woke up Mrs. Letarte and they both tried to extinguish this fire. Pemberton opened a window to let out smoke, but the oxygen caused the room to burst into flames.

These two people then left the apartment and headed downstairs to call for help, as there was no phone in their apartment. In her excitement downstairs resident Mrs. Cantu called the police instead of the fire department, but the call was quickly transfered.

By the time the call reached BFD the headquarters, the rear section of the third floor was engulfed in flames. Residents were immediately evacuated from two buildings and another close by.

A fire hydrant had given the BFD problems and they had to reconnect to another one, losing valuable time. Chief Lacroix believed that this fire could have been prevented, by initially calling the fire department when the afghan a originally caught fire.

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 fans of “Once upon a Berlin Time” and guess at the weekly mystery pictures.

Water Treatment Plant 1976Water Treatment Plant 1976

Therrian LeoLeo Therrian

Burgess Street Fire 1976Burgess Street Fire 1976

AVH site 1976AVH site 1976

Ithaca Bound: Flags

Today is Flag Day. It was on 14 June 1777, that the Second Continental Congress adopted the design of the flag that is now our national symbol.
It would be decades, however, before any actual celebrations of the day the flag was adopted took place. Such celebrations were always local ones, and largely involved school children. Toward the end of the Nineteenth Century, entire communities and then states began to hold observances of the day. Finally, in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson officially proclaimed the day by proclamation. It was not until 1949 that President Harry S. Truman signed into law an act of Congress designating June 14, as National Flag Day. It is not a national holiday, but it is meant to be remembered.
A favorite quote about our flag comes from a speech given in 1914 by then Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane. Lane said of the flag: “I am what you make of me, nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself.” Now that is a quote to be remembered.
That is true of all flags, of course. They are but symbols of those who live under them. It is always the people who are important. It is who and what they are that really matters. A flag, as Franklin Lane reminded us, is but “a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself.”
I must admit that, for some time now, I have had mixed feelings about flags - all flags. That they are meant to be symbols of unity is understood. But they are symbols of divisiveness, also. You follow that flag. I follow this flag. You wear that uniform. I wear this uniform. Those are your school colors. These are my school colors. I admit to having problems with things that are divisive by nature.
But the peoples of this world have chosen to choose specialness from the beginning of time. I belong to this clan; you belong to that clan. This is my tribe. That is your tribe. This is our land. That is your land. Our commonalities are ignored, so that we can boast of our specialness.
That is unlikely to change. So, on this Flag Day 2016, the words spoken by Franklin K. Lane in 1914 deserve to be remembered: “I am what you make me, nothing more.”

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..