Hello fellow Berlinites. As I do my history research about the specific years in Berlin, I find some interesting articles about either people, places, or things, in this city. I always save them for further use in a story that I can put together that would interest my readers. One of these was a place that older folks always talked about. It was called “Emma's” Restaurant.
Among the few woman in business back in Berlin's earlier days, the name of Emma Beaudoin stood high on the list. Her success was due to much hard work and concentrated effort, after devoting more than a quarter of a century to learning and practicing the art of candy making.
She was born in a small town in Québec during 1896 and when she was six months old, her parents moved to this city. Emma was educated here in Berlin and graduated from St. Regis Academy. After graduation, she worked for one year at a fruit store.
Following this, Miss Beaudoin entered the employ of Mr. Archie McDonald working at his candy store. Mr. McDonald was referred to as the pioneer in Berlin candy making circles. Emma was employed in the kitchen here as a candy maker.
In 1926, she left Mr. McDonald and opened a store of her own which was called “Emma's” and was located at 169 Main Street, in the vicinity of the now (2016) closed Morin shoe store. She stayed here for ten years and then moved across Mason Street, just below where JC Penney used to be.
Then, late in 1939, the original Morin Block burned and Emma's was one of the unfortunate establishment's which were burned out. In September of 1940, Emma moved her business to a location just below today's Central Fire Station.
During the 40's and 50's, she was well known for many miles around for her delicious candies, all of which were homemade and hand dipped. She also made and sold 24 flavors of ice cream. Emma then branched out gradually from the initial beginning of a small candy store to a very successful restaurant. I can remember how all the folks used to rave about this Berlin restaurant when I was a kid.
During my research of 1947, I found the story of Alphonse Michaud. “Mich”, as he was called like to talk about the good old days when Berlin was a one horse town, didn't have sidewalks and played second fiddle to Gorham, where the Grand Trunk car barns were located.
There were two stables on Main Street then, one operated by a man named LePage and the other by a Mr. Tucker. There was also a small sawmill opposite the Stahl Clark store, where Mechanic Street comes into Main Street.
He proudly pointed to the old days when the Berlin Mills Company policy on Thanksgiving Day was to distribute turkeys to its employees with dependents including a three pound can of Kream Krisp, plus two hours off for dinner.
Alphonse Michaud also had the distinction of having been the first and only boy to graduate with girls in the new St. Anne's Church in 1902. He started his schooling in 1892 when St. Regis had its humble beginnings in the former Cascade House, donated to the parish by the Berlin Mills Company.
Mr. Michaud served as Berlin's tax collector from 1924 to 1925, left Berlin for Manchester in 1928 and used to commute to Boston every day for his radio program called “Joe”. This program at WHDH was about stories in Canuck dialect, which created a lot of interest at the time among French speaking groups. I would love to have heard this radio program.
There were a few more interesting stories about this lovable Berlin character, who must be a relative of citizens still living here. Men like him were a great source of local history.
Finally, for 60 years the F. W. Woolworth Company had been making progress in its business and in its trade practices by the 1940's. The Berlin branch of this great business organization was likewise, making progress on the same scale as the entire company.
By 1912, the chain had grown to include 596 stores throughout the country and several years later they were established on Lower Main Street in Berlin. That space is now (2016) occupied by the Northway Bank.
Between 1936 in 1940, Woolworth's had completed 726 construction jobs in 635 cities. 46 stores were opened in cities which never had Woolworth stores before. Berlin was not neglected in Woolworth's attempt to give the best possible service and accommodations to its customers. In 1941, one of the above construction jobs took place in Berlin and renovations took place in the Wagner block (Old Gerrish Block).
On September 12, Manager R. C. Leggett, moved up from Lower Main Street and threw open wide the doors to one of the most modern of the many new Woolworth stores in the entire system. Once opened, many residents came to visit this establishment, availing themselves to the values and pleasant atmosphere that was always present at a Woolworth store.
Among the great features of Berlin's newest business house, one could find: one of the most modern soda fountains and luncheonette's in New England, which contained a 34 foot counter, new tools for customers, as well as the most up-to-date equipment for serving quality meals and soda specialties available.
They also had several new departments, as well as nine thousand square feet of added floor space, which was made available by the new edition in the rear. This made entrance to the building possible from both Main and Pleasant streets.
New fixtures were placed throughout the entire store and a new front was put on the building together with two double door entrances with steel trimmings. These renovations and changes caused much comment in the city's trade circles and in the conversations of the citizens of the city back in the early 1940's.
Woolworth's eventually closed and the building was reconstructed into a Family Dollar. Today, that building is now vacant and the once vibrant store of F. W. Woolworth's is just a memory.