Poof Tardiff: 1913 VIII

Hello fellow Berlinites. The contract for another new school building at Eighth and Main streets in Berlin was awarded to Robert Snodgrass in October of 1913. Snodgrass was well and favorably known in the North Country as a successful and superior contractor and builder.

The school buildings in Gorham and Groveton back then had attested to his ability in this particular branch of architecture. The contract for the brick work was sublet to Rowell and Houston; who were also local contractors. Work on this building was started as soon as the written agreement was completed.

It was gratifying to Berlin, as well as the contractors, to know that we had men right at home that were competent to erect such structures as were now (1913) in demand for the education of the rising generation.

The new school house would occupy grounds comprising, with the exception of one building lot, an entire city square and would be a noteworthy addition to the number of our really magnificent school buildings back then. They were: the High School on Hillside Avenue, St. Regis Academy on Main Street, St. Patrick's School on the corner of Emery Street and Madison Avenue, Burgess School, on School Street, Cole School on Mason Street and Marston School on Willard street.

In November of 1913, the cross that had surmounted St. Anne's Church was replaced by a new one made of aluminum. The new cross was cast by the Berlin Foundry and Machine Company and was of the ultimate perfection of the foundry's art.

Before the contract was given to this work, a large number of foundries were given an opportunity to bid on the agreement, but finally it was awarded to this Berlin company, as it was the only concern that would give sufficient assurance of ability to carry out the requirements.

The new cross was nine feet and seven inches in height and would be a prominent feature in the local landscape. The Berlin Foundry and Machine Shop by achievement of their perfect work back then, added to their already high reputation for top grade products at their plant. I wonder if that is the same cross that stands today (2016)?

The position of superintendent of schools that was made vacant by the resignation of Mr. Witcher was filled in November of 1913 by the appointment of Mr. Harry L. Moore of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Mr. Moore served until September of 1921.

At 6:30 Thursday evening November 18, 1913, the city of Berlin officially opened the new contagious hospital with ceremonies well calculated to demonstrate the efficiency of this institution. This new building, which was also called the “Pest House” was in itself a complete hotel and was provided with every requirement for the welfare of those who were unfortunate as to need the services of its attendants.

There were reception rooms, a dining room, kitchen, two store rooms, five ward rooms and two fumigating rooms. For the purpose that it was erected, it was not surpassed in the North Country. This building was located in Jericho section of Berlin near where today's “Crabby Patty's” fish store now stands.

A December 25th issue of the local paper had a headline that said: “Winter Sports in Berlin”. With the available facilities for winter sports, it would be possible to have an ice carnival here. This was almost eight years before the huge winter carnivals that attracted thousands of visitors were started.

During the advent of winter, Berlin was in the forefront when it came to winter sports. As for indoor sports, this city had long held the highest position in basketball, the favorite game of the season back then. In outdoor pastimes our ski jumpers maintained the reputation of the city for sports and athletes.

It was said that Berlin had the advantage of most towns in an almost perfect park for skiing and there was a sufficient mixture of blood from the native home of this sport to produce phenomenally great jumpers.

By 1913, Berlin had entertained clubs and teams from other cities during past winters and had the prizes and hardware won by local talent. It was also hoped to see visiting teams in Berlin during the 1913-1914 winter and they would extend all possible courtesies to them as guests. They would also be pleased to impress upon them the superiority of the Berlin boys as top performers in this branch of sport-ski jumping.

With the available facilities for winter sports, it would not be impossible to have an ice carnival here. Along with the ski park, the opportunities were excellent for skating and snowshoeing, along with horse racing on the ice. A place could be found where the ponies cold show their speed. This was done in two places that I know of, the Bog just below Mount Jasper, and on the Androscoggin River, just above the walking bridge.

The merchants, businessmen, board of trade and other organizations interested in the advancement of the welfare of the city were asked to take into consideration a project of this kind, as one calculated to benefit the city from a business point of view.

Every enterprise that brought into this city a large concourse of visitors, would have been advantageous to the city and it was difficult to say just anything better calculated to attract the public from near and far than an ice carnival.

With the ski park and ski jumping as a central feature, it would not have been difficult back then to develop sufficient enthusiasm as to get a carnival going and once started, the idea would develop into one of the regularly recognized establishments of this city, increasing in popularity with each recurring season.

This great dream did develop and after 1921 was a growing event every year for over 50 years. Thousands and thousands of people came here by cars and trains to enjoy our great winter carnivals.

Finally, the new Brown Schoolhouse which replaced the one on the corner of Main and Fourth Street was completed. It stood on the corner of Seventh and Norweigian Street (Norway) and was a notable addition to the public buildings of this city by January 1, 1914.

In this line of architecture, contractor Snodgrass had established an enviable reputation and in the building he had just completed, he broke all records for swiftness in the construction business. Ground was broken for the new school house on October 24, 1913 and the exterior was completed on December 24, just two months later.

Berlin had always been liberal in the matter of school accommodations and the latest addition was built on the most modern lines, in every aspect and up-to-date. The city, the school board and the contractors took great pride in this new building.

I will finish with the year 1913 in my next story.

Poof Tardiff writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Questions or comments email 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” and guess at the weekly mystery picture.

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Why the Post Office Makes America Great

Why the Post Office Makes America Great

Zeynep Tufekci - New York Times


I WAS transported recently to a place that is as enchanting to me as any winter wonderland: my local post office.

In line, I thought fondly of the year I came to this country from Turkey as an adult and discovered the magic of reliable mail service. Dependable infrastructure is magical not simply because it works, but also because it allows innovation to thrive, including much of the Internet-based economy that has grown in the past decade. You can’t have Amazon or eBay without a reliable way to get things to people’s homes.

Of course, infrastructure is also boring, so we get used to it and forget what a gift it truly is. I never do, maybe because I discovered it so late.

My first year in the United States was full of surprises. I remember trying to figure out if the 24-ounce glass of ice water the waitress placed in front of me was a pitcher, to be shared by the whole table. But where was the spout? I had expected some of what I encountered — I had seen enough movies, and came to this country expecting big cars and big houses and wide open spaces. I got used to gigantic glasses.

But I didn’t expect the post office.

The first time I needed to mail something, I trekked over to my campus’s post office, looking for the line to get my envelope weighed. The staff was used to befuddled international students like me, I suppose, and one clerk took my envelope without fuss, said “first class letter,” and took my change.

Then I discovered some vending machines outside the office. People came and bought stamps. “So many people must be into stamp collecting,” I thought to myself. Was that another weird American quirk? Otherwise, why would people waste money buying stamps in advance, without having their letters weighed?

Something I take for granted now just didn’t occur to me: There were standardized rates, and you could just slap a stamp on your letter, drop it in a mailbox, and it would go to its destination.

I then encountered a visa service that asked me to mail in my passport. My precious, precious passport. With a self-addressed, stamped envelope for its return. I laughed at the audacity of the request. Despite being a broke student, I booked a plane trip. I couldn’t envision putting my passport in the mail. I’ve since learned that this is a common practice, and I’ve even done it once or twice myself. But it still does not come easy to me.

I noticed that Americans were a particularly patriotic bunch: So many of them had red flags on their mailboxes. Sometimes they would put those flags up. I presumed it was to celebrate national holidays I did not yet know about. But why did some people have their flags up while others did not? And why weren’t they American flags anyway? As in Istanbul, where I grew up, I assumed patriotism had different interpretations and expressions.

The mystery was solved when I noticed a letter carrier emptying a mailbox. I was slightly unnerved: Was the mail being stolen? He then went over to another mailbox with the flag up, and emptied that box, too. I got my hint when he skipped the mailbox with the flag down.

Yes, I was told, in the United States, mail gets picked up from your house, six days a week, free of charge.

I told my friends in Turkey about all this. They shook their heads in disbelief, wondering how easily I had been recruited as a C.I.A. agent, saying implausibly flattering things about my new country. The United States in the world’s imagination is a place of risk taking and ruthless competition, not one of reliable public services.

I bit my tongue and did not tell my already suspicious friends that the country was also dotted with libraries that provided books to all patrons free of charge. They wouldn’t believe me anyway since I hadn’t believed it myself. My first time in a library in the United States was very brief: I walked in, looked around, and ran right back out in a panic, certain that I had accidentally used the wrong entrance. Surely, these open stacks full of books were reserved for staff only. I was used to libraries being rare, and their few books inaccessible. To this day, my heart races a bit in a library.

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the link between infrastructure, innovation — and even ruthless competition. Much of our modern economy thrives here because you can order things online and expect them to be delivered. There are major private delivery services, too, but the United States Postal Service is often better equipped to make it to certain destinations. In fact, Internet sellers, and even private carriers, often use the U.S.P.S. as their delivery mechanism to addresses outside densely populated cities.

Almost every aspect of the most innovative parts of the United States, from cutting-edge medical research to its technology scene, thrives on publicly funded infrastructure. The post office is struggling these days, in some ways because of how much people rely on the web to do much of what they used to turn to the post office for. But the Internet is a testament to infrastructure, too: It exists partly because the National Science Foundation funded much of the research that makes it possible. Even some of the Internet’s biggest companies, like Google, got a start from N.S.F.-funded research.

Infrastructure is often the least-appreciated part of what makes a country strong, and what makes innovation take flight. From my spot in line at the post office, I see a country that does both well; not a country that emphasizes one at the expense of the other.

Zeynep Tufekci is an assistant professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina and a contributing opinion writer.

Senator Jeff Woodburn: It’s time to do the right thing

State revenue is $60 million ahead of plan and we can afford treatment, prevention and recovery investments

We are in the middle of a public health crisis. Every day we lose a Granite Stater to an overdose. Last year, over 400 of our fellow Granite Staters died from an overdose; more than 90% of those were caused by heroin, fentanyl or another opioid. We’ve heard heartbreaking story after heartbreaking story of families, businesses and communities being torn apart by addiction. We’ve heard countless stories of people going out of state to get help, because we just don’t have the treatment or recovery capacity right here in New Hampshire. And we’ve heard countless more stories of people getting the run-around from insurance companies, at times when they need the help most.

Working together with our Republican friends, we’ve made some progress, from dealing with how insurance companies authorize outpatient visits for help, to upping the penalties for dealing fentanyl, to enhancing best practices in prescribing and dispensing controlled substances. But, it's simply not enough. There is much more work to do, from providing more support for law enforcement, to ensuring insurance companies don’t put up barriers to needed inpatient treatment, to advancing drug courts, to helping bolster mental heath, and to investing in prevention, treatment and recovery capacity.

There is at least one issue that Democrats and Republicans have a very real and sincere disagreement: Whether and how much new money to invest in prevention, treatment and recovery capacity in New Hampshire. On Nov. 4, 2015, Governor Maggie Hassan called the legislature into a special session to take additional steps to immediately deal with this crisis. In doing so, she called for immediate and additional investment in prevention, treatment and recovery, to help build our capacity right here in the Granite State.

Today, over four months later, the Republican controlled legislature still hasn’t budged. Over one hundred and thirty (130) days have passed. And not one nickel. Now, state revenue is running well ahead of projections, as we are looking at an extra $60 million, without raising taxes. But our Republican friends still haven’t spent even one nickel on prevention, treatment or recovery. In our view, this inaction is unconscionable.

For far too long we have underfunded cost-effective prevention, treatment and recovery, and it is part of the reason New Hampshire now has a heroin, fentanyl and opioid public health crisis. Now, in addition to building out treatment capacity, we need to help with long-term recovery. That means helping recovery support organizations. That also means we ensure that Granite Staters leaving treatment have the supports they need to maintain their recovery. If we are serious about supporting the long-term recovery of our friends and neighbors, it's time we finally invest in supportive housing.

Senate Democrats have filed two bills: one calling for $5 million to bolster prevention, treatment and recovery capacity in the state, and one calling for $2 million to stand up supportive housing for persons with substance use disorders. The former will help build up capacity in the state, so fewer families have to send their loved ones out of state for needed help. The latter will help those leaving treatment who don't have a place to go, helping to reduce costs in the long run for everyone.

This overall amount of $7 million is just over ten percent (10%) of the amount state revenue is running ahead of plan: Close to $60 million. Some argue we should spend more like fifty percent (50%) of these funds to help stem and reverse the tide of this crisis. In fact, in order to fully fund the state plan on prevention, treatment and recovery, some say we need close to $40 million more per year.

What is the current position of our Republican friends? In committee, our Republican friends chose to reduce the overall proposal from $7 million to $2.5 million. And their $2.5 million proposal is to come from so-called “lapses”, which means taking money away from other vital programs. Anyone who knows anything about the budget knows this is not new money, nor is it an “appropriation”, and the public ought to know this. In short, as of right now, our friends in the Republican majority have chosen to spend not one new nickel in prevention, treatment or recovery.

The debate and vote this week is a consequential moment for the state Senate. We respectfully encourage our Republican friends to listen to the experts, listen to the stakeholders, listen to those who provide help, and listen to those who desperately need it. Everyone knows we cannot arrest our way out of this crisis, and Granite Staters expect that we put our money where our mouth is. It's past time we do the right thing.

Jeff Woodburn is a former teacher. He represents District 1 in the state Senate and serves as Senate Democratic Leader. Sen. Woodburn is the prime sponsor of the bill to invest $5 million in prevention, treatment and recovery. Dan Feltes is a former legal assistance attorney. He represents District 15 in the state Senate. Sen. Feltes is the prime sponsor of the bill to invest $2 million for supportive housing for persons with substance use disorders.

Poof Tardiff: 1913 VII

Hello fellow Berlinites. My congratulations goes out to the Berlin-Gorham girls' and boys' hockey teams for having such a great and entertaining season. Our girls were state runner-ups and won the hearts of all of their fans. The boys won their first state championship in 40 years and are now part of Berlin's great hockey history. This was a extraordinary performance by our young and talented athletes.

Headlines in the newspaper of October 9, 1913 read: “Berlin and its steady growth”. For some years past Berlin had justly assumed to be the leading city in population and industry in the North Country and one of the leading cities of this state.

There were, of course, other enterprising towns, but Berlin was “Easily First”. Still, Berlin was not altogether satisfied and in order to maintain its position back then, it had to continue to grow, at least proportionately with the growth of other places. To cease growing and improving was considered stagnation back then and in such matters stagnation meant dying.

Berlin had doubtlessly increased in population during just the past year, the present (1913) number of inhabitants was estimated to be about 15,000 and the increase of dwellings would have seemed to indicate an even greater population. Private enterprise in the matter of building was never so marked in the history of the city as during the past summer and indications were that the next year (1914) would even see more.

So, increased population called for increased facilities for transportation passage from point to point. The improvements in respect of these features of the city life were particularly gratifying. Under this year's administration of the city's affairs, the functional sidewalks had nearly doubled in extent and streets that formerly existed in name only were now in such condition to justify their names. So, in the near future, these new streets were expected to be built-up with residences.

Main Street for a considerable distance had been repaved, making it as fine a thoroughfare for vehicles as could be found in the North Country. One had to take into consideration that Main Street followed a river that supplied 150 horse power for every foot that it fell and it falls over 100 feet in the short distance that contains the business district of Berlin. This drop prevented the possibility of a level street, but even under these conditions it approached perfection in 1913.

The sanitary condition of this city, it was reported, had received great attention and new sewers had been laid, with much work going on. In the near future, Berlin officials believed that they would have as perfect a sewage system as any in the world. This was not withstanding the fact that much of it had to be laid in ledge, which had to be removed in order to install the sewer pipe.

The steady growth of Berlin in 1913 had made the city more attractive and at the same time added to its safety with the erection of a large number of electric lights. Main Street was a brilliantly lighted street, especially with the aid of lights at all the stores. Berlin's other streets were also beyond comparison superior to the streets of other towns.

One of the most notable improvements, although not directly attributed to the present (1913) administration, was certainly the Young Men's Christian Association building that was in the process of being built on the East Side of the river. This building and the bridge leading to it were such great additions to the landscape to make that particular part of Berlin known as”The Narrows” a vista of elegant buildings.

St. Anne's Church, St. Regis Academy, St. Louis Hospital, which itself was not a gem of architecture perhaps, but after all a rather imposing building back then at a distance, the Public Library and a little further down the street the Court House, along with the Central Fire Station, made a fine group of public and semi-public buildings. They attracted the attention of tourists passing through and were a source of just and commendable pride to our citizens.

The municipal building at Mason Street was another feature of 1913 activity on the part of the city fathers. This was an improvement that was long needed and it gave the people of Berlin great pleasure to see it completed and dedicated to the public requirements.

Through the efforts of our enterprising citizens, there was also to be a Federal Building (1917) which would complete the list of buildings now (1913) in sight or contemplation.

When all these buildings were completed, Berlin would be in the position to claim superiority, in many respects, to cities of much greater population. It was also beyond any doubt that different ideas would suggest themselves in the near future for such other and further improvements as to keep Berlin progressing.

Sadly, two of these historical buildings and the bridge no longer exist, but I guess that that one could also say that this comes with progress.

Even though, as I wrote, Berlin was growing steadily and becoming one of New Hampshire's great cities in 1913, its development was causing problems. For example, even I remember as a young boy, how polluted the Dead River had become. So, back in 1913, a headline read “Dead River Putridness”.

In this year, along with open sewage going into it, this river presented an awful view to Berlin citizens and anybody that looked at it. Near downtown, there were many bushels of decaying fruit and vegetables, abandon articles of apparel, mud, slime, broken glass, paper in all stages of disintegration, a horrible smell and it must be added, a little water.

It was impossible to make the Dead River a broad, deep, majestic stream, flowing in stately manner, through fertile valleys in between beautiful meadows, like it once did. The newspaper had hoped though that something could be done to improve its appearance and make it a nice little brook purling over pebbles and affording delight to the eyes of those whose sense of smell was so dull as to approach this stream.

The well-being of the city was safeguarded by a properly constructed Board of Health and so long as the board was devoting its time and attention to public welfare, we had no occasion to worry about the Dead River as a possible source of disease, of which there were many back then.

The only point sought back in 1913 to the attention of the public, was that the Dead River was clogged with sewage, garbage, refuge of all kinds, decaying and putrid matter of every description that could possibly be dumped there. So, the river was therefore an eye sore to the admirer and lover of scenic beauty in such a growing and modern city. It took many years to clean up this river and it probably could use more work in this day and age.

I will continue with the history of 1913 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 pictures.

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Ithaca Bound: Stirring of a memory

Researching through a book recounting events in American history on each day of the year, one event in particular caught my attention. It was on the 23rd of March 1775, that Patrick Henry (1736-1799) is credited with uttering the fiery speech that ended with the words “give me liberty or give me death!” Whether he actually said those words or not is problematic. Henry spoke with no notes, and those words never saw print until years after they were said to have been uttered.
Regardless of whether he did or not, the note I came across in the history book through which I was reading stirred a memory from a time long past. As a young lad in high school, I sang in the high school’s choir. I sang well enough to be one of the choir’s soloists.
One semester. our choir director brought out a lengthy patriotic piece called “Ballad for
Americans.” Originally titled “The Ballad for Uncle Sam,” it was written in 1939 by composer John La Touche, with words by Earl Robinson. The Ballad is a paean of praise
for what America is supposed to be all about, its values and its people. The reference to Patrick Henry’s speech comes early in the piece, when it reminds the listener of the war the war that made us an independent nation.
I was given the honor of singing the role of the narrator of the Ballad. Twenty-four years later, I was again given the honor of singing the same role during Springfield. Massachusetts’ celebration, in 1976, of our country’s two hundredth anniversary of our Declaration of Independence. Enough about me and my involvement with the Ballad.

Patrick Henry was known as one of the most fiery orators of his day. Highly independent and largely self-taught, he earned a law degree and quickly became involved in politics. He would twice be elected to three single year terms as governor of Virginia, and his impassioned oratory made his voice one of the most outspoken voices on breaking ties with Great Britain.
Henry did more than talk, however. As governor of Virginia, he was also a colonel in its militia, and twice led raids against the Cherokee nation that had sided with Great Britain in the Revolutionary War. At war’s end, he again raised his voice, this time against the formation of a strong federal government.
Patrick Henry fought for the right of each state to govern itself and urged against the adoption of the new federal constitution. Realizing that it was going to be adopted regardless, he fought for and was instrumental in the adoption of a Bill of Rights, insuring individual rights and freedoms.
The irony of all of this, of course, is that the liberties and equalities of all men, so ardently called for in so much of the writing of the time, was clearly limited in its scope, applying to only certain groups of people. Those who lived their lives in slavery had no such liberties and certainly were not considered equals. The Native Americans who had lived on this land for centuries before the coming of those who would systematically take their land from them were not considered equals. To this day, confining reservations are still to be found on the American landscape.
So, on this March 23rd, it is well to remember Patrick Henry’s impassioned words. It is well to remember, too, that there is still a ways to go.
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.