Yale has the power to stop Northern Pass

PULL QUOTE: Even though Yale's land manager is advocating for Northern Pass in the SEC hearings, Yale stands to make millions of dollars from the lease and Yale's cooperation is necessary for the development of Northern Pass, the dean has said "issues related to Northern Pass are not a Yale issue."



By Richard Samson

The residents of Coos County have a deep appreciation for our land. We have some of the last remaining family dairy farms in New Hampshire. We are people who have scratched out a living through sustainable logging and showing vacationers the beauty of our mountains. We have dedicated our lives to showing and educating others about our environment.

From this deep appreciation for our land, we have undertaken extraordinary efforts to resist the construction of Northern Pass through our forests. Working dairy farmers have refused multi-million dollar offers from Eversource and have instead opted to sell conservation easements cheaply. The Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests has worked with residents to purchase blocks of land, which have created a barrier against potential Northern Pass routes.

But to protect our land, we have to fight against powerful institutions — not all of them local. One such institution, Yale University, is a global leader in science research and education. Its school of forestry and environmental science is one of the most respected institutions in the field. Yet, this university is on the verge of undermining the widespread and heroic conservation efforts in our county by leasing a 24-mile strip of land that is necessary for the development of Northern Pass.

Yale's current lease with Northern Pass expires at the end of June, and since this is likely the only viable route that remains in Coos County, the university has a choice. It can move forward with the lease and enable the development of a transmission line that will permanently scar Coos County and New Hampshire. Alternatively, it can join with the residents of Coos County by stopping the lease and contributing its share of land to the barrier that our residents have constructed against an environmentally unsound project that will not help New Hampshire residents pay their electric bills.

Stopping the lease would be an important first step in repairing the damage that Yale has already unleashed on our county. Yale is one of the largest landowners in Coos County. At a recent panel discussion at Yale University, Coos County resident Wayne Montgomery, who has extensive experience in the forestry industry, observed, "Yale's manager is taking every bit of value that you can out of the forest, reducing it to a point where it will be 50 years before there's another viable crop of timber."

Yale is also part owner of a wind farm in our county, which is situated on its land. Yale and the other owners of this wind farm negotiated a Payment In Lieu of Taxes with Coos County that was so low it caused a fiscal crisis. This revenue shortfall was only resolved through special state legislation. Given the economic struggles of the North Country, this wealth extraction has been particularly hard.

At a minimum, Yale owes Coos County and New Hampshire more significant engagement on environmental issues, I have requested a meeting with the school's Dean both via email and in person. I have twice traveled to Yale's campus with others who would be affected by Northern Pass. Since Yale's School of Forestry is the moral voice for Yale on environmental issues, I have requested a meeting with this school's dean both via email and in person. While I was received warmly by students and the New Haven community, the dean refused to engage. Even though Yale's land manager is advocating for Northern Pass in the SEC hearings, Yale stands to make millions of dollars from the lease and Yale's cooperation is necessary for the development of Northern Pass, the dean has said "issues related to Northern Pass are not a Yale issue." Thus far, she has refused to meet with me.

For many years, most of our residents were unaware of Yale's activities in Coos County. Yale sets up shell corporations as the face of its endowment investments. In Northern New England, they hide behind a company called Bayroot, which owns the land leased to Northern Pass and the Granite Reliable wind farm, and a land manager, Wagner Forest Management. Until recently, we didn't realize that Bayroot is 98.8 percent owned by one of the world's wealthiest and most prestigious universities.

This arrangement has allowed Yale to extract millions of dollars from our county while obscuring its culpability — even when this wealth extraction is at fundamental odds with the university's mission. Fortunately, Yale cannot support Northern Pass without being held to account for it. Now that Yale must act in the light of day, we hope that it will respect our community and prioritize its core values over slightly more robust endowment growth.

Richard J. Samson is the Coos County Commissioner for District 3.


Poof Tardiff: 1978 Converse Strike

Hello fellow Berlinites. I had to take a break from the year 1978 to talk about the strike at Converse Rubber Company that eventually wiped out about 1,100 jobs. These are jobs that to date (2017) have never been replaced. Some people will differ with me, but this was the news from August 23, 1978 in the local paper. Some would also probably say even if there was no strike Converse would have departed.

As the strike lingered on to more than 40 days, the Chamber of Commerce took a stand. “Could Berlin survive without Converse,” were the headlines. We have all survived changes. The death of a loved one, a car crash, a disabling illness, even a house burned to the ground.

If the 42-day old strike against Converse Rubber Company in the summer of 1978 resulted in Converse moving to Maine or Massachusetts, Berlin would still be here and it would survive. It would probably be harder to sell your home. Taxes would go up and it would end the possibility of a new industry coming to to town if Converse were driven away. There would also be more vacant stores on Main Street and more people would be forced to move away, especially the younger generation. Sadly, this sure sounds familiar.

As we approached the mid 1970s our population dropped from 19,000 to 15,000 people. Without Converse it could drop to 12,000.

People were wondering in August of 1978 if Converse’s leaving was a possibility. The Berlin Chamber of Commerce investigated this question. In fact, unless a compromise between Local 75 and Converse was made within the following week, Converse's leaving would not be a question, but just another chapter in Berlin’s rich, but abrasive history.

It was common knowledge on the streets of this city years ago that top union officials stated that 80 percent of the people in in Berlin wanted Converse to leave. The Chamber believed that these were just idle words, but the union officials had picket line posters reinforcing this.

Converse was taking the officials seriously and some lines of the company had already moved out to other plants, never to return. Joe Couhie said publicly that the Converse work force, which once numbered nearly 1,200 was down to 600 and would drop again to less than 400 workers, even if the strike were settled immediately.

The Converse building was rented and Converse did not own it. This could be understood that in short notice, they could pack up, and the building would never to be filled again. According to Mr. Couhie, the last offer was their final one. They didn’t want to leave, but they would have to curtail their operation considerably if the strike continued. This company had backed these statements, with both physical and personnel changes.

Over 40 years previous, the International Paper Company did just that. They closed their doors and pulled out of town because of constant strikes. Six hundred families were left without any breadwinners.

50 percent of the Granite State’s management and supervisory personnel had been temporarily laid off or transferred. No businessman in his or her right mind would ask for that kind of trouble again.

The Chamber asked why there was no business waiting to take the Granite State's place? It all boiled down to two basic considerations, the cost of doing business in the North Country and the absolute necessity of making a profit on the products that must sell at competitive prices.

Continuing with the newspaper article, Edgar Dean, the man in charge of Brown Company’s Berlin-Gorham operations, illustrated the difficulties faced by an industry that might wish to locate here.

If he were thinking of locating a business here in the late 1970s, he would have compiled pluses and minuses, being hard pressed to find the pluses like transportation, energy and climate to mention a few. If we were to lose Converse, then we would be hard pressed to see another industry of that magnitude replace it.

Sure, Berlin would survive and it has, but we would all suffer, because more than 600 Converse jobs would be at stake. Other people's jobs would be at stake also, if they worked at a downtown store, beauty shop, or were employed by any business where Converse workers spent a pay check.

Everything was connected and if 42 more days went by before ending the strike, then, it could easily be too late and Converse would be gone. As directors of the Chamber of Commerce, speaking with united voice, they urged both sides to sit down and end the strike.

I don’t believe that this letter to the newspaper was a scare tactic for the Converse workers. It was simply stating the facts and possibilities that eventually did take place.

In less than a week, the strike between Converse and its employees had ended. Members of United Paper Workers International Local 75 voted on September 1, 1978, to accept the company’s latest three year contract by an overwhelming 454-17.

The ratification vote broke the deadlock which had kept the company’s plant idle for seven long weeks. Everybody, except a few were glad that it was over.

There was no general consensus that the total settlement had been worth fighting for, but most of the workers agreed that they now had a good package deal all around. Factory manager Joseph Couhie said by the time the news was put into print, the workers were back on the job.

He did think that the level of production after the strike would be the same as before it began. Couhie also said that the plant would be opening on a one shift basis and that some might not be called back ever.

Local 75 President Edward Ferrari and Business Agent Ronald Croteau also expressed satisfaction with the company’s offer and said that they were glad the strike was concluded.

A summery of all the offers that were finally accepted by the ratification vote were listed and there certainly were no winners. When all was said and done in the summer of 1978 strike in Berlin, the Converse Shoe Company pulled up stakes and left four months later. Three years afterwards Bass Shoe would buy the building and operate until 1987.

So, the summer of 1978 was disastrous for the “City that Trees Built” and after Bass Shoe left, the building stood empty for thirty years. Now (2017), there is just a foundation where once stood a busy company that employed almost 1,200 workers.

I will continue with the history of 1978 I my next writing.

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 posted mystery pictures.

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Performance Award 1970Performance Award 1970

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Poof Tardiff: 1978 VI

Hello, fellow Berlinites. In mid-August 1978, vandals ransacked Berlin High School on Willard Street, and City Marshal Paul Morin had promised to catch the culprits.
Sometime before 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, an undetermined number of people broke into and vandalized this local educational institution. The cost for the taxpayers was an estimated $8,000 to $18,000 worth of damage, according to officials. From the looks of the pictures that I could not copy correctly, the damage seemed much more than that.
An officer on routine cruiser patrol noticed several broken windows in the back of the building, and a custodian was called. Both men searched together for an hour noticing the damage that was done. An intense police investigation into the incident was launched by the Berlin Police Department, and solving this case was the most important task at hand.
Later, reporters were led through the building and shown the amount of destruction that took place. This included the library, the nurse's office, administrative offices, print shop, home economics classroom and art studio. One of the $8,000 pieces of equipment in the print shop was badly damaged.
There were also about 15 interior and exterior windows that were completely destroyed, with a high cost of replacement.
I believe the vandals were eventually rounded up, but I am not sure. If I come across that answer, I will let my readers know.
One of the Berlin Fire Department's American LaFrance fire trucks was put out of commission, causing a major problem for the department. The service of the truck was lost on May 16 when the engine was destroyed internally. The crankshaft and a piston rod were irreparably damaged.
The fire chief, Norman Lacroix, tried to get parts from Continental Motors, but they said he needed a brand new engine. There was a lot of bickering and many ideas presented by the city council, as the fire department, which usually ran with four trucks, was now down to three.
I am not sure what exactly was done as it was last suggested that the fire chief get in touch with the company that made the truck.
By the middle of August, Converse Rubber Company was still on strike and people were starting to worry about its existence here. Some, though, didn't seem to worry by the signs that they displayed on the picket lines.
About 40 years ago, my neighbor and our great artist Andre Belanger was making a name for himself with a puppet named “Louis Alouette." It was said that Louis was born and raised right here in Berlin and had a lead role in a new TV series.
The writer of this story, Doug Hancock, said that Louis was an arrogant bird, and he gave all the credit for his chance at TV stardom to his 21-year-old creator, Mr. Belanger, who was now (2017) known for his artistic talent far and wide. It took a lot of work and long hours of experimentation with feathers, paper-mâché and more materials to come up with this character called Louis Alouette.
Louis and Andre were working on a production for a Franco-American series on New Hampshire Public television. This production was going to air in 1980. The 10 programs with Louis and Andre were made to break down false prejudices that French speaking people had about themselves and develop a sense of pride in Franco-American communities.
There was a lot more to this story of Andre and Louis that made for interesting reading. This 10-part series with Andre and Louis would be great to see again on DVD. Do you still have “Louis Alouette,” Andre? I am willing to bet that the Moffett House would love to see him and the DVDs.
It was also about 40 years ago when the road in Berlin then known as the East Side arterial, was started, and by September of 1978 the first phase was almost complete. As far as I can remember, once we crossed the Mason Street bridge, we had to take Unity to Coos street and then pick up Hutchins Street off of Cheshire Street, then go through Napert Village before getting on to Bridge Street.
The East Side arterial swings off by Rockingham Street now and goes straight to Bridge Street. When the Cleveland Bridge was later completed, one had a quick way to get to the northern part of the East Side without going through the downtown district of Berlin.
The East Side arterial was done in two phases. Phase 1 was the southerly part, and phase II, the northerly part, was started after a new bridge had been built over Bean Brook for trucks and then the connection to phase 1. The Bridge Street Bridge was then closed and made into a walking bridge. Another bridge farther up river called the 12 Street Bridge back then was built. That same bridge is now called the Veterans' Memorial Bridge. The connection was then made from the Cleveland Bridge to the Veterans' Bridge, thus bypassing the whole Main Street district of town.
On Aug. 25, 1978, flames brought tragedy to the five-room home of the Harald Ball family on Jericho Road. According to Berlin Fire Department Capt. Norman Gonyer, the fire department received a call at 9:50 p.m., reporting the fire. The firefighters rushed to the scene with two engines and a ladder truck, and when they arrived at the home of the Balds, flames had broken through the roof.
The propane tanks from a camper trailer parked behind the house were quickly removed. The camper itself was also removed, but it had already been scorched by the fast-moving blaze.
A total of 24 men answered the call, but the house was completely destroyed. Three times after all was done, the firemen had to return to the scene to put out flareups caused by a mattress. The cause of the fire was unknown. The Balds were renting the house and were not home at the time the fire started. Mr. Bald said he had heard there was a bad fire on Jericho Road, but never gave a thought that it might be his house.
When he got home, his house was gone and he had lost everything in the fire. He said people had been very generous and kind to him and his family. Two of his fellow truckers at Currier Trucking donated money so that Mr. Bald could get the heart medicine that he required. Fellow seniors organized the drive to collect canned goods, clothing, furniture and money for the family.
It was certainly a rough time for the Bald family who will always remember this tragedy. Luckily there was no loss of life.
I will continue with the interesting year of 1978 in my next writing.
Poof Tardiff writes a weekly column for The Berlin Daily Sun. Questions or comments can be emailed to 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 and enjoy the many posted mystery pictures.
Fire EngineFire engine
Converse picket signConverse picket sign
BHSBerlin High School
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Poof Tardiff: 1978 V

Hello fellow Berlinites. Besides having a yearly fiddlers contest in the town of Stark in the 1970s, the city of Berlin ventured out on its own and on July 1, 1978 and had an old-time fiddlers' contest.

The finest fiddlers in the Northeast came to the new Jericho Park with some 30 to 35 of them providing more than six hours of entertainment. All park facilities were open during this contest, so people were able to take advantage of a cookout, a swim, or take a break from the music and go fishing.

North Country Transit, Berlin's newest form of transportation, had bus service from Angel Guardian and the Holiday Center at specific times. The price was $2.50 per ride for adults and $1 for children from kindergarten to 12th grade. I do not remember if this was carried on to a yearly basis.

Many of Berlin's residents must remember our great radio announcer Rod Ross. Rod had followed in his father's footsteps when it came to being a voice for the city of Berlin on both radio stations WB RL and WMOU.

Not only was Ross a great radio broadcaster like his dad Charlie Ross, but he also followed in his father's footsteps when it came to dramatics. Almost 60 years ago, while attending Berlin High School with the class of 1958, Rod had a massive list of activities in which he participated, and a lot of these were plays. It was said that he would always be remembered for his superb performance as the alias Philias Fogg in his senior play “Around the World in 80 days.”

In the late 1970s, Rod Ross was deeply involved with Theater North. After having just directed the “West Side Story,” Rod played the role of Father Rivard in the “The Runner Stumbles.”

His theatrical background included some 14 productions with the Plymouth Players at Plymouth State College, Summer Stock in Lincoln and the Village Players in Gorham.

His Theater North credits included, “Wait Until Dark,” “Lilies of the Field,”,“My Three Angels,” “Plaza Suite” and “Dial M for Murder.” His most memorable roles were Henry VIII in “A Man for all Seasons” and Big Daddy in a “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

Mr. Ross, who no longer lives in this area, after retiring from his job at WMOU, was an icon in both in the radio and theater business locally and, in 1978, he was also the chairman of the board of Directors for Theater North.

Here is hoping that you and your wife are still healthy and get a chance to read this short narrative about yourself, which probably will bring back many memories of your hometown. Men of your character and ability were surely an asset to the North Country and your voice is certainly missed over its airways.

During the middle of June 1978, our famous Morris Company, which once operated on the corner of Bridge and Hutchins Streets celebrated its 50th birthday. Things were more enthusiastic than usual during this week back in 1978, because there was a cause for celebration at this hardware store and lumberyard.

On 14 June 1978, the company began its 50th anniversary, honoring its growth from a small masonry supply store to a third-generation, one-stop building center with locations in five North Country communities.

According to company president John Morris, a month-long sale and several promotions were planned to mark the half century of progress. Thomas Morris and his son Albert first opened the Morris Company doors in 1928, when they purchased a building from Victor Bergeron on the corner of Bridge and Hutchins Street.

A modernized facility was constructed on the location in 1959, and the business still prospered here in 1978. The other four Morris stores were then opened. The Lancaster store opened in 1964, and the Littleton outlet began in 1965. The Lisbon operation started in 1970, and the company began its Gorham store in 1971.

There were 33 employees who worked in the Morris organization and the company pumped about $400,000 into the region's economy yearly through wages. This company also offered a range of building materials to more than 3,000 customers. A constantly expanding inventory helped Morris keep pace with customer demands. The company strove to make itself the one-stop building center for the increasing growing number of do-it-yourselfers.

Expansion of home centers and products were not the only concerns of Morris company, however. The firm had always considered its employees the most valued asset of the business so, in 1968, a profit sharing plan was established, so that every employee could benefit.

In 1976, and employee stock option plan was started, which gave group workers the opportunity to purchase the company. The present stockholders were: John Morris, Mrs. Germaine Morris, Mrs. John Haywood and Jay Morris.

The company also made major changes in bookkeeping. In 1974, the company started a terminal system that put company records on computers. This computer reported on demand what items were in stock and handled accounts receivable, accounts payable and other functions.

Morris company also had financial interests in other companies. They were the Lumbermen's Merchandising Corporation, Wayne, Pa., a conglomerate of more than 250 building centers and American Hardware and Building Supplies. Also, Morris Company had long been noted for financial and volunteer support of local organizations and institutions.

The 50th anniversary sale stayed in effect until July 5, 1978. A clinic on household cement use was held on June 16 and more clinics were scheduled during the fall months. Although the old building stands on the same spot, Morris company no longer is in operation today.

Finally, the striking Converse Rubber Company workers rejected the latest contract offer from the company. On a vote of 477 to 70, members of local 75 United Paper Workers International Union rejected the compromise wage benefit package during the middle of August 1978.

The union was dissatisfied with wage, pension and insurance benefit offers, so the strike, which began on July 12, entered its sixth week and no further negotiation sessions had been scheduled.

I will continue the year 1978 in my next writing.

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 posted weekly pictures.

Ross RodRod Ross

Morris CompanyMorris Company


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Once Upon a Berlin Time: 1978 IV

By Poof Tardiff
Hello fellow Berlinites. In June of 1978, Gorham's “Northwoodsman” shifted his attention from off -highway vehicles to outdoor recreation in general.
Former conservation officer and head of snowmobiling in New Hampshire, Paul Doherty, was named as the director of Parks and Recreation for the Granite State by Gov. Meldrim Thomson and the Executive Council.
The 58-year-old outdoorsman and author moved up to head the state's park system after serving as the first chief of bureau of off-highway vehicles for five years. The Wilton native had lived in Gorham for 30 years, after he and his wife Sally built a house on Gorham Hill in the early 1950s.
Doherty became the third director of state parks since the position came into existence in 1933. Before taking this position, he was internationally known as the Granite State's “Snowmobiling Czar."
Mr. Doherty bought one of the first snowmobiles to arrive in New Hampshire in 1961. He recalled that the “snowmobile was a thing whose time had come.” He also campaigned ceaselessly for sensible rules and regulations for this new sport. I wonder what he would have thought about the sleds that can do 110 miles per hour right out of the crate. This great outdoorsman surely made his mark on New Hampshire and the North Country. His many years of writing “The Northwoodsman” still make for interesting reading.
In late June of 1978, State Sen. Laurier Lamontagne announced his candidacy for re-election to a 13th term. Sitting in the dining room of his Portland Street home, surrounded by souvenirs of a political career that he launched in 1946, the senior-most state senator in 1978 told a small press conference that he wanted to complete a full quarter of a century in Concord.
Lamontagne said that he had never missed a day of service in the senate, despite rain, snow or floods. Actually, he did miss one day when he traveled to Washington, D.C. to fight for this city's public works grant in 1978, but the senate passed a special resolution giving him honorary perfect attendance.
For most of his 12th term, Mr. Lamontagne wore two hats, one as mayor of Berlin and another as district 1 senator. His first election to public office was when he was chosen to the Berlin City Council in 1946. He served two terms as mayor from 1958 to 1962.
He said that he had done everything from helping people obtain their Social Security checks to making appearances at the department of motor vehicles for people who had made a mistake and had their licenses revoked.
Mr. Lamontagne did many other things to help his constituents and never refused anyone who needed help. He always wanted better roads to attract new industry to the North Country and fought for them. The 61-year-old senator was also president of the L. A. Lamontagne Express. He said his fleet of nine trucks had distributed the Boston Globe and Boston Herald American in this county for 42 years, since 1935.
A July 12, 1978 headline read: “Local 75 on the Strike." Granite State employees, members of Union Local 75, decided late on July 11, 1978 to strike, starting at 7 a.m. on July 12. A month of company offers and union rejections ended in a picket line and to the eventual end of Converse as Berlin knew it.
Referring to the picket lines, local 75 President Edward Farrari said that this would be a peaceful one. In response to the same question, Converse manager Joseph Couhie said he did not expect any trouble from the union people in the picket line.
Couhie admitted that he was surprised and disappointed by the Monday night ratification vote, which led to the work stoppage. This was the first strike since Converse started in 1946.
According to Mr. Couhie, the management did not make the final offer suggested by Local 75 before the 7 a.m. deadline, because it did not have enough time to work out all the details. The company and union did agree to return to the negotiating table later in the week. I do not remember what the results were, but will find out as I read on. Today, in 2017, the Converse building has finally been dismantled after setting idle for over 35 years.
Who remembers a place called “Bob's Deli” that was located on Upper Main Street in Gorham. This place specialized in domestic and imported meats and cheeses. Opening the door to the shop, one immediately noticed the aroma of fresh roles, pastrami, liverwurst and cheeses.
Bob Wobby, owner of the shop, Greg Noyes, manager, or Tom Peasley were ready to whip up any of the 18 varieties of subs and sandwiches, once the customer made the difficult choice.
Hot pastrami and roast beef were the big sellers, but the Syrian sub was what really caught on. They were also trying a vegetarian sub and had imported olives, pigs feet, lamb tongues and boiled eggs that lined the shelves and rounded out the deli line. They were also contemplating delivery service in the near future.
This sub shop, which was opened 39 years ago, attributed its good business to their hours. They were open seven days a week from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., and they never closed early.
Plenty of local residents patronized this place during the first month that it had opened. Now for those of you who wondered where it once stood, my wife said it was at the present day (2017) OC Nails
During late July 1978, it was announced that the first elderly tenants were expected to move into the converted St. Regis Academy building before the end of 1979. The federal government had allocated rental subsidy funds to finance the conversion of the former parochial school building into housing for the elderly project, the Berlin Community Development Department announced in mid-July 1978.
Funds were being made available by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This project marked the first stage of an effort to turn both the vacant school building and the old St. Louis Hospital into about 105 apartments.
The first stage would produce 40 apartments in the old school and about 65 units in the hospital building, both of which stood on Pleasant Street. The developer would purchase the school building from St. Anne's parish before starting rehabilitation work. The apartment building would be privately owned and managed, with the elderly paying no more than 25 per cent of their incomes for rent. The city council would then act on a zoning ordinance that would clear the way for this project.
I will continue with the year 1978 in my next writing.
For 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 posted weekly mystery pictures.