Arts & Entertainment

RMC tradition carries on

RMC tradition carries on
by Gail Scott
RANDOLPH—The Randolph Mountain Club grand old tradition of picnic and charades was continued with great drama at Mossy Glen last Saturday.
Four communities of Randolph—the trail crew, the hill, the midlands, and the valley—acted out the traditional confusing charades to illustrate the word each group had picked and the audience, everyone else, had to guess what in the world they were acting out—traditionally with all kinds of misleading suggestions in the dramas that broke the words down into syllables and then, sometimes, represented the whole word.
First up was the RMC trail crew. The crew works on the RMC trails all summer to keep them in hiking shape. They chose "crepuscular," acting "crepes" (food) to the whole word—a moose appears as the crew is digging up a rock. Moose typically are active at dawn or dusk, i.e. crepuscular.
Midlands—involving people who live neither in the valley nor on the hill but in the middle of Randolph Hill—acted out "panopticon," an architectural term that refers to a type of building, so arranged that all parts of the interior are visible from a single point. Despite the obscurity of the word and the obscuring dramas presented to illustrate its syllables, a member of the audience managed to guess it.
The Hill carried on with "anthropomorphous," which means attributing human qualities to nonhuman things. Once again the audience guessed the word, an amazing feat as the dramas illustrating the syllables ranged from auditions for a talent show to a transformation of the Gourmet Hike, which, theoretically, is not an RMC hike because it attracts more than 10 participants.
At last The Valley presented its usual peerless performances, this year illustrating "tracheotomy" with actors Ted May and Ted Horton, respectively taking on the characters of "Donald Trump" and a Zen Master and much dramatic activity by the more-or-less chorus members—the choruses of all the charades being a succession of notable acting performances.
All dramas having been performed, the crowd joined in singing some favorite rounds, led by Bill Minifie (of The Hill) and, finally, Auld Lang Syne, the way the RMC picnic and charades have ended for some 100 summers.

Lancaster: Images From the Past Aug. 28

Bob Hunt and Anne Morgan will present a slide program entitled "Lancaster: Images From the Past" at Weeks State Park at 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 28. This free program helps to celebrate Lancaster's 250th anniversary. Bob and Anne will show historical photographs from Lancaster's past. Their slide show is based upon the new book entitled "Lancaster" by the Lancaster Historical Society. Lancaster was settled in 1764 when David Page of Petersham, Mass., obtained a grant and sent his sons to the wilderness of Upper Cohoss. Lancaster was the first settlement north of Haverhill and has upheld its old New England atmosphere. This program highlights the men and women who farmed the land and contributed to the industrial and cultural growth of the town. Historical images are from the archives of the Lancaster Historical Society. Both Bob and Anne are elementary school teachers and active members of the historical society and were instrumental in the compilation of the book.

The program will be in the Great Room of the Summit Lodge of Weeks State Park and will begin at 7 p.m. Come early and bring a picnic supper, or climb the fire tower for one of the best views north of the notches.

Weeks State Park is located on the east side of Route 3, approximately 2 miles south of Lancaster. The Evening Program Series is sponsored by the Weeks State Park Association, NH Division of Parks, UNH Cooperative Extension and the many business supporters who make these programs possible.


A Visit to a Shitake Mushroom Producer

Thirty-four people braved last Thursday night's rain to attend a twilight meeting at New Earth Organic Farm in Colebrook, and it was well worth the effort. New Earth grows two acres of certified organic vegetables, raises chickens, and three years ago, started a new enterprise, woods-grown shitake mushrooms. During the course of the meeting, we got to hear from Pierre, Vanessa, Luc and Gloria, the creative minds behind the farm and see all the crops, but for this article, I'll focus on the shitake mushrooms.

Luc Lamirande and Pierre Miron gave us a thorough explanation of how they went about inoculating their logs and setting up their log yard. They started the project with 100 logs but like other parts of the farm, it quickly grew to its current size with 500 logs. The first step is to cut the trees in the spring about two to three weeks before they will bud out. In Colebrook, that usually works out to the end of maple season or mid-April. Oak is considered the best logs for shitakes, but of course it is much cheaper if you can cut the trees yourself from your own property. New Earth uses maple trees because they are the second most common species used, and it is what they have available. Luc and Pierre warned us that larger logs will keep producing longer, but are harder to move around. The best balance for them is four-foot logs with diameters between four and eight inches.

The logs don't need to be seasoned first, in fact logs that were cut just a couple weeks before inoculation are good because they haven't had a chance to dry out or become colonized by other types of mushrooms. Pierre and Luc drill holes about six inches apart along the length of the log, in rows that are about three inches apart and offset from each other so that the holes create a diamond pattern in the log. Then they put a one-inch long mycelium plug in each hole and cover it with wax. It takes about 18 months for the mycelium to grow throughout the log before mushroom production can start. Meanwhile the logs need to be put somewhere where they get plenty of shade and the logs stay above 25 percent moisture. To accomplish that, New Earth established a log yard in a wooded area of the farm with overhead sprinklers that they can use to wet the logs down when rain alone isn't sufficient.

If you allow the logs to produce on their own schedule, you will get two crops a year. Alternatively you can "force" them by soaking them so they will start producing in a week or two. New Earth forces their logs in batches starting in July in the hopes of getting a predictable harvest throughout the summer and fall, which makes the mushrooms easier to market. A batch of 100 logs should produce about 15-20 pounds of shitakes. The photo shows a batch about to be harvested. The hoops and sheets of plastic are there so the mushrooms can be covered during a rain storm to prevent them from getting too soft. This batch of mushrooms will produce for about four days, with the majority of the production in the first two days.

Thus far the only pests the farm has had trouble with are slugs and squirrels. Keeping the logs on pallets and propped up on a wire when they are being forced, helps with the slugs, and the squirrels will probably get a pass as long as they don't get too greedy.

If you would like more information on growing shitakes, including information on where to find supplies, the University of Vermont and Cornell recently teamed up and put out an excellent publication "Log Based and Forest Shitake Mushroom Cultivation in New England."

It's been a great year for mushrooms

It's been a great year for mushrooms
by Gail Scott
RANDOLPH—The season is almost over for chanterelle mushrooms, according to Doug Gralenski, of White Mountain Forager.
Gralenski put on a workshop for amateur mushroom hunters Wednesday. They met at the Randolph Municipal Building and then went on a very wet hunt in pouring rain for chanterelles and lobster mushrooms, with some side views of boletes.
The season for chanterelles, one of the most popular of edible wild mushrooms, is from the second week of July through the third week of August. But if you missed the high season of chanterelles, Gralenski says there's a possibility the season will be later if the weather stays mild and wet.
"The woods are full of little gems out there," he says. "So few people have the ability to take advantage of it."
Gralenski harvests "wild edibles from the forest of northern N.H.", according to his card. He sells the product to gourmet restaurants in New Hampshire. With some 27 years as a Fish and Game warden in northern N.H., he knows his stuff, particularly as it's also a family thing: when he was a youngster, his grandmother took him foraging "when I was yay big," he says, holding his hand about hip high. He talks about hunting in the fall with his father and coming home with their catch plus a sack of boletes to complete the perfect fall supper.
To help the amateurs, he has rules for mushroom hunters to live by, which he handed out to his audience before they headed out into the pouring rain to do their hunting.
"The goal is not to learn 200 types," he said. "Pick one mushroom and learn that inside and out. Learn the habitat it grows in. Go with someone who knows how to forage. In a short amount of time you will not mistake a chanterelle, for instance, for something else."
"I'm always trying to teach myself another species," he added. "I am getting into the boletes. I take those home and put them out (on his oak work table), taking spore counts, and cross referencing with the manuals. They say don't trust anything on the Internet but there are thousands of pictures on the Internet and with a computer and books it's easy to figure things out. If you don't feel comfortable with something, stay away from it. But you can teach yourself."
He recommends having several reference books or field guides, mentioning the "National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms" as one.
He also recommends that you put your finds into paper bags.
"Mushrooms need to breathe," he said.
And, if the mushrooms are different, put each type in its own paper bag.
"If you do pick a mushroom that is poisonous, the spores carry the toxins and you don't want to mix them," he said.
Also, while dangerous mushrooms are the exception, there are non-poisonous mushrooms that don't taste good and you don't want to mix them with your good mushrooms.
Chanterelles are quite distinctive, according to the information sheet Gralenski provided.
They are the same color all over. "Fresh chanterelles are bright yellow-orange in color with some specimens exposed to sunlight more bleached out into a whitish-yellow appearance," according to the data sheet.
The caps may be 3/4 of an inch to 5 inches across.
"When young the mushroom has a convex rounded top with a firm edge. A mature chanterelle is more inrolled and 'martini glass shaped' with thin outer edges. They can be round or twisted into irregular forms," according to the data sheet.
The underside of the cap is a crucial point of information. A chanterelle has thick ridges instead of gills, which, according to the data sheet, are very thin and feathery. Ridges are much thicker and denser.
Throw out mushrooms with true gills.
On the chanterelle, the ridges don't go all the way down the stem to the base. The lower part of the stem is smooth and of the same color as the rest of the mushroom, "although sometimes is slightly whiter. The length of the stem is usually about equal to the width of the cap although growing in thick moss may allow for longer stems," according to the data sheet.
"There is a winter chanterelle (that is different)," Gralenski told the group. "They look more fragile and are brighter yellowey orange. They have the same stem. They are smaller and you may find five or six growing together. They are edible. There is another called the Woolly Chanterelle that is oranger. These can have the wineglass shape. I call it the martini glass. The woolly chanterelles have ridges that go all the way down to the base. You should be able to tell that shape. When you look at the ridges, a (desirable) chanterelle's goes half way down," he said.
"What happens if you eat a woolly chanterelle?" he asked. "Nothing happens to most people but others may experience gastro discomfort."
But, he warned, the only other yellow mushroom is yellow on top and white underneath. "It has fragile gills—superfine feathered gills, white in color, with a white stem with a little ring around the stem. If you pick one of those by accident, you shouldn't be picking mushrooms," Granlenski said.
He didn't say what the mushroom might be but wikiHow describes such a mushroom as the poisonous "Death Cap Mushroom."
Gralenski noted that mushroom pickers should get into id'ing spore prints as well.
"With any type of mushroom, put them on a piece of paper. Within an hour (of picking) the spores will drop onto the paper and tell you the color of the spore. Bolete spores will distinguish the species. The spore print on chanterelles is whitish, a little off yellowy. That is a clue on a given mushroom," he said.
"Beginners should avoid mushrooms with gills," he said. "There is where trouble lies."
Gralenski then showed the group a variety of edible mushrooms, still emphasizing that beginners should concentrate on one and get to know it and its habitat very very thoroughly before adventuring onward.
Among those he showed were the lobster mushroom that is red in color and kind of lumpy looking; black trumpets that look lethal but apparently are not; the chicken of the wood, which is a misshapen fungus, yellow on top and white under.
"The chicken of the wood will grow on hardwood or softwood," he said, showing one that came off a dead log that might have been black cherry. "In the 13 Mile Wood I once got a seven pound chicken of the woods on a grey birch."
Gralenski said that the chicken of the woods has a consistency when sautéed that feels like chicken breast.
"It is used as a vegetarian substitute," he said. "Liz (of Libbys Bistro) has done a white sauce pizza with chicken of the woods."
He also showed a porcini—a king bolete.
"You can tell the bolete by the stem—the base of the stem having a thickness. Most boletes have a straight stem but king boletes have a bulbous stem," he said.
He also showed a hedgehog mushroom, noting that it has a delicate taste.
"Black trumpets," he continued, "you can find in large patches. It is associated with beech trees, but also on hemlock, in wet areas ... such as saddles on a hill. I find them high on the mountains, not only in the valleys."
Continuing with his mushroom characterizations, he said, "Lobster mushrooms are a seafood substitute. They have a pungent odor. They grow under soft wood—spruce, hemlock mix. If you find one, you'll find half a dozen. You'll find them in a patch. There may be 100s of acres of similar habitat around and you can't find them."
"With all the mushrooms," he said, "they love disturbed soil from 100 years ago: the old classic roads, the main logging roads. On the Pinkham B, if you look 100 feet into the woods you are looking 80 feet too far. They like the edge. They like the mossy understory with softwood and little pockets of sunshine. Chanterelles like passive sunlight, a stand of moss covered softwood on the edge of a bit of passive sunlight."
Gralenski noted that this was a good year for chanterelles. He, and his foragers, could pick 80 pounds a week.
"No one cultivates them," he said. "But you can seed patches. I bring my mushrooms home at the end of the day. I have an oak workbench where I sort them. I clip the dirt off the ends. I used to go to the back property and throw the clippings on the lawn. This year I had chanterelles growing in my back yard. In four hours I picked 20 pounds."
Gralenski marks patches of mushrooms with his GPS, "but not to go back to the actual ring. I take the GPS to get me in the area and then shut it down and use my brain. Now I need to read the terrain. I'm looking at the ground," he said.
Gralenski was asked how often a person can pick a patch.
"Every week," he said. "You will get the same growth season, regardless of the weather. Some will come up in dry weather. With this rain (continuing during the summer), you get a nice high quality. They are tender."
He described how to harvest the chanterelles.
"You put your fingers under the mushroom and rock it up out of the ground. Trim off the rhizomes. After a good rain, when I go to pull them out of the ground, they snap."
Forager Danielle Cotnoir noted that they snap "when they are really nice. Sometimes they crumble in your hand if they are old," she said.
Asked if picking the same patches diminishes the growth of the mushrooms, Gralenski said, "I have hit patches for 14 years. They have no decreased in production. The plant lives in the soil. You are (in effect) picking an apple off the apple tree. The plant is a network of fibers in the soil. You can only ruin the patch by ruining the habitat."
Gralenski said his competitors are insects.
"Insect slugs will bore into the mushrooms," he said. "A little bit of slug damage is not a big problem. The second bug is a larva of a beetle that bores up from the ground through the stem and hollows out the inside. Sometimes the cap (of a chanterelle) looks nice, but the stem looks mushy. If you catch it early, you can salvage the mushroom, but sometimes it goes up the core."
Gralenski said he tries to "pick clean. I sell in field clean condition. I keep them dry. Water is their enemy. You can brush mushrooms with a light brush to get the slug poop off. I don't worry about it until I'm ready to cook with them. Then, just before cooking, I wash them."
Gralenski's eager audience didn't turn an eyeball when he told the group they were heading out into the pouring rain to do their fieldwork, following his exhaustive lecture. Off all went, into the rain, down the Rail Trail, along which—some 10 to 20 feet off the trail—they began to see the golden chanterelles, just waiting to be harvested for a gourmet meal. Later, those who had survived the soaking trip along the Rail Trail, explored the edges of the Pinkham B road for lobster mushrooms and boletes.

Cinema Part 3: The theaters of Berlin's Main Street

By Sarah Kinney


Bowling alleys, fires, and Main Street are just a few of the commonalities of Berlin's historical theaters.

Berlin's first theater, The Albert Theater, was built in 1905 by Albert Croteau, an area barber.

Joseph Caron of Nicolet, Canada, the architect that built St. Anne's Church, also built this Berlin landmark.

The theater, located near the corner of Main and Mason streets was considered a rival to big-city theaters, but it got off to a rocky start.

The auditorium seated 1400 people, was four-stories tall, had two balconies, and three fire escapes. A chandelier with sixty lights hung from the ceiling, and it was equipment with a grand piano.

At the time, no Boston theater was considered larger or more well-equipped.

The Albert opened with it's first show "Cousin Billy" starring Francis Wilson, May Robson, and Edith Barker in January 1906. It was followed by "The Little Father of the Wilderness."

Unfortunately, in November 1906, a fire broke out in the lower level of the building where J.A. Garneau sold furniture. There was also Andrew Rozek's store and bowling alleys owned by Clark, Carroll, Bergeron Co. below.

Despite the loss of the building to fire, Croteau was determined and by March 1910, the theater was entirely rebuilt. But again, by November 1910, there was a second fire. However, this fire only damaged the building and did not raze it.

It was again repaired and reopened on Jan. 29, 1911 and operated as a theater until 1955.

Since 1999, Paul and Fran Cusson have owned the building. They began renovating the building with the hopes that J.C. Penny would move to the building.

The Berlin Better Buildings initiative helped cover some of the costs to make the building very energy efficient.

When the J.C. Penny downsized, the Cusson's restructured their plans.

In 2012, Paul Cusson presented his hopes for the building as a multi-part plan to the Berlin Planning Board. He hoped to turn the building into a family entertainment center with activities such as indoor mini-golf, a snack bar, a birthday party area, ping pong, pool tables, a ball pit, a sand box, a small kids' theater, and remote controlled toys.

Berlin's second theater was the Gem Theater located at 135 - 137 Main Street.

Built in 1908, in between the operation of the two Albert theaters, the Gem was first a public building and then opened as a theater in 1909. It was specifically made for motion pictures, which were still in their infancy. Until the late 1920s, movies were silent.

Ethel Pickford and D. Campbell sang and Norris Stevens accompanied them on piano along with the shows.

The stage was also built large enough to accommodate vaudeville shows.

The theater could fit 700 patrons and was made with ornamental pressed steel.

The Gem closed as a theater in 1923 and was converted to a bowling alley. That was short-lived, and in 1924, it became a J. J. Newbury store.

In 1930, the building caught fire, but was rebuilt.

Days Jewelers then had their store in the building until 1968.

In the 1990s, there was another fire and the building was destroyed.

In 1914, the Princess Theater was built at the end of Main Street on Green Square.

John Stewart was contractor for the building. It had a state of the art ventilation system.

The theater originally had one screen and was later converted to a dual cinema.

At the time it was built, the population of Berlin was over 20,000, and more than enough to sustain three theaters. The Princess (also called Royal Twin Cinema for a time) survived the longest out of Berlin's theaters, though sporadically.

D.H. Campbell was one of the first managers of the theater.

The theater closed in the 1940s.

In 1961, it was reopened by John Voudoukis and in the 1970s, William Goudreau purchased it.

From 2006 to 2009, Peter Giannos ran the theater. In 2009, TBA Theaters, who also owned the Rialto in Lancaster, bought it.

TBA closed the theater in September 2011 and in 2012 T.C. Traders of Pelham, NH bought the building.

On Dec. 14, 2013, two juveniles set fire to the projector room around 6:30 p.m. A dozen firefighters responded as the temperature dipped below -12 degrees. The building was encased in ice from the water used to extinguished the fire, which lasted until nearly 5 a.m. the next morning.

On March 28, 2014 Andre R. Martel of Northwood, NH bought the building.

The Princess is the only Berlin theater to never have housed bowling facilities.

By the 1930s, the Princess and the Albert theaters were under the same management. In 1937, the Henry Hard Furbish residence (circa 1880) was bought by the Maine and New Hampshire Theater Co. and turned into the Strand Theater.

It was owned jointly with the Granite Amusement Co.

E. O. Gilbert had managed the Albert Theater, and he was to be the new manager of the Strand Theater.

Erlon Flecter had managed the Princess Theater, and he was moved to the Albert Theater.

Edward Brideau had been employed at the Albert Theater and he was promoted to managing the Princess Theater.

On Oct. 28, 1937, the theater opened to a full house for "Heidi" starring the renown Shirley Temple.

The auditorium was a single story that fit 1000 viewers; the lobby could accommodate 500 people, and the parking lot held 150 cars.

The theater was open until 1961. Ever since, it has been the Berlin Bowling Center.

The three theaters that still stand -- the Albert, Strand, and Princess -- still show traces of their cinematic pasts, but for now the curtain has closed on their operations. 



Special thanks to Paul “Poof” Tardiff for sharing his research.