However, if you enjoy a good old-fashioned rant now and then, and I think that most people do, stay with me. Today is the day that I let off some steam. And, since I’m using my computer right now, I may as well get started. Agreed? Good! Here we go.
It all began a couple of months ago. The computer I was using started sending me messages telling me that such and such a program was not responding or that such and such a requested program was not recognized. (“What do you mean it’s not recognized? I was just using it yesterday. How can you not recognize it today?” No, dementia is not setting in. I’m alone in the house, except for our two cats. I can talk to a computer if I want to. And, boy, do I want to!)
Next comes a message from the computer. Do I want it to find the source of the problem and possibly fix it? (Of course, I want it to find and fix the problem. What kind of an idiotic question is that?) Time goes by. A message comes on the screen. The computer is working on the problem. (Well, I certainly hope so.) More time goes by. Another message comes on screen. The computer is unable to fix the problem. Perhaps I should contact the vendor of the program.
Have you ever tried contacting a program’s vendor? Be sure you have taken any doctor recommended blood pressure pills before you do. Just trying to get through the various banks of automated voices to talk with a real live human being is enough to raise the old pressure to dangerous levels. And, oh!, the new words you’ll create while waiting.
I decided to skip the phone call. Time and time again, after waiting and waiting to talk with a real human being, the real human being says, “Well, have you tried turning the computer off, waiting a few minutes, and then turning it back on?” (Sometimes you’re told to unplug your computer, wait a few minutes, and then plug it back in.) I have tried this before. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I shut down the computer, wait a few minutes, and turn it back on. Voila! This time the tactic works.
But it isn’t long before the malfunction messages start appearing on screen again. Once again, some program isn’t responding, or some website isn’t being recognized, or, worst of all, the computer has totally frozen and isn’t responding to anything. Well, it’s an old computer, perhaps it’s time to invest in a new one. So I do.
Bad move. All of the new PCs come equipped with the new Windows program. Now, I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent person. Despite all the negativity I was reading and hearing about the new program, I figured, hey, I’m reasonably computer knowledgeable, I can learn this new operating system. Well, no. After a month of trying to figure out how the new operating system worked, and buying one of those “for Dummies” books (I have lots of those.), I went back to using my old one. At least I was dealing with a devil I knew. So far, so good. My blood pressure is staying down within reasonable limits, my vocabulary is no longer being enriched, and I am not being tempted to deal with a bank of automated voices. Turning the machine off and then turning it back on seems to work okay.
Sooner or later, I guess, I will have to deal with change. But, as an old German proverb goes, to change and to improve are not the same thing. No, the two words are not synonymous. Every time I read or hear that something is “new and improved,” I approach with caution. What does that actually mean? It sounds good, but . . . . Every time an update message appears on one of my electronic devices, I hesitate. Is this really going to make operating the thing easier for me, or is it only going to lead to greater frustration?
I read now that the new Windows program will soon have a makeover that will be offered free of charge to those who bought a computer with the new program already installed. I’ll give it a try, I guess. No use having a new but useless computer taking up room in my workspace. But don’t be surprised if another rant appears in this space.
This rant is now officially over. But, as I said, don’t get too comfortable.
Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 19:08
Hello fellow Berlinites. As I continue with the history of Berlin 43 years ago, a man who loved skiing and who shared his love for this sport with hundreds of youngsters in this city lost his life on Saturday, February 7. This happened when his gun accidentally discharged while he was hunting near his home.
Daniel “Pokey” Paulson of 309 Denmark Street had been hunting not far from the Junior Nansen ski area, where he taught many children how to ski. The reconstruction of this accident stated that Paulsen, who was 57 years old, apparently slipped on the ice, causing his gun to discharge and seriously damage his left hand. He managed to reach the road about 100 feet from the accident before collapsing.
Doctor L. Rozek, Coos County medical referee, attributed death to loss of blood as a result of the gunshot wound. It was certainly a sad day for all the local skiers and the people in the Norwegian village.
The second Miss Berlin-Gorham pageant took place in Berlin on Sunday, March 8, 1970, with Miss Helen Baldassare fending off seven other contestants to win the scholarship spectacle.
Miss Baldassare won the crown, the $150 scholarship and a Simon Davis Smart shop wardrobe, along with a trip to the Miss New Hampshire pageant with an out standing song and dance choreography followed by a Chopin piano selection.
Almost 950 people watched the seven other contestants give Miss Baldassare a run for the crown in a show which was sponsored by the Jaycees. Miss Baldassare was crowned by Miss Berlin-Gorham of 1969, Miss Louise Morrissette,
For the first time in 23 years, the New Hampshire high school hockey crown was won by a team other than Notre Dame or Berlin High. This longtime domination by the high school hockey players of Berlin came to an end on Monday, March 16, 1970, when the BHS Mountaineers were outclassed by the Hanover Marauders 6 to 1. Berlin teams did win again and the last high school hockey championship took place in 1976.
During the beginning of April, 1977, the Brown Homestead, symbol of an era when Brown Company was a family owned home-based industry, succumbed to the wrecking ball. This beautiful historical building, which should never have been torn down, was situated on the south west corner of Church Street and Hillside Avenue.
It was demolished to make way for a new era and that was going to be government homes for the elderly. The ravages of time had taken their toll on this once splendid 50 room mansion, but for a long time, it was the symbol of prosperity in Berlin. The building had been owned since 1901 by Orton Bishop Brown and sold in 1969 by his heirs for a housing project.
Two school resignations took place in April of 1970, when Superintendent Leon J. Lakin re-signed, effective August 31, 1970 and BHS principal Robert Arlin gave his notice. The paper said that, “in all probability it would be the end of an era, as no one would replace the superintendent position”.
Lakin had come to Gorham in October 1961 and it was now expected that his vacancy would result in a combined supervisory union, with four professionals in the office. They would be a superintendent, assistant superintendent, business manager and a teacher consultant. All of this did not take place however, as Lakin later rescinded his resignation.
It took a signature of 1,021 residents in supervisory union 20 to persuade Lakin that he should not resign. Lakin made the announcement on Friday night April 24 to a group of 25 people that he would now stay with his job. These people had worked for two weeks to get names on a petition in hopes that Lakin would reconsider the resignation that he had tended to the State Board of Education during its April meeting.
The petition stated that those signing it wanted Superintendent Lakin to reconsider his resignation and also stated that the signers had no wish to be combined with Berlin's supervisory union three.
In the other educational announcement during the month of April 1970, Robert Arlin, the principal at Berlin High School since the 1967-68 school year, resigned from that position to take a new job with the State Department of Education. He said that his new job would be an educational advancement for him.
On March 30, 1970, a new Mayor and eight city councilmen were sworn in at the City Hall during Monday night ceremonies. Along with Mayor Norman Tremaine, two other men began their political careers. John Gallus was a first-year Councilman from Ward 3 and Donald “Ducky” Tilton was a first-year Councilman from Ward 1.
Also in early 1970 after three and one half years of discussions, the Berlin City Council voted 7-4 to have a new high school built in this city. After this historic vote took place, there was a moment of stunned silence and then a terrific sigh of relief rose from the audience that had packed the council chambers at Berlin's City Hall. With this, the construction of the new high school in Berlin, situated at the bottom of Mt. Jasper, got underway.
In the religious field, Rev. Gregory Dumont was chosen for the top post at St. Ann's Church. Father Dumont replaced Father Rodrigue Gallant as pastor, after the latter had been assigned to the pastorate of St. Leo Church in Gonic, New Hampshire.
Both of these priests were native sons of Berlin, with father Dumont being ordained on May 19, 1951 by Bishop Brady at St. Joseph's Cathedral in Manchester.
Father Dumont's first assignment was at Sacred Heart Parish in the Queen City from May 1951 to June 1962. He was then transferred to St. Martin's Parish in Somersworth, New Hampshire, where he served until January 1965. From here he went to Holy Infant Jesus Parish in Nashua, New Hampshire where he stayed until he was appointed the pastor of St. Bernard's Church in Colebrook. Father Dumont was the son of Mrs. Joseph Dumont of Berlin.
Father Gallant had been pastor of St. Ann's since September 1967. During his stay here, extensive improvements were made to the rectory and several innovative programs for youth to the city were initiated at St. Ann's Hall.
I will continue with history from the year 1970 in Berlin with my next writing.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 18:11
Right you were, Herb. But, then, you usually were.
Barrie and I will have been married for fifty years come the 5th of June. A few weeks back found us bound for Hawaii aboard a ship serendipitously called “Golden Princess.” Aboard the Golden Princess with us were our two sons, Erik and Mark, and their respective ladies, Andrea and Sarah.
There would be three celebrations for the Conway Clan on that round-trip voyage. Both Andrea and I had birthdays during our two weeks at sea, and Barrie and I were honored by our two sons for our soon-to-be fifty years of marriage. They got permission to use the ship’s chapel for a little ceremony. It was not a religious rite, none of us felt the need for that. Nor did we renew vows. No need for that, either. We are still living them.
Mark served as spokesman and thanked us for what we had given him and his brother as parents, and in a soft and gentle voice sang Paul Stookey’s “Wedding Song.” Erik filmed the brief and simple proceedings. My contribution was the reading of two poems. One was a translation from the Sanskrit of a poem about the true meaning of love that had been written by an unknown author centuries ago. It is my favorite poem about love. The other was a poem that I wrote especially for the occasion. A bouquet of flowers and a glass of champagne ended the brief honoring of our fifty years together.
We went down to dinner, where we were serenaded by members of the ship’s wait staff.
As to what I wrote, well, fifty years of marriage carries with it so many memories. A litany of those moments was –and is - not necessary. Perhaps something on the night when I first asked her out would be appropriate was my first thought. For sometime I had been following a slender, attractive young woman up the stairs that led to the choir room of the East Liberty Presbyterian Church, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where we both sang. On one of those nights in 1962, I finally asked her out. And she accepted. An important moment in our lives to be sure, but, no, that moment did not set my pen to writing.
I next thought about the night driving home from choir practice in Herb’s car when he urged me to marry that young woman I had been dating. “She strikes me as being a good woman,” he said. “I think she’ll make you a good wife and be a good mother for your children. I wouldn’t wait too long, if I were you.” I didn’t wait too long, and the woman said, “Yes!” And Barrie has been all that Herb thought she would be – and far more. But those two moments, too, did not send the pen in action.
Rather, it was the photograph mentioned above that provided the inspiration for the poem I wrote and read that day in the Hearts and Minds Chapel aboard the Golden Princess. Exactly when and where the picture was taken, I do not remember after all these years. But, as my friend suggested those many years ago, that photograph has taken on more and more meaning as the years have gone by.
Barrie is standing on what remains of a low-lying wall. She is wearing a black shirtwaist dress and black high heels. There is a slight wind and the skirt of her dress is flirting with it – and with me. The camera’s shutter is quickly pressed. This moment must not be lost.
Comely woman stands
on low-lying wall.
Black shirtwaist dress
swirls with the wind.
Moment to recall.
Fifty years now past;
woman still stands tall.
That image yet
my Lady, my all.
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 May 2013 21:00
During January of this year, there was a nice article about the retirement of Romeo J. Lavigne, the former owner of a business called the “Red Wing Express”. Romeo had been in this type of business for 40 years.
Mr. Lavigne began his business with a 1 1/2 ton truck on June 1, 1929, just a few months before the infamous stock market crash that brought America into the “Great Depression”. Romeo went on to survive those tough years with his one truck run between Berlin and Island Pond, Vermont, even though his payment was with potatoes at times.
As things got better, this Berlin trucker started to build his business and in the 1940s, he purchased the Great Northern Express. In 1952, he bought the Boston and Berlin shipping firm so he could expand his own Red Wing Express.
Like many local businessman, Romeo had tragedy, when his Red Wing Express terminal on a Goebel Street burned to the ground in April of 1957. He lost the terminal, six fully loaded tractor trailers and a great amount of freight.
Several months later, Romeo decided to rebuild, but this time it would be on the Jericho Road (PSNH today). Here, Mr. Lavigne built a terminal three times larger than the one that had burned. Eventually though, he sold this business to the Adley Express Company, but stayed on in an advisory capacity.
The combination of Adley and Red Wing Express gave Berliners a shipping service that extended into 10 states on the Eastern seaboard, including all of the New England area and Canada.
By the time Romeo Lavigne sold is Red Wing Express Company; he had built his one truck company into a business employing 135 people. There were 141 trucks moving 65,000 tons of freight over 1,000,000 miles a year. We lost this great Berlin businessman in March of 1991.
During the early part of January 1970, two of the main topics in the city of Berlin were: a new high school and the Tepco Aluminum Reduction Plant.
The fate of the proposal for a new high school in Berlin was hinging on its citizens. So, a public hearing was set up for the people on January, 19th, 1970 in the BHS auditorium at 8 p.m.
“This was to be a crucial meeting”, said Edward Oleson, chairman of the educational building study committee and this meeting would decide how the city council would vote about building a new high school. Just over two years later the school was finally constructed at the base of Mt. Jasper, with its first graduation class being the year 1973. So, that means this year's class of 2013 will be the 40th graduating class of Berlin High School.
As for Tepco, a show about the potential and the problems in aluminum smelter and atomic power development was shown on WENH-TV during the middle of January 1970. North Country folks had many avenues open to them with the investigation of the facts behind the Tepco proposal. These included TV, newspapers, radio, council meetings, speakers from the citizen’s task force and the task force itself.
With these paths available, no citizen was uninformed when it came time to vote on the proposal in March of 1970. As one can see today, we do not have an aluminum reduction plant in this city.
News was beginning to surface in January of 1970 about a wolf-like animal in the North Woods. It wasn't the usual kind of howling timber wolf, but the rarer eastern coyote. For several years now, North woodsmen had been reporting sightings of strange dog-like creatures in this area. In the fall of 1969, a dead animal of a species with which area conservation officers were unfamiliar was taken from the woods. They thought that it was a cross between dog, a coyote and a fox, but it was actually an eastern coyote.
The coyote apparently was starting to fill the gap left by the disappearance of the wolf and no one knew what the coyote population really was.
Forty years ago, these animals were indeed rare, but the paper said: “If they would find a sizable deer herd on which to prey, they would undoubtedly multiply”. Well, this statement certainly was not incorrect and it seems like many outdoorsmen and hunters have noticed that the great deer herds have diminished since 1970. Also, small dogs, cats and other domesticated animals seem to be the prey of these coyotes. They are certainly numerous in our neck of the woods today (2013).
On Sunday evening February 22, 1970 colorful ceremonies and a hockey game, marked the official opening of the new Notre Dame Arena, after it had collapsed during the previous year.
The national anthem was sung by Robert Dumont, which started the program at 6:30 PM, following an introduction by Ezelbert Guay (Guay and Drouin’s Men s Shop), president of the Notre Dame Associates. A color guard of Boy Scout Troop 210 with Mrs. Cecile Poisson at the organ, also lent a patriotic tone to the proceedings.
A flag ceremony was conducted by the White Mountain Veterans Council, with Judge Jean Louis Blais as the master of ceremonies and the arena was blessed by the Reverend Maurice Leclerc.
Mayor Earl F. Gage officiated at the ribbon cutting ceremonies with local dignitaries being introduced. The closing prayer was given by the Reverend Eric F. Swanfeldt.
The start of a hockey game between the Framingham Pics, coached by ex-Berlin hockey star Johnny Chambers and the Berlin Maroons, took place after the puck was officially dropped by Monsignor Alpheri Lauziere.
The fans were treated to some great entertainment between periods by the colorful Berlin Barbershop Quartet and the Joliette Drum and Bugle Corps. This new arena is now 43 years old, while the first Notre Dame Arena lasted 21 years.
Finally, the beginning of March brought on the local elections and a new Mayor for the “Paper City”. It was termed a mild surprise, as voters of Berlin elected Norman Tremaine by a slim 85 vote margin over incumbent Mayor Earl Gage.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 21:11
One disappointing observation was the lack of several members of the delegation at the meeting. With the important decisions to be made concerning the former business administrator’s house and the barn one would think that all the information that was discussed would be very important. The decision is one that should require a great deal of thought and discussion.
Chairman Theberge made it clear that public input will be taken and considered before a decision is made on the barn and will not be rushed into. One should be reminded that the county is still receiving money from Agri-mart for their shares when the county was shipping milk. If some of that money was used to maintain the barn until a decision is made it would not be costing the taxpayers any money until a decision is made. That is money that the farm did earn.
The next commissioners meeting is May 15, in Stewartstown at the nursing home beginning at 9 a.m. Chairman Brady has allowed for public input in two different areas of the meeting which is something that he and I believe are crucial to allow the taxpayers to have an opportunity to be better informed about our county government.
Another item that should be up for discussion will be the appointment of several positions on the Coos County Planning Board. There will be two openings for regular members and three openings for alternate members.
As previously mentioned in my column Mr. King had publicly stated that he would not be seeking reappointment to this board. This vacancy could very well be filled by someone from the Unincorporated Places and beginning to balance the board according to the boards own by-laws.
If one is interested they should contact the chairman of the planning board John Scarinza at 375 Randolph Hill Road, Randolph, NH 03593. 466-5775.
An interesting saying that I read the other day speaks volumes. “A compliment offers genuine appreciation for a quality of action seen in another person.” “Flattery is usually self-advancement through gaining the favor of someone else.” Maybe this is something we should think about.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 May 2013 19:56