Poof Tardiff: 1978 VIII

Hello fellow Berlinites. A news headline from the local newspaper in September, 1978 stated “Less odor in Berlin?" Late in August of 1978, the Brown Company completed a project in the Berlin plants which they claimed had reduced the level of objectionable odor around the mill and in the city.

The new air emissions that were supposed to have taken effect had collected non-condensable gases from a digestible low heat recovery system and directed them to the lime kilns where they were burned. These smelly gases were thus prevented from being vented out of the stacks.

The total cost of this area emissions system was estimated to be $4.2 million. This represented only a part of a large pollution control program which totaled $28 million at the end of a five-year period. The purpose of the overall five-year program was to reduce, as much as possible, the emissions of the air and water pollutants from the company’s two plants.

So, at this time in 1978, the Brown Company had met the standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency and installed all required pollution-control equipment for air and water. They would also be working on more control systems in the near future. By 1980, Brown Company was gone.

By the beginning of August 1978, the new Androscoggin Valley Hospital was almost 90 percent complete and today, is approaching 40 years of service to this community.

During the beginning of October 1978, the site for the James Cleveland Bridge had changed again. Instead of being where Norm’s Trading Post once stood, the City Council voted to endorse the Smith Hydroelectric Plant parcel, as the new location for the proposed bridge over the Androscoggin River.

The decision was a reversal of an earlier Sept. 11, 1978, council endorsement of the trading post site and went against the strong recommendations of the Community Development Office and the City Planning Board for the Smith Hydro spot.

This battle took place and now went on for which site was the best one for this project, the southern bridge across the Androscoggin for Berlin. I did not know that there was so much bickering, and as we all know today, the winner was the trading post point.

During the end of September 1978, two hikers discovered a skeleton on the “Square Ledge Trail” in Pinkham Notch. These hikers had just made up their camp for the night and were walking around the area when they spied a white plastic water bottle. When they went to retrieve this bottle, they found the skeleton and the remains of a campsite.

The hikers reported their findings to the Appalachian Mountain Club the next day, Sept. 23. The club, in turn, notified the state police and detective Butch Lovin, along with the state Fish and Game Department. The remains were then taken to the forensic lab in Concord to be examined. Lovin said that the skeleton would then be transferred to a more comprehensive lab in Boston.

It was reported that the skeleton was found in a reclining position, as if the person had been asleep. A green sweater, buttons off Levi dungarees, and unbuckled belt buckle, untied leather shoes, a tattered sleeping bag, corncob pipe, toiletry items, fragments of a backpack and several European, near East and American coins were also found.

From the condition all the bones, Lovin said the body had been there quite some time, perhaps over six years. He also believed that they were the remains of a male. The detective did not know what caused the death, but it appeared the hiker died of natural causes. It might have been a heart attack, exposure or some type of other injury.

Forensic experts would examine the body using things like bone marrow, skull shape and teeth to try and learn about this find. Also, it would take time to get some concrete answers.

Along with this, there was a very good possibility that they would never find out the identity of this person. If he was not from the area, there probably wasn’t even a missing persons report.

The trail on which the skeleton was found is less than a 20-minute walk from Route 16. This is a popular trail for hikers that can’t camp along the highway.

I know a few more missing hikers that have been reported missing and never found. The mystery lingers on today. If I find an answer for this one, I will let my readers know of the results.

In a story written by Mr. Doug Hancock in October of 1978, Ralph Peloquin, a subject I have written about before, was considered the youngest fight promoter of his time. This was officially given to him in 1979 by the “Guinness Book of World Records.”

During September of 1978, Mr. Peloquin received word that he had been awarded this special honor. So, he bought the book to see if he was in it or was that a mistake. After purchasing the book, Ralph went through it from cover to cover and could not find his name anywhere. Being disappointed with his findings, Peloquin called the publishers of the book to see if the information that he was given was true or false. It was at this time that Mr. Peloquin was informed that the 1979 edition would have his title officially listed.

The event that won him this special title occurred back in 1937, 80 years ago, when he was 17. With the guidance and support of Reverend Father Lauzier, Peloquin was responsible for promoting an amateur boxing show at the St. Anne Parish Hall, where the new hall now stands on School Street. This hall trained approximately 50 boxers a day and was called the Catholic Boys Boxing Club.

He was also more than an active promoter before World War II, as he was also a boxer. Ralph began his fighting career in 1934, at the age of 14, but was two years under the legal age and lied to get into the ring.

Boxing was one of the major sports in this city back then and even had top-notch contenders come to Berlin and enter the ring.

Although he was a small man, Ralph held the light weight and bantamweight amateur tri-state championship of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont three years in a row. His final amateur boxing record was 34 knockouts, three decisions and three losses. What made the record though, was that he was the youngest fight promoter.

I will continue with you 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 mystery pictures.

Square Ledge TrailSquare Ledge Trail

Smith HydroSmith Hydro

Peloquin RalphRalph Peloquin

Brown Company 1Brown Company


Yale University's letter on Northern Pass lease


Recently, Yale has been asked to intervene in the development of a 192-mile transmission line, known as Northern Pass, that would bring hydropower from Quebec to New Hampshire and other New England States. The focus of petitioners has been lands in northern New Hampshire owned by Bayroot LLC. Responsibility for managing these lands rests with Wagner Forest Management, which in 2012 decided to lease these lands to the developer of the Northern Pass project.

Pointing to the July 1, 2017 expiration of the initial term of lease, petitioners sought the termination of the lease and prevention of its renewal.

The petitioners fail to recognize several important facts. First, institutional investors such as Yale typically invest with managers through partnership arrangements that limit the investors’ ability to control decisions from both a legal and best practices perspective. Second, Wagner Forest Management did not have the ability to terminate the option to renew under the terms of the lease. Third, as a matter of public record and as reported in the press, the developer of the project has exercised its option to renew the lease and the term has been extended to 2110.

The Northern Pass project is undergoing rigorous review in the State of New Hampshire, under the purview of the Site Evaluation Committee.

Wagner Forest Management practices sustainable forest management on the Bayroot LLC lands in conformance with certification standards promulgated by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), as confirmed by independent auditors. Moreover, the firm works closely with major conservation organizations, participating in a range of conservation initiatives. The Yale Investments Office views Wagner Forest Management as a world-class manager of timberland.

Yale’s longstanding approach to Endowment management is to identify and engage high-quality investment managers and to give them investment discretion. This approach has served Yale well, as demonstrated by the significant financial support the Endowment has provided to students and faculty over the decades.

Editor's note: The above statement was put out by the Yale University Office of Public Affairs and Communications in response to requests that the university intervene in the Northern Pass project and public criticism of its position to date.


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.

Converse 4Converse

Converse GroundbreakingConverse Groundbreaking

Performance Award 1970Performance Award 1970

Picket LinePicket Line


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
Andre and LouisAndre and Louis