Poof Tardiff: 1949 VII

Hello fellow Berlinites. It was announced on July 7, 1949, that the newly built Memorial Field at the end of Willow Street would officially open on August 14, 1949, the anniversary of VJ Day (Victory in Japan). The featured guest would be Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire.

The preliminary plans for the opening of Berlin's newest field were made at a meeting in the Mayor's office at City Hall on Friday, July 1, with the plans being completed at a meeting that took place two weeks later on July 15.

Aside from the talk by Bridges, the tentative plans included a parade during the afternoon, call to colors and planes maneuvering over the field during a part of the ceremony. The parade would begin at Berlin Mills, march down Pleasant Street, over Green Street, Second Avenue, Hillside Avenue and Willow Street to the field.

The Memorial Field would be dedicated to the Berlin men who lost their lives in the two World Wars. The event itself would not include any baseball game or others sports, those could be played at night.

At the dedication on August 14, 1949, a stone memorial was placed, with a plaque that read “ Memorial Field. This field is dedicated by the people of Berlin in memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice in defense of their country”.

This great dedication took place on August 14 with all of the events that were scheduled. The dedication and great parade was witnessed by thousands local citizens. I am sure that we still have a lot of citizens who remember this outstanding event.

Another headline about the Memorial Field stated that “Progress was being made on the Memorial Field house”. This would be the building which stands in the right-field corner of the field. Good progress was reported on the volunteer field house project. It was expected that the outside of this building would be practically completed by the end of July.

The directors of the Berlin Clubs Athletic Association, sponsors of the project, had received excellent cooperation and made a statement that read as follows: “Greatest credit goes to the workers who are giving their time to erect this building. The officials of local 75 AFL are to be congratulated for their success in organizing the various crews”.

Also, local merchants were cooperating by providing material at the lowest possible prices. In addition, the Brown Company, who provided the basic building, also helped in obtaining materials.

The Parks Commission and the Public Works Department provided valuable assistance also. The truck used to move the basic building sections from the Burgess Mill yard to the Memorial Field was provided at no cost by Lavigne's Red Wing express.

The directors of the Berlin Clubs Athletic Association also wanted to thank those who had helped in any way. Now that the completion of this field house was no longer a matter of speculation, it was hoped that everyone would continue the good work and that more people would take this opportunity to render service to the community.

Of course, this building still operates at the Memorial Field, but I think we almost lost it to a fire some years ago. Does anyone remember this fire or did I dream about?

A September 1, 1949 headline in the local paper said: “Labnon Twins set out on road to Broadway”. Yes, Berlin's twin entertainers took their first big step to fame and fortune on September 5, when they began doing shows in a Lewiston, Maine nightclub.

They were entertaining for the love of making people laugh and tap their toes, but this time they were doing it for money. Their nightclub skits were first of a high-hat, cane and gloves routine. Their many Berlin fans new it as the “Al Jolson Act”.

Ray and Bob Labnon were booked for two weeks at this Lewiston nightclub. If at any time they proved they were ready for this type of entertainment, they would automatically be booked in other nightclubs.

If, however, either of these boys or their audiences did not feel that they were yet ready to sink their roots into the entertainment world, they could take advantage of one of the several college scholarships offered to them for their basketball skills.

The tall tuneful twins were twenty years old in 1949 and they had their hearts set on show business ever since they were twelve years old. Through the years, as people knew back then, they sang and danced purely for the the enjoyment of making people happy. “As long as they smiled, we were happy”,said the twins.

They graduated from St. Pat's and then Berlin High School in 1948, then attended New Hampton Prep School for boys. While there, college scouts were attracted by the manner in which they could handle a basketball and offered them scholarships.

Then, along came word of a big amateur contest that was to be held in Franklin, New Hampshire. Among some of the prizes, Columbia Studios was offering auditions before highly classified talent scouts.

The Labnon Twins entered, won, auditioned, were liked and received a booking. The talent scouts suggested that a dance routine should be added to their present act to better enable them to break into show business. The twins accepted the suggestion and started working out a new routine.

Bob and Ray issued a statement which read: “We certainly are very much grateful for the way the people of Berlin have encouraged us. The many wonderful comments have inspired us to stay with it. If luck does remain with us, we certainly will never forget the wonderful people in the city of Berlin”.

I do not know how many years the”Short Twins” entertainment but Bob is still with us and if anyone sits down and talks with him, it is possible that they could get “The Rest of the Story”.

I will continue with the interesting year of 1949 in Berlin with 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 friends of “Once upon a Berlin Time” on Facebook and guess at the posted weekly mystery pictures.

Memorial FieldMemorial Field

Labnon RayRay Labnon

Labnon BobBob Labnon

Bridges Senator StylesSenator Styles Bridges