Hello fellow Berlinites. After all the hoopla that we had a couple of weeks ago about the refurbished Nansen Ski Jump, the Olympic star Sarah Hendrickson and her historic jump, a great story about jumping was printed in an October paper of 1949.
The city of Berlin was awarded a top ski event for January 21-22, 1950. It was the National Combined Championship in both jumping and cross-country, which was awarded to the Nansen Ski Club. This championship meet was the most outstanding combined event awarded by the National Ski Association to any club at this time.
The jumping and skiing would be held at the great 80 meter ski jump on the Berlin-Milan Road and arrangements were made so that skiers from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Canada and the United States would compete in this event The Nansen Ski Club had already begun work on the big hill to make it as smooth as possible and dug out the bottom in order to enable the jumpers to reach their maximum distance on the hill.
Also, the club had laid out the cross-country course in 1947 that was about 12 miles in length. This course ran from the big jump towards Milan, over Milan Hill, towards, Copperville, around Cates Hill and back to the place of origin. This course had been carefully measured in order to meet the specifications governing cross-country skiing in the entire world. The path was one third uphill, one third downhill and one third on flat land.
According to the previous runners in the past two winters, the Berlin track was recognized as one of the best laid out courses in the United States. By October of 1949, the Nansen Ski Club was already working hard on this championship event, in hopes of making it the most interesting meet in the East in 1950. The club felt that this could be accomplished in view of the fact that the field of competitors would be so large.
During a Sunday afternoon October 16, 1949, the Birdie Tebbetts All-Star baseball game was played here at the Memorial Field and it was a huge success from a spectator standpoint, but not monetarily. The weather was ideal and the big leaguers put on a great show, as did the local players.
The major-league baseball players acted as professionals both on and off the field while they were in town. There were a credit to the game of baseball, as our Berlin youngsters were impressed and their idols did not let them down.
“The Bowladrome opens eight modern bowling alleys on Glen Avenue”. This was the headline in Berlin's business news on October 13, 1949. “For a bang-up time try the new C+S Bowladrome”, which opened on October 12, 1949. This building was a two-year project, built by Alfred “Chubby” Willette and Gerard “Sam” Morin, with the help of relatives during off-duty hours, evenings and Saturdays.
It was a completely new modern building with a rustic knotty pine interior. The structure was air-conditioned for summer and also heated for winter comfort.. The building which was 105 feet long and 45 feet wide was well lighted with overhead florescent fixtures. There was also a well-equipped refreshment bar where ice cream and soft drinks were served. Also, ample parking space was available for afternoon and evening bowling.
Mr. Willette who was popularly called “Chubby” and Mr. Morin named “Sam”, were both veterans of World War II. Mr. Willette served with the Navy Seabees and Mr. Morin with the US Army Infantry. Following honorable separations from the Armed Forces “Chubby” went to work for Lavigne's Red Wing express and Sam for the Brown Company.
This great bowling establishment on Glen Avenue went down in a mass of flames on March 26, 1974 and was in the same location as today's (2017) Verizon Cellular on Glen Avenue. It was under different ownership by then.
The local police station, which was on Mason Street in 1949, was making the headlines in the late September 1949, when the Police Commission wanted an addition added. After Councilman Laurier Lamontagne had voiced strong objections against the city spending money toward any addition to the police station during this year, the council voted to refer the matter to the Finance Committee.
The communication from the Police Commission to the Council read as follows: “Owing to the inadequate and unsanitary condition of space for our Meter Men and great need for more locker room for police officers, storage room and rooms for the attorneys who have had no available room to interview their clients at court time, we are herewith submitting for your consideration and approval, a set of plans for a proposed addition to our present headquarters”.
After a motion to refer the matter to the Finance Committee, Councilman Lamontagne stood up and began speaking against making the addition this year. After a brief discussion with Mayor Toussaint, the councilman had apparently realized that the matter was only being referred to the Finance Committee and agreed to hold off his comments until this committee had reported.
In his brief statement, Councilman Lamontagne explained that the Meter Department needed additional space. He said that he was in favor of this addition, but the city could not afford it until 1949.
Earlier in the meeting, the Council had heard a recommendation from the Police Commission in connection with a proposal to enlarge the police station, to install parking meters. It read: “We respectfully suggest that the parking area adjacent to the Police Headquarters be put in the proper shape and that parking meters be installed. This would eliminate any all day parking and others who used this much needed space for storage”. Parking meters seemed to be the answer to parking problems back then.
There was also more urgency about our Police Headquarters that was brought up by Councilman Leo Leblanc. As a member of the Health Committee, he explained the unsanitary basement quarters in which the parking meter crew worked. He said that if he were the Health Officer, this place would have been condemned right away.
The Health Officer was asked his opinion after checking out the situation and said that certainly the quarters downstairs in the Police Station were certainly unsanitary and the locker rooms were too crowded.
The general impression by the Health officer and the Councilmen was that although the Police Department was unsanitary, the citizens of Berlin had not yet reached the moral level which would not require a Police Department, neither had the city's financial state taken on enough weight to stand the shock of even thinking about building a new Police Station. That building was formally the Cole School, built in the late 1800s and is a parking lot today next to the Citizen's Bank.
I will continue with the history of the year 1949 in my next writing.