Poof Tardiff: 1978 III

Hello fellow Berlinites. During April of 1978, plans had begun for this city's one hundred and fiftieth birthday. Berlin was incorporated during the summer of 1829.

Mr. Leo Spencer of Converse, Granite State Division and Bee Rousseau, City of Berlin tax collector, had been appointed co-chairmen of the 1979 Sesquicentennial Celebration. These two men were named to the posts at a meeting of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce community affairs committee.

Tentative plans called for activities to be scheduled for each month of the year in 1979. Several members of the 1976 Bicentennial Committee were appointed to the Sesquicentennial Committee to help with ideas.

The suggested schedule included a winter carnival in February, a sportsman's and crafts exposition at the arena; a musical night in June, possibly in conjunction with a summer carnival, a parade and fireworks, modified pitch softball tournament and a 12 mile road race in August. Also, an Oktoberfest and in November a broom-ball tournament.

There were also other ideas that included the sale of commemorative coins; log rolling competition, wood cutting contest, fiddlers contest, marksmanship contest, street dancing, square dancing and an essay contest.

The chamber would also become involved with the Franco-American Days festival, which was set for 15-18 May, 1978. How many of these activities were undertaken during this grand celebration? We will find that out when I write about the year 1979.

More businesses were closing in Berlin during the month of June. This time it was Morrison's Professional Cleaners, which had been a prominent business in town for 65 years. Owner Sid Goldenberg announced that the business located at 5 Glen Avenue would cease operations on the 29th of June. He planned on devoting all of his energy to his real estate interest. Goldenberg was a member of Strachan Realty.

Looking back, Goldenberg said that he had enjoyed a fine career serving the public through his business. He liked the constant contact with customers that allowed him to have close rapport with the community. He attributed part of the company's long-term success to his past and present employers. The company once employed fourteen people.

This company was founded by Morris J. Morrison, who operated the business Prior World War I. After serving in this war Morrison came home and reopened the business. His son Irving and son-in-law Sid joined him after they served in World War II.

When the elder Morrison retired in 1959, Irving and Goldenberg ran the business together until September of 1972. Irving then went to Concord and became a production manager at Concord Cleaners. Goldenberg remained as owner-manager of Morrison Cleaners.

Last week I wrote about the fire that destroyed Norm's Trading Post on Glen Avenue and did not know whether it had been rebuilt or not. Well, the answer to that was yes.

February 27, 1978 was a date that Norm and Anita Martel would like to have forgotten. It was the day that two fires destroyed their home and business and they lost just about everything that they had, but they wanted to rebuild. It was going to bigger and better that ever before.

The new structure, was in the same location as the old Trading Post, but the store space would be increased more than 50 per cent and there would be an attractive four room apartment upstairs for the Martel family.

The owners planned to add more inventory to the store also. Besides the groceries, hunting and fishing gear, novelties, guns and ammunition they sold previously. They added clothing, customized T-shirts and self service gas.

Norm and Anita hoped to be back business sometime in early June of 1978. Construction of the building started on May 1, 1978 and progressed rapidly. They credited Roland Cotnoir and Rosaire Cloutier for helping them get back on their feet.

After the fire, Norm did not want to re-build, he wanted to wash his hands of the business and try opening a campground. Anita wanted to stick with the business and so it was the business.

The Martels were very excited for their new start, after seeing the new building develop. Norm quit his job at the Brown Company in order to devote all of his time to the new enterprise. So, after such a destructive fire, the Martels were ready to go.

During the same week as the story about the rebuilding of Norm's Trading Post was in the news, came an article about plans for a bridge that would connect Glen Avenue with Berlin's East Side. This would eventually become the James Cleveland Bridge.

Preliminary plans for a new Androscoggin bridge south of downtown Berlin were unveiled during a public hearing at the end of June.

City planners and a consulting engineering firm, Carrol E. Taylor Associates of Auburn, Maine had picked two possible sites. The planning board and City Council, after listening to comments from the public picked one of the sites for further study. Another public hearing that was scheduled for June 22, 1978 would show the sites that were under consideration on more time.

1.) Public Service of New Hampshire land, just downstream from the Smith-Hydroelectric station. Two spans would be needed to cross over both branches of the river.

2.) This would be the site of Norm's Trading Post (which was almost rebuilt). One span would be used to cross the river at this point.

The idea of a new bridge south of the downtown district had been bounced around the City Hall for many years. The latest design evolved out of a city wide transportation plan prepared by the community development department in 1975 and Mayor Laurier Lamontagne said that he had backed an idea like this back in the 1950s.

This proposed bridge would be the first link in the planned East Side arterial. Jeff Taylor said that the major advantage of a the southern crossing was that trucks headed for the paper mill, would not have to drive up Main Street. This arterial would also provide easier access to the Maynsboro Industrial Park.

Planning board members originally picked the Public Service (Eversource) alternative, which I said would have to cross two sections of the Androscoggin River just above the old Kelley's Auto Supply, but the Assistant Planner recommended the Norm's Trading Post site, saying that it would take traffic off a substandard section of Glen Avenue. That was before the burned out Trading Post was rebuilt.

The northern bridge would cost 2.3 million dollars and the southern span would cost 2.25 million dollars. These were the estimates for the construction only. The northern span would have a view looking right up the “Great Pitch” and probably come out the lower end of the park that now exists. I am sure the prices inflated once work was started.

I will continue with the year 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 fan of “Once upon a Berlin Time” on Facebook and guess at the previously posted mystery pictures.

The MartelsThe Martels

Site of Morrison CleanersSite of Morrison Cleaners

Rousseau Bee 1Bee Rousseau

Norms Trading Post 1Norm's Trading Post