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.