Hello fellow Berlinites. On September 29, 1978, Paul Nadeau came close to losing his life in an accident that closed the corner of Pleasant and Mason Streets for a whole day. The accident shut down electrical power to 500 customers for one hour and 15 minutes and required a 10-man force and five trucks from Public Service Company to repair the damage done by Nadeau’s front end loader.
This is how it happened 39 years ago. During the morning of Sept. 26, 1978, Mr. Nadeau picked up the front end loader from a construction site near the Northland Dairy Bar and headed south on Main Street toward Gorham for another job.
As he crossed the tracks in the back of the Bowling Center on Pleasant Street, he lost his brakes heading for the busy intersection of Pleasant and Mason Streets. He quickly shifted into reverse, hoping to slow the vehicle down, but lost control of the machine. Within seconds the loader had snapped off a telephone pole at the base and engulfed the loader with a mass of high voltage power lines. The loader had a mass of sparks that shot from over 4,000 volts of electricity.
Nadeau thought that he would die very quickly, but did not move at all. That was a wise choice, as a Public Service arrived only minutes after the accident. They then told him to remain in the cab until they cut the power. Then, he was helped out of the vehicle, lucky to be alive.
The brand-new Androscoggin Valley Hospital was dedicated on Nov. 26, 1978. This new hospital represented the largest investment ever made in an Upper Androscoggin Valley community, in terms of its time and money and it was truly a community hospital.
At this time, it became the most modern building in probably the entire state of New Hampshire. The new hospital did not open for patients until Dec. 9, 1978 which was after the dedication. This hospital keeps adding modern technology today, keeping up with the times almost 40 years later in 2017.
Beside having a new hospital, we had a new route to this facility and it had to acquire a name. Here is a short story of how this road got its name. This particular name was the idea of Mrs. Lucy K. Beaudoin, daughter of former Berlin Mayor Eli J. King. Mrs. Beaudoin, who lived at 1625 Upper Main St., was a member of the AVH dedication committee. She presented the idea to the trustees and directors of the hospital on Thursday night Nov. 23, 1978, in response to the committee’s concern for a name of this new Berlin Road. Approval for the name, which was Page Hill Road was almost unanimous.
Mrs. Beaudoin reasoned that the name ought to have some historical significance and was encouraged in this reasoning by Mr. Harold Titus, who helped her research local historical records. Their findings led them to settle on Page Hill Road as the most representative historical name for this street.
In their research, they found that in 1773, a log cabin was built on the hill behind the new hospital facility by an early North Country settler called Hunter Page. Remnants of the cabin’s foundation and hearthstone were found and documented by Mrs. Beaudoin’s husband the late Victor Beaudoin the great Brown Company photographer, back in the early 1940s. Lucy still had pictures of the old cabin site taken by her husband. Victor had searched for this site for a number of years.
According to an excerpt from the “History of Coos County,” the cabin was located in the town of Success, a town granted to Benjamin Machay and others, who owned the R. C. Pingree and Company of Lewiston, Maine in 1773.
It must have been a terribly short-lived community, for apart from Hunter Page’s residence being there, the records show that prior to 1823, only five other families occupied the house for a very limited period of time. These were the families of Benjamin, Abiatha and Lowell Bean (Bean Brook), John Messer and Elijah Griffin. After this date, there were scarcely any inhabitants in the Success area.
Having discovered this information, Mrs. Beaudoin felt that the name Page Hill Road would be historically suitable for this route. Cates Hill Road was an historical name for the road on the West Side of the Androscoggin River, so now they needed an historical name for the East Side of the river. Page Pond in Shelburne was also named after Hunter Page, this early pioneer settler of Success.
During early November, 1978, Berlin High School, which started playing field hockey during the fall of 1951, won its first state championship in this sport and since then has won many more. I have to vouch for the great girl athletes of Berlin High School back then, as I coached varsity softball during the years before, during and after they took all honors in the state, with this great field hockey team.
Sportswriter Mike Gaydo said that a colossal tip of the hat had to go out to Ellie Emery’s BHS girl’s field hockey team in the fall of 1978. They capped an amazing season by copping the state championship in field hockey with a 4-2 double shootout win over the Dover High Green Wave in the Division 1 finals.
This championship was Berlin’s first in this sport which had been played for 27 years here at Berlin High School. This fall, 2017 will be the 66th year that field hockey girls at BHS have taken to this sport.
The victory in 1978 took away some of the sting caused by some very tough tourney losses for the Berlin High School girls in softball, basketball and field hockey, during the mid-1970s. Since the inception of the NHIAA field hockey tournament, Ellie Emery had led the Lady Mountaineers to a 30–6-7 record. The locals did not qualify in 1976, and bowed to White Mountain Regional in a heartbreaking loss in 1977.
The year 1978, was completely different though. During this year Berlin outscored its four opponents 13 to 2 in the tourney, although they were outplayed statistically and territorially often in these games.
Senior Liza Morrissette and Gail (Winger) Richards had 29 goals between them during the season and junior sensation Sonia Fillion, score 20 goals on her own. Linda Morrissette and Ellen Bertrand were also high-scoring juniors.
The locals were often outplayed and it seemed that they were also whistled for a majority of the violations. However, they had what was required in the clutch, scoring the goals when they needed to. Also, they had senior goaltender Sandy Larochelle.
Sandy was simply immense throughout the season and tournament. Over the final four games, she had a scoreless streak of 260 minutes. In addition, she allowed only two of 15 penalty strokes to get by her.
There have been many gyms and fields where the Berlin High School girls lost heartbreaking tourney contests, and I was part of them many times. This day in November of 1978 though, the tears were tears of joy and victory.
I do know that Ellie Emery will get this story wherever she is, and when she does, I just want to say I to say hello to an old friend and fellow coach. Hope all is well, Ellie.
I will continue with the year 1978 in my next writing.