Bethel, June 10
By Donald G. Bennett
Thursday, June 10, Bethel Masonic Lodge will observe its 150th anniversary.
Friday, June 11, Telstar High School Class of 2010 Graduation, 7 p.m., Lower Athletic Field.
Saturday, July 3, Bethel Art Fair and the Porch Plays.
Around Town on Monday:
On Mechanic Street I passed Ross Timberlake videoing Lynn Arizzi in Helen Morton painting attire with an easel – presumably posing for a publicity shot to promote the coming porch plays. The dramatic question is: which porch is the most paintable?
The Mason Street sidewalk makers have been putting in granite curbing and on Monday they were just beyond the MacKay’s house.
Not having heard anything lately about the future of the Gehring house I went for a quick moped tour of the property only to that see nothing at all has happened except for the grass growing taller and taller.
At the Connors’ new house on Broad Street, the owners were on the job supervising work on the front entrance. It is quite a home, but when all is done it will blend in perfectly with the home styles around it. Once the entrance is finished, the landscaping and lawn complete and the final coat of paint is dry, I will be back for a photo.
Bethel Early Learning Center:
There is a new sign on the Casablanca Building’s Planning Board approved sign kiosk. Jefrae Alford is the proud owner of this new Bethel business. She opened the new center May 10. The center is located on the ground floor of the Casablanca Building that was for a fleeting moment in history, the Bethel Post Office. Mrs. Alford encourages parents of infants six weeks old and older and who have children up to five years old to come in and meet with her. Mrs. Alford has two other family members in the learning business – Doug Alford teaches Spanish and his wife, Andrea, teaches math at Gould Academy; they have been members of the Gould faculty since 1992 and 1993 respectively. Doug Alford chairs the department of world languages and Andrea chairs the math department.
Bethel Inn News:
Monday morning at the inn sales office Brad Jerome, Mary Brown and Diana Polli were hard at it. The inn’s golf course has been in number-one condition this spring and the recent rain has made the greens and fairways even better. Four golf groups, three from Massachusetts and one from Rhode Island, are expected this month. On the 28th of June, Bethel Rotary holds it annual golf meet and will be on the course with a 1 p.m. start.
Brad said that by the inn’s taking part in the Boston and Portland spring golf shows the inn’s golf facilities get a lot of good exposure. The “Big Show” for the inn though is the Boston Globe Travel show which is held in February. From print ads to Internet ads, it was no real surprise to hear that the Bethel Inn is putting more emphasis on the Web as a means to attract wedding business over print advertising.
On June 26th the inn will host a wedding reception for a Bethel area couple. Through the rest of the summer months a number of weddings are booked. Mary Brown has done such a fine job handling large wedding parties for so long that I would not be surprised if she writes a book on how to make these very special events come off so well.
Family Fishing at Angevine Park:
Kathy and I drove out to see how things were going after lunchtime on Saturday. By then the sun had returned and rain had been over for some time. I think there were more families fishing than at any previous festival in Bethel. Fran and Dave Head were manning the front desk of the fishing hotel. Near them two fly-tying artists were giving lessons and demonstrations. A few spectators in my age group were enjoying the afternoon. The pond was surrounded with fishing youngsters and parents. Overall, there were 90-plus people at the park. The grounds and picnic facilities are in excellent condition.
“If Stan Fox was around today, we could have expected him to show up at Angevine Park after the festive ended and fish for the ones who got away. One of the enduring Stan Fox anecdotes was how he would show up after the Molly Ockett Day kids fishing derby at the fountain on the Common was over and fish for the uncaught ones,” said by a fishing spectator.
At Gilead’s bridge site:
November was the last time we had visited Gilead’s new Route 2 bridge progress. Since November the piers have been finished, the decking laid, approaches banked and covered with rock. It is getting closer to opening. This is a bridge long overdue. I remember a horrible accident on the old bridge that happened back in the early ‘50s. Two passengers were killed when a Michigan car hit the bridge where the road curved sharply into the bridge entrance; the right side was ripped open when the car hit the bridge’s concrete posts.
Gilead once had a suspension bridge that connected the north side with the south. It was located not far from today’s bridge. It was remarkable for a wire cable suspension bridge to have been built in such a remote area at the time – 1872. And it lasted over 50 years. According to Wikipedia the first wire cable suspension bridge built in America was completed in 1842. The 1842 bridge spanned 109 meters; it was located in the Philadelphia area. Using Google Earth I estimated Gilead’s bridge span may have been 60 meters or about 196 feet. Gilead’s suspension bridge story is interesting now because Jeff Parsons is starting his own suspension bridge at Bethel Outdoor Adventure.
1886 was Gilead’s year of the bridge. Reading about it now is a little amusing. At March Town Meeting the selectmen were fretting over getting the suspension bridge repaired. A special Town Meeting was called to raise bridge repair money. By the end of April the repair job had moved quickly; the bridge seemed about ready to use and teams were allowed to pass over it. Then in the first week of October – total dismay. The bridge had collapsed from an overload. It seems that 250 cattle in a “drove” that belonged to Samuel Philbrook of Bethel (owner of today’s Philbrook Place) were on their way by the bridge entrance when the drivers (drovers) lost control of the herd and eighty cattle stampeded onto the bridge, which promptly fell into the river as the cables snapped out of their anchors. A news report said that the scene was appalling. While only one cow was killed, several had broken legs. With the bridge in the river, a Town Meeting was hurriedly called to raise $2,000 for bridge repairs.
Two weeks later news in the Advertiser reported that the bridge was going up again under the supervision of A.B. Lary, George Burnham and A.J. Blake. By the end of the first week in November the bridge was almost ready for use. Important work was done quickly in those days. However, I’ll bet that the selectmen were very happy to see that year end.