Family's book honors century-old Marelli's Market

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By Liz Premo

Hampton Union , December 6, 2013

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Marcia Hannon-Buber and Karen Raynes
Marelli's Market in Hampton is celebrating 100 years in
business, still run by the son and granddaugters of
Luigi Marelli and Celestina Reggio. Marcia Hannon-Buber, left,
and Karen Raynes tell the story of Marelli's in their
new book about the century-old family-run store.
[Deb Cram photo]

HAMPTON — It all started with a poem penned from the heart, and bloomed into a book of treasured memories celebrating a family and a beloved landmark business.

And now, sisters Karen Raynes and Marcia Hannon-Buber — granddaughters of Luigi and Celestina Marelli — are preparing for the release of "Marelli's Market: The First 100 Years in Hampton, NH, 1914-2014."

The official launch of the sisters' newly published book is from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12, at the family store, located downtown on Lafayette Road, across from Marelli Square.

The public is invited to stop by and share its favorite memories about one of Hampton's favorite landmarks. Copies of the book, published by Blue Petal Press, will be available for purchase at $15 per copy.

"The book is designed to commemorate 100 years of history associated with Marelli's Market, from its founders Luigi and Celestina Marelli to the present day family-owned and operated store," explained Marcia.

It was Karen who got things rolling early on with her poem, "I Did Not Ask," which appears in the book. Written about two years ago, the poem laments the loss of family memories because time wasn't taken to talk about them.

"Sometimes people aren't there to answer the questions you want to ask," she said simply.

A strong desire to seek out those answers — coupled with the research she conducted in 2009 to successfully get the store added to the state's Register of Historic Places — provided Karen with the inspiration to dig even further into Marelli family history.

The timing for researching for a potential book couldn't have been more perfect, especially with the market's 100th birthday approaching, and this year's observance of Hampton's 375th anniversary celebration.

According to Marcia, she and Karen "talked for years about writing a book, and Karen said 'If we don't do this now, we never will.'"

And so, the daughters of Fred Raynes and Jean Marelli Raynes began their journey in earnest, initially using photos taken from various family albums and inspecting them in order to jog their memories of what had taken place.

"You'd be surprised how much you can remember from looking at pictures — it's like a flood. You take from those waters and you feel everything you did back then, and somehow it reaches the paper," said Marcia. "Thoughts just pour into your mind of a place and time in which you may have been or not, but each picture tells its own story if you look for it."

As they continued recording their own individual memories, Marcia and Karen eventually asked other relatives to get involved by doing the same thing.

Richard Marelli, Karen Raynes, Marcia Hannon-Buber
Marellis' Market in Hampton is celebrating 100 years in business
and it is still being run by the son and granddaugters of Luigi
Marelli and Celestina Reggio in Italy. From left are Richard Marelli,
Karen Raynes and Marcia Hannon-Buber. [Deb Cram photo]

"They all had great memories," said Karen. "A great majority of their stories are in the book. We could tell a thousand stories and there would be more, and we'd want to hear those stories, too."

Page after page of these and other memories of events from Marelli family history and the day-to-day workings at the store have been documented, mostly in the writers' own words.

"It tells about my grandmother and grandfather, a little bit of their history in Italy, how they came to the United States and how they raised their family here," said Karen. A portion of the book is dedicated to sharing "about the store in relation to the community."

It turns out that many of the stories rang equally true throughout the Marelli family, particularly among the cousins.

"I found it interesting they all remembered pretty much the same thing," said Marcia, including playing on the conveyor belt, running through the store after hours, indulging in ice cream, and perusing the store's famous wall of penny candy.

Other discoveries were made as well.

"In our research, there were two things that hit me profoundly," Marcia said. "First, the determination of our grandparents to make a good life in a new and foreign land, and the sacrifices they made daily. These made for wonderful accounts of factual stories and accounts of lives well-lived.

"Second, I remember finding my grandmother's last will. It was hand-written on yellowed paper and emanated such a profound sense of purpose. She was pregnant with her last child (Richard), and her duty and desire was to make sure that her family would survive even without her."

Another great discovery was Luigi's naturalization certificate — proof positive that his desire to become a bona fide American citizen was accomplished.

Marcia noted that while the book was being written, she and Karen kept in mind what she called "The Four H's" — History (100 years), Honor ("to commemorate our grandparents"), Heritage ("to venerate family importance") and Heart ("to remember our predecessors and patrons with gratitude.")

"We wanted to recognize hard work, as well as celebrate the enriched life that was realized through true friendships and lasting memories," Marcia said.

As things progressed, "I asked Cheryl Lassiter to be our editor," said Karen, referring to the Blue Petal Press owner and her fellow member of the Hampton Historical Society. "It was a really good move. I think it's a great collaboration."

The book underwent a couple of revisions, and the final version went to press last month.

Response to the book has already been "great," said Karen, adding that "word of mouth" has helped with early publicity. In fact, when a customer in the store asked a friend what she wanted for Christmas, the initial response was that she didn't want anything.

"Then she changed her mind and said, 'Yes, I want the Marelli book,'" recalled Karen. "I thought that was kind of neat."

When asked how she thought Luigi and Celestina would react to the book, Marcia said, "I think they would laugh and cry at the same time. They'd be so humbled; they were not ones to lay any claim to fame. (They'd say), 'This is just what we had to do.'"

The Marelli family story will be available at the market, said Karen, as well as at Kay's Kafé at the Galley Hatch and online at

"We're very proud of the book and the stories, and we hope people enjoy it," Karen said. "It has a lot of good Hampton history."

"I am overwhelmed at the enthusiasm from so many people," said Marcia. "As ever, all of us at Marelli's give thanks to the townspeople of Hampton for their interest as well as so many interested persons from surrounding towns. It is truly humbling."

Karen Raynes, Richard Marelli, Marcia Hannon-Buber
Karen Raynes, left, and Marcia Hannon-Buber created a book
about the first 100 years of their grandparents' store. At center
is Richard Marelli.

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