Hampton and Hampton Beach: A Postcard History

A Postcard History

Story and Photos by Virginia Hatch

Seacoast Scene, August 3, 2005

Elizabeth Aykroyd, Sammi Moe and Betty Moore
Authors Elizabeth Aykroyd (left) and Betty Moore (right) are shown with Sammi Moe (center) of Hampton, president of the Hampton Historical Society, who is holding a copy of Hampton and Hampton Beach, Postcard History Series, compiled and written by Aykroyd and Moore. Proceeds from the sale of the book have been assigned to the Hampton Historical Society.

For this book to come into existence, first, the authors, Elizabeth Aykroyd and Betty Moore had to meet.

Elizabeth Rhoades Aykroyd (Yes, she's related to Dan Aykroyd, the actor.) was born in Newton, Massachusetts. She attended grades 1-4 at Court Street Elementary, grade 5 at School Street, grade 6 at Exeter Elementary on Lincoln Street, grades 7-12 at Exeter High School. Her history teacher was Harold Fernald, who retired from Winnacunnet High School recently. Elizabeth's major interest in high school was history. One of her classmates was Glen French, former head of the Hampton Chamber of Commerce. From 1962 through 1966, she majored in Latin and Greek at Wheaton College. Her father, a math teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy encouraged her to study the classics. After graduation, she taught Latin and Greek in Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts for four years. From 1970-1972 Elizabeth attended the Winterthur program at the University of Delaware because she was interested in working in a history museum. She worked at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth when it was first opened, from 1966-1970, working as guide, ticket office attendant, and other jobs. After Winterthur, Elizabeth became curator of the New Haven Colony Historical Society in New Haven, Connecticut. During her two-year stay, 1972-1974, she did a lot of exhibit work. Next, she was offered the job of director of the University Art Gallery at the University of New Hampshire. "I started to catalog their collection correctly. I was the first trained professional they had," Elizabeth said. Then, in 1975, she married a United States Army Captain, Douglas Aykroyd, who, later, retired as Lieutenant Colonel in 1992. They came to Hampton, so Douglas could continue his studies at Boston University and, they could still care for their parents who were becoming frail and needed their help. Specifically, a friend offered to rent them a home for a year. Later, they bought a home in Hampton. They had one son, Peter. Here, at the Congregational Church, Elizabeth met Ansell Palmer of the Hampton Historical Society. She told him: "I love museums. Isn't there something I can do?" He said: "Come and meet Betty Moore."

Meeting Elizabeth, Betty said: "She's a perfect person with her curatorial background. 'When can you start?'" she asked Elizabeth. "It was very exciting to have someone come in with her background. That was 1993--12 years ago. We've put this museum on a professional footing. The museum has been around since 1925. Elizabeth and I are simply building on the work done by many loyal and dedicated volunteers like: Harold Fernald, John Holman, Jim Hunt, Eleanor Yeaton, Gertrude Palmer, Helen Hayden, Ansell and Irene Palmer, and Eleanor and Abbott Young. We're not from Hampton. If this history had not been so meticulously documented and saved, we'd be useless. People are so proud of Hampton."

Betty Hanson Moore was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. She attended kindergarten in Minnesota and Iowa, first grade in Iowa, second grade in Minnesota when they moved back to the same house in Minnesota. When she was 13, and in the seventh grade, they moved to Wadsworth (near Akron), Ohio. She graduated from Wadsworth Senior High School; then, she attended Bowling Green State University at Bowling Green (near Toledo), Ohio, where she majored in Education -- Home Economics (nutrition, foods, clothing), graduating in 1971. She worked for Stouffer's Foods in Food Service Management at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Asked how she made the leap to MIT, Betty replied: I took a job and moved east. I came with my friend, who had no job and $500. I had a car, $50 and a job. We ended up being live-in maids in Newton, because we had no money for an apartment. I did that for two years. In 1974, I worked for McGraw-Edison Company in Manchester, New Hampshire, where I ran a test kitchen. In 1975, I worked for the State of New Hampshire Food and Nutrition Service. I reviewed any program that got money for feeding children -- day care, school lunch program and summer camps. I knew every back road in New Hampshire for two to three years. I got married between the state job and a test kitchen job to Ben Moore of Cincinnati, Ohio, a finance person, whom I met in New Hampshire, at Meggit, USA (aerospace). We owned a Christmas tree business, Designworks, in Wilton, Londonderry and Manchester, New Hampshire. I worked in the beginning. When I had kids--two boys, Jason and Greg, I stayed home. When the kids went to high school, I went back to work. When my oldest was trying to ride a bicycle, he told me that 'Daddy bought you something to last a lifetime' -- a lifetime membership in the Hampton Historical Society. My husband felt they spent so much time there, they should spend something there. I was not enthralled. It wasn't until my youngest was in cub scouts and I was a cub-scout leader that I came to the museum in 1988. I met Roland Paige. I was so taken by the items that I started volunteering. In 1992, I started cataloging things. When my kids were in high school, I went through Museum Studies at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. Then, Elizabeth showed up (before Betty went to Tufts.)

In the early days, they felt alone in their work; but, with workshops, computers and e-mail, they feel part of a network. They have a website: www.hamptonhistoricalsociety.org which was designed and kept up-to-date by Rick Hereau.

Originally, the co-president of the Rye, New Hampshire Historical Society, Bonnie Goodwin, suggested they should do this book as they had done one on Rye. Bill Teschek of the Lane Library had done a photo book in the early 90s. Bill contacted them to see if thet wanted to do it. They weren't the people to do it at the time. Aykroyd and Moore felt they had to know the area to do credible captions.

"We conceived of it as if you read the whole book you would have some knowledge of the history of Hampton. We tried to use the postcards to cover 300 -some years of history."

"To start, a list was made of subjects we wanted to cover in each chapter; then, we had to find a postcard for each subject." The Table of Contents contains: The Changing Landscape, Plaice Cove to Great Boar's Head, The Main Beach and the Casino, The Beach Experience, Hampton Harbor and River, Hampton Beach Hotels Guesthouses and Cottages, Uptown and Souvenirs of Hampton.

One of the large postcard albums from The Fitzgerald Collection, of which there are four volumes, is shown here. It was searched by Aykroyd and Moore for representative postcards to use in their just-distributed book, Hampton and Hampton Beach, Postcard History Series. Other major collections were from Ron Bourgeault, auctioneer from Hampton and, now, Portsmouth, and John Christiansen of Hampton Beach, who gave approximately 100 postcards. Captions were researched in Joseph Dow's book. This represents twelve years of work.

The earliest postcard we have here was 1900. Postcards were invented in the mid-19th century. The tourist postcard exploded in the 1890s.The beach didn't begin to develop until the building of the Casino in 1899. Frank Swallow did hand-tinted postrcards. Frank Walker did postcards of disasters. Dudley and White had postcards printed. Sanborn's and E. G. Cole had them published.

"The postcards used in the book cover the early 1900s through 1950s because we didn't have to get permission of the owner of the copyright. Working with Arcadia Publishing was a pleasure. They had a template to follow. We had to have 128 pages. Frankly, we couldn't have done it by ourselves. They assume all expenses. They have an office in Portsmouth with their head office in South Carolina. The book is printed in England. The book was copyrighted July 25, 2005." The copyright is owned by Aykroyd and Moore.

"An important part of a tourist's stay in Hampton was a souvenir. Items ranging from wooden plaques to teacups were printed with beach scenes and sold in the thousands," according to the Introduction to Aykroyd and Moore's book.

The cover photo is the Exeter, Hampton and Amesbury Street Railway, usually known as The Trolley, which was started as the builders of the Casino wanted to encourage people to use the trolley to come to the Casino and the beach.

"At that time, people would come for the summer. Families were bigger. They came with their extended families and servants. They came up through the Merrimac Valley area, dropped off in town, transported to the beach not relying on transportation or parking lots. They had grocery stores on the beach. Hampton stores would have a branch or do deliveries at the beach. Today, we found, when interviewing them, that some people have been coming to the beach for fifty years. There is a real camaraderie and sense of community among the year-round residents. The biggest thing about the beach is how the river has shifted.

"Our weakness was the beach because we're not natives. We went to the beach to ask people what should be included what was important. We interviewed: Charlotte Preston, Roseanna Wright, Bud DesRochers and Shirley Foote."

The street railway built the bridge over the Hampton River and owned it until the State of New Hampshire bought it in the1930's.

In 1806, there were 16 fish houses. By 1960, there were two left on town land. The town owns one. The other is privately owned. The town's fish house sits in the Ruth Stimson Park, named after a garden club member, who had retired from the Extension Service.

One postcard shows up to 400 people doing group exercises on the beach led by Dr. Earl Lorenz, an osteopath, of Hampton. Other topics on the postcards include: fireworks, people going to the beach dressed in street clothes, parades, festivals, and the children's playground.

The Tuck Museum, on Park Avenue in Hampton, has autographed copies of Hampton and Hampton Beach, Postcard History Series, available for $19.99; and, the buyer can see the original postcards--and, have a chance to tour the museum. Proceeds from the sale of the book have been assigned to the Hampton Historical Society.