Louis Marelli Conquers Hampton

Letters to the Editor

By Horace Hobbs, Warwick, R.I.

Hampton Union, Date Unknown

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

[Article contributed by Karen Raynes]
Railroad water tower near the train station in Depot Square prior to 1900. The railroad came to Hampton in 1840 and provided passenger service until 1965. The large building at right was later moved to become Colt News Store, today's (2013) "Present Perfect".(Photo not in original article)

To the Editor:

I was in my middle boyhood when Louis Marelli came to town. He located in the area where Ed Towles' store used to be.

Some people in Hampton raised their eyebrows when Louis came. "An Italian coming into business uptown? What is our town coming to?" But like another good Roman, "Veni, vidi, vici. (He came, he saw, he conquered").

From the start, by his gracious manner, he won the hearts of all. Sometimes he used to make handouts to us boys. This made a hit. He let us sit on the steps in front of his store and watch the traffic. Automobiles were just coming in, and those fortunate enough to have one used to speed through Hampton over Post Road. It used to be awe-inspiring to sit on Louis's steps and see Chief Gerald Smith or tall, lanky Marvin Young step out into the middle of the road and, by simply raising his hand, cause the speeders to stop. The toll was plentiful and Marvin's power was mighty for a boy in the horse and buggy days to behold. We all admired the "Majestic Marvin." Hampton's speed trap was notorious.

Then one night-before-the-fourth we were all lined up sitting on Louis' steps when the wooden fence that enclosed the depot yard burst into flames its entire length. It was a fourth of July prank. Then one day, as daylight approached, we saw a full-sized wagon resting atop the water tower near the railroad station.

But most shocking. possibly, was, with the coming of daylight one year, we saw a neat little white shack sitting in the middle of the depot yard with the sign;, "Addie's Improvement." Addie was a lady in town who led a worthwhile campaign to beautify the "depot yard." It wouldn't have been so bad had the disguise been better, but this was obviously a "service room" for the men working on the road. Poor Addie!

Louis's fruit store grew in popularity, and he and his good wife were accepted as friends of all. There was a stove in the back of store and my Dad was one of those who, with Ed Brown, Skipper Lane and others would walk up to Louis's Saturday night to make a social around the stove.

It was from here one night that Dad came home and told one of their stories. There was this man in town whose was slightly promiscuous. So the boys told him, "John, your wife is taking advanatage of you. She is going out with every man in town." John thought a minute and just rationalized a bit as he replied, "That's all right fellers, Hampton is only a small town."

Louis's was a landmark in our town. It overlooked the Depot Square. How fitting it is that, after decades, Louis's front view became Marelli Park!