Old-time entertainment was simple in Hampton

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By Horace E. Hobbs

Hampton Union, January 4, 1984

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

One unusual form of entertainment that took place in Hampton in the early part of this century was on Sunday afternoon when we would take paper and pencil and go down to the side of the road and take the name of the state and the car license plate numbers. There were not many cars in those days, so we had a chair and hardboard on which to take our notes. We were really not very busy, about 15 to 50 depending upon the weather. This was on Winnacunnet Road from the village center to the beach. Other roads didn’t have so much traffic. The game was to see who would have the most attractive number on the license plate and what state plate was most unusaual and farthest away. Most of the cars going by were from Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York, and were “way out” as was often true of our own New Hampshire cars. The cars never moved so fast that we had any trouble getting our information. The next day at school we would compare our information.

In the winter, sliding in the snow was a most popular sport, plus skating. There were home-made wooden sleds, and happy was the boy who later got a metal sled called the “Flexible Flyer.” There were always some double runners around. These were two sleds fastened to each other by a long board extending lengthwise. They were built to carry any number from six to 12 people sitting packed on front to back. We would get a good push at the corner of Mill Road and High Street (known then as Lizzy Berry’s Corner, and with shrieks of joy, ride like the wind to Pine Tree Cemetery on Winnacunnet Road.

Every summer there was a tribe of gypsies called the “Stanleys.” They set up a little tent shelter in any nearby woods and went out from there to peddle their wares. When Mrs. Stanley came to our home, she stayed a while because mother used to like to talk to her. She often had a very young child with her, and she was a source of information.

I must also mention the tramps who were “on the road” and very obvious in those days. There was little or no welfare as we have now, and these wanderers used to travel around the country by rail (freight train) and on foot, calling at homes, some of which were sometimes marked in some way by these fellow travelers as an “easy approach.” My parents had always been willing and able to work hard for a living, so mother would make a deal with the tramps to cut some wood we had from “Twelve Shares” into stove lengths and make a neat little pile of it. Then she was ready with her handout. He worked and it worked.

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