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"Our Town" By James W. Tucker
Thursday, August 8, 1957
August in 1957 is a remarkable month -- here and elsewhere. Let's look around. In the nation, 80 million of our 171 million citizens are on vacation. This mass seeking after recreation should be remarkably successful, for personal incomes in the United States have risen this month to more than 344 billion dollars a year, already increased by 18 billion over 1956, and '57 is only half gone. If the Beach doesn't have a record season this year, something is radically wrong.
Bitter With Sweet
We have to taker a little bitter with the sweet. Small businesses are now failing at the rate of 1,000 a month. Business mergers continue, as many as 1,000 in a year. Before long -- perhaps this very month -- all manufacturing in the nation will be controlled by 50 to 100 corporations. Our government waves the flag of the anti-trust laws in vain.
Wheel of Fortune
With the bitter we take with the sweet, is blended a little potent poison -- a great danger which we fail to see or heed. Tight money is getting tighter. The cost of living will push ahead during this month of August to a record all time high. The frightening spiral of inflation continues to spin here and abroad. The wheel of fortune goes round and round this August. Where and when she'll stop, nobody know -- or cares.
Legislature Does Part
The New Hampshire Legislature grunting and groaning during the past seven months, finally wheezed to a full stop in August after having done even more than its fair share to increase the cost of living. A cent a gallon was added to the gasoline tax so that the Highway Department will have plenty of money to spend in the next biennium. State employees' salaries were upped by 16 per cent right across the board and legislators received a substantial increase in their mileage allowance. These are only three typical examples of legislation which may be commendable but which, nevertheless, will tend to accelerate that strange whirly-gig which economists term the spiral of inflation.
One Reason Omitted
The only reason which our selectmen haven't given for dismissing our town manager, who they say, was an "excellent administrator," "honest," "capable," conscientious," "a fine gentleman," "worthy of two salary increases we gave him," and so forth and so on, is that the money the town may save on his meagre salary and expenses will help to slow down the momentum of the nation's inflation spiral. And even that strange reason would make exactly as much sense as most of the so-called reasons that were broadcast to press and public.
A Smelly Subject
In August, the stinking truck loads of fish bait that periodically pass through our town on their way from Massachusetts into Maine are more offensive than at any other time. These trucks, their bodies piled high with dead fish, slop an odoriferous effluent over our highways every time they negotiate even a slight curve and leave behind them a fetid trail of vile odor that would turn the stomach of a garbage collector. Following some of these honey-buckets through our state into Maine constitutes a queer introduction into vacationland. There ought to be a law! But all Officer Cliff Eastman can say while holding his breath, is, "Keep moving!"
August, this year, seems to be a month of anniversaries. A great banner, erected near the Band Stand at the Beach, proclaims the "50th Anniversary." Many vacationists get the idea that it may be the Beach anniversary, but it is the Village District or Precinct, organized on June 26, 1907
, that is having a birthday party.
For Over A Century
Hampton Beach has been known as a vacation spot of distinction for well over a hundred years. The first beach hotel was opened at the base of Great Boar's Head in 1820
. Boar's Head Hotel, located on top of this magnificent promontory, threw open its facilities to vacationists in 1826
. The original 250-room Ocean House was built on the Boulevard, just north of Church Street, in 1844. It was destroyed by fire on May 7, 1885
Casino Ballroom Anniversary
While the Precinct is observing its fiftieth anniversary this August, the Beach might well be celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of some worthwhile event which took place during the stage-coach era of 1857
. We see by the papers that the Casino Ballroom is also observing an anniversary in August -- its thirtieth. Under the circumstances, a few dates in connection with Casino history might be of interest.
Casino History Dates
May 17, 1897
, construction of Exeter & Hampton Electric Street Railway was begun. July 9, 1897
, railroad completed from Exeter to Highland Ave. at Beach. April 7, 1898
, Town of Hampton leased main beach to Hampton Improvement Company. May, 1899
, terminal of E. l& H. St. Tr. extended from Highland Ave. to new Casino. June 14, 1899
, first edition of Hampton Union
published. July 14, 1899
, north half of Casino completed. Aug. 9, 1899
, "Farmers' Day", heretofore held on Boar's Head, moved to Casino. July 1, 1901
, south half of Casino and a new Ocean House completed and open to public. May 14, 1902
. "Mile-Long Wooden Bridge" formally opened.
Casino Changes Hands
, Graves and Ramsdell, owners of the Casino property, sold to a quartette of Lawrence business men, John E. Cuddy, Jr., Napoleon Demara, John Dineen and James Dineen. May 29, 1926
, last regular trolley trip to Hampton. Winter of 1926-1927
, present Casino Ballroom built by new owners. The new ballroom, designed for check dancing, was opened for the summer season of 1927
Reference has been made several times of late in news stories and in advertisements to John and James Dineen as "purchasers" of the Casino or "builders" of the Casino Ballroom. This, of course, is an error which must irk the present John J. Dineen, son of one of the quartette of original owners who were known as the Casino Associates. The dad and uncle of the present Casino manager were but two of a group of four keen, intelligent and successful Lawrence business men.
End and Beginning
These men fully understood and appreciated the fact that the epoch of the electric street railroad was ending and the era of mass transportation by motor car was rapidly approaching. It was Johnny Cuddy who said to the writer, "Just wait and see what will happen to Hampton Beach when the whole nation is on wheels." We have seen and Johnny lived long enough to observe also, for he died in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 26, 1953 at the age of 65.
Cuddy's Prominent Part
No other of the four partners in the highly successful Casino enterprise had had such wide practical experience in the field of public relations as Johnny Cuddy. He had served in the Massachusetts Legislature; had promoted "roller polo" in the days of World War I; had been the owner and operator of the famous "Cuddy Sports Arena" in Lawrence and was the owner of one of the largest insurance agencies in that city. He was looked upon locally as the "front man" of the Casino Associates and took an active part in Hampton civic affairs, serving several terms as president of the Chamber of Commerce. And he, up to the time of his retirement in 1940, was responsible for the management of the Casino Ballroom.
August is a month of vacations, of anniversaries, of rising prices and of inflation. It is also a good month to correct errors which might lead to historical inaccuracies.
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