Reminiscences Of Conflagrations
"Our Town" By James W. Tucker
Thursday, February 7, 1952
Fire Danger Still Exists
Astride Their Ridgepoles
And many home owners in the area north of Highland Avenue spent that September afternoon in 1915 astride the ridgepoles of their roofs. They were armed with brooms, pails of water and garden hose and their job was to make certain that their own homes were not consumed by flying embers. And a small detail of firemen, with hand chemicals and a ladder, also patrolled the area to prevent further outbreaks of fire. Exactly the same thing happened again in 1921, except that there were more people around that year because the fire occurred on June 26, only a few days before the Fourth of July.
Low Hydrant Pressure
How Ashworth [Hotel] Was Saved
Crowds Not Helpful
"Spectacular," Not "Beautiful"
Suddenly, we heard a woman's voice raised in anger and at the same time we noted that Clara Dudley was no longer trudging along beside us. Dropping the wheelbarrow, we turned around and there, perched on the running board of the big touring car, was Clara and she was shaking a trembling finger directly under the noses of the two fur-wrapped women. Finally, we were able to pry the small and very angry lady off the running board and get the story. Clara had overheard one of the women make a remark about what a "beautiful sight" the fire had been. To this, the popular and spunky wife of one of the beach's most popular business men, took immediately and vehement exception. "If your home or your business had been burned up, you wouldn't call it a beautiful sight," cried Clara.
But when we arrived at the scene of the altercation, the two women were properly apologetic. They were sorry for having carelessly chosen a wrong word. They had meant that the fire had been "spectacular" and "awesome," not beautiful and they were apparently sincere in their protestations. So, with proper apologies on both sides, we continued on our way by the blackened fire ruins of the entire north half of Hampton's business section. Clara Dudley -- like her husband, Joe -- loved Hampton Beach until the day of her death.