The Good Citizens And Pretty Homes of Surfside Park

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"Our Town" By James W. Tucker

Hampton Union

Thursday, May 18, 1961

On March 16 an item appeared in this paper under the heading "Personal Notes" to the effect that Navy Lt. Neil L. Harvey "is serving with Attack Squadron 66 aboard the Sixth Fleet attack aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Intrepid in the Mediterranean."

This news paragraph, about a young man whose career we have followed with interest and with whose dad and mother we have been acquainted since right after Neil was born, apparently was the incentive for a well written anonymous letter we received over a month ago from Boston.

An Unusual Twist

Ordinarily we pay no attention to letters of this sort, but this one had an unusual twist. The writer was objecting to the inclusion of Surfside Park within the boundaries of the marshland to be reclaimed under the provisions of H.B. 108. He held that the homes in that residential section were neither substandard, decadent nor blighted and that the families who occupied these homes were good average American families of the type that makes our town a most desirable community in which to live. And he chose to describe the Harveys as typical of families living in the Park, and their home as an example of Surfside residential properties.

"Mr. Anonymous"

The anonymous writer's estimate of the Harvey family coincides exactly with our own. Under the circumstances we believe Mr. Anonymous will not object to the reproduction of a part of his letter because it provides an excellent opportunity to say something nice about a Hampton family which deserves just that kind of tribute.

Neil Harvey

The writer, at the outset, mentioned a clipping which he enclosed with his letter -- a clipping containing the item quoted in the first above paragraph. And he goes on: "I can remember when Neil Harvey was born in Surfside Park on Overlook Street about 27 years ago. He is a product of the Hampton schools and was a prominent athlete in his day. After graduating from Hampton High, he attended Exeter Academy before entering the U. S. Naval Academy from which he later graduated. He has shown himself to be a credit to the Town of Hampton, the State of New Hampshire and the nation as a whole. What this country needs is more men like Neil. (We'll say an enthusiastic "amen" to that sentiment.)

"He has a sister, Lois, who was also born in Surfside Park about 23 years ago. Lois was and still is a very ambitious girl. During her school years at Hampton, she worked at Tobey's Drug Store, acted as a baby sitter and did other work to earn money to help with her future education. She is now in her senior year at Plymouth Teachers College.

Highly Respected

"The father Leavitt Harvey, by sweat and toil and with some assistance from the children, has rebuilt and modernized the home on Overlook Avenue until it is one of the finest homes in the Park, with a lush green lawn, transplanted trees, shrubs, climbing roses and a colorful flower garden. (We know Leavitt Harvey to be a likeable, industrious citizen, highly respected by friends and neighbors and presently employed at the U. S. Naval Base in Portsmouth.)

"Last year I saw Neil's little boy, about four years old, happily romping about and playing in the yard, with his grandfather nearby, a proud and happy expression on his face as he watched carefully over his small grandson.

Home Near Landmark

"This is only one of the many fine families and homes in the Surfside Park condemned area which is described in H. B. 108 as substandard, decadent and blighted. Leavitt Harvey's home is about one tenth of a mile from Eel Pond, the nearest marshland. Overlook Street is built on high gravel and loam land - the same kind of gravel which was trucked from Surfside to provide top surface for the State Bathhouse area. Mr. Harvey's property borders on one of Hampton's historic sites -- Norseman's Rock where Norsemen are purported to be buried."

Substantial Families

There are many other substantial families in Surfside Park, members of which we are proud to claim as friends. Offhand we can think of the LaTourettes and the Al Dunbracks. Al is a native of the White Island section and grandson of that salty, picturesque character we all respected and admired, the late Captain Albert Dunbrack -- "Dunny," for short. Al married an English girl and they are bringing up their four children in Surfside Park.

Pretty Homes

Then there's Harry Parr, one of the state's best known labor leaders and his active wife, Ednapearl, a native of Texas, whose interest in civic affairs is as broad as her native state. They live with their son, Neil in a pretty, landscaped home on Emerald Avenue. And we must not forget the Frederick Cooks, who spent summers at Hampton Beach before the trolleys made a simple "watering place" into a recreational center for all New England. Mr. Cook's artistry on the violin made him concertmaster in the famous Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra.

Our anonymous correspondent. the families mentioned above and all other residents of Surfside Park are relieved to know that their area is no longer included in the boundaries of the marshland to be reclaimed.

Parochial School

Four news stories of great interest and importance were contained on the front page of last week's [Hampton] Union. The announcement by Father Casey that a new elementary Parochial School will be ready for occupancy in the fall of 1963 is cause for congratulating our Catholic friends, many of whom have told us of their hopes for such an educational institution. The certainty of this new school will probably make unnecessary the plans for an addition to the Marston School and may cause the recently appointed building committee to revise its thinking concerning the capacity of the proposed new Junior High addition. The action of our town's Catholic community should result in a downward revision of all local school district costs.

Seashore Park

A second story concerned the landscaping of the Fish House area (rechristened Seashore Park) by members of the Garden Club, led by the energetic and capable project committee chairman, Miss Ruth Stimson, with an assist from the Boy Scouts. The story led us to take an immediate view and we were very happy with what we saw as you will be. Best of all were the high posts of rough cut granite which separate park from highway.

Population Gain

Other stories featured in last week's paper had to do with the celebration of Old Home Day on Saturday, August 5 and with the increase in our town's population from 2,747 in 1950 to 5,279 in 1960. While the average population of Rockingham County increased by only 41.5 per cent between the two federal enumerations, Hampton's head count rocketed upward by 92 percent, a phenomenal gain.

Stop Excessive Freedom

Everyone, and most certainly our recreational guests, should be free to enjoy themselves at happy Hampton Beach. But there's a difference between real freedom and excessive or undue freedom called license. Beating bongo drums, loitering on street corners, addressing snide remarks to passerby and other forms of rowdyism constitute license which has driven many patrons away from our Beach and which should long ago have been abruptly terminated by our police. We learn with pleasure from last week's paper that at long last our authorities are to crack down on rowdyism in all its forms. It's plainly stupid to believe that perpetrators of continued misdemeanors are even in a small way an asset to business at Hampton Beach.
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