Return to "Our Town" index
"Our Town" By James W. Tucker
Hampton Union, Thursday, January 5, 1961
In back of their pretty Woodland Road home, just barely on this side of the North Hampton line in our town, the Guy Amburgs have a bird-feeding station which attracts thousands of welcome feathered guests throughout all twelve months of the year. In summer, more than fifty species of birds -- all sizes, some in sober or even drab attire but most of them in colorful, brilliant plumage, come to enjoy the unfailing hospitality of Guy and Gertrude. Even squirrels and chipmunks become friendly and tame, and raccoons stray occasionally into the shelter of this unique back-yard bird sanctuary.
December Bird Songs
Now, sparrows, nuthatches, juncos and several kinds of woodpeckers, along with chickadees, partake daily of the special winter provender with which the feeding facilities are filled daily. And the familiar song of the chickadee echoes as merrily and almost as shrilly through the Amburg backyard in December as it does in May, all of which lends credence to Oliver Herford's pretty little verse inscribed on so many holiday greeting cards:
"I heard a bird sing
In he dark of December,
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.
We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December."
-- which is a much more attractive way of saying, "If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"
Stormy Days Ahead
From a purely practical standpoint, however, we have still ahead of us the dark, cloudy and sometimes stormy days of January and February. They will prove quite something to contend with and March in Hampton is not exactly a period for out-of-door picnics. So, let's get back to snow storms, blizzards and plowing and to the Amburgs, where the chickadees now sing alto as contrasted with their soprano song of summer.
The dividing line between our town and North Hampton runs practically east and west along the north side of the drive leading into the Amburg home, which is called with reason, "The Woodlands." Consequently plows from both towns often use this private driveway for turning after completing the work on their respective sections of Woodland Road. Therefore, the entrance to the Amburg driveway affords an excellent view of the way each town plows its roads. If there were a competition, the daughter town would win over Mother Hampton nine times out of ten.
Clean and Thorough
It cost North Hampton exactly $750 to plow all its roads after the big blizzard of December 12 and the highways were cleared cleanly and to their full width. The mother town has a much bigger, more complicated and more expensive job to do, but it was not accomplished in such a clean, thorough manner. For instance, Woodland Road just north of the ice house, was plowed only one lane wide for several hundred feet.
Single Lane Grief
In avoiding an on-coming car in this narrow section, a former selectman of our town ran his own car into a drift on the right side of the single lane and had to hire a tow car to get back on the road. Others had narrow escapes from accidents at this hazardous spot and there were many more places around town where the going was right rough. It may cost a little more to do a thorough plowing job -- to make certain that equipment is in shape to dod the job efficiently before taking it out and to watch other small details, but it probably would be well worth the small additional cost.
And we get a kick out of the modern method of sanding sidewalks. In the olden days, men filled shovels with sand from a supply dump-cart or truck, then walked along the sidewalk distributing sand evenly over the icy surface by pushing it with one hand from the shovels. Now, the workers stand in the truck and heave shovel-fulls of sand from the roadway to the sidewalks which, in some cases, is twelve or fifteen feet away. It seems to an old-fashioned codger that this is not an altogether thorough or efficient way of sanding a sidewalk.
Now, while we are in this devilish mood of fault-finding, which we freely admit may be without proper basis, we would like to pay our respects to the planning board -- that group of substantial citizens who have done a commendable job in developing and enforcing sub-division regulations, but who never have done any community planning as such. Their planning of a site for the post office -- or rather the choice they were belatedly asked to make of three available sites -- was an outstanding example of the inexperience of the board members in this -- perhaps the most important phase of their work.
Above all other considerations, a post office should be easily and safely accessible to its patrons. The proposed Marelli Square site, under present circumstances, is neither easily nor safely accessible and it makes little difference whether patrons walk or drive. If engineers endeavored to contrive an inaccessible, dangerous, bottle-neck location for a new post office in our town, it would be impossible for them to achieve a worse situation than now exists in this particular locality -- a site which can be reached only by means of a narrow, one-way street. Yet this site was favored by our planning board.
Many months ago, nearly 400 citizens signed a petition addressed to Congressman Merrow, setting forth the great need which has long existed for a new post office in Hampton and asking that one be built and so located as best to serve the convenience of the citizens living in all sections of our town. We have not talked personally with more than fifty citizens, but all of those with whom we have talked favor the Lafayette Road site -- the site on the east side of our town's main street, just a little way north of Winnacunnet Road and only a short distance south of the village business section.
The lot is approximately 100 x 200 feet and the cost, including necessary fill, is most reasonable. There is room for a post office of adequate size, for driveways which will accommodate the large postal delivery trucks and for the off-street parking of patrons. A new post office of appropriate colonial architecture in this spot would be a real ornament in a central location which is not particularly attractive at present. We have reason to believe that practically the entire personnel of the local post office from genial Postmaster Sam Towle down, is in favor of this location and the wishes of these folks, who have been handicapped for years with antiquated facilities and insufficient working space, deserve special consideration. The site is easily accessible and fill all of the detailed requirements.
Best of all, a new, attractive post office, immediately south of the village business district would have a tendency (1) to stimulate growth of the mercantile area in a southerly directions and (2) it would smooth out traffic flow which now has a tendency to become congested in the Marelli Square section -- all of this, in addition to the convenience this central site would afford John Q. Citizen. And his convenience is of far greater importance than any fancied business advantage which a small coterie of merchants believe would accrue to them if the post office were built on the increasingly inaccessible site of the old B. & M. Railroad station.
Men Who Know Best
Finally, the officials of the U.S. Postal Department know exactly the requirements which should be fulfilled in locating a needed new post office in this or in any other community. These officials have been assured by petition and otherwise that a big majority of citizens of our town want a new post office that shall be centrally located and easily accessible. It would seem to be time for these competent officials to take matters into their own efficient hands and build a new post office for Hampton on the site they deem to be best.
Return to "Our Town" index