Hampton Beach Project -- The Riots of 1964 -- January - March 1965
The Riots of 1964 -- Chapter 3
January - March 1965
Project Director's Report
Paul Estaver, Director
January - March 1965
Until this point, Stone and Van Nostrand had stayed somewhat in the background of the TAP Committee discussions. However, through Van Nostrand's own studies at Boston University, he had established contact with Kvaraceus, who is Professor of Education and Director of Youth Studies at the Lincoln Filene Center for Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University. Dr. Kvaraceus was interested in Hampton's problem as typical of the riot fad, not only in this country but all over the world. To the Hampton meeting he brought Professor Helen Kenney a Harvard psychologist, who with a New Hampshire state trooper and myself served on a "reactor panel" following Kvaraceus's remarks. The response from the police and from the floor to Dr. Kvaraceus's comments was generally that Hampton had been abused by the young people who came there during the summer and that they could think of no surer way to ruin the resort than by making it a teenage paradise.
If toughness was the only answer the kids understood, then tough they would have to be.
However, at the conclusion of the meeting, the Chamber directors did welcome with considerable enthusiasm the thought that a study might be undertaken, possibly through the auspices of Tufts University, to seek in a systematic way the underlying causes of riots.
A subsequent TAP Committee report indicated that the first phase of its work had been completed with the drafting of recommended changes in laws and practices. Phase two would be the drafting and passage of bills at the state level, the establishment of town ordinances, and the assistance of various officials at several levels.
Teen Age Relations Committee
However, it was also announced that President Vanderpool was starting a third phase in the creation of a permanent subcommittee of TAP call TAR -- Teen Age Relations. The chairman was to be Richard Stone, and it was his responsibility to appoint his subcommittee and put it to work. At that time the relationship between TAP and TAR Committees was loosely drawn, which, unfortunately, was a cause for subsequent difficulties. The exact phrase from the December 18, 1964, TAP Committee Report of Progress was, "President Vanderpool requested only that reports of TAR meetings be submitted to the TAP Committee for the consideration."
The note on which the new committee was established is clearly indicated in the following memorandum submitted to it by President Vanderpool:
"1. Stone, acting as chairman, set up TAR subcommittee to work separately from TAP. Appoint some individual responsible for reporting results of all meetings of TAR in writing to the TAP President. It is recommended this individual is responsible for reporting results of all meetings of TAR in writing to the TAP President. It is recommended that some teenagers be included on this committee.
"2. Form nonpolitical, nonpartisan, nonracial, nonreligious etc. club of teenagers who will pledge themselves to uphold the Constitution of the United States, the rights and property of others etc. This organization to start in Hampton, N.H. and (hopefully) spread to National or International scope. It is suggested that 5 boys and 5 girls be carefully selected as the Charter Members and that the club be set up legally as a volunteer corporation. It is recommended that lapel pins or some other means of identification be used. The name should be carefully selected such a 'The Minute Men and Women of America.' Bylaws etc. should be considered.
"3. Take over action on and completion of Paragraph 8 of TAP condensed summary report dated November 13, 1964, which reads: 'To compose and write letters to heads of churches throughout the area, requesting them to contact every clergyman under their jurisdiction, to preach a series of straight to the point sermons, using TAP theme, with particular emphasis on parental control. One following Easter, one the first part of June, one the middle of July and one the Sunday prior to Labor Day.
"4. Contact the New Hampshire Department of Education requesting inclusion of the TAP theme in some school course, such as P.O.D. (Problems of Democracy) stressing the threat caused by the teenager of today against freedom, democracy and the constitutional rights of others.
"5. Organize and book for appearances a speakers group who will give lectures at PTA, Young Couples Clubs etc. stressing the desperate need for more family togetherness and parental discipline of all children, especially while in the young formative years.
"6. Request financial and physical help from a few selected professional agencies engaged in teenage problems. These agencies to send investigators to Hampton Beach, N.H. starting weekends about the fifteenth of April and to work full time from June fifteenth through Labor Day. Following a thorough study of the problem, if they believe it will help the National situation, to set up and operate a program to be coordinated with the entertainment program of the Chamber of Commerce, they shall endeavor to do so. Possibly such things as youth forums, group therapy etc.
"7. Starting with the churches of New Hampshire, request a study and reassessment of the standards for Christian and Religious living. Examination of the values to live by as the Church understands them today. Simply, what is right and what is wrong. If these areas are found lacking the committee shall ask the churches to act as a group to set new standards and values for the church and home. Possibly the use of old fashioned pledge cards etc. might be considered. Work may be done through commissions on Human relations couples clubs etc.
"8. Endeavor in some way to change the status symbols of the teen-ager. Change the status symbol to something to be proud of and teach them the biggest 'Blast' in life comes from lending a helping hand, from being different against the Tide of Moral decay.
"9. To endeavor to convince parents, through some organized program, that they are still the example of their children and that the average teenager is a 'chip off the old block.' If they have love, perhaps they should sacrifice some of their 'flings' or even not too offensive habits to set an example for the youth of today.
"10. If any or all of these points help the teenage problem in Hampton, it shall be the duty of this TAR subcommittee to let other States know about it, so they too may make use of the experiences of the subcommittee."
TAR Committee Personnel
In an effort to establish a committee which embraced not only a representation from the Chamber of Commerce, but a balance of other community elements, Stone chose the following persons: the chairman of the Board of Selectman, the acting Chief of Police, the principal of the town's cooperative high school, a clergyman (Mr. Van Nostrand), myself as a representative of the press, a representative to the state legislature who was also a director of the Chamber of Commerce, along with two other Chamber of Commerce directors, William Elliot and Robert Preston. As consultants to and members of the committee, Stone also included Doctors Kvaraceus and Kenney along with Dr. Stuart Palmer, Chairman of the Department of Sociology at the University of New Hampshire. An ex-officio member was Amos N. Blandin, Associate Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court and chairman of the recently appointed Governor's Commission on Public Disturbances. An additional tie between TAR and the Blandin Commission was established through Preston, who was, indeed, a member or an associate of every committee which concerned itself with riots.
The TAR Committee's first meeting was December 30, 1964. From that date through March 1, 1965, there were four additional meetings along with a number of individual conferences and much correspondence with officials in Washington and Concord.
During this initial period TAR's functions were threefold: first, negotiations with various bodies -- the Division of Juvenile Delinquency of the Federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Hampton's Budget Committee, and the Spaulding Potter Charitable Trusts -- in search of supporting funds; second, the search for and development of a philosophy and a course of action; and, third, an effort to educate and arouse the interest of Hampton and surrounding communities to the problem and possible solutions to the beach riots.
Subsequently there grew points of friction between TAP and TAR over the question whether the Hampton Beach Project was to have entailed research or program and how extensive program should be. In part this friction was caused by simple lack of communication, but there was also an underlying difference in philosophy between the two approaches. Equally important, Dr. Kvaraceus's initial concept of a fairly simple research project through Tufts University and the University of New Hampshire was modified in emphasis to a program-and-research project over this two month period. The concepts of a demonstration project were there in his initial proposal to the Division of Juvenile Delinquency, but in conferences with various TAR members and Juvenile Delinquency officials it was agreed that more could be accomplished if the project were to be administered by a community agency such as the Chamber of Commerce with sociologists as consultants than through an outside agency like a university; and, further, if there was real hope of preventing a 1965 riot that a demonstration program could not wait for a year's research, but must be conducted simultaneously with the data-gathering -- indeed the program's evaluation would be one basis upon which the research would be set up.
Concerning the program philosophy, the initial difference in TAP and TAR concepts were these: TAP felt, "We must be tough -- fair but firm -- use restrictions and force where necessary. Additionally we should try to educate the young and their parents to a more constructive way of behavior and thought."
Several members of TAR felt, "Force may be the only answer, but it neither discovers nor corrects the cause of riots. If the cause is based in the relationship between the youth and the adults, perhaps it can be perceived and corrected. However, youth will not respond to simple admonitions or pleas for cooperation; somehow they must be given a role of responsibility and certain authority in the beach society."
There was not initial unanimity within the TAR Committee upon this outlook, but it did in a few weeks become the group's basic concept. Thereupon the challenge came to be the search for causes of youthful behavior and for solutions that youth would be willing to embrace and accept as their own.
Search For a Project Grant
It was the quest for funds which hastened the calling of that first year-end TAR Committee meeting. Dr. Kvaraceus had done previous work in conjunction with the Division of Juvenile Delinquency and, knowing their orientation, had broached the subject of Hampton's riots and received an interested response. Indeed he had felt sufficiently encouraged to draft a project proposal in hopes of obtaining a $50,000 grant.
The TAR Committee unanimously supported his efforts and it was at once agreed that a letter of support should be sent to Washington over the signatures of a representative group of town and Chamber of Commerce officials. Within on day's time the letter was complete: it briefly outlined the work of the TAP Committee through the fall and announced that the TAR Committee had been formed to "deal with the human relations side of the problem." It was signed by Kenneth Boshner, town manager, Lt. Paul Leavitt, acting police chief, Herbert Casassa, state representative and William Elliot, executive secretary of the Chamber of Commerce. The latter two were also members of Hampton's Town Budget Committee, and subsequently they undertook to establish in the budget the $3999 that was ultimately approved by the town as a grant to the Hampton Beach Project.
Subsequent correspondence and minutes of meetings show that Dr. Kvaraceus and Stone met with Dr. Jack Otis and Mr. Seymour Rosenthal of the Division of Juvenile Delinquency on January 8th and at this meeting roughed out the ideas which would eventually become the Hampton Beach Project. Ultimately a grant proposal would be drafted for presentation to a special non-government review panel for acceptance of the project under the President's Commission for Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Development, which had been established as a joint venture of the Federal Departments of Health, Education and Welfare, Labor, and Justice in the administration of President John F. Kennedy.
On February 1 Dr. Otis and Mr.. Rosenthal spent a day in Hampton for a brief site-visitation and to talk at length with members of both the TAR and TAP Committees to obtain a first hand view of attitudes and proposed solutions to the riot problem. The day was concluded with a lobster stew dinner at the fire station, attended by members of both TAP and TAR.
The Washington representatives were sufficiently interested in what they had seen and heard to continue to assist in the project design over the succeeding weeks. In addition, Mr. Rosenthal returned to join Dr. Kvaraceus and two high school students in a P.T.A. panel discussion February 24th, which was attended by something over 150 people. In a lively question-and-answer period there was much frank discussion of the role of the teenager in contemporary society and the responsibility of society to establish a healthy climate for youth.
On March 1st TAP Chairman Fallon, TAR Chairman Stone, Mr. Preston and Dr. Kvaraceus met with Justice Blandin to review the progress of the TAR Committee to date. Shortly thereafter Justice Blandin forwarded a strong letter of support for the program to the Division of Juvenile Delinquency.
About this same time I approached the Concord, N.H. attorney who was an officer in the Spaulding Potter Charitable Trusts and described to him the TAR Project. He indicated that the directors of the trust were generally interested in this sort of activity and in the event that a federal grant was not established, might well consider participation in Hampton's effort. The attorney also suggested that even if a federal grant were authorized Spaulding Potter might contribute additional funds, possibly on a matching basis, to enlarge the project's program possibilities.
Following a number of additional conferences through the month of March and into the first days of April, a formal grant application was at last prepared, signed by Richard Stone and Walter Vanderpool and submitted for the federal panel's approval. Final approval of the federal grant came on April 9th.
During these months the TAR Committee had busied itself with additional matters. One immediate problem was that of public relations. At the outset there was general concern that premature publicity of TAR efforts, particularly before a program could be thoroughly developed, would be deleterious in effect.
At the same time the committee felt that it was important to establish contact with civic and social groups in Hampton and surrounding communities to obtain their support for what TAR was attempting. Therefore a committee of three -- Van Nostrand, Elliot and myself -- was appointed to draft a rough outline of what should and should not be said by various TAR speakers.
This group determined that the best approach would be first clarification of the facts; what the riots were, how they had grown, how they had effected the community. Secondly the group agreed that a brief recounting of TAP and TAR activities should be stated, followed by a catalog of possible causes of riots, concluded with a frank statement that the causes are complex and that we ourselves did not have the answer. Thereafter it was agreed that the speaker would throw the meeting open for discussion in an attempt to draw from the audience possible analyses and ideas toward a solution. It was agreed that notes would be kept of these discussions and reported back to the TAR Committee.
During the period of January through March, Stone, Van Nostrand, Elliot and I did indeed speak to a number of groups and were almost universally well received. If there was a theme to our various speeches, it was that not only did the problem itself require understanding but so did the youth and their relationship to the community of Hampton Beach, and that something should be done with youth to change that relationship. On the few occasions when there were hostile responses, the counter theme was that kids today are spoiled and that the only answer is to slap them down.
During this same period Van Nostrand was contacting various clergymen and church groups to see what could be done toward persuading them to preach sermons appropriate to the TAR and TAP efforts. He received polite attention, but no visible indications that a followup would take place.
It was at about this same time that my own interest in the TAR project began to grow. Initially, coming on to the scene as a journalist and as a fairly new resident of the town, my reaction had been somewhat cynical. I felt that the TAP Committee's well established program of external control would inhibit real possibilities of a program with and for the young people themselves. I'm afraid I also felt the TAR Committee was mostly talk. At the stage when it appeared that the Hampton Beach Project would be one primarily of research, I was certainly interested enough to participate as a member of a committee one or two nights a month, but I felt no personal involvement in a sociological investigation which was beyond the scope of my professional training. I placed high value on the need for such information, since it had been so obvious to me that little was known in my own reportorial research the previous fall that facts were not abundant.
If I had come away from my own article with any basic concepts, they were two: first, that the solutions would have to come from the community itself, and second that the young people would have to play a major part in the program. The former idea was suggested to me by Dr. Stuart Palmer who, when I interviewed him, said to me many of the same things he had told the Methodist Church Committee the previous summer. The latter concept was the result of a number of hours of interviews with various young people who had taken part in the 1964 riot.
Their own analyses of causal factors had included such things as the need for excitement, particularly as the school year approached and the summer freedom was about to be ended, and the prestige element of having been in the thick of a notorious blast.
However I was struck by the degree of hostility they expressed both toward Hampton specifically as a community and toward the police they encountered at Hampton Beach. To some extent they said that rioting was an outburst against authority in the abstract, but they were specific in their resentment of such things as living conditions, costs, and working conditions at Hampton, and they were specific in their complaints about individual policemen who they felt had been unfair or arrogant.
When I asked various young people whether a program of entertainment and activities for youth at Hampton Beach would be an effective riot deterrent, they were inclined to be dubious. In the first place they didn't believe it could be done, but in the second they felt it could be successful only if it were arranged in some sort of spontaneous manner and very much under the direction of the young people themselves. The phrase of one boy struck me sufficiently that I used it to conclude my article: Such a program, he said, might work "so long as it's not just an excuse to contain us." Throughout the entire project I came to regard that statement as axiomatic.
I think one other factor encouraged both me and several others who were out speaking publicly in behalf of TAR. We found that, given the chance, a community group would try very hard to discover valid causes for rioting, that a great many people were open minded, and that there was a real possibility of community support for a youth program.
Ideas for the program itself came from a variety of sources. Some proved to be valid and workable when the program was actually under way. Others, particularly including some of my own, proved to be naive and were rather quickly discarded. One visitor to the TAR Committee suggested that we have some sort of Mardi Gras at Labor Day employing reverse psychology. He felt that if the community actually sponsored a mock riot the youth would then discard a real riot. His ideas went so far as the inclusion of Hampton Beach Riot sweatshirts to be sold and the burning of a miniature Casino on the sand.
My thoughts had been along the line of a rather carefully structured youth government, possibly organized at a May meeting of young employees from past seasons at the beach, who would act as a cadre government complete with officers, a legislative body, and a judicial group into the early summer when a permanent government could be elected by beach youth. In addition, I speculated upon the possibilities of program ideas as varied as drag racing in some designated area and a sort of junior Olympics over Labor Day weekend to use up young energy.
What all of us did agree upon in the TAR Committee was that while it might be our function to suggest program ideas, it would be up to the young people themselves to make final decisions how a youth program could be put to work.
In its final form, the grant application contained a number of specifics worked out by Dr. Kvaraceus in conjunction with several TAR Committee members and with the Division of Juvenile Delinquency in Washington.
Project Goals Noted in Grant Application
The demonstration project plan lists nine points under the heading Strategies. These are as follows:
1. A youth pavilion or youth stations manned by youth and adult volunteers to serve as registration points and possibly to provide such services as first aid, message center, room and board, coffee shop, lost and found, job referral, a weekly newspaper and general information.
2. The organization of a corporate youth group representing local and summer residents and regular weekend vacationers, this group to serve as a program planning group and as liaison between the generations.
3. Seminars for various segments of the adult community to help develop a better understanding of the youth phenomena.
4. Peer group intervention, participant observers to interview youths and to exercise a tempering influence upon other young people in tense situations.
5. Local youth committees established to meet and assist incoming youth to find lodgings, recreational opportunities, etc.
6. The establishment of youth hostels for clean, safe and inexpensive room and board facilities, if possible in conjunction with the American Youth Hostel Association.
7. The development of special interest in recreation programs in conjunction with young people. Contests in the area of sports, performing arts, hobbies considered.
8. An attempt to establish "a wide repertoire of intervention techniques for involving youth on the beach and the boardwalk." Special consideration to be given to expanding rather than reducing the opportunities for participation in commercial entertainment with the help of the Chamber of Commerce, the TAR Committee and consultants.
Beyond these broad outlines details of program were not developed until the TAR Committee could contact a substantial number of young people to see what detailed programs would be of interest to youth on the beach.
Although the grant application -- the document itself -- would have been available to any member of the TAP Committee or of the Directors of the Chamber of Commerce, no one asked to see it. There was some considerable disagreement among several members of the TAR Committee whether or not to make a general presentation of this grant application to those bodies.
One faction felt that the document's frank sociological assessment of the community problem and the details of the program were too blunt and therefore that the program should be established a little at a time rather in one salvo, so to speak.
The other faction felt that there could be repercussions if it appeared that the TAR Committee or individual members of it were withholding information.
In a sense, both viewpoints were right. As the program developed through the spring, it was indeed spelled out detail by detail, and the Chamber of Commerce Directors had the opportunity to sanction the portions they thought acceptable and to delete the portions not to their liking. By June all the details and concepts of the program had been fully established.
Yet even so, there was a suspicion among certain Chamber directors that at least some of the members of the TAR Committee had been less than candid because of this very process of step-by-step establishment of the program, and the fact that the grant application document had not been generally shown ultimately added to this suspicion. As will be seen, many other complicating factors compounded this unnecessary confusion.
It was a mistake which should be studied carefully by any who seek to establish a youth project in other communities. Time was short. The project application went through many revisions and was assembled barely in time for presentation to the review panel. Its concepts and details were certainly revolutionary for the community, particularly in light of the already-established TAP program. There were some members of the Hampton Beach community who obviously had no interest whatsoever in working with young people; they simply wanted them off the beach. Others, ambivalent or open minded, were potential backers of the youth project. Yet insofar as the TAR ideas were revolutionary, it was apparent that many hours were needed for explanation and debate. There was probably sufficient validity in the concern that if the directors or the TAP Committee had been presented the entire program in one sitting they might have thrown out the baby with the bath.
One final complicating factor was the very real fact that the program did develop, as planned, only as young people could be reached and consulted in sufficient numbers. This process began in February, but it was not completed until early June. As new program ideas took shape, they were presented to the Chamber directors and either accepted or discarded.
Project personnel were in several instances tentatively established before the grant had been cleared by the federal panel. At the suggestion of Richard Stone and Dr. Kvaraceus and with the approval of Dr. Otis and Mr. Rosenthal of the Division of Juvenile Delinquency, Manning Van Nostrand was appointed as provisional project director on February 24. While his work was not spelled out yet in detail, it was understood that he would also serve as community coordinator and youth coordinator. He would be given a partial leave of absence by his church to undertake this work.
The option of a leave of absence was not open to me, and I hesitated several weeks before making application to be a project employee. When I finally did so, it was in the hope that the project would last two years, since I would be giving up a position of some years' standing. When I discovered that the project would last probably no more than nine months I hesitated again, but ultimately decided to chance it in hopes of finding sufficient sense of accomplishment in the months to come.
My application was approved about March 10th by Stone and Dr. Kvaraceus and Van Nostrand with concurrence from the office of Juvenile Delinquency, and the youth coordinator's function was assigned to me.
Investigating Youth Views
Starting late in February, Van Nostrand, Stone and I made every effort to contact young people and to discover their attitudes toward the riots, the community and possible program concepts. One or another of us gathered groups of from two to a dozen youths in Hampton, Portsmouth, the University of New Hampshire, and subsequently several college volunteers contacted other youths in Exeter, Dover and other areas. For the most part we asked questions and listened.
In some attitudes we found the young people virtually unanimous in their opinion; in others we found considerable disparity. When there was disagreement, we found that it was principally as a result of age differences.
At the outset it was a little startling to encounter the empathy toward the rioters expressed by some of these will dressed, clean cut, middle class American young people. A number of them had been sent to us by their schools expressly because they were class leaders. Yet their antagonism toward Hampton Beach, Hampton police, and in some instances police in general was intense and explicate. One nice young girl, perhaps 17 years old, stated angrily that the reason she had not been at Hampton Beach the previous Labor Day was that she knew she'd have been in the thick of it once it started.
The frustration that the young people felt stemmed from the fact that, while Hampton was beautiful and attractive with its wide sun-filled beach and its ocean and, of course, with its other teenagers as an additional attraction, there seemed to be a clear indication on the part of the community that young people were unwelcome. We heard complaints of what they felt were petty regulations, about the cost of food and lodging, particularly in terms of value received. There were complaints about wages and working conditions.
Kids, they said, loved to hang around -- talking, loafing, engaging in harmless horseplay. Also obviously they enjoyed the opportunity of meeting the opposite sex. Yet at Hampton all these things were prohibited in various degrees. There was the statement that young people there are under tremendous social and academic pressures during the school year, and that during the summer they need to let off steam or loosen up, not necessarily in riotous behavior but just by having fun. Over and over it was stressed by many young people that a prime element of fun was spontaneity.
Paradoxically there were, coupled with the complaints that they weren't allowed to hang around doing nothing, equally strong complaints that there was not enough to do, either in their own home towns or at Hampton Beach. Jobs -- even dull ones -- were hard to find. Money was hard to come by.
Particularly there was unanimity that none of the entertainment program at Hampton Beach was for young people. The traditional band concerts, the community singing, the talent shows, none of these were of interest. The only thing that they liked seemed to be the fireworks.
Of the commercial establishments on the beach they said the only ones oriented toward young people were one coffee house, one rock-and-roll dance hall and one restaurant. Even at this, they felt that the restaurant's prices were too high and that the rock-and-roll palace was only for younger kids.
In their attitudes towards society at large they were surprisingly idealistic. They felt that the struggle for civil rights was only one indication that we were approaching an era of general human betterment and that they would have a share in forwarding these causes.
They were quick to acknowledge that parental responsibility and restraint were fading and that this was a factor in youthful misbehavior, yet they felt that this was an inevitable element in the general breakdown of the family system -- that complaining about it or preaching about it would be ineffective. Particularly they were acutely critical of adult hypocrisy, stating that there was too much lip service paid to the old moralities and too little observance to them. Particularly the college age people were inclined to state that their concept of morality was different from that of the older generation. They insisted that it was indeed a morality, and they claimed that they were straight forward in their acceptance of it and their observance to it.
They were equally frank in their discussions of riots, past -- and possibly future. One 15-year old boy from Portsmouth recited almost line by line the various specific plans of the TAR Committee, which supposedly had been kept secret. They said, in interviews taken in early March, that the story was out that 1965 would see no Labor Day riot but a series of small ones all through the summer, with peaks possibly at Memorial Day or Fourth of July. One or two especially hostile boys in other interviews stated flatly that there would be a 1965 riot no matter what precautions the community might try to take. Others felt that last year had gone too far and that an aroused community would apply sufficient force to prevent Labor Day trouble.
Another surprise to us was the frequent casual admission that they felt riots were attractive. Usually this statement was made in terms of watching rather than participation. A Portsmouth group of high school youngsters told me unanimously that if they had their choice between watching a riot and watching Joan Baez they would take the riot.
Yet, paradoxically again, this same group agreed unanimously that they would help in our campaign to prevent further rioting at Hampton Beach. They weren't sure anything could be done but they were willing to try. I think I can safely say that every single young person to whom I initially broached the subject of the Hampton Beach Project was at first dubious. All agreed that self-administered youth activities would be of value, but all feared lack of adult cooperation. Particularly they were doubtful that the police would let any sort of extensive program take place at critical holiday periods.
Program Ideas From Youth
It was in our attempts to determine what the program should be that we encountered greatest disagreement among the various young people. Here their expressed need for spontaneity posed a problem. How was one to establish a program with any sort of structure and at the same time keep it wholly spontaneous? This is part of the same anomaly expressed in their simultaneous complaint that they weren't allowed to hang around doing nothing and that there wasn't enough to do. In part they felt a resolution could be naturally effected if there were variety in the program. If there were to be dances, let them be held in different places, or with different bands, or somehow under a variety of circumstances.
The one universal program element on which the various young people would agree was rock and roll dancing. Not all of them liked rock and roll music, but they all danced to it. Folk music apparently had a certain appeal but to a more restricted number. Jazz was something out of history as far as most of them were concerned. There was quite a little discussion of where dancing could be held, and surprisingly no one seemed to think of the Casino Ballroom, so firmly established was its reputation as an adult dance hall whose only appeal to young people was an occasional appearance of some nationally known group like Peter, Paul and Mary which would be a dress-up affair at a cost of two to four dollars a person.
There was the suggestion that a section of Ocean Boulevard be roped off opposite the Seashell and that block dances be held from time to time during the summer. Even more enthusiasm was expressed about the possibility of teenage nightclubs, where soft drinks would be served in fancy glasses and dancing would be possible on a regular basis. One such club was opened in Manchester, N.H. in the spring of 1965 and apparently a chain of them had been successful on the West Coast.
This was one thing that really gripped the imagination of the young people and, once the subject was brought up, the formal discussion fell aside while they excitedly kicked around ideas about who would do the decorating and where they would get materials, along with the questions of admissions and dues. Unanimously it was agreed that teenage nightclubs should be open only to persons under 21 years of age.
The suggestion of athletics was met with mild apathy from the high school age young people and with disdain by the college students. They said that anything that smacked of schools and organization was alien to summer and a beach resort.
Particularly they felt this applied to any sort of summer youth government. All ages agreed that if an organization were to be established the adult control of it would have to be maintained with a very light rein. There was much discussion about what form such a youth organization could take. The high school people were willing to consider at least the possibility of officers and judicial and legislative bodies, but the older youth were adamant that any sort of formal structure would be ineffective. These questions of structure and autonomy continued to plague us well into the summer.
Another sticky question was what young people could do in the event of trouble. At one point a suggestion had been made that a specially trained group of infiltrators could exercise a "knock it off" function in tense situations. The young people couldn't have disagreed with this more thoroughly. Specifically they said this might be a good way to get somebody killed.
There was, however, both negative and positive response to the suggestion that young people might be employed by the police in such a function if their performances of their duties was overt. Some felt that if they wore arm bands and patrolled the beach front they might better be able to dispense with minor disturbances that the regular police. Others felt that whoever took such a job, even on a part time basis, would automatically be branded as a fink, losing both his effectiveness as a peace officer and his standing in the community of young people.
Few thought that a youth newspaper would be effective. Even fewer were receptive to the idea of an adult-sponsored coffee house as a place for youth and the community to establish communications. On the other hand, they agreed that a coffee house run by young people could be an important attraction. Such a coffee house, the Troll Bridge, had been in operation the previous summer on C Street. Its success among the young people stemmed largely from the popularity of its owner-operators. Police reports on the Troll Bridge were that it had been trouble free. However, some of its clientele had been a source of annoyance to adults in the neighborhood who did not welcome bearded noisy young men and girls with long stringy hair, not to mention motorcycles and occasionally some rather conspicuous examples of bad behavior. Of all the doubts raised by the young people, the most serious question was what any organization could do in a crisis period like Labor Day weekend when thousands of people jammed the beach and the Boulevard, perhaps 200 of them on hand specifically to make trouble. To maintain peace on a routine summer weekend was one thing; to prevent a riot was something else.
The first element of an answer, it was decided, was implicit in the concept of an organization itself. It was the TAR Committee's hypothesis, and the young people generally agreed, that the number of young toughs actually determined to cause a riot over Labor Day weekend was small. This number the police could cope with. What would be unmanageable were the thousands only too willing to follow along. Thus it was hoped that if two or three thousand youths could form a beach society or organization, however loose, they could exert a substantial tempering influence in an unstable situation.
Somehow, it was felt, entertainment for young people would also have to play a part. It was generally agreed that entertainment alone would not be effective, that unless it was the logical outcome of a summerlong program to give youth a sense of sharing and proprietorship in the beach there would be no motivation for them to act counter to a riot. It was at this point that the "constructive shock" theory was advanced by Dr. Palmer. The concept here was that if something as impelling as a riot was pending it would take something equally compelling to redirect and hold the attention of the young people. If whatever constructive device were used was kept a complete surprise and if it were sufficiently startling, suggested Dr. Palmer, it might have the desired effect. There was speculation as to actual details and we toyed with the idea of one or more helicopters dropping from the sky to disgorge entertainers of unquestionable effectiveness.
It was actually a modification of this idea that was embraced in the plan later advanced by the TAR Committee. The thinking went something like this: the three ring circus is effective because so much is taking place all at once that the spectator is absorbed despite himself, even despite the fact that some of the entertainment might be inferior. Therefore if Hampton were to use a similar concept -- perhaps simultaneous dances north and south of the Seashell on the sand and some sort of variety show in the Seashell itself -- there would be so much activity that young people would be more inclined either to watch or take part, than they would be to start a riot. For several years now, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, had been successfully diverting young people from their former pattern of rioting, using something resembling this technique.
The various conferences with the young people lasted from two to four hours a session. They were so intensely interested in the problem, and particularly in being able to do something about it, that they would hang around and talk to you for another hour or more after the conference was over.< /p>
The summary of these open-end seminars was subsequently presented both to the TAR Committee and to the Blandin Commission, together with at least tentative conclusions that it would indeed be possible to establish some sort of youth organization and program on Hampton Beach insofar as the young people themselves were concerned. The report to the TAR Committee was given March 18th and to the Blandin Commission March 22nd.
Governor's Commission on Public Disturbances
By this time the Blandin Commission -- officially the Governor's Commission on Public Disturbances -- had been in operation for some six weeks. In addition to its chairman, Associate Justice Amos N. Blandin, Jr. of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, its members were Dr. John P. Bowler, a physician and former governor's councillor from Hanover; Rev. William S. Gannon an Episcopalian clergyman from Manchester; Ralph T. Harris, real estate agent and resort owner from Hampton Beach; Attorney William S. Green of Manchester; Mrs. Isabelle Hildreth, a Nashua housewife; Dr. Frederick M. Jervis, a psychologist from the University of New Hampshire; Dr. Melville Neilson, a University of New Hampshire sociologist; Robert F. Preston of the TAR and TAP Committees and the Seacoast Regional Development Association, also a Hampton Beach businessman; Colonel Joseph L. Regan, Commandant of the New Hampshire State Police; Dean Thaddeus Seymour of Dartmouth; and Mr. Michael J. Shyne, Boy Scout executive of Manchester.
A regularly invited guest to the meetings was Attorney James Fallon of the TAP Committee. In addition a number of others were occasional guests, including Stone, Van Nostrand and myself from the TAR Committee, Hampton's acting Police Chief, members of the State Parks Department, Dr. Kvaraceus and one or more young people.
This was an interesting and important group. Among its members were strong liberals and outspoken conservatives. Justice Blandin was an eminently fair and capable chairman, who was able to evoke vigorous expression of viewpoints from all members of the group and subsequently to effect a workable and useable consensus.
Through February and March the Commission heard the Governor's charge of responsibility and review of the facts, visited Hampton Beach, saw movies of the 1964 riots, considered various correspondence, and listened to a number of witnesses and opinions.
It was through the Commission's recommendations that the state police were present at Hampton Beach on weekends from early March and full time once the summer season began. Other recommendations of the Commission and actions resultant thereto will be discussed below
During this same period, January through March 1965, the Chamber of Commerce directors and the TAP Committee continued their efforts toward riot prevention. Under Chairman James Fallon, the latter body saw to it that several bills were filed in title with the New Hampshire Legislature through the cooperation of Representative Casassa and Senator Hunter. Other recommendations went to the Board of Selectmen. In particular the TAP Committee was concerned with the passage of bills relating to curfews, the raising of fines (both local and state), the lowering of age of juveniles in New Hampshire, and for renting regulations. A bill on the latter was drafted in its entirety by Fallon, submitted to TAP and ultimately to the legislature. In the end no revision of New Hampshire's lodging regulations was passed by the 1965 Legislature -- unfortunately so, inasmuch as standing regulations are so loose that there is no penalty for a person -- adult or minor -- who signs a false name in a hotel register. Mr. Fallon's bill would have corrected this deficiency and among other things would have put rather stringent restrictions on unsupervised minors.
Similarly, members of the TAP Committee and other individuals undertook to see what could be done through community action to restrict the unsupervised rental of rooms and cottages to minors or irresponsible persons. A limited survey of real estate agents and practices was submitted to the Blandin Commission.
During this same period the Chamber of Commerce directors took up several matters relating to the TAR Committee's activities. In the directors' meeting of March 2nd they agreed to apply to the Division of Juvenile Delinquency for a grant of some $40,000. In the light of subsequent difficulties in communication between the TAR Committee and the directors, it is interesting to note two items in the minutes of this directors' meeting. In the approval to apply for the grant it was noted that the money was to be used "for a study of the Hampton riots with information gathered and activities tried which might become a model for other areas to combat similar problems...."
Unfortunately the phrase in references to activities was not generally understood by several of the directors who subsequently recalled only that the TAR program was to entail only research.
Here again it is difficult to determine where the breakdown in communications occurred or how it might have been prevented. The activities aspect of TAR's program was at that date still in a phase of concept rather than detail. Without specific details to discuss, it was difficult to promote the concepts before the Board of Directors, who were concerned from the outset in the practical application of those concepts. In any case, it should be noted at least in passing that, whatever the minutes of the directors' meeting may have said, the directors did not at this time or for some weeks thereafter have a clear idea what activities would be broached. Certainly one factor was a fear on the part of some members of the TAR Committee that if ideas were prematurely advanced they might be vetoed before they could be thoroughly developed.
The minutes of this same directors' meeting also note Stone's statement that the money would be used by the TAR Committee for programs set up by TAR and approved by the sponsoring organization, which of course would be the Chamber of Commerce.
This was the beginning of a change in the status of TAR. In its original establishment as a subcommittee of TAP, TAR's responsibility was loosely drawn. The phrase from the TAP Committee's report had said only that TAR was to report its meetings to TAP for TAP's consideration. Now in March came the first questions of interpretation of that phrase as the TAR Committee began to chafe under possible restrictions and might not be subject to proper control.
Also a difficulty for both groups was the fact that of the TAR Committee only Casassa, Elliot and Preston were regular Chamber of Commerce members; the others in varying degrees were outsiders whose plans had rather quickly come to be, at least potentially, a substantial element in the program for the coming spring and summer. It must be recalled that when Stone was appointed TAR chairman and given the responsibility for appointing his own committee, no one had a concept of the size and potential of the federal grant or the program it would entail.
On March 16 the first step was taken in the long search for a program acceptable both to TAR and to the Chamber directors. On this day the Chamber's entertainment committee met with a group of Hampton young people and Manning Van Nostrand to hear what the younger generation thought about the Chamber's traditional program. With more frankness than tact the young people said they liked virtually nothing about the programs of previous years. They told the Chamber they wanted a better band with teen type music. They asked for block dances with records or with a combo to play "real wild stuff," according to the minutes of that meeting, which went on to note that the youthful delegation didn't like long hair music -- i.e., anything over ten years old except rhythm.
The somewhat startled committee did what it could. If a good band was to be engaged for the summer, there was little time for further delay so the committee hired Stanley Bednarz with the request that he hold off as long as possible in his programming and employment of musicians in order that the Chamber could request at a later date certain kinds of music (i.e., for teens) for certain weekly concerts.