HAMPTON: A CENTURY OF TOWN AND BEACH, 1888-1988
Chapter 23 -- Part 1
Because these organizations are operated by volunteers, with officers and members who come and go, and whose concerns are usually with the demands of the present, long-term historical information about the various organizations is rarely available. In preparing this book, all Hampton organizations were asked, via the Hampton Union, to provide information for this history. Many organizations responded in detail, some offered a small amount of information, others did not reply at all. The following signed reports have been provided by various organizations. In some cases, because of the historical importance of other organizations, the author has included a few words about particular groups. Organizations that are not mentioned did not provide information, and while the omission is regretted, it is not an indication of a lack of value or purpose on the part of those organizations. A large number of organizations are mentioned by name and deed throughout this book.
The Lane Fund
The popular program was not without some problems. In 1932, the hardworking committee was wondering whether it should keep up the program, since some of the older boys during the previous year "manifested a spirit of rowdyism." For at least two years, some of the children did not receive gifts that the committee knew had been taken to the party for them. The committee asked parents and other adults to assist with the program.
In 1935, a measles epidemic prevented the annual Christmas party, so the committee arranged with trustee Henry Hobbs to deliver the gifts to each home. Each of 313 children received two gifts -- one a toy, the other something useful. In 1936, "the committee did not feel up to the party so the gifts again will be distributed. Annie E. Akerman, secretary of the Lane Fund Trustees, says the public does not realize the effort it takes to select and wrap 600 presents and on the day of the party there has not been enough help so that with the crowd of children it was impossible to control them and to distribute the gifts to the right children."
By 1942, the Lane Fund trustees had a difficult burden. About 400 children were given three gifts each, a task that required the committee to begin planning in August and involved setting aside a large section of Mrs. Thomas Cogger's Exeter Road barn as the sorting and wrapping area. Although wartime shortages made the gift buying a chore, even one-year-old children received a large ball and a silver spoon. The committee found it difficult to keep track of the new children who had moved to town and urged the parents of new babies to notify the town clerk. Meanwhile, beginning about 1930, the Beach children had their own Christmas party at the Precinct fire station. In 1942, 127 Beach children received gifts, courtesy of Kiwanis Club members who lived at the Beach.
In 1943, the committee could not buy enough toys, so they gave the children defense bonds and stockings, which were delivered to the Centre School and the Precinct fire station, but "this plan did not prove wholly satisfactory." So, in 1944, the committee decided to cancel the gift giving and allow the interest to accumulate "until later when we trust it can be used to a greater advantage."
Surviving trustees Henry Hobbs and Herbert B. Beede (Annie E. Akerman, Mary Craig, and Lucy Redman having died) in 1948 appointed three individuals (who were the selectmen) to fill out the committee. Others subsequently were appointed to the committee, and for at least the last 20 years, until 1988, Mrs. George Downer was chair of the committee. In 1989, Natalie Hockenhull became chair. A fire at the Downer house in the 1970s destroyed many of the committee's records, but the committee now distributes its available funds to needy children through the churches of Hampton. In 1987, the fund had a market value of $15,693, generated an income of $857, and Mrs. George Downer received $318 "for the benefit of the Children of Hampton, NH, at Christmas." Since the funds available are not substantial, the committee recently has distributed the money only every other year.