Darrell's blog

Letters from Wingfield Farm

Letter from Wingfield FarmAsk any Canadian "Who is Walt Wingfield?", and you will likely be met with a delighted smile of recognition.  Comic actor Rod Beattie has been bringing the iconic character of stockbroker-turned-farmer to life on stages throughout Canada for the past 20 years.  Now these performances have been collected on six DVDs, and are available for checkout at the Lane Library.  Featuring Beattie's remarkable impersonation of over a dozen characters from Larkspur in the Persephone Township, each of these single-actor plays shines with a humor reminiscent of Will Rogers and the best of Garrison Keillor.

In describing the first play, "Letters from Wingfield Farm",  theater critic Connie Meng says  "Mr. Beattie is able to change characters in the blink of an eye.  Using only a few hats, an amazingly flexible voice and terrific body language, he plays Walt's stammering neighbor Freddie, the old Squire across the road, the newspaper owner, a maudlin Irishman, a confused old lady and a preoccupied mechanic.  By the end of the evening we feel that we know these residents of Persephone Township.

Using the format of Walt's letters to the editor of the weekly newspaper, playwright Needles ties together various anecdotes about Walt's attempts to return to a simpler life.  Among them are trying to plow with his horse that only turns to the left, his misguided attempt to milk a heifer, and his anxiety about an ailing duck.  There are a couple of touching moments, but Mr. Beattie's timing is perfect and he never allows the material to become maudlin."

Lane Library patrons may reserve any one of these DVDs by following the links below in our on-line catalog.

Letter from Wingfield Farm

Wingfield's Folly

Wingfield's Progress

Wingfield on Ice

Wingfield's Inferno

Wingfield Unbound

Farewell to the Hampton Beach Firehouse (photos)

Hampton Beach Firehouse 1928Hampton Beach Firehouse - 2013

On August 13, 1936, the Hampton Union ran a story in the Souvenir Edition about the history of the Hampton Beach Fire Department.  It read in part, "... In 1922, the first fire house was built also under the direction of Chief A. H. Brown. In the same year, an Aherns-Fox pump and ladder combination was put into use making two motor driven fire engines.  In 1923, the fire house was burned down. Immediately, the work was started to rebuild a fire station of modern design and soon there was a 2-story stone structure of a cement base and has a capacity of housing 5 modern fire trucks with a 3 door run. It was rebuilt on the site of the first fire house on Marsh (Ashworth) Ave. where it still stands."

This year the new Hampton Beach firehouse was completed, marking the end of nearly a century of life for this grand old building.  To mark its passing, staff from the Lane Library was allowed inside just prior to demolition in order to take some photographs.  These shots are now available for viewing on our Flickr site.  Included are images of the various rooms and bays, plus a few close-ups of the old fixtures and some bits and pieces of daily life.  We also have a web page dedicated to the Hampton Fire Department, with many linked articles for those who would like to delve deeper into both the history of the Fire Department and some of the more notable fires from the past.

Bays 1 and 2Precinct meeting roomMedical care

Inside the Hampton District Courthouse

Hampton Grammar School THEN AND NOW

The building now known as the old Hampton District Courthouse has a long and storied history.  Built in 1873 as the Center Grammar School on Winnacunnet Rd., it was moved in 1916 to its present location across from the library.  Since then it has served as Hampton's first public Kindergarten, the American Legion Post #35 hall, and Fire Station #2 from 1932 until 1978 , when it officially became the Courthouse.  In 2005 the building was declared uninhabitable due to mold and asbestos contamination, and retired from public service.

After much debate and discussion , the Hampton Board of Selectmen made the decision in March of 2013 to demolish the Courthouse. Before it goes away forever, Town Manager Fred Welch gave permission for staff of the Lane Library and members of the Hampton Historical Society to don dust masks and take photographs of the interior rooms and spaces.  We've created a gallery to showcase the results, and reveal the inside of a building rarely seen by the public. We also have a gallery of photos and videos taken during the building's demolition on May 28, 2013.

For those interested in how the shots were made, I used a wide-angle lens coupled with a process known as HDR photography, where multiple exposures are blended together to achieve a broader tonal range and enhanced colors.  This gives a slightly surreal and melancholy effect, and is a popular choice when shooting abandoned or disused interiors.

Courthouse interior     Courthouse interior


Thanks to Cheryl Lassiter for supplying an image of a small plaque found on the sidewalk outside the Courthouse building commemorating the Cashman Bros. of Newburyport, contractors who moved and renovated the building.

Cashman Bros plaque

Help name Brad's next book!

Hampton author Brad Boucher recently spoke at the library about his love of horror and suspense fiction and the challenges and rewards of writing in that genre.  As a surprise to his audience, he revealed at the end of his talk that he is holding a "Name My Next Book!" contest to celebrate the publication of his newest fiction work this summer in Nook and Kindle format.  How does it work?  Based on the plot details below, create a title for the book and email it to the author at beachsidemedia@comcast.net.  On June 15th, 2013, Brad will choose one of the entries as the title of his new book.  The winner will also receive credit for their title in the opening pages of the novel, a character named after them within the book itself, and a gift card to be used at a local Hampton restaurant.

Plot details:
In the small quarry-town of Glen Forest, New Hampshire, a terrible evil is about to rise again after centuries of dormancy.  It is a spirit without mercy, a creature as old as the world itself, and no modern weapon can defeat it.  It is what the ancient Eskimo Indian tribes called the Demon of the Wind, and only one man knows its secrets.  His name is John Artarqua, a young Aleut Eskimo who has studied the legends and culture of his people for his entire life.  He has never fully believed the legends, viewing them as just superstition and folklore, but now he is about to come face to face with the truth behind the stories of his youth.  Armed with the talismans of the dying shaman of his tribe, John must overcome his own doubt in order to survive ...

All suggestions will be considered, and Brad promises that one of the entries will indeed become the new title!  For those interested in reading Brad's previous books Diviner, Curnow's Crossing, and The Shoals, they are available from the library on one of our circulating Nook e-readers. 

[Editor's note: The contest is now over and the book title has been chosen.]

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