One Hundred Years Young
Clara Gale Celebrates 100 Years
By Virginia Taylor
Atlantic News, Thursday, July 22, 1999
(Editor's Note: In recognition of the milestone 100th birthday of Hampton resident Clara Gale on July 20, friends Kenneth Malcolm and Virginia Taylor shared some special photos and thoughts about the former Hampton. polls worker prior to a surprise gathering given in Clara's honor at the Hampton Methodist Church Tuesday evening. In addition to the birthday celebration, a tree will be planted in her honor next to the Masonic Building in Hampton, along with a plaque bearing her name. Gale's picture will also appear in the New Hampshire Manual for the General Court (Redbook) at the town clerk's office. Below is a look back at Clara's life, written by Virginia Taylor:)
HAMPTON - She was born Clara Seward on July 20,1899 (a Thursday), in Exeter, to her parents, Samuel and Grace Hannah Seward. She was the only girl, having two brothers - Harold and Samuel. She graduated from Robinson Seminary in Exeter in 1920.
Seventy-eight years ago, on December 8, 1921, she married Floyd Gale of Exeter. Their first home was on the Exeter Road about a half-mile north of her present home, which is the home she and Floyd built in 1941. Her next-door neighbors were Sam and Etta Towle. Because Sam was a distant relative of mine, whom I had known since 1932, it was only natural that I came to also know Clara.
At one time Clara and Floyd lived over Gale's Garage, where with Clara's help, they had a good business. Because Floyd was deputy sheriff, Clara often accompanied him on his various calls, often entertaining other friends, officers, or "snowplow" men, with late evening meals.
In their early years, she sometimes commented about not having much money to go on. "But," Floyd would say, "we have each other, what more do we need?"
Floyd died on June 16, 1967. Clara has remained at the same residence these past 32 years, not wanting to leave the house which they had built together.
Clara's years were never idle years; neither before or after her husband's death. She joined Exeter's Orient Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star in 1925, becoming their worthy matron in 1934.
Clara was at one time Grand Organist for the Grand Chapter of New Hampshire where she traveled all over the state and often on exchange evenings in Maine.
During World War II, Clara was one of about 12 women who comprised the Women's Auxiliary Police. They patrolled the streets of their neighborhoods enforcing blackout laws and other specific rules. Clara's "beat" was from the railroad overpass westerly on Exeter Road to the home of Baron William Von Blomberg. During an initial outing one evening at dusk when all about was quiet, she started up the Blomberg driveway and inadvertently disturbed a flock of treed birds. Their sudden chattering and chirping startled and unnerved the tiny Clara.
But, she recovered instantly to go up to the house and advise the occupants to dim their lighting. Thus began a life-long friendship with the Baron and his adopted son, Antoine. It takes some imagination to envision the pint sized Clara threatening anyone with her "billy club". However, there was no doubting the authority in her voice!
And - her many years at the polls! At the 1984 Hampton Town Meeting she was honored for having served for 64 consecutive years. Then at a special dinner at Yoken's in 1992, she was again honored for her more than 72 years of service at the Hampton polls; and for her association with the Hampton Republican Town Committee, Clara was presented the "Minnie Philbrick Service Award" by then Representative Kenneth Malcolm.
During the town elections this past March, the late Howie Noyes came to Clara's to pick up her absentee ballot. He remarked afterward to a newspaper reporter, "She's sharper then you and I put together. People half her age can't keep up with Clara."
Until the last two years, Clara was eager to go anywhere or to fill in for, any office she was asked to. And no matter where, she was usually found working in the organization's kitchen. But the death of her dear and loyal friend, Antoine Von Blomberg, and a more recent fall on her stairs have caused her to curtail her activities. Now, just the fact that so many well-wishers have joined her on her special day attests to the fact that she still has many loyal friends who wish her good health.