By Katy Braisted, Contributing Reporter
Thursday, November 24, 1999
-- PART 1 --
HAMPTON .... Inside the quiet boundaries of the High Street Cemetery, protected by a giant evergreen tree and surrounded by a tiny picket fence, more than 30 Hampton babies have found their eternal resting place since the 1960s.
"Babyland", as the 32' x 24' plot of land is known, was the inspiration of Roland W. Paige, Cemetery Superintendent in the days when the Cemetery was overseen by an association rather than a Board of Trustees. Paige, in an effort to ease the pain of families experiencing the loss of an infant, presented the association with his plan for designating the plot as a place exclusively for Hampton's dearly departed infants. The association agreed and Hampton families can now lay their little ones to rest in Babyland free of charge.
[Photo by Kate Braisted, Atlantic News]
In recent years, an anonymous donor has contributed two vinyl picket fences in an attempt to set the extraordinary place apart from the rest of the Cemetery. But the fences have not proven sturdy enough to weather the harsh New England elements and unintentional mistreatment of the fences by visitors. The present picket fence is in a state of disrepair to the point that the entire back section has had to have been removed.
While Babyland is a special area despite the state of the fence, an effort is currently underway [November 1999] to place an article on the Town's 2000 warrant for funds to replace the existing fence with a "Kroy Vinyl" fence. The Kroy fence would provide a permanent solution to the problem, would never need painting and require minimal maintenance. The Town's cost to bring the project to completion would be $1,850.00. Leading the effort in placing the article on the warrant are long-time Hampton residents John and Connie Holman. And though the humble couple refuses to take credit for spearheading the beautification project, it is clearly a plan that is near and dear to their hearts. "Babyland" is such a peaceful and quiet area. I think it helps parents to know their babies are in such a special place," said Mrs. Holman.
The Holmans recognize that while families are deeply saddened by the loss of a child at any age, the presence of Babyland should be a special place where loved ones can find peace and comfort during their grieving process.
installing "BABYLAND" stone.
[RCN photo by Jill Brady, Hampton Union]
Cemetery Superintendent Danny Kenney believes the project is a good idea and that the area is a special source of comfort to grieving families. Kenney believes the fence will become a reality in one way or another. "People who lose children, and infants ... come to the Cemetery a lot. The families meet here and have sort of created an informal support group. You can tell it really helps them," Kenney said.
John and Connie Holman are busy spearheading the effort to have the article placed on the 2000 warrant and are currently seeking signatures of registered voters in the Town of Hampton.
[Update: Pam and Gary Provencher of "Hoaty's Restaurant" were gracious enough to allow the petition to be available at their establishment. In all 113 signatures were obtained from various sources during December 1999, and were turned in to the Town Office on December 28, 1999, to be included in the 2000 Town Warrant. Also, "Lil's Grill" displayed copies of Article 57 for her patrons to examine.]