Tuck Memorial Museum
By Verne Colby
Seacoast Scene, July 13, 1981
When summer's sun sends temperatures soaring we'll hear reports of people packing at Hampton Beach. Estimates of one hundred thousand folks or more seeking cooler air and the kiss of cold water won't be uncommon, day after day. So through this summertime it's a fact that millions of people will walk by, drive by, ir view from the sands, the New Hampshire Marine Memorial, the statue that many call "The Lady of the Sea".
The millions must marvel for the memorial makes a powerful impact. There are several mood qualities carved on the sweet face turned toward the sea; serenity and sadness, wisdom and acceptance. There is command, gentle as a mother's lullaby in the inscription, "Breathe Soft Ye Winds, Ye Waves In Silent Rest." Solemnity's seal will set on anyone of feeling the realization that "This is the only gravestone for 248 tons of the Granite State lost or buried at sea."
Suppose we said that those few facts and appreciations are only a fraction of the whole story behind the statue -- and that the total tale is fascinating? Would you want to know more, if you could do so quickly and conveniently, and for free?
The place to visit is Hampton's Tuck Memorial Museum, 40 Park Avenue, advertising itself as "The Showplace of Hampton's Past," open to the public now  for seven days a week through August, 1-4 pm. From Hampton Beach you're ten minutes away at most if you ask directions, and from Route 1, 1 minute, turning on Park Avenue in the vicinity of the Catholic Church. Children must be accompanied by adults.
The Tuck Museum has hundreds of stories for you; we'll mention several after telling you more about the Marine Memorial as Tuck Museum tells it. Steps running between a wagon wheel take you to Tuck's screen door. Walk the entire length of the long room, cupping your hands at either side of your face as a horse is blinded -- so you will not be diverted by an attic room of treasures. Steps up steps to a square room, turn right through a library to a small room beyond. You will see dramatically before you, the large, white plaster cast of "The Lady of the Sea," used by the shaper of the New Hampshire granite for point by point measurements of her head and shoulders. When you meet her eye to eye, her beauty is not diminished from the beach statue.
In the library, there is a long row of fat, blue-bound binders. They must be described as a work of love and dedication for all who visit. John M. Holman, Curator, is principally responsible for these -- and we further note that many town residents, members of the Meeting House Green Memorial and Historical Association, have been and are the backbone of the hospitable place. But back to the book. One is the base for all we know of the memorial at the beach ... and that is more than we'll tell you, you must have the gumption and go yourself.
Some facts on the N.H. Marine Memorial: The dedication with parade and speeches was Memorial Day, 1957, -- so next May 30 will be the quarter century anniversary. One man who spoke was Reverend Daniel Poling, Director of the Chapel of the Four Chaplains, Philadelphia. As plans for the memorial progressed, choices for the location shifted; it might well have been in Rye -- Pulpit Rock, Ragged Neck. One man involved was General Frank Merrill, State Highway Commissioner -- famous for World War II courage of Merrill's Marauders. Another was Governor Sherman Adams, who later made an unfortunate splash in the papers when he resigned as President Eisenhower's White House Chief of Staff because of acceptance of a vicuna coat from a flamboyant textile tycoon. For the memorial, a 24-ton granite block was reduced to 7 tons in the shaping. The artist who created the memorial's concept was Alice Cosgrove, born in Concord, N.H. -- she had also created a smiling boy as the Granite State ad logo, ski posters, etc. -- and named him Chippa Granite. There is much more to inform you about in this blue-bound binder.
Now we have you at Tuck Museum, we are loath to let you go. In the library are the Championship Award Cups. If you poke with a finger, gently, you'll find folded paper in the bowl. "The Most Original Car, Auto Parade, Hampton Beach Carnival, 1919. The winner, an open Chalmers, c. 1915. The car was trimmed with greenery and red, white and blue crepe paper. On the folded down top at the rear, a small girl sat dressed as Columbia, and flanked by two boys in soldier's and sailor's suits. Between the front and back seats, a blond Shetland pony, named Lord Kitchener, stood, his young owner on ponyback dressed as George Washington. Through the parade the pony was calm, sometimes munched the greenery."
The Tuck Museum is full of memorabilia of Hampton's past -- the items once so readily found in a Yankee attic or parlor, or harness room or otherwise empty hayloft of an old barn. Spinning wheels are here, an old piano of Hampton manufacture, old radios and speakers, and a turkey feather fan. And seaweed rakes, cobbler's bench, old hand plow, stuffed collection of seacoast birds, cider and cheese presses, corn sheller. Even a number of glass milk and cream bottles from Hampton dairies. Has your child seen a milk bottle?
All that you see around -- adjoined landscaped park, athletic field for the town -- were the dream of Reverend Ira Jones who did much of the physical work even in the dedication year of 1925 when he was eighty-eight. On the beautiful grounds, between two trees, is supposedly the resting place of 'Hampton's Witch,' "Goody" Cole. We approached this spot with Mr. Holman,and then walked to the c. 1850's restored District School, an exhibit on the lot, which has been shut and locked since last summer. Confusion and chaos greeted us when the door was unlocked. Two flags and some books were scattered, overturned. By three small, paned windows, heaps of wood chips were on the floor -- and the wood frames were gnawed thin. Surely, squirrels, unless Goody Cole was grinning at us from the Great Beyond. Ask the folks at Tuck for the full story on Goody.
We've not touched the tip of the treasures at Tuck Museum. Not even told you bout the fabulously wealthy Edward Tuck of Paris -- descended from Hampton settler blood -- who was principal benefactor. His story is found in detail in another blue binder ... as well as stories of great fires, and books full of post card history of Hampton and the Beach. Millions will marvel at Hampton Beach's Marine Memorial -- but they won't know the story of the statue unless they meet the lady face to face at The Tuck. We recommend this as a project for Hampton's Mounted Patrol -- lassoo a hundred or a thousand tourists each summer day, herd them gently, for they are precious to us, up the Winnacunnet Road for three miles to The Tuck Museum. To residents who've never been, "Shame on you!" Make the trek today. No admission, donations for maintenance thankfully received, friendly people for all the guidance you'd like.