Hampton, New Hampshire
"Our Store In The Cellar, As Seen By A Customer"
By Dorothy Dean Holman(1895 - 1984)
(Edited by John M. Holman, Contributing Writer)
It is a Saturday morning in early August, and the yard is full of cars, with people entering and leaving the cellar through an open bulk-head. They go in empty-handed, but when they come out, their arms are full of bags and bundles from which protrudes an occasional beet or carrot top or fresh, green husks of corn. Your curiosity getting the best of you, you leave your car and join them.
Over the entrance, hangs a blackboard, listing the vegetables for sale that day: beets, carrots, cucumbers, string beans, etc., filling the blackboard from top to bottom. You scan the list and go down the steps into the cellar. You have to stoop a little as you enter, but once inside, since you are not very tall, you can stand erect with confidence.
There are several customers ahead of you, so while waiting your turn, you have time to look around. You notice a tall man who seems to be immobile. He is standing between two beams. He has learned his lesson from a sad experience and seeks out his place every time he comes, you believe.
A woman in a bathing suit is being waited on. You wonder if she is going in bathing or has been in, or is just trying to keep cool. A young mother with two children is having a hard time keeping them in line. The girl is helping herself to string beans by the handful, and the boy is "weighing his hand" by bearing down on the scale with all his might.
How cool it is down here! Twenty degrees cooler than outside. The man who preceded you says to his companion, "Coolest place I've struck today," to which his friend replies, "You can't beat these old-time cellars." You mentally agree with him as you scan the beams overhead. Hand-hewn! Wooden pegs! An arch chimney! You remember reading once they hadn't been built since the 1700's. Yes, that's right. This is WAYSIDE FARM at 263 Mill Road in Hampton. Built in the late 1700's and purchased in 1925 by Marshall and Dorothy Holman from Jacob Purington, and they operated it as a "truck garden" until Mr. Holman's passing in 1965.
Along with the cool comfort of the store, you notice a wonderful smell of fresh, green things with onion aroma predominating. Your eyes come to rest on the counter before you on which is displayed all the makings of a tossed salad; red, ripe tomatoes; crisp, cool heads of lettuce, radishes, scallions, and even small bunches of cress. Looking down, you note boxes of cucumbers, two of them; those in one box being half the price of those in the other. You hear the clerk explaining to a customer the difference being in the freshness; day-old ones selling for half-price.
You watch her busily filling the customers' wants, weighing out string beans, picking out bunches of beets, and choosing just the right cucumber. She is middle age, you should say, around fifty, fairly plump, and is dressed in a plaid gingham shirt and blue dungarees. She talks as she works, asking after the health of the family, and suggesting methods of cooking to the inexperienced.
The tossed salad counter is only a small part of the store. Arranged along the sides on racks, are foot and a half from the floor are numerous boxes, each containing a different vegetable -- yellow and green string beans, early cabbage, three kinds of greens, spinach, endive, chard, beets, carrots and summer turnips. You notice everyone is asking for sweet corn, and you hear the clerk say, "The mister has gone to the field to get some and will be back soon if you want to wait." Your mouth waters when you think of corn right out of the garden!
Soon you hear the chug of a Model "A" and all eyes turn toward the entrance as someone says, "Here he comes!" Downs the steps and into the store comes the farmer. He is carrying a bushel basket piled high with corn. He sets it down and mops his face with a blue bandana. The clerk commences to count out the ears. You count with her (to yourself, of course) and notice she puts in thirteen to every dozen, seven to every half. The man ahead of you gives his order. "Two dozen, please. I'm having folks down from the city and I want to feed them real corn."
And now it's your turn. You order the tossed salad ingredients and your half dozen corn. The crowd has thinned out. You notice you're the last customer. The rush is over for a while. You pick up your purchases and leave, noticing as you do so, a sign over the door which reads, "DUCK". You smile and do just that!
The farmer and his wife follow you out and sit down on the top step. You're vacationing at the beach and are in no hurry to get back to the cottage. Besides, it's so nice and quiet here and you'd like to talk to these people.
You ask about help. Do they do all the work themselves? "No", the farmer answers, "we just have a neighbor boy (Clarence Barrett now of Rochester, NH) of twelve who came to us when he was ten. We tried him out for a week and found him such a good and willing worker that we kept him on.
"How about advertising?" you ask. "Don't you have a sign out front?" His answer was, "No, no need for one. One satisfied customer tells another and the vegetables practically sell themselves."
As you talk, another customer arrives. She seems to be familiar with the place since she goes straight to the cellar. As she comes nearer and the farmer's wife starts to rise, she says, "Don't get up. I'll get what I wants." Soon she comes out with her purchases saying, as she drops some coins in the farmer's hand, "It's just right. I took a pound of beans and one cucumber." After she has gone, you say, "Do you trust people that way?" and the farmer replies, "Oh, yes. We think most people are honest. Every year in September, we take a day off and go to the Deerfield Fair, 'hired man' and all. We stock the store, leave a box for change, and write on the blackboard, "SERVE YOURSELF". And they do just that, judging from the money found in the box when we return. Sure, we think most people are honest."
You look at your watch. It is high noon and though you aren't in any hurry to eat, perhaps they are. So reluctantly, you leave these trusting farm folk and their unique and practical store in the cellar.
Wayside Farm during Fall harvesting
"This is a father and son Food Team in Hampton, New Hampshire. Marshall Holman, the father, lost an arm in a shot gun accident, but with the help of son John, the team is the equivalent of more than two pairs of hands for Father Holman is kept close to consumer demand in fresh vegetables by son John who is Produce Manager at Hampton First National Store, and John helps in his spare time on the farm. They raise twenty-five acres of vegetbles, including squash, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, corn, strawberries, among other vegetables and fruits." [Food Marketing in New England, Spring 1962.]
Wayside Farm, Built In 1780
Purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hanscom
The Merchants Review
Thursday, June 8, 1967
Built around 1780, it was owned and occupied by four generations of a Godfrey family, according to (Joseph) Dow's History of Hampton (1638-1892), beginning with Jonathan, through Nathan and Albert and ending with George Washington Godfrey (known locally as George Wash) and his sister, Jane Godfrey Thompson.
Albert Locke of North Hampton bought it and in the early 1920's, sold it to Jacob Purington, from whom the late Marshall Holman acquired the property in the fall of 1925.
Known as Wayside Farm, Mr. Holman operated the 18 acres, more or less, as a market garden for 40 years.
The new owners will take possession in the near future and plan to continue selling fruits and vegetables, along with Mr. Hanscom's work of painting and paper hanging.
(Footnote: Marshall Sidney and Dorothy Dean Holman had two sons, William Dean Holman, born March 15, 1923, died October 24, 1998; and John Marshall Holman, born December 16, 1928 who lives in Hampton with his wife Constance A. (Purington) Holman. (Connie passed away on July 8, 2009, having been married to John for 58 years.) Connie's grandfather, ironically, was Jacob Purington who owned the Holman property in 1925 and sold it to Marshall & Dorothy Holman in 1925.
Marshall was born in Goshen, MA on 1/25/1898 and died in Exeter, NH on 8/5/1965 at the age of 67 years. Dorothy was born in Millis, MA on 8/13/1895 and died in Hampton on 4/17/1984 at the age of 89 years. They were married in Millis, MA on April 23, 1920 having been married for 45 years at the time of Mr. Holman's death.)