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December 4, 1883 - January 1, 1961
"Our Town" By James W. Tucker
Hampton Union, Thursday, January 12, 1961
We include them under the title, "Hampton Beach Pioneers." Numbered in the group ar those men and women who have been mainly responsible for the modern growth and development of our town's famous recreational center. By "modern growth," we mean roughly the period which began right after the opening of the twentieth century -- that epoch marked by the advent of the trolley car, the Hampton Beach Casino and the "Mile Long Wooden Bridge," the pile structure which first spanned the inlet to Hampton Harbor, thereby making our beach directly accessible from the south.
New Spirit of Accord
They were a rugged lot, these beach pioneers -- individualists at the outset who eventually learned the value of cooperation and the need of organization. Tribute to them, as a group and as personalities, has been paid so often in this column that their names need not be repeated now. At the outset, with a very few exceptions, they were not socially acceptable in the provincial-minded Hampton of a half-century ago. They were characterized as "furriners" and treated, for the most part, with suspicion and disdain. Nearly all of them are gone. Many sons and daughters remain to appreciate the spirit of accord and understanding which now marks the happy relationship between "beach" and "town."
A beach pioneer, who was a decided exception to the rank and file of pioneers, insofar as recognized standing in the exclusive genealogies of old Hampton families is concerned, died early on New Year's Day after a long and harrowing illness which he bore with high courage and fortitude. Frederick Russell Batchelder, born in Hampton and educated in Hampton, at Phillips Exeter Academy and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was a descendant of the famous founder, Rev. Stephen Bachiler.
As an engineer of distinction, associated all his life with the N. E. Telephone and Telegraph Company, whatever of provincialism he may have inherited from his progenitors was soon eradicated by reason of his education and his daily opportunity to rub elbows with men of culture and experience. He became broad-minded and liberal, so it was only natural for him thoroughly to understand the position of the average business man who lived in the beach section of Hampton.
Sensed Beach Value
Moreover, he sensed the potential worth of Hampton Beach to his native town in the way of tax revenue which would bring municipal facilities not otherwise available, and public educational opportunities which Hampton had not enjoyed in his youth. This sentiment, together with his inherent desire for justice and fair play, led him to sympathize in general with the beach group and with the desire of beach business people for the orderly growth and development of the area where they were beginning to eke out a precarious living.
And there was probably another compelling reason which caused Fred Batchelder naturally to side with the beach community. In the stagecoach days, long before the era which we have referred to as "modern," his father and his grandfather before him conducted a hostelry on Great Boar's Head which catered to the carriage trade. These were the faraway days when Hampton was known as "a watering place comparable to Newport." A love of the beach was born in him.
An Engineer's Interest
So, when he learned at first hand, through painstaking personal investigation, of the unsanitary condition caused by dumping the raw sewage of the rapidly growing recreational community into the Atlantic Ocean, he headed a movement to eliminate the out-fall method of sewage disposal at Hampton Beach. The electrical engineer contacted sanitary engineers and learned of the so-called Imhoff Tank method of sewage disposal, used in Chicago and in other big cities of the mid-west.
Modern Sewage System
With patience, dogged determination and skill, as chairman of the community committee, he led a long, hard fight which included thirteen regular and special town meetings, but which finally resulted in the installation of this modern disposal system in our town. Hampton Beach proudly advertised the fact that it was the only community on the Atlantic coast from Canada to the tip of Florida which did not discharge the sewage into the ocean -- that it was the only town which safe-guarded its bathing waters with a modern, sanitary disposal system.
His help to the beach community in other progressive undertakings, such as planning and zoning, was equally effective and led to his election as a Commissioner of the Hampton Beach Village District or Precinct, as it is generally called. His love of the sea and of boating was the reason for his interest in the Hampton Harbor Yacht Club which he helped to organize and which he served as its first commodore.
He had a deep and abiding respect for his home town, for its institutions and for its historical heritage, yet his interests strayed far beyond the boundaries of Hampton. His knowledge of state and national affairs was indicated by the keen, analytical communications he often addressed to the editor of the Boston Herald and he never hesitated to let leaders in Congress know of his thoughts and ideas concerning important subjects of national interest. He most certainly was civic-minded and for that reason always keenly aware of important happenings at home and abroad.
Fred Batchelder was a quiet gentleman of retiring disposition, soft voiced, thoughtful and kind. His outward manner belied an indomitable will and a keen sense of humor that was greatly enjoyed by his many friends. He was a clever amateur photographer; he loved nature and the out-of-doors, but he particularly enjoyed the Hampton marshes, over which he had roamed widely as a boy, becoming intimately acquainted with every winding creek; he appreciated music -- good music, as was evidenced by his choice collection of recordings, and his favorite instrument was the guitar.
A Responsible Citizen
No one was more keenly aware than Fred Batchelder that the privileges we enjoy in a democracy result from obligations, which must be met if the democracy is to endure. He fulfilled to the letter his obligations of citizenship as a soldier in the first World War and as a resident of historic Hampton who took a particular interest in the orderly development of its beach section. Because of the circumstances of his standing as a member of one of Hampton's first founding families Fred earned for himself a particularly high place among its pioneers by reason of his dedicated and efficient, yet a quiet and unobtrusive service to Hampton Beach -- a service which he was perfectly correct in assuming was in the best interests of the entire community.
Up Fuel Costs
We often wonder if it really is the so-called economic law of supply and demand or if it is only slick manipulation which causes prices of necessary commodities to fluctuates at certain seasons of the year. Just recently, and as an unwelcome Christmas present to consumers, the price of fuel oil in our town advanced from 14.8c to 15.7c per gallon -- an increase of 9c or a little over six per cent. When the opportunity for sales is greatest, the price increases.
Decrease Price of Milk
At about the same time that fuel oil costs were upped in an appreciable degree, milk prices were lowers a fraction of a cent a quart. But next summer, when the recreational business begins and the opportunity for milk sales in our town is greatest, the price of milk will go up. It may be that the increase in price of fuel oil and milk is due only to lack of supply, but we are still suspicious that somehow or other slick manipulation enters into this particular economic picture. It's a pity that consumers are not organized.
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Read Fred Batchelder's obituary