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"Our Town" By James W. Tucker
Thursday, August 28, 1952
This is column number 105 in the Our Town
series. We have completed two years of weekly contributions to the Hampton Union
and are now starting the third year. It has been fun. Although the expression may be trite, nevertheless we really do hope that you have got as much enjoyment out of the reading as we have received in the writing. We also hope that this pillar on the Union
's editorial page has helped, in a small way, to bring about the good relationship which exists between this weekly newspaper and all the people who read it and find it useful in one way or another. As a matter of fact, this thought about whether or not our contribution added or detracted from the good relations which exist between this medium and the general public, gave us the topic for Our Town
column, number 105.
A Two Year Summary
However, before we discuss a few recent incidents in our town and the type of public relations they may have brought about, we would like briefly to summarize two years of writing for the Hampton Union
. Each of these columns contains about 1300 words. In 105 columns there are approximately 135,000 words and that's a lot of words to inflict on a patient public. Most of the articles have had directly to do with our town. Many of them have been historical in nature. We hope they have been sufficiently factual to be of some real use to the person who one day will set out to supplement Dow's excellent History of Hampton. To cover some of the subjects about which we have written, it has been necessary to use more than one column. Hence, the story of the Hampton Beach Band was in four parts; the Hampton Beach Casino in two parts; the Beach Erosion Program, three parts; the Mary Baker Eddy series in three separate columns; the Goody Cole story in two parts; the three part Hampton Harbor series; the Meeting House and Meeting House Green series, each in two installments; the long seven-part trolly series which covered the colorful era of electric street cars in our town and the six-column series which we tried to tell the story of the Hampton Water Works Company.
A Wonderful Community
For our personal reference we have a carefully prepared index of all the columns, headed "Our Town," and we shall be most happy to extend its use to any reader who may want to know the date of issue of any column in which he has a personal interest. Our town is a wonderful community with a colorful historic background and a future of remarkable possibilities. And the people of our town are, for the most part, unusual folks -- neighborly, thoughtful, kind-hearted and fully aware of their citizenship responsibilities. We are never at a loss for something to write about.
Public Relations Defined
But to get back to public relations. Individuals and groups of individuals in all fields of human endeavor, who need the wholehearted cooperation of the general public in order to, achieve success in their efforts, must have good public relations. In particular, all types of public utilities, which depend on the public for the monopoly which they exercise in their chosen field and likewise on the public for the sale of their stock as well as for the sale of their goods or services or both, are keenly conscious of their imperative need for preserving good relations with the public at large. Communities, political parties and chambers of commerce likewise know the need of keeping on the best of terms with John Q. Citizen. Out of this need has grown a profession -— staid and dignified and needless to add, useful — the public relations counsellor.
As To Discrimination
Charges of discrimination, levelled recently against our town were based on nothing more than a flimsy pretense. Yet, if the two organizations directly concerned with the original dissemination of the yarns which led to the charges, had been advised in the first instance by a competent public relations man, the charges might never have reached the news and editorial columns of any newspaper.
Recent Beauty Contest
We have wondered, since the local beauty contest of last Thursday night, just what a good public relations counsellor would say about competitions of this particular kind. Here, as we understand it, the only qualification to be judged was physical beauty. Intelligence, deportment and artistic ability did not necessarily enter into the picture. With relation to the one qualification at issue, several thousand people in front of the bandstand thought they knew more than the impartial newspaper men who acted as judges. The judges obviously did not consider personal popularity to be an attribute of physical beauty -- neither did they consider an unconscious mannerism in a young lady's style of walking to be a detriment to beauty of face or figure.
Harming Public Relations
As far as these rheumy old eyes are concerned, the judges choice was OK on the basis of the only qualification at issue between members of this delightful bevy of beautiful young girls. But the crowd thought otherwise. The disgraceful scene which ensured was never before equalled in our town. We sincerely hope it will never happen again. We believe that a competent public relations counsellor would advise in favor of either omitting such a contest altogether or increasing the qualifications to include other attributes and abilities such as is done in the national contest at Atlantic City. Disorder, mass hysteria and ill-feeling, such as was caused by the recent beach beauty contest, does nothing but harm to good public relations.
Man On Street Important
Nothing is more important to political organizations at national, state, county and community levels than good public relations. The vote exercised by the man on the street is just as important when all votes are tabulated as the ballot cast by the nation's President. The political good-will of the average citizen should be cultivated assiduously by political organizations on all levels. There is little if any comparable need of cultivating the good will and cooperation of stalwart party organization officers and workers. Yet, we seem to h ave observed that the Republican party, at all political sub-division levels, seems to direct less effort to win the vote of the average citizen than it does to keep in line the party hacks whose vote would be Republican in any event.
Room Only For Big-Wigs
We wonder what a clever public relations man would say to our own county Republican club which was unable to entertain its rank and file members at a recent luncheon pow-wow because room had to be made for the party big-wigs on a national and state level. And how would this same competent authority regard the reservation of the entire second-floor Casino veranda for these same stalwart Republican leaders, while rank and file party members stood under the hot sun on the hard street payment waiting to hear Candidate Nixon.
As has been suggested editorially on this page, might not good public relations have been served better if, under the circumstances of Mr. Nixon's visit, all interested Republicans had been invited to eat a clam-bake or even a box lunch with Mr. Nixon and the candidates for national and state office in some place sufficiently large to accommodate a few thousand instead of only a few hundred? And could not a couple of thousand folding chairs have been placed for average Republicans in a roped-off area on the Boulevard directly in front of the bandstand, while perhaps three hundred of the Republican elite occupied the five hundred seats which had been reserved for them on the second-floor Casino veranda?
One Republican, whom we know quite well, telephoned the Casino office at 11:30 a.m. on Nixon Day and asked if seats were to be reserved on the upper Casino veranda for the speech-making at three o'clock. Upon being assured that such was not the case, he, with his family, drove to the Casino, only to be turned brusquely away at the veranda entrance. Physically unable to stand in the street for several hours, the Republican family made its way back home, a bit disgruntled but still liking Ike.
There are many other illustrations at hand but the above perhaps will suffice to indicate the need of cultivating good public relations in all fields of public endeavor right here at home in our own town.
Human Interest Incident
An incident in connection with the beauty contest, mentioned above, which was replete with real human interest, had to do with one of the last eight contestants. Miss Carol Wheeler's mother, Dorothy Dudley Wheeler, was Queen of the Hampton Beach Carnival in 1931 and here grandmother Clara H. Dudley, was Queen of the second annual Carnival in 1916.
Two Federal Investigations
Col. L. H. Hewitt, N. E. Division Engineer of the Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army, has informed the writer that Federal funds are "expected in the very near future" for BOTH of the projects in which our town is vitally interested: (1) the cooperative beach erosion control study of Hampton Beach, approved by the Chief of Engineers on December 12, 1938 and (2) the navigation study of Hampton River and Harbor authorized by Congressional resolution on June 2, 1949. "As soon as these funds are received," writes Col. Hewitt, "your state and local authorities will be advised as to when this work will be initiated and to what extent it will be necessary for the local interests to cooperate in connection with these studies."
As we understand it, the state has already agreed to cooperative financially in the cooperative beach erosion study, and local financial cooperation will not be necessary in the very limited initial study of navigation conditions in Hampton Harbor. To Gen. Merrill, Congressman Merrow, Al Redden and Al Tobey, our town is indebted for persistent effort which finally paid off.
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