Return to "Our Town" index
"Our Town" By James W. Tucker
Thursday, January 10, 1952
When unselfish people of like minds get together with a worthwhile objective to attain, success usually crowns their cooperative effort. This fact has been illustrated and proven many times but never more conclusively than during the recent Christmas season right here in our own town. We didn't appreciate the total significance of the event at the time, for we were too interested in the event itself. We began to understand only the other night when a friend inquired, "Do you known that the occasion of the Christmas Concert was the first time in over 300 years that all the religious faiths in our town have gotten together to achieve a common purpose?" And we were obliged to reply that we hadn't before thought of it from that standpoint.
The Players Get Together
The Hampton Players, in this instance, made up the group of unselfish citizens with a worthwhile objective to achieve. These folks who find enjoyment and relaxation in the theatre, had the vision of a community Christmas observance in which all of our churches and all of our people could have a part. Undoubtedly there was, in the backs of their minds, the thought that never was there a year in the history of the world when it was so necessary to instill in the hearts and minds of people everywhere the true meaning of the holy season of Christmas. They probably decided that it would be well to tell the people of our town that only through a spiritual awakening could the Christmas message of peace on earth among men of good will be achieved in reality. And to get the vitally important message across, they chose the pageantry of the theatre. The group decided to present Stephen Vincent Benet's beautiful story of the birth of Christ. And then they set about securing approval of their plan from the clergy of our town. This proved not to be in the least difficult, so, then and there the ground-work was laid for a beautifully significant interdenominational event which should always be the outstanding feature of the Christmas season in Hampton.
The Churches Get Together
The first of what it is hoped will be a long series of these Yuletide events was held at the High School Auditorium on the evening of Sunday, December 23  with over 400 citizens in attendance. The program stated that "The Churches of Hampton present a Christmas Concert," and we looked in vain for even a mention of the Hampton Players, which proved conclusively the willingness of the group fully to submerge its identity in a truly community enterprise. This modest attitude is completely at variance with the commonly accepted, but erroneous estimate of thespians, including even those of amateur status. Like all Christmas concerts, the program included instrumental and vocal music appropriate to the sacred season. And in conclusion, came Benet's Christmas play, "A Child Is Born."
A Cast Works Together
It was a short, one act play, intelligently interpreted by men and women of all religious faiths who are affiliated with the Hampton Players. The direction of Betsy Greene must have been excellent, for the message of love and faith contained in the play's beautiful lines was clearly projected across the footlights and into the hearts of the large audience. We assume the picturesque and colorful costuming was authentic. The stage setting and the lighting were adequate. The difficult delineation of the leading Biblical characters was really remarkable. The scene of the play was laid in that little inn in Bethlehem where no room was available for Joseph and Mary. The time was that comparatively short interval immediately before, during, and after the birth of Jesus which occurred in the stable, directly adjacent to the inn. Most of the lines pertaining to the marvellous event taking place next door, and the tremendous significance of that event, were spoken by the innkeeper and his keenly intuitive wife.
Players and Audience Together
Now, every member of the cast deserves much credit. But three members were particularly outstanding -- Ada Simmons
as the innkeeper's wife, Harold Pierson
as the innkeeper and Foster Greene
as Dismas, a thief. We, who enjoy our town's amateur theatricals have come to expect much from this trio, but each of them did far better in this Christmas play than we had a reasonable right to expect, even on the basis of their sterling performances in the past. For a brief moment they lived the parts in order more fully to characterize, not necessarily the importance of the lives of the people they were impersonating, but rather the deep, contemporary and religious significance of the thoughts of these Biblical people which they were expressing in the lines they spoke. At least that was the impression this observer received and the deep attentiveness of the audience would indicate that practically everyone present was getting the full impact of the message which the players sought so earnestly to give.
Other Reasons for Getting Together
Here than, was a community cooperative effort, started by the Players' group and sponsored by all the churches, which was so enfinently successful that it will undoutedly become an annual event in our town. When unselfish people of like minds get together with a worthwhile objective to attain, success usually crowns their cooperative efforts. If all the folks in our town who believe that Hampton's physical growth during the next ten critical years must be carefully planned and properly supervised should get together and work whole- heartedly to this end, the Hampton which we know today of beautiful streets and happy homes would be perpetuated. Success most certainly would crown the cooperative effort of such an unselfish group, but first, we must have the group.
Result Of Not Acting Together
A few days ago we were riding down Marsh [Ashworth] Avenue with an old-time resident of Hampton Beach. For several years he has not had an opportunity to note the growth and development of this second most important street in our town's famous recreational center. His impression of the unkempt, crowded conditions which prevail by reason of the total lack of adequate zoning and building regulations throughout a greater part of the length of this secondary main beach artery was expressed in four words, "How squalid it looks!" That remark really hurt, but it contained so much of truth -- as little as we like to admit it -- that we could only apologize for a condition which we lamely claimed had gotten out of hand. There's no good reason why we should allow conditions in the village section to get out of hand, but they most certainly will unless a majority of our citizens indicate an immediately unwillingness to accept such a disaster.
Manager Proponents Get Together
Many of us were heartened by last Saturday's referendum on whether South Berwick, Maine should retain the town manager form of government. The progressive group of younger citizens, who believe that increased efficiency in town government, improved services and lower taxes had been attained through the management system, were opposed by an older group, headed by a nationally known authoress, Gladys Hasty Carroll, her husband who is a professor at New Hampshire University and a few other dissatisfied citizens. The pro-manager group, ;which, by the way, included all of the present Board of Selectmen, won by the impressive vote of 799 to 417, almost two to one. But the victory was attained only after a long, hard campaign against the type of bitter opposition such as could be engendered only by a group of local, old-time professional politicians who had a hankering to get back into office, not so much as was alleged, to give service to the community as to give service to self. The result of the referendum, taken during one of the winter's worst storms, was but another proof of the truth of the statement made in the first sentence of this column: When unselfish people of like minds get together with a worthwhile objective to attain success usually crowns their cooperative effort.
Return to "Our Town" index