By Liz Premo
Atlantic News, Thursday, August 2, 2001
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]
Countless motorists and pedestrians pass by it every day, but don’t always notice its presence. Yet it has stood firm on its foundation for decades in Hampton’s East End School house Park, found at the junction of Winnacunnet and Locke Roads.
What is this object that has earned a place of honor in one of the town’s carefully-maintained green spaces? A close look will reveal that it’s a humble granite boulder, broad at its base and peaked at its rounded vertex. It is a cherished monument, standing as a silent testimony to a local organization whose roots are firmly anchored at a place which goes all the way back to the beginning of the 20th century. An even closer look reveals that the rugged surface of the stone is engraved with the name of that organization, and the date of its inception.
So what is this mystery marker? The inscription gives the most significant clue. Under its leafy canopy, the stone monument quietly claims as its own the name of the Hampton Monday Club, founded in 1907 as an entity of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.
Still going strong almost 100 years after it was first formed, the Hampton Monday Club continues to offer its own important contributions to its Seacoast area hometown. Decade after decade, the Hampton Monday Club has consistently "tried to do things to help the town," explains June Lessard, a past president and a member of the club since the mid-70s.
"Over the years we have done many things," continues Lessard, who names a number of club-generated public endeavors, past and present. The list includes presenting a yearly scholarship for a graduating Winnacunnet High School girl; obtaining and placing benches for public use at various places around town; and starting a Neighborhood Watch program.
In addition, the Hampton Monday Club has in the past supplied specific individuals with "Vials of Life" — self-contained, readily-available compilations of users vital information which, in the event of an emergency, can instantly provide rescue workers with important data about the individual.
According to Hampton Monday Club member Phyllis Tucker (in a 1988 entry found in Peter E. Randall’s volume "Hampton: A Century of Town & Beach 1888- 1988"); the Hampton Monday Club had "established an enviable record of projects that have benefited the community." In her essay Tucker noted several of these projects — making annual contributions to 16 different organizations; donating time and funds to establish the Tuck Memorial House (better known as the Tuck Museum); planting two fir trees on the grounds of Centre School; and sponsoring Hampton Girl Scouts.
The club was also instrumental in securing (in 1963), the East End School House Park location where its commemorative granite boulder now sits, and the Flag Day dedication in June, 1963 of the flag and flagpole present at the same site.
Though she admits "our membership has gone down" from its decades-steady number of approximately 100 members, Lessard maintains that "we’re still fairly active." About 25 people are currently a part of the Hampton Monday Club, which earlier this year named WHS Class of 2001 member Sheila Ann Moynihan as its latest scholarship recipient.
Things will start rolling again soon for the club once the summer comes to a close and a new year of meetings begin. "We have a tea in September [and] our first meeting is in October," says Lessard. Meetings continue on through the end of the club year, ending "with a big 'Do’ in May," she adds.
[Look for information regarding Hampton Monday Club meetings in future issues of the Atlantic News.]