Doris Bragg Tells About The Night They Dropped A Galley

From the 75th Anniversary edition

Hampton Union

July 23, 1975

Doris Bragg Tells About The Night They Dropped A Galley

By Doris Bragg

(Doris Seavey Bragg recalls the days when her father, brother and husband owned Hampton Union.)

Hampton Union was a real family enterprise from the start.

My father owned a large printing plant in Haverhill, Mass., but having worked on the old Boston Transcript he always loved newspaper work. With an opportunity to buy the Hampton Union from Charles F. Adams he never hesitated. He bought a building (now the Goody Cole Room of Lamies Tavern) and started moving the big presses and linotypes from his plant in Haverhill in the fall of 1929. The new business was named The Hampton Publishing Company and he published the first edition of the Hampton Union under his ownership on January 9, 1930. The paper was printed on the first floor of the old building and folded by hand and addressed on the second floor.

Dad was the boss and had the know how. Mother did a lot of the writing and even the editorials. Ruth, Edward and I were in high school at the time, but after school we helped when needed. Dad had three employees. One, Bob Elliot, had worked for Mr. Adams the former owner. It was Depression years and advertising was hard to get and bills were hard to collect, but with all our combined efforts the paper grew in size and circulation. Dad started a summer paper called The Hampton Beach Advocate which was distributed free to every cottage on the beach. Later the name of the paper was changed to The Beachcomber.

Hampton Union was put out on Thursdays. How well I remember Wednesday nights when we young people were not allowed any other activity except "getting out the paper." It was important to get it into the Post Office on Thursday morning. Sometimes we worked all night finishing at 2 or 3 a.m. Our friends fortunately thought the newspaper business was interesting and gave freely many hours of much needed help. We had good times, but I remember one Wednesday night when the last two pages were on the press ready to be printed. The operator started the press before the form was "locked in." The form slid out and thousands of lines of type and little letters were scattered all over the floor. The pages had to be reassembled and the paper didn’t make the newsstands on time that Thursday you can be sure. Needless to say there were a few very weary students at Hampton Academy the next day.

The building on Exeter Road was sold to Albert Lamie in 1932 and the business was moved to a new building which my father built on a lot directly in back of our home. The building is now the home of Mrs. Dorothy Hunter.

Hampton Union was only one part of our business, but it was the part we all loved the best. It was a part of our family life and each of us felt a relationship to it much as to a child. it was a creative outlet and an opportunity to be of service to our neighbors and fellow citizens. It meant hours of hard work, many disappointments and some moments of a sense of achievement. The newspaper inspired us to try the impossible and nurtured in us a spirit of service to our community.

It was natural for my father to sell the business to Edward his son when he retired in 1938 and we all continued helping. Edward had worked full time in the business after his graduation in 1932. Edward Jr. bought Hackett’s Garage on Lafayette Road and moved the business to that site. In 1945 Edward Jr. formed a partnership with his brother-in-law Carl Bragg. They worked well together with Edward handling the editorial and writing and Carl the production of the newspaper.

Hampton Union was only one part of one of the largest printing plants in New Hampshire with twenty-five employees, but it always remained the most important part. Even while publishing city directories and Town Reports (twenty-five one year) the Union always had priority on the time and talent of everyone at the plant. It continued to grow in size and sales and influence in the community. Hampton Union won many editorial prizes conferred by the N.H. Weekly Publishers Assn. There was not much money made during the 34 years of ownership, which is typical of weeklies, but every effort was made to make the paper an influence for good in Hampton and the surrounding communities.

It all ended with the untimely death of Edward Seavey Jr. in 1963 and the paper was sold to Wesley Powell of Hampton Falls, a longtime friend of the family.

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