In the beginning…
Forty years ago, Charlie Halbach, observing that Hampton people were divided over issues of development and open space, with old timers often favoring development and newcomers often seeking to preserve Hampton’s rural character. Charlie invited about 15-20 people to his and Marion’s living room where we discussed what to do. A consensus formed around creating a FREE monthly newspaper, delivered to all. The paper would include news of town offices and committees in a strictly non-partisan way. Because it would be a quasi-official town paper, I proposed that we follow early American precedent and call it “Hampton Gazette”. Unpaid volunteers ran it, and printing costs were paid via voluntary contributions.
Janet Robertson called to say she was starting a hometown newspaper called the Hampton Gazette, and asked if I wanted to be part of it. I was then working as a reporter/editor at the Willimantic Chronicle and could foresee conflicts with my employer and readers — not to mention my neighbors — if I were to write copy for the Gazette. So I agreed to limit my help to layout and paste-up. I remember going to the Hemphill’s to produce the first issue. Tom Hemphill and I designed the layout in his living room. I worked on the masthead. I tried using the Hampton Congregational Church as the iconic town symbol, but knew some folks might feel excluded. So I opted for an American eagle that I found in the phone book, of all places. I thought it looked newspaper-y. I sketched it with tracing paper and added the words, Hampton Gazette, with press-type, sets of letters that had to be rubbed on individually. We used press type for headlines, too, a tedious process. I am happy to note that my sketchy eagle was later replaced with a printed version. Good move.
So, happy anniversary, Gazette. I can’t believe that was 40 years ago. I have worked on other start-up newspapers, but count the Gazette among my most fun jobs.
Forty years ago as a young mother and newcomer to Hampton, I was happy to meet new friends and be part of the beginning of this new publication. Time sure flies. As a senior now, I still have some of the same friends. We are still interested in the growth and well-being of the children in town as well as us older folks. We’re looking forward to continue seeing the successful blend of old and new in town.
Lenore B. Case