The Riots of 1964 — Chapter 2

September – December 1964

Project Director’s Report
Paul Estaver, Director

Beyond the $20,000 property damage of the 1964 riot, there were additional losses to the beach business community. Some insurance policies were cancelled and it was feared that the premium rates of others would be increased. More important, revenues for the beach stopped climbing and started downhill. Chamber of Commerce Executive Secretary William Elliot estimates that gross receipts for the years 1954 through 1962 climbed at an annual rate of 5% to 8%. In 1963 and >64 the drop was about 5% for each year. And as a result of 1964’s trouble, the 1965 summer’s gross revenues were probably decreased as much as 20%. There is no definitive figure of gross revenues, but an estimate for the year 1963 is $10,000,000.

Meanwhile, expenses to the town were on their way up. The following chart shows police expenditures for a seven year period, not including the costs of new equipment. Town Manager Kenneth Boehner estimates that half of the increased expenditures over this period are the result of Hampton Beach needs.

Year Budget Expenditures
1959 $44,500 $46,538
1960 $48,500 $54,818
1961 $63,634 $64,958
1962 $71,000 $69,086
1963 $89,869 $91,797
1964 $93,451 $108,958
1965 $113,600 ——-

Actual expenditures for 1965 may go $2000 above the amount budgeted, including $1000 which was the town’s share of a police training program in connection with the Hampton Beach Project.

Profile of Hampton

These are figures for a town whose population in 1960 was 6139, more than doubled from the 2847 level of 1950. With this growth have come the usual problems in the expansion of public facilities and of the schools, the latter especially critical in New Hampshire where the state contribution to local school budgets is only 8% (and was only 6% prior to 1964 when revenues from the New Hampshire sweepstakes started coming in).

The town’s net assessed valuation is $21,681,382, of which beach property represents $8,950,553. Assessments in Hampton are based on one-third of market value. The town’s estimated budget for 1965 was over $800,000, based on a tax rate of $70 per thousand. Some of the elements in the relationship between this fast-growing town and its troubled resort area might best be indicated in the following excerpts from the application for the grant for the Hampton Beach Project: >/p>

“Ten years ago the core of the beach area received some sixty cents back in services from the town for every dollar given in taxes. It is estimated for 1965 that for every dollar received from this area of the beach, the town will be spending $1.20. It is considered in Hampton that the major industry of the town is the beach … The business people and the older citizens of the community, especially, feel that they have been most generous with tax appropriations for education. They have tried very hard not to be resentful of this burden of the newcomer and have been generally rather positive in their feelings about youngsters within the community and in terms of establishing a good school system.

“It is fair to say that Hampton as a community has gone to considerable effort to establish for itself the image of a respectable middle-class community. The Realtors have speculated heavily in the building of attractive housing. Though it has a real potential for light industry, there is little doubt that most of the community desires to have a >nice residential community’ .

“Yet, a strange paradox exists. There are many superior housing facilities at the beach as well as fine motel accommodations. On the other hand, a recent survey of the core section of the beach, which is bounded on its east side by Ocean Boulevard and on its west side by Ashworth Avenue, indicates that two-thirds of the dwellings do not meet medium health standards. The basic problem is that these houses were built to standards of some forty years ago. Since that time they have been modified several times to accommodate increasing population.

“There are, then, extremes in property situations in Hampton. The beach continues to promote itself as a family resort. The town builds its image of middle-class respectability. But, the economic base of the town’s major industry, the beach, does not lend realistic support to either the promotion or the image. It must be said, however, that the town is seeking for long-range planning to renovate Hampton’s Beach’s housing.

“Hampton has its share of clubs, social organizations, etc. While only half of the community is involved in any of the churches, for example, all of the churches are very active – especially from the standpoint of providing a base for social activity. Though it is sometime difficult to get full parental cooperation, there is also a full complement of organizations serving young people who are pre-teens through little league sports and all the varieties of scouting organizations. However, the high school is left with almost the entire burden of providing social activities for the teenager, with the exception of some small youth fellowships in the churches. One gains the impression from the local high school of a rather intense college-oriented goal students. Yet, quite a bit less than half of the young people will go on to college…

“What becomes immediately obvious is the disharmony between the boardwalk business community and the Hampton village community. A few miles separate the two communities geographically, but at the same time an ideological and economic split keeps the two communities locked apart. Except for one or two members, there is very little linkage between the boardwalk and the village. The boardwalk community refers to itself as the ‘carpetbaggers’, and, in fact, many of the proprietors come from out-of-state. At the critical summer period many of the native villagers leave town. The result is that the business interests on the board-walk feel that they do not get enough police protection and community services, although they contribute heavily to the community tax base; and the villagers consider the boardwalk a menace to community life”.

There is no doubt that the community was acutely conscious that its problems were beyond the scope of its facilities. In addition to the Chamber of Commerce and selectmen’s request for state police, there was the question over the calling of the National Guard, which threatened to become something of a political football in the gubernatorial election of November, 1964.

Town selectmen insist, and say they can prove, that they called for the National Guard prior to the time that the 1964 Labor Day riot actually began. One or more state officials categorically denied Hampton’s claim, and went on to say that the call was not issued until nine in the evening or later. Since the formal responsibility for calling out the Guard is that of the governor, his office was understandably concerned over this controversy. He himself had left a formal banquet and appeared toward midnight on Labor Day eve.

As an academic afterthought, it should be noted that a prompt appearance by the National Guard would probably have been sufficient to have stopped or prevented the 1964 riot. More importantly, the controversy aroused and the governor’s own personal reaction to the trouble at the beach were sufficient to ensure a maximum of state participation in future riot prevention.

Halloween Riot Scare – 1964

How alert the state was to potential threat of youthful destructiveness could be seen by the official reaction to the false riot scares that occurred at Halloween in the fall of 1964. This was a war of nerves and rumors whose cost to New Hampshire was $10,000 and to Massachusetts an additional but uncalculated sum.

On October 30, 1964, the lead headline on the front page of the Concord Monitor was “Concord Braced for Rumble; Police, National Guard Ready.” The article which followed spoke of a “massive defense against an army of shadows”. For a week there had been rumors that teenagers were going to march on Concord, on the state house, and perhaps on the governors office to protest what the young people felt was harsh treatment by the courts of those convicted of participation in the Hampton Beach riot. Law officers had been checking rumors and tips of a rally or rumble, and there was talk of a staging area and of posters “seen” all the way from Haverhill, Massachusetts, to Franklin, New Hampshire.

A high school dance was postponed. One tip that rioters were checking in to a local motel was conscientiously followed up. The “leaders” seen by the informer turned out to be an advance guard for a Teamsters’ banquet. In anticipation of Halloween pranks, one department store announced it was removing its cans of spray paint from its shelves.

One of the cooler heads in Concord was the police chief, who simultaneously put extra men on duty and advised the public not to get excited. He urged that scheduled events for young people not be cancelled, saying he did not expect trouble and that, in any event, it was senseless just to turn the kids loose to roam when they might better be having fun under supervision.

Apparently a local radio station contributed considerably to the impetus of the affair. In response to various phone calls, they not only phoned the police but carried the rumors as news stories.

It happened that I was in Concord myself that day on a business trip. Both in the offices of the state house and in the stores on the main street, I encountered the very real fear of local citizens. It was the sort of reaction one might expect to encounter in a city whose fall to a foreign invader was imminent. There was talk of closing and barricading stores, of clearing the street before dark. One man recounted stepping outside for a few minutes and seeing groups of young people gathered here and there on the street, and regarding them with some suspicion until he realized with a shock that they were carrying books, that these were the same kids that he saw every day after school let out. He said he experienced the rather horrid realization how it would be if the entire youthful segment of our population suddenly were to turn against us.

Governor John King was in an uncomfortable position. The Republican gubernatorial candidate, John Pillsbury, had criticized what he termed King’s failure to act over Labor Day weekend. The election was a week away. Neither politically nor in the interests of public safety could the governor take a chance. Acting on the advice of top state safety and law enforcement officials, he put the National Guard on standby alert and ordered additional state troopers on duty for Friday and Saturday nights, October 30 and 31. Two hundred guardsmen were alerted at the Concord barracks and 150 at Portsmouth.

Meanwhile, rumors were cropping up elsewhere. Claremont, N.H., fifty miles away on the Connecticut River, was cited as a potential trouble spot, and the city’s police commissioner asked that National Guardsmen be put on alert there. Concerned officials in Plaistow, N.H., on the state’s southern border, also asked for state police help.

But it was in Haverhill, Massachusetts, just across the state line from Plaistow, where the greatest concern was seen. Several newspapers and wire service reports stated that inciteful circulars had been seen, both by Haverhill’s city manager and by Massachusetts state police. It was a full 24 hours before subsequent reports noted that Haverhill police denied ever having seen any such handbills, whose wording, incidentally, had been quoted as, “Come to Haverhill and See Bradford Burn.”

The Bradford in question was a junior college for women, and officials both there and else-where in the city took no chances. Half of the school’s population was sent home, and the other half reportedly were urged to stay on the upper floors of dormitories. All doors were locked. Elsewhere in the city, Halloween activities and parties were postponed at the urging of officials. All 72 Haverhill’s police force were put on duty for the night along with a dozen reserves, 72 auxiliaries, and a special squad of Massachusetts motor vehicle inspectors, variously reported to number 15 or 50. Every vehicle owned by the city was put on street patrol, even including city dump trucks especially equipped with radios. Members of the city’s clergy, supplied with special arm bands, joined the watchful forces.

Back in New Hampshire, said the UPI, Governor King “tore up a political script” and urged all parents to keep their children home. “While we hope for the best,” he said, “we must be prepared for the worst.” He alerted Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine for mutual aid in case it were needed. More important, it was on this occasion that he announced that there would be appointed a special commission to study the Hampton Beach riot.

Two nights of roadblocks and alerts encountered nothing. “There weren’t enough kids around to have a Sunday School picnic,” said Concord Police Chief Walter Carlson. The Monday morning headline of the Concord Monitor said, “$10,000 Hoax.” The figure included pay and food for the National Guard, for the phone bills and for extra police. Interviews with Concord businessmen indicated that there had been a 25% drop in business for the weekend.

Various officials in both states comforted themselves with comments that the “dry run” had been good practices.

One law officer, who did not give his name, mused, “I wonder if somewhere there aren’t around a half a dozen teenagers laughing hysterically at what they started.”

Throughout the entire weekend the affair was front-page news accompanied by scare headlines, even in Concord, where the Monitor’s treatment of the matter was somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

In fact, riot talk had been news all through the autumn period after Hampton’s Labor Day. Editorials in many papers questioned the morals of the coming generation, the responsibility of parents, and the need for stricter law enforcement. The Boston Globe and other journals ran retrospective analyses, following the action of the weekend hour by hour and seeking out the opinions of psychologists and sociologists in an effort to find motivation.

News stories also followed the progress of Hampton’s municipal court as the community sought to demonstrate that it was no longer playing games. Fines in a number of instances for the charge of participating in a riot were $500, and jail sentences were as much as six months. Most of these cases were subsequently appealed to Superior Court; when they were heard late in the winter, few of the sentences were upheld.

Shortly after Labor Day weekend, significant action began to take place in the community to prevent a recurrence of rioting. The Chamber of Commerce, under its new president Walter Vanderpool, established its Teen Age Problem Committee, and the selectmen began their steps toward upgrading the police department.

Unanimously the selectmen insisted the dismissal of the police chief was not related to the riot – that administrative improvement was necessary in any event – but obviously the heavy Labor Day pressures upon Hampton’s police made such improvement an important order of business.

Because the chief resisted his removal from office, his case was in the news through the autumn and winter. Suffice to say that he was quietly asked to resign in September, suspended in November, and finally dismissed after a hearing early in 1965.

Hampton Beach Chamber of Commerce

The selectmen were also a part of the Chamber of Commerce Teen Age Problem planning by virtue of their automatic membership on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Indeed, the Hampton Beach Chamber of Commerce has a quasi-official role in this particular community, administering as it does $25,000 of precinct and town funds for advertising and entertainment.

Had they not been so absorbed in more serious matters, the Hampton Beach Chamber of Commerce might have remembered to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary, for the organization was founded in 1915. Currently, its membership of 175 embraces approximately 60% of the business people on Hampton Beach according to the estimate of William Elliot. Prior to the adoption to their “fair share” plan of dues pro-rated to the size of the business-member, membership was more nearly 80%. The Chamber’s governing body is comprised of its directors and officers – president, first and second vice-presidents, and its treasurer. The executive secretary is a salaried professional. There are 36 members of the Board of Directors. The town’s three selectmen and Hampton Beach’s three precinct commissioners are automatically included on the board. The remaining 30 are elected for two-year terms by the body of the membership at the Chamber’s annual meeting in September. Each year 15 of the directors are subject to election.

The Chamber’s election customs are such that the governing body changes little from year to year. A nominating committee presents a slate of directors which includes all those whose term has just expired, unless a director specifically resigns. Additional nominations may come from the floor, but as a rule those already in office prevail. Since the Chamber’s membership is composed roughly of two-thirds beach business people and one-third uptown business people, the chairs of three directors are reserved for uptown members. The officers are elected by the directors. Once a man is elected as second vice-president, he usually works up through the chairs and becomes president in the course of a few years.

In recent years it has become customary for the president to retire after two or three one-year terms, and in fact two have served only a single year in the past decade. Years back, a president was apt to stay for longer terms, and one man did hold that office for ten years.

In recent years the Chamber has, along with the rest of the beach, had its struggles to maintain its economic growth. Although its income for the fiscal year 1965, ending September 30th, was not down, its expenses were up, and the bank balance for the year shows an $1800 decrease. Only about one-fifth of the Chamber’s income is from memberships and contributions totaling this past year just over $8900. An additional $16,500 is earned by the publication of several handbooks and guides and there is the afore-mentioned $25,000 for special use as indicated above from town and precinct. Beyond its advertising budget, the precinct also contributes$2900 to the general expenses of the Chamber of Commerce. Additional miscellaneous in-come from special events and promotions earns $3500 in a year.

In general, beach business operators are engaged in one of two pursuits – accommodations and lodging or food and entertainment. By far the greatest number of those in the former category derive little or no income from young people who come to Hampton Beach. Probably the single most influential member in the organization is John Dineen, who has interests in both lodging and services, since he is owner and manager of both the Hampton Beach Casino and the Ocean House.

The Casino was purchased by Dineen’s family in 1926, and its first full year of operation under their aegis was 1927, so that John Dineen was enabled to grow up with the business. In 1937 his father died and he took over full operation at the age of 26. During World War II he served with the F.B.I. By far the largest contributor to the Chamber of Commerce, he was for five years its president during the >50s. He has been on the Board of Directors since 1937 and has been chairman of the advertising committee for 15 years, and he is an active member of most other important committees. Few, if any, men over the years have given more time and energy to the Chamber of Commerce.

Many of the other directors are veterans at Hampton Beach. Perhaps 15 have been in office 20 years, and few have served less than 10.

If one were to weigh the body in terms of liberals versus conservative, one would find that perhaps two-thirds would fall into the latter category. Yet certainly their conservative approach toward the youth problem was no different from that of the community as a whole, or that of the press. James Fallon, newly elected president for 1965-66, notes that the prevailing view in the Chamber prior to 1965 was deliberately not to entertain young people. As recently as September 1964, the Chamber seriously considered establishing Hampton as the site for a Golden Age convention.

However, the chief problem facing Walter Vanderpool when be took office as president in September, 1964, was that of youth riots, and he took immediate steps toward future prevention of such an occurrence. Mr. Vanderpool is a member of both the beach and uptown business communities, owning as he does a guest house on Ocean Boulevard while he is employed by a building supply company on Route 1.

Teenage Problem Committee

Very quickly after assuming office, Vanderpool appointed the Teen Age Problem Committee and submitted to it a detailed plan of action. Richard Stone and Reverend Manning Van Nostrand, at Vanderpool’s invitation, were in attendance at the early fall meetings of the Chamber of Commerce, and after some discussion the directors voted to request their presence on this new riot committee along with Hollis Shaw, representing the town’s Budget Committee, in an effort to include the town’s concern in the problem. At that time and throughout the year Vanderpool made a special point of calling for unified thinking, not only from various elements within the town but from the state of New Hampshire as well.

To a considerable extent the TAP Committee’s membership from within the Chamber did include a cross-section of local officials and interests. In addition to several members who had been active in previous riot committees, TAP included a state representative, the incumbent state senator, a precinct commissioner, a representative from Hampton Beach Hotel Association, a selectman, President Vanderpool, and an additional business man who had interests both at the beach and in the village.

Beyond this group there were invited a number of others to serve in an ex-officio capacity, including the other two precinct commissioners, the other two selectmen, the chief of police, the chairman of the planning board, the town manager, the other state representatives and the newly elected state senator from Hampton.

Chairman of the TAP Committee was Douglass Hunter, the incumbent senator. Although he was outvoted in the fall election, when the New Hampshire Senate convened early in 1965 he was officially returned to that body after considerable contention, after it was found that Robert Preston, the newly elected senator, had not filled his residence requirement. At that time Senator Hunter resigned the chairmanship of the TAP Committee to ensure that no extraneous political overtones would mar the effectiveness of this non-political group. In Hunter’s place President Vanderpool appointed James F. Fallon, Jr. the Chamber’s first vice-president.

Vanderpool’s plan for the TAP Committee’s consideration was a detailed four-page search for causes and solutions. It was discussed at length by the directors, then turned over to the TAP Committee with some additions and deletions. In the period between September 25 and November 13, 1964, the TAP Committee met 15 times in sessions which ran as long a four hours, in a concerted effort to have recommendations ready early for New Hampshire’s legislature and its executive as well as for Hampton’s town meeting.

The philosophy of this committee and its findings comprised what President Vanderpool frequently referred to as the “tough approach”, conceived in part from studies in other communities’ methods and born of Hampton’s own bitter experience.

In the Addenda, the complete minutes of the TAP Committee show the various steps through which their deliberations carried them. Briefly, they saw causes of riots in ten major categories: lack of parental control over the young; the fact that previous use of roadblocks had been too little or too late; the absence of any control of “wanted guests” of whatever age in Hampton’s places of public accommodation, and similarly, control of unwanted elements visiting the beach; the fact that there had been no curfew and that existing laws regulating sleeping on the beach, in cars, changing clothes in cars, etc., had not been enforced; the fact that there was no control over dress at Hampton Beach; the fact that news publicity had been damaging; the fact that fines for misdemeanors were inadequate; the fact that juveniles under 18 were given anonymity under the law; and finally the fact that police, particularly the summer auxiliaries, were inclined to be lax in enforcement.

A suggested plan of action, in addition to seeking remedies to the above, called for a state police barracks to be constructed at Hampton Beach and manned from April 15 to Labor Day [In the fall of 1964, Governor King had stated that a state police barracks for Hampton Beach was necessary], for an inconspicuous but nearby encampment of National Guard on the holiday weekends, for a lobster stew-press conference, for some contact with the colleges in hope that campus restrictions could be placed on students who wound up in trouble at Hampton Beach, and finally for Richard Stone to be commissioned to bring in, as a guest speaker, Dr. William Kvaraceus, a sociologist and specialist in juvenile delinquency of international reputation.

It should be noted that, at the urging of New Hampshire Safety Commissioner Robert Rhodes, the TAP Committee and the Chamber of Commerce made all precautions to ensure that their deliberations be kept secret.

Tap Recommendations for Riot Control

The specific recommendations of the committee to compose some of the more significant ones were as follows:

  1. The appointment of a two-man committee to compose and write letters to the heads of churches throughout the area requesting clergymen to preach a series of “straight-to-the-point” sermons, using the TAP theme with particular emphasis on parental control. Hopefully there would be four sermons: one following Easter, one the first part of June, one in the middle of July and one on the Sunday prior to Labor Day.
  2. Story releases to any home-type paper when an individual is convicted of law violations in Hampton.
  3. An effort to discourage unsupervised teenagers visiting Hampton Beach through TV, radio and press releases.
  4. The extensive use of roadblocks over the holiday weekends and whenever else necessary (This was a knotty issue and there was much discussion whether it was possible to give police officers the legal right to stop, search and turn back or arrest undesirable persons at his discretion. Ultimately the question of the legal machinery was turned over to the town’s representatives to state government.)
  5. The drafting of an article for the town warrant to issue housing permits to all who lease or sub-lease property, this essentially to restrict unsupervised youth.
  6. Courteous but strict enforcement of existing laws pertaining not only to sleeping and dressing in cars and on the beach, but to the use of fires, the restraint of pets, ball games on the beach, littering and the use of inflatables in water.
  7. The posting of signs calling attention to these ordinances.
  8. An effort to establish an ordinance or state law restricting dress, specifically making it illegal to be dressed in shorts, dungarees, sweatshirts, T-shirts, swim suits and blankets, or improper attire of any description, as determined by law enforcement officers. This ordinance was to be effective after 8:00 P.M. anywhere on Hampton Beach; further, covering should be worn over bathing suits on the west side of Ocean Boulevard at all times of day and night. (This was another difficult one; ultimately the motion bore no specifics but simply urged that a bill be drafted for presentation to the state legislature.)
  9. In addition to the afore-mentioned hope for a press conference, there was a resolution to request urgently by telephone, correspondence or personal contact the full cooperation of news directors, news broadcasters, editors and reporters in not releasing news detrimental to Hampton’s goal.
  10. There was hope to pass state enabling laws and ultimately town ordinances which would increase fines for disturbing the peace, possession of intoxicating beverages, loitering, blocking pedestrian traffic, forming into groups, etc. to the extent of $100 maximum and/or 15 days in jail.
  11. There was a motion to seek legislation so that juveniles – at least those 17 years old – might be tried in the same court and under the same conditions as persons 18 years and over.
  12. The passage of a curfew ordinance or statute (again problematical – one version called for a curfew anywhere on Hampton Beach for both boys and girls less than 16 years old at 10:00 P.M. and a second curfew at 1:30 A.M. for all minors.)

At a subsequent November meeting the Tap Committee discussed its plans with Commissioner of Safety Rhodes and Colonel Joseph Regan of the State Police. There was general agreement that the right approach was being taken and agreement that effective policing throughout the summer should demand as much uniformity as possible in method, use of equipment, and a single command. Colonel Regan noted that any police officer, no matter how efficient, would have difficulty entering the community over a three or four day period and enforce regulations which had been ignored over the entire season.

There was some discussion of the likelihood of the Chamber’s recommendations being written into law by the legislature. Apparently most state officials felt that such laws should be enacted on a state-wide basis, but Senator Hunter noted that the TAP Committee had recommended the legislature pass the laws for Hampton alone for fear that it would be too difficult to convince the entire legislature to enact some of the ordinances for all sections of the state.

This, then, was the climate which had been established when Dr. William Kvaraceus visited the Hampton Beach Chamber of Commerce in early December to question the validity of a wholly “punitive-retaliatory” response to a social problem and to suggest that an alternative approach might be to seek the advise of the young people themselves.