By Dorothy D. Holman
Hampton, New Hampshire
Woman's Day, May 1952
[Edited by John M. Holman, Hampton History Volunteer]
Smokey Joe Railroad
in the 1950's
My neighbor across the way and I think alike on many things. One thing in particular being that it would be wonderful to give some child from the crowded tenement district of New York a vacation in the country.
However, though my neighbor had plenty of time to devote to entertaining a small guest in her home, along with her own six- and ten-year-old daughters, she had no sleeping accommodations. While I. a busy market gardener's wife and the only clerk at our wayside stand, could not take on any extra daytime responsibility, but had two empty bedrooms.
We talked it over and decided that, between us, we could take a little girl. My neighbor would be the hostess and have all the care and entertaining of her through the day, and I would provide the room and bed at night. And so it was arranged.
When the train load of happy youngsters arrived in our small New Hampshire town, my neighbor was at the station to meet our little eight-year-old girl from New York City, named Margaret Cowan.
The two weeks were packed with fun. Blueberrying, picnics, beach bathing, movies, even a train ride on a miniature steam train, named 'Smokey Joe' in North Hampton, N.H. (see photo left) -- in fact, everything a country child enjoys -- our little girl participated in. Evenings, about nine o'clock, she was brought to my house and I put her to bed. After a day of fun and play, she was too tired to miss her daytime play-mates, and I think she went to sleep as soon as her head touched the pillow. Each morning, when she got up, I helped her get ready for another busy day.
The arrangement worked out wonderfully well, and we were pleased with our plan. Because separately we couldn't have done anything; but together we gave one more child a happy vacation in the country.