Time to hit the beach! Join long-time Buckroe Beach resident Martha F. Morris for a virtual stroll down memory lane—or boardwalk in this case, to hear stories of one of the city’s most precious gems in “Bygone Summers at Buckroe” as the season closer of the Hampton History Museum’s free “Lunch in Time” series on Wednesday, May 15, 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Travel back in time to this historic vacation destination where generations of Hamptonians have lived, worked and played. Morris will share highlights from her treasure trove of historic images and memorabilia to get attendees in a nostalgic summertime frame of mind.
Martha will dive deep into Buckroe’s past back to 1607, as well as the Civil War and Buckroe Plantation. She’ll cover the first Buckroe Hotel and bathhouse that opened 1897, a time when men and women had to bathe separately in roped off areas, and the opening of the beloved Buckroe Beach Amusement Park. Also to be covered are bustling early 1900s that brought with it many new hotels and attractions made accessible with streetcars and rail service. She’ll talk about the devastating impact of the Great Hurricane of 1933 on the seaside community. A new era came when Peter Stieffen and family purchased the amusement park in the 1940s, and Martha will discuss the changes that took place in the post WWII era and 1950s up through the late 1970s.
Martha's’ family moved from Lynchburg, VA to Buckroe when she was a year old. Her father had spent summers in Buckroe growing up, and it was always his desire to one day return and live there. At age 15, her first job was during the summer of 1974 between 9th and 10th grade at one of the beach’s float “houses” renting out umbrellas and floats to beachgoers. This is when she began collecting keepsakes that she made at the Penny Arcade, along with Buckroe postcards, photographs, matchbook covers, advertising and other mementoes, including printing plates, glassware, restaurant menus, correspondences, home movies and historical memorabilia from the Shelton Home, Buckore Beach Fire Department, some of which she will bring to the museum for her talk.
I was born in Lynchburg, VA in 1959, the oldest of three children. When I was a year old (1960) my father was offered a job at the Shipyard and we moved to Hampton but, more specifically, to Rogers Avenue in Buckroe.
Both of my parents’ families were originally from the Lynchburg/Appomattox, VA area, but my father grew up in Richmond and lived there for thirty years, until he married my mother in 1957.
Beginning in the early 1930’s up to and through the early 1960’s, my father’s family spent all their summers at Buckroe Beach in a cottage on 2nd Street. I believe it was always my father’s intent to eventually come back and settle in Buckroe. My father loved the summers at Buckroe and made many lifelong friends in the area.
They spent the entire summer at Buckroe and were free to roam from dawn to dusk. I have heard my aunt tell us many times that they would stay in Buckroe just as long as they could, taking the train home to Richmond the day before school began. They cut it so close that they had to actually stop on Broad Street, on their way home, to buy school shoes.
When I was in elementary school, I attended Francis Asbury in Fox Hill. The majority of my friends at school lived in Fox Hill and it was most definitely “frowned upon” to live in Buckroe. The summer prior to seventh grade was very sad for me as most of my friends were attending Benjamin Syms Jr. High and I was going to Buckroe. My parents back yard ended where the football field at Buckroe began. I hated the thought of attending Buckroe. It was old and it was hot (no a/c in 1971 – 1974) and rumor had it that it had the largest roaches in Hampton in it’s halls and lockers.
Now, I can’t even imagine what I would be like had I not gone to Buckroe Jr. High School. The connection formed between the students was almost like a family. I am still great friends with the people I met at Buckroe as well as many of the teachers. You can’t explain that connection unless you were there. It was very special! As soon as it began to get warm, we would walk to the beach after school each day on the way home. The school was only a few blocks from the beach.
I got a job at the beach the summer between 9th and 10th grade when I was fifteen (1974) in the float “houses” renting out umbrellas and floats. I made $6.00 per day and bought all my school clothes for 10th grade with the money I made that summer. That is when I began collecting Buckroe memorabilia.
Beginning in 1974, we worked at the beach all day, walked home and took a shower, ate dinner and walked back to the beach at night and sat on the seawall (this is when there was a road that ran in front of the beach), rode around and around and around Buckroe with our friends and went in and out of the Amusement Park riding the roller coaster and playing foozball and pinball in the Penny Arcade.
I started collecting random Buckroe postcards and the little keepsakes you could make in the Penny Arcade and expanded over the years to benches, tables, ornamental trim from the casino (where the vaudeville acts played), small plaster of paris statues, pinball machine plates, bath house keys, stock certificates, advertising brochures from different eras, between 300 and 350 different postcards, loads of photographs, rolls of tickets from different eras, printing plates, glassware, letterheads, restaurant menus, Pier 1 memorabilia, printing stamps, correspondence, old home movies, historical memorabilia from The Shelton Home, Buckroe Beach Fire Department match book covers, advertising pieces, photographs, and more.
Lunch in Time
Admission is free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to bring a bag lunch. The museum will provide free dessert.
Our lunchtime series will go on hiatus for the summer to return refreshed in September.