Anthropologists chalk it up to the digits, i.e. fingers, of the anthropoid. When cave persons first started keeping track of their personal stock of, say, dried iguana jerky, it was convenient to tick them off on those pointy things on the ends of their hands. That’s what gave birth to base 10 math, the concept of the decade, that sexy Dudley Moore movie, and, more recently, David Letterman’s Top Ten Lists.
But other than fingers and toes, there aren’t too many things that we associate with 10 that fit neatly into such a numerical box. The concept of the perfect 10 as a standard of beauty is notoriously subjective. Top Ten lists are rarely if ever complete. Famous eras, like the ’60s or the ’80s, usually take shape a few years into the decade and spill into the following one.
Still, without landmarks, milestones, decades and centennials, the world would be a more confusing place. We wisely bundle our experiences into stacks of time and file them by color and texture. But it was an exercise in creative omission that we undertook when we decided to compile ten “top ten” lists for our 10th anniversary.
Right off the bat, I confess, it’s only our 10th anniversary in a special sense of the word. The magazine was founded in 1988 as Network Magazine: Nashua, which became the first of a series of regional publications for Manchester and the Seacoast that soon spanned most of the state (although one, titled Concord and the North, was a trifle absurd in concept and impossible in execution).
What did happen ten years ago this month was that we obtained the rights for the name we now proudly wear: New Hampshire Magazine.
The top ten lists we include in this issue are similarly conditional, not only because of the above-mentioned subjectivity, but also because the last ten years are still pretty fresh for any serious historical perspective. Even so, it was a hoot putting the lists together. I called upon my staff and summoned an informal group of insider, know-it-all types I call my Legion of Super Advisers (special T-shirt and logo to come). This group has been gathered over the last ten years and I never fail to be amazed at the power of their New Hampshire hive-mind. They actually seem to enjoy the challenges I toss their way. If you feel like you belong in this group, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are currently in the group and want out, well, I have some forms you must fill out and there’s a three-month waiting period.
The result of all this hoopla is in your hands. So call it incomplete, or biased, or delusional, but take a look at our recollections of the milestones we’ve cruised past and the historical frost heaves we’ve bumped over since 1999. And see if we missed anything. There will be a place in our online edition for corrections and amendments, and for your picks on topics we didn’t cover that beg for their own top tens.
After all, these are OUR shared experiences and memories. They may be harder to keep track of than dried iguana jerky, but they nourish us well — and last longer.
This article appears in the March 2009 issue of New Hampshire Magazine