The "Personal Bests" of New Hampshire

Tom Griffith: Home Improvement Stores

1. Fletcher Granite Co., Milford. A great place for the landscape buff, everything from finished steps and birdbaths to walkway pavers.

2. Currier Lumber, Amherst. Excellent service and quality product, people who know the lumber business because they live, eat and breathe it.

3. Amherst Earth Products, Amherst. If it’s loam, bark mulch or even light excavation work, these folks can do it all.

4. Vermont Salvage, Manchester. If you’re looking for the perfect matching antique door or window, or just about anything else for an old house, Vermont Salvage probably has it.

5. County Store, Milford. More than a hardware store, County Store can fix your mower, replace your screens, or provide you with that odd-sized bolt.

Guy MacMillan: Images that Define NH

1. On Route 9 in Keene between Base Hill Rd. and Production Ave., there’s a spectacular view of Mt. Monadnock — especially nice early in the morning, when the sun provides a golden crown for the peak. This view may dim in a few years after a Home Depot is built on the left of the road and the state Highway Department puts up a “trumpet exchange” (don’t ask) to handle traffic. However, the rumor that nearby Mountainview Subaru will change its name to Trumpetview Subaru is apparently unfounded.
2. Driving or walking along Route 63 in Chesterfield, I always marvel that the center of this town looks just like a New Hampshire town is supposed to look. It’s a wonder of public planning and private good taste.

3. Speaking of Chesterfield, there’s a scene on Orchard Road that reminds me of the countless cowboy movies and TV shows I enjoyed as I was growing up. Just past Hubner’s farm on the left, grasslands slope down to a magnificent old pine and a wandering stream. At times, cows graze in the distance. All that’s missing is a fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty “Heigh-yo, Silver.” Sometimes I provide the latter as I pass.

4. Keene’s Main St. and Central Square stand out among NH cities because of their apparent permanence. If I squint to blur the names of the stores the scene is almost exactly as it was when I was a kid on the way to visit with Gene Autry. Even the Colonial Theatre is still standing, refurbished and looking better than ever. In an age when downtown renewal often involves wrecking balls, it’s nice that some things don’t change.

Laura Knoy: Hiking Trails

1. Mt Cardigan, West trail. Great if you only have half a day to hike. Tough enough to make you sweat a little — but easy enough so even little kids can do it. Nice views, too.
2. Mt. Major. Another “quick hit” if you don’t have time for an all-day adventure. A short but steep trip up, wonderful views of Lake Winnipesaukee.

3. Lincoln-Lafayette. A fabulous, all-day hike. Views surround you on the ridge trail, includes a beautiful waterfall, too!

4. Mt. Madison, Valley Way trail. You’re not in the open as much as other trails — but waterfalls, flowers, and soft dirt underfoot (instead of rock) make this a pleasant hike. And you still get great classic White Mountains views at the top.

5. My all-time favorite hike in New Hampshire I’d like to keep secret. All I’ll say is it’s an established trail, right off the Kancamagus highway. Go exploring there yourself, and see what you find!

Fritz Wetherbee: Gravestones

1. Woman Murdered by the Baptist Church, Milford. Caroline Cutter, buried in the Elm Street Cemetery. Grave is to the right as you enter the gates. It’s the only grave with two stones, a field stone and a marble stone. The field stone commemorates her daughter who was the first woman to die in the Civil War.
2. Sml Jones Leg, Washington. Just down the hill from the town gazebo. Further down the hill is a second cemetery with the only “Hammer and Sickle Communist gravestone” in the state, the graves of Fred and Elba Chase. Also, top of the hill in the same yard is a perfect granite sphere with the family name “Ball.”

3. Body Stolen from the Grave, Acworth. Bezaleed Beckwith is NOT BURIED in the Acworth Cemetery, but his gravestone is there. Cemetery is located about a quarter mile down the hill from the center of town, take a left on Nye road. It’s a hundred yards or so out there. It’s a big, slate grave located about the center of the yard.

4. Trees Eating Gravestones, Acworth. Town cemetery has a maple tree which has grown to envelope gravestones in its trunk. The most spectacular tree to do this is in the Hinsdale Cemetery. To find this cemetery go into the high school driveway and continue through. The road dead ends at the cemetery out in a field.

5. Woman Thrown from a Wagon and Killed, Lyndeboro. Monument by the side of the road on Center Road about a mile down from town center.

Allison McNair: Road Races

1. Red’s Shoe Barn Road Race, Dover. This race is run in April. For me, Red’s has always signaled the beginning of spring and the road race season, even if it was cold with snow flurries on the day of the race.
2. Market Sq. Day Road Race. June morning, thousands of people, beautiful downtown Portsmouth and spectators along the route with water and words of encouragement. The race ends in Prescott Park. Couldn’t get any better than that.

3. Cigna (formerly Healthsource) Road Race, downtown Manchester. This race usually tops all in the number of entrants for a NH 5k. It’s great to see local companies with teams, and you’re always sure to run into someone you know.

4. Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis, Portsmouth. Okay, maybe it is a winter race (it takes place the day after Thanksgiving). When it was a 10k, it went through scenic parts of Portsmouth and New Castle. Now a 5k, it’s still a lot of fun. Some run in holiday costumes and everyone wears jingle bells on their sneakers.

Woody Woodland: Best Talk Radio Conspiracies with NH Connections

1. Who Killed JFK? This has been a great topic for more than 36 years and will be for the next 36. The NH connection is that there are retired CIA agents in southern NH who know the answer.
2. What Happened to Della Call? This is a fascinating new conspiracy being researched by Union Leader publisher Joe McQuade. It involves a hit-and-run accident in Chichester in November of 1936, and rumors have always alleged that Governor and Senator-elect Styles Bridges and Motor Vehicles Commissioner John Griffin (McQuade’s grandfather) were involved.

3. Where is J.D. Salinger? Since moving to NH, I have always heard that the novelist is a recluse in Cornish. Since no Cornish resident will direct an out-of-towner to where he lives, I’m wondering if he really lives there at all.

4. Did John Wilkes Booth Become a Mummy? Nate Orlowek, a former counselor at Camp Young Judea in Merrimack, is leading a group of folks trying to find the “mummy” of David George, a man who claimed to be John Wilkes Booth on his death bed in Enid, Oklahoma, in 1901. Booth was engaged to the daughter of NH Senator John Hale. If they find the mummy, could they find the daddy?

5. Was RFK Involved in the Death of Marilyn Monroe? If author Don Wolfe of Hollis is correct in his blockbuster “The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe,” the answer is yes. Don is a great guest on such topics as strange deaths surrounding the JFK case. He has a couple of new books in the works that should be equally fascinating.

Bernadette Malone-Connolly: Places to take your Husband on a Date

1. Bowl-a-Rama, Portsmouth. Good bowling with ’70s and ’80s dance music, mirror balls and strobe lights — plus guys like anything that ends in “Rama.”
2. Blue Mermaid, Portsmouth. Terrific nachos and quesadillas, live blues music.

3. The little beach at the lighthouse in Newcastle near the Coast Guard station. Very romantic. Softest sand in New England.

4. A Nashua Pride Game. Need we say more?

5. Billy’s Sports Bar, Manchester. So many TVs it’ll make his head spin. There’s even a TV in the floor.

John Harrigan: NH Books

1. Tall Trees, Tough Men. This is a classic book on northern New England logging by Robert Pike, who spent much of the early 1900s ranging the woods of northern New Hampshire and Vermont, visiting lumber camps and logging jobs and hobnobbing with the old-timers who made the first big cuts and the first river drives. It’s a great read.
2. Spiked Boots, by Robert Pike. Ditto.

3. Northwest Passage, by Kenneth Roberts. How many local people know that Rogers’ Rangers came down through northern New Hampshire on their retreat after sacking the Indian village of St. Francis on the St. Lawrence in 1759? They did, and this great historical novel offers a look at the country in those times, and the men who answered the call to arms.

4. The Old American, by Ernest Hebert. Just when you think you know all there is to learn about the Abenakis, and the native people’s first contact with Europeans, Ernie Hebert comes along with a character named Caucus-Meteor, and your eyes are wide open again.

5. Finally, this is not strictly a New Hampshire book, but you just cannot understand the holistic, almost catholic cycles of nature and how it all fits together without reading Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold. It should be right there by your bed, with the Bible.