I almost let last month disappear from view without recognizing a personal anniversary.
It was thirty years ago in September that I moved to Central New Hampshire from Long Island, New York; most likely the reason this column exists in the first place.
I was twenty-nine years old when I moved here and today, as I write this, I am a few short weeks from sixty. Half my life and yet I am still figuring some things out about New Hampshire.
In September of 1985 Ronald Reagan was president, Hurricane Gloria was about to threaten New England, The Patriots were on their way to their first Super Bowl (they lost), gasoline prices were a dollar something (and we complained) and the sixth game of the Red Sox/Mets World Series was still a little bit over a year away.
Thirty years ago, the laptop computer I am typing this column on was still far away from being a normal household item, the Internet was certainly not a well-known word yet and many of us were still playing records. Thirty years ago there was still a “landline” telephone in every house and there were even a few that still had rotary dialers. (For those of you under thirty, I don’t have time to explain what those were, but I’m sure you can find one in an antique store somewhere.)
The Berlin Wall was still up. (For those of you under thirty who enjoy your freedom, this is something you should read up on.)
The biggest cultural phenomenon of 1985 was when Coca-Cola introduced New Coke and then Classic Coke, using the same formula that was dumped for New Coke which was introduced a few months later to replace New Coke, which later became Coke II. Those of us alive at the time didn’t think life could get much more complicated. Of course, we never anticipated the challenges of trying to figure out how to navigate the Internet and use Smartphones which would be thrust upon us in later years.
Along with all of these changes, I was personally invested all those years ago in learning to adjust to life here in New Hampshire.
I have to admit that at first, I never thought I would. People talked funny, there wasn’t much to do at night – or even during the day after Labor Day – and the winters were a lot worse than I was used to.
Thirty years ago the Lakes Region was quite a different place. There really wasn’t a large selection of stores in the area. I found myself planning day’s off from work by checking my car’s oil and tire pressure, filling the tank and heading off to Manchester (and later Concord) to buy myself a pair of pants. Today, I don’t have to travel that far and my pants size has inched upwards.
My first job in New Hampshire was as a bartender at Steele Hill Resort in Sanbornton (the word “Hill” being a bit deceptive). I drove to it every day on an approach that was nearly a full vertical tilt; loose items secured by seatbelts and duct tape so as not to cause personal injury. I also experienced my first winter trying to maneuver that “Hill” in snowstorm after snowstorm in a rear-wheel drive vehicle.
I figured if I could survive that winter, I might just make it.
Not long after. I was initiated into things like raking my roof and spending mornings at the dump and a slew of other things that I’m sure you will find less than amazing if you have lived here yourself for a while.
There are still things that I won’t try.
No matter how many cars and trucks I see parked on the frozen lake, I’ve yet to consider even walking on it myself with only the weight of heavy winter clothing. It seems unnatural.
Another thing I can’t be, is a New England Sports Fan. I have considered the alternatives to the lonely and sullen existence I experience as a New York Jets and Mets fan living in New Hampshire, but I also feel that loyalty is a true virtue (and tested even more after forty-five years of not even “going” to the Super Bowl….sigh).
As I finish up these first 10,950 days in New Hampshire, I am ready for the next round.
Thanks for having me.
Brendan Smith welcomes your comments at brendan@weirs,com. His books “The Flatlander Chronicles” and “Best of A F.O.O.L In New Hampshire” are available at his website www.BrendanTSmith.com.