In the summer of 1976, I was getting ready for my first year at college, America was celebrating its bicentennial and NKY Magazine was publishing its very first Best Of edition. It’s hard to believe that four decades have passed since NKY Magazine first started pushing its glossy pages at a lone newsstand in the Woolworth on Madison Avenue in Covington.

The curious gathered around the inaugural edition pondering whether it would stand the test of time.

Well, an anticipated tradition for 40 years, NKY Magazine’s recognition of what makes the region great has been honoring our tastes and toasts for longer than many can remember.

Recently, I delved into the dusty archives of NKY Magazine’s multi-story corporate headquarters building in Grant’s Lick in search of the original Best Of issue. In order to find it, I had to make my way through a stack of Greenline Bus tokens and musty copies of the Ludlow News Enterprise being saved for their historical significance.

After an extensive search of our humidity-controlled vault, I found it—the 1976 NKY Magazine Best of Edition. Having just been granted university status, a picture of NKU’s A.D. Albright was on the cover with the words “You’re in Good Hands with Albright.”

The listing of superlatives marked the times:

- Best Department Store - Coppin’s

- Best Bar - Roundup

- Best Place to Cruise on the Weekend - Reeves Dairy Cheer

- Best A/C Service - Doc Rusk

- Best Radio Jingle - Gene Snyder

- Best Discount Store - Rinks

- Best Local Band - Pure Prairie League

- Best … Okay, I give.

NKY Magazine wasn’t really first published in 1976. Many of that era would rather have gone to the Glass Menagerie than the Roundup and—despite its current politically incorrect name—Chinatown was arguably just as cheap Rinks.

Most folks view the Best Of Edition in the present tense, contemplating how their favorites stack up against the best in the community. Personally, this issue sends me into reflection and gets me thinking about the way Northern Kentucky has changed in my lifetime.

Moreover, it also makes me consider the many ways we’ve remained the same:

- The Licking River remains much wider than the Ohio.

- No one can actually name all the small towns in the three counties, but people in each town know the names of their various neighborhoods by heart. I dare someone from Peaselburg to point out Pious Heights on a map.

- And people from more small towns than we can keep track of still quarrel over Montgomery Inn ribs versus those from Walt’s Hitching Post.

It’s a trend we can’t fight. Newcomers are immediately welcomed to our most vicious battle, as Welcome Wagon packages likely include gift certificates for free cheese conies from Skyline, Gold Star and Dixie. That debate alone has divided families for decades.

But that’s what makes Northern Kentucky the (albeit bridge crumbling) gateway to the Commonwealth.

So as you ramble through this edition, remember it’s these long-standing fights that keep us moving forward as a community.

If you’re mad or offended over me lying about the 1976 Best Of Edition of NKY Magazine, please send your complaints to NKY Magazine’s main campus in Grant’s Lick.