HAMILTON — You might have expected the magic number at last night's meeting of the Hamilton selectmen would be five, since it marked the first time a five-member board convened in the town's rich history.

But one, as in one-liners, stole the show during an evening that at times approached giddiness.

Selectmen, Town Manager Michael Lombardo — even residents — took turns at praise, self-deprecation and wordplay during a meeting with an agenda that favored a light touch.

It sounded like last week's election was more momentous than it was when outgoing — sort of — Chairman Dave Carey got the ball rolling by welcoming people to the, "May 24 meeting of the Hamilton-Wenham ...," before he caught himself.

In deference to veterans and American Legion Post representatives Jack Akin and Jerry Bennett, Carey made the first order of business next Monday's observance of Memorial Day.

Akin announced that the guest speaker at the annual Legion breakfast that weekend will be Lombardo, which prompted Selectman Jennifer Scuteri to ask Lombardo, "So what war did you serve in?"

Akin was quick to his defense:

"He's serving in one now."

The next piece of business was electing a chairman and, for the first time, a vice chairman. Before nominations were made, Carey asked if each board member wanted to set forth any expectations of a chairman.

Selectman Bill Bowler said whomever the chairman might be, each of the board members would likely be focusing on "one goal, maybe two."

"Do I get just one item, too?" Lombardo queried, and Carey shot back, "You get paid."

Carey then nominated Scuteri for chairwoman, noting Bowler has held the post several times in the past, and Scuteri quickly nominated Bowler.

As discussion ensued, Bowler jokingly noted no one had seconded his nomination, but added he wouldn't be broken-hearted if he wasn't chosen.

Scuteri was selected unanimously, then made an unusual request that Carey continue to run meetings.

There were hints at times during the night of the confusion that might cause, but Carey agreed to give it a try.

One of the last lines of the night wasn't so funny, after all, although no one had a clue at the time.

A string of police cars and fire trucks, sirens blaring, roared past Town Hall prompting Bowler to tell Scuteri, "Your city is in flames."

Actually not the whole town, but a fire was engulfing a business at 776 Bay Road as the meeting continued.

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