I’m a Jersey girl, born and raised. While I don’t live there anymore, I’m still fiercely loyal to my great home state and have to say, “People… if you would just drive 15 mins past Newark Airport you’d start to see why it’s called the Garden State! We have some beautiful towns with lush lawns and farms. I’d also like to add that it is “NEW” Jersey, not simply “Jersey,” and “No. We DO NOT all have an accent.” See NJ Pride. I warned you.
Today is all about my appreciation of a specific 127 miles of New Jersey.
It’s Better Than it’s “Reputation”
I think NJ gets a bad rap. I think it may be due to the fact that many only travel in/out of Newark or travel select parts of the NJ Turnpike. If one simply drove 15 mins farther from either, they would experience a different appreciation of New Jersey, as it’s quite beautiful. It’s not “all” smelly as some complain. Yes we have refineries, but these don’t take up a majority of the state and they are situated primarily in industrial locations along the NJ Turnpike.
Did you know? New Jersey is the fragrance capital of the world creating all scents used by manufacturers today.
Despite the negative moniker, it’s not the “armpit of america” that many refer to it as. It’s quite the reverse actually, and our beaches especially, are renowned and visited by both those in the states and internationally. New Jersey’s eastern seaboard, contains 127 miles of beaches, many with pristine white sand. It’s this very topic and a post by It All Started with Paint that prompted me to comment on — “the Shore” — and my beloved home state.
Shore to Please
Unlike most states on the East and West Coasts with beaches, New Jersey alone calls their’s “the Shore.” It’s just one of the unique things I really appreciate about my home state.
Growing up, we were never going to the “beach” on the weekend, it was always “the Shore.” The Shore encompassed both the beach and boardwalk, and in my family’s case, our Shore house in Brick.
I know, I know, many have a preconceived notion of what the Shore is like based on that “lovely”and “accurate” (HEAR the sarcasm here) MTV show. The network did a great job of creating stereotypes of the people who frequented Seaside Heights, NJ, but it’s not really as over the top as they portrayed. As a long time visitor to Seaside growing up and visiting post college, yes, I can admit that not all of it can be seen as family friendly, but what real resort is completely family friendly outside of Disney. In reality however, there are some really nice parts to Seaside and family friendly neighborhoods just beyond the boardwalk.
My family has a long history with the Shore. Both my father and my uncle worked at the Point Pleasant boardwalk while in college. My father manned the Skeeball games (see below) and the soda fountain at Jenkinson’s, and my uncle worked at the Orange Julius stand. Their love of the Shore and boardwalk was passed on as each of them brought their families (my cousins and me) down to experience some of the allure and love of the boardwalk they experienced growing up.
Our Shore house (my grand parent’s (my father’s and uncle’s parents)) was located “in between” Seaside and Point Pleasant. Point Pleasant
was is a bit more family friendly than Seaside, especially for young children. We would spend special weekend nights going on the rides, trying games of chance (think: pulling a fish out of the pond and getting a prize correlating to the number on the bottom, or spinning a gigantic wheel and hoping it landed on the “pink heart” picture), playing miniature golf, and of course filling up on things like cotton candy, Orange Juliuses, and saltwater taffy. The sights, the sounds (bells, buzzers, game alarms, children’s screams of delight, cotton candy, frying hot dogs and hamburgers, and salt air) were exotic and alluring and when I think of them today, make me nostalgic for those weekends long ago.
Skeeball was/is a family’s favorite game. It consists of rolling a wooden ball (about the size of a bocce ball) up a ramp with the goal of getting it into the higher point “buckets” or holes. (See pic). Growing up we had mock competitions to see who could get the most tickets or in the 50s or 100 point buckets. Plus as kids we just “had” to have that stuffed, furry kitty, or were saving for that dirt bike. (Each of which would have been so much cheaper to buy outright than via this game of skill and chance.)
As I got older, each Memorial Day was dedicated to the first Shore trip of the season. My friends and I would either go to the house in Brick or we’d travel to Belmar, Spring Lake, Manasquan, or LBI (Long Beach Island). While the Shore house was sold several years ago, the tradition of traveling to the Shore in the summer continues today, and some now call Cape May, Exit 1 on the Garden State Parkway, their own.
And before you ask, “Yes, Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on my beloved Shore,” but it’s been restored, although some sections – especially in Seaside and Point Pleasant are not the same and my memories are all I have left. Still I’ll remain loyal none-the-less to my Shore and a Jersey Girl always. (BTW: This is the only use of “Jersey” I accept.)
Cue Bruce (Springsteen).
Some Fun Facts* you may not know, and which I appreciate about my
home great state New Jersey:
- Highlands, New Jersey has the highest elevation along the entire eastern seaboard, from Maine to Florida.
- The first saltwater taffy in the world was produced at the Jersey Shore in the 1870’s.
- Atlantic City has the longest boardwalk in the world – and the first built in the world. It was built in 1870.
- The streets in the US version of Monopoly are named after streets in Atlantic City.
- New Jersey is home to more than 9,800 farms covering 790,000 acres of farmland.
- 2nd in Blueberry production
- 3rd in Cranberry production
- 3rd in Bell peppers
- 4th in Peach production
- The first recorded, official baseball game was played on June 19, 1846 in Hoboken.
- The first intercollegiate football game was played in New Brunswick, in 1869. Rutgers College played Princeton. Rutgers won.
source: NJ.gov, 50states.com
Have you ever gone to the Shore?
Do you have a favorite memory of the Shore to share?
Is there a place from your childhood that you continue to travel to – no matter the distance – as an adult?
What do you think of New Jersey? Come on be honest – if you’ve traveled beyond Newark and the NJ Turnpike, I’d love to know!
This post is dedicated to all my fellow Jersey Girls, and my family who love the Shore as much as me. 🙂