Sunlit Water

August 2, 2006

Garden State

Filed under: Culture,Personal,States — by teofilo @ 6:54 pm

Today would have been my grandmother’s ninetieth birthday.  She’s the only grandparent I remember, and I was pretty close to her.  We used to visit her every summer when I was a kid at her vacation house in Loveladies, New Jersey.  She died nine years ago, and we sold the house to some rich people who promptly tore it down and replaced it with a monstrosity that covers the entire lot.  They now have it on the market; the asking price has seven figures.  That’s how things have been going lately there.  It’s no longer a vacation spot for the middle class the way it was.

I’ve been thinking about my grandmother a lot lately because I’m staying this summer in what used to be her non-vacation house (now my aunt’s law office).  She grew up on a farm in New Jersey, which is something you don’t hear too much.  People generally don’t think of farms in association with New Jersey, even though there are a lot of them.  They grow very good sweet corn and tomatoes, as well as blueberries.  I always try to buy Jersey blueberries when I can.

New Jersey is a state that doesn’t get much respect.  People associate it with sprawl, congestion, pollution and corruption.  It’s a national joke.  I even remember being at the shore one summer and seeing a segment on the news about Be Nice To New Jersey Day, a nice gesture that only seems to emphasize how seldom people do that.

I like New Jersey, though.  It’s an interesting state.  In addition to all the agriculture that people don’t know about (which is mostly in South Jersey), it has the highest population density of any state despite not having any big cities.  Although its economy and culture is heavily influenced by New York and Philadelphia, it has its own little quirks, like how you can’t pump your own gas.  It was also the first state in the country to extend suffrage to women, although it later rescinded it.  It’s where the Hamilton-Burr duel took place.  There’s a lot of interesting history there that not many people know.

Certainly it has its problems; I’m no fan of sprawl, and there are definitely areas of North Jersey where I would hate to live.  But there’s so much more to the state that you rarely hear about.  My grandmother, for instance.  But now you, at least, have heard about her.



  1. I like the ghost town quality of Asbury Park. And even though I don’t gamble I like Atlantic City. But I’m quirky that way.

    Comment by dagger aleph — August 2, 2006 @ 7:37 pm |Reply

  2. I have a positive impression of Jersey, by and large. Its image as NYC’s stinky third cousin is unfortunate. Sure, there are lots of roads and subdivisions, and yes, that’s where they filmed that one scene where Tony Soprano blah-blah-blah. But, as with Philly, I’ve found the Jersey folks to be helpful if blunt—basically very honest. I wish I could’ve happened upon your grandma’s for some blueberries before they mansioned-upped the place.

    Nice post, Teo.

    Comment by Stanley — August 2, 2006 @ 11:22 pm |Reply

  3. Thanks. You can still get the blueberries (although I don’t think my grandmother’s family actually grew them); the mansioning and blueberries are in different parts of the state.

    Comment by teofilo — August 3, 2006 @ 12:13 am |Reply

  4. My grandmother also grew up on a farm in New Jersey.

    Sars is a strong New Jersey partisan, and mentions (obviously) the tomatoes specifically. My grandmother, who died this year, always used to tell us about the sweet corn they sold from their roadside stand.

    Also, the Jersey shore rocks.

    Comment by mrh — August 3, 2006 @ 7:24 am |Reply

  5. not having any big cities

    W-wait, what’s Newark then? I think off-hand, it is one of the largest cities on the northeastern seaboard.

    Comment by The Modesto Kid — August 3, 2006 @ 10:52 am |Reply

  6. Oh maybe not — Wikipaedia says a quarter-million people, I was thinking it was at least three times that. Nemmine.

    Comment by The Modesto Kid — August 3, 2006 @ 10:54 am |Reply

  7. Mr. H — Any Jersey Shore recommendations? I have only been to Pt. Pleasant, which is fun. I read an article in the Times yesterday that made Long Beach Island sound extremely attractive.

    Comment by The Modesto Kid — August 3, 2006 @ 10:56 am |Reply

  8. Why are you asking him rather than me? Check out where Loveladies is on a map.

    Comment by teofilo — August 3, 2006 @ 11:49 am |Reply

  9. Oh, cool. Didn’t think of doing that.

    Comment by The Modesto Kid — August 3, 2006 @ 1:31 pm |Reply

  10. BTW See you tommorrow. My wife and daughter will come to meet you as well.

    Comment by The Modesto Kid — August 3, 2006 @ 2:40 pm |Reply

  11. Cool. I can tell you all about LBI then.

    Comment by teofilo — August 3, 2006 @ 5:56 pm |Reply

  12. The way you Loveladies is nicely documented in “All…Girls.”

    Comment by ~Macarena~ — August 3, 2006 @ 7:02 pm |Reply

  13. Fan floor…

    I am Karin, very interesting article that contained the information I was searching for in Google, thanks….

    Trackback by Fan floor — August 11, 2006 @ 9:31 am |Reply

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