The Good Life According to Liz [Week of 4/15/2012]


Liz Clements | Lifestyle Editor


Oh, New Jersey. We love you, we hate you; we don’t know who you are. Some may say you’re three different states: North Jersey, South Jersey and Central Jersey – – – Central Jersey, what’s that? Purgatory maybe? Essentially, I suppose you have the Divine Comedy. People from North Jersey think they live in Paradise and South Jersey is hell. People from South Jersey think people from North Jersey might as well go to hell, and that our farm stretched lands are the true paradise. It’s quite an interesting complex we have going on here.

If you’re from the North you say you’re from New York or that you practically grew up in the city. You claim you’ve seen high profile celebrities in Starbucks and that you’re tougher than nails. If you’re from South Jersey, your rebuttal is to say you’re from Philadelphia, and proceed to wax poetic about how you spent your childhood outdoors and having picnics, not trapped in an industrial pit hole. And, once again, what the hell is Central Jersey?

I have New Jersey Pride, but mine is all for the South. I love the Phillies, the best baseball team in the world, while the North loves the Yankees. In South Jersey, we raise blueberries and other agricultural goods. We give New Jersey the Garden State name. We are famers, we are healthcare workers, we are teachers, we are civil servants; we are all-American families. We have huge backyards filled with trees and deer. We spend our summers in Ocean City, Cape May, Sea Isle City, Wildwood, and Brigantine, do I need to go on?  We are incessantly aggravated by the stigma the North gives the state, thanks to The Sopranos, Jerseylicious, Housewives of New Jersey, and all the other ridiculous shows filmed up north.

We have real Italian folks down here, immigrant families’ first generation children, living for their American Dream. Hammonton, the town I come from, has the highest concentration of Italian people in the state. The first Italian came to Hammonton in 1863, and the town has been farming ever since. South Jersey has an abundance of wineries, farm stands, Italian Food Stores, and Italian restaurants. On any given day in town you can get stuck behind an elderly lady arguing with the produce man about the quality of the peppers. We are not the tanning, big haired, meatball eating Italian ideal that North Jersey lends to.

I how no idea what a sub is, I eat hoagies. We eat cheese steaks, and actually people from South Jersey  just love sandwiches in general. I love a soft serve topped with jimmies (what the hell is a sprinkle?), and I go to Wawa on a daily basis, no exception, so I can get a hoagie or coffee or ice cream or gas. In the morning I can see the sun, and at night the stars, not some smog of industrialization.

We are proud to live in the boonies as some may call it. I grew up on bon fires and parties in the woods. In girl scouts we actually went camping and swam in cedar lakes. We’ve got the spooky Batsto, the Atco ghost, and the Jersey Devil.  We’ve all been to the Berlin Farmers Market, which you should never call the Berlin Farmers Market, but simply the auction.

I can’t even pretend that I’m not bashing on North Jersey, or that I don’t think South Jersey is better, because I am, and I do. Not the people, just the culture and landscape of my half of the state. Any North Jersey folks are welcome in my home any day; they just have to root for the Phillies. But isn’t that just part of being from New Jersey? We all pick a side, or get stuck in purgatory. I would, however love to hear from someone from North Jersey, with their take on the battle between north and south. Email me, accept the challenge.


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