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Wednesday, January 9 2002

New Jersey - 2

I was inspired to jot down some of my New Jersey memories by seeing last Sunday afternoon on some cable channel part of a movie set mainly in Trenton. I still don't know the title of the period piece; it was about two hours and when that was over, so was the movie (no plot to speak of). But the characters were high school students and later college-age people and the period was "my" period; I was initially drawn in by the musical soundtrack of pre-Beatles songs that are on my personal playlist.

Unable to finish my studies fulltime at Pitt while working fulltime for the Journal at a time when young men in good health had to be either a fulltime student or fulltime Vietnam fighter, I took advantage of a newspaper job offer in New Jersey that afforded me the opportunity to work while being a fulltime student at a Philadelphia seminary. I took two years of graduate schooling at the seminary and finished my bachelor's at a Cape May, New Jersey, liberal arts college presided over, coincidentally, by my employer.

New Jersey is mostly flat (though there are some mountains in the northern corner between New York and Pennsylvania); it's mostly suburbs, and it had highways like England's that at the time used traffic circles as substitutes for traffic lights, all making it a difficult place to navigate. But I have never met a highway I couldn't conquer, and came to love South Jersey, making many new friends there, some of whom I'm still in touch with. It was the first time in my life that I was in the company of not only one or two peers who shared most of my values and worldview, but daily rubbing elbows with dozens of them.

I made the move about six months after the assassination of President Kennedy, and as I recall, it was a time in which the glow of "Camelot" still seemed alive. There was a feeling of optimism for a better time, place and humanity, even a spiritual awakening around some nearby corner. Perhaps it was the calm before the eruption of the hippies and the descent into the chaos that would befall the nation a decade later, shortly before and culminating in the end of the Vietnam War.

The geographic dualism that I described yesterday, of New Jersey's ugliness being in the countryside and its serenity in the towns, may have a spiritual or psychic parallel in another dualism I sensed there and then. Superficially, politically, it was a very liberal (in the "anything-goes" sense) on the outside, with a conservative (nurturing) core or heart.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

More classifieds Real or fake? Don't know. Enjoy either way.

Nordic track $300 hardly used. Call Chubbie.

Found: dirty white dog...looks like a rat...been out awhile...better be reward.

Hummels largest selection ever: "if it's in stock, we have it!"

Get a little john: the traveling urinal holds 2 1/2 bottles of beer.

Nice parachute, never opened, used once, slightly stained.

—Sent by Mike Harrison

No pain, no gain...

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through
experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.

—Helen Keller
Sent by Paul Villa

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