From Pine View Farm

I Like the New Jersey Turnpike 3

I do.

I can’t say much for New Jersey drivers (well, I can, but I shall restrain myself). But I like the turnpike, so long as two Jersyites haven’t tried to make their vehicles occupy one space. Even though atoms are supposed to be really far apart, that still is not possible.

The Jersey Turnpike is a marvelous piece of engineering. Anyone who has driven both it and the Garden State, as I have many times, sees how well-engineered the Jersey Turnpike is. And, unlike the Pennsylvania Turnpike, it is Not Boring. (The Garden State calls itself a parkway. Cars are often parked there. Only Pennsylvania could build a road through some of the most beautiful mountains in the country and make it Borrrrriiiiinnnnngggg.)

One of the NJT’s quaint features, if a feature of such a magnificent paean to the automobile may be considered quaint, is that its rest areas are named after famous Jerseyites, such as Walt Whitman, Thomas Edison, and Molly Pitcher.

Now comes word that New Jersey is considering pimping out the names of the rest areas.

James Simpson, the new commissioner of the state Department of Transportation, is contemplating selling naming rights to the turnpike’s rest stops as he scrambles for new revenue.

“The ‘Nike Stop’ . . . maybe that would be worth $10 million,” Simpson said in a recent interview, pondering ways to wring more money out of turnpike concessions.

So I offer a pome, not by Henry Gibson:

    I think that I shall never see
    A poem as lovey as a tree,
    But unlovely as this poem may be,
    Take it. You don’t get no tree.


I have read Hamlet and Othello because I wanted to and almost all of Robert W. Service (“A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon” etc.), T. S. Eliot, and e. e. cummings.

I’ve also read everything I could ever find by my favorite author, “Anonymous.”

I have never been able to read Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees” all the way through.

And it is a damned sight shorter than The First Men in the Moon.



  1. Karen

    March 28, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Huh, a first. I’ve never known anyone who read Hamlet or Othello simply because they wanted to. High school english lit, yes. Voluntary, noooo.

  2. Frank

    March 29, 2010 at 5:54 am

    I am convinced that high school English, at least in our time (I know I am adding years to your age), was designed to turn readers away from books.

    What changed my attitude towards Shakespeare was seeing a student production of Hamlet at my college. The acting brought the words alive.

    Then I went back and started reading the plays. I didn’t do it in any disciplined way, but every few years I might set out to read one. I’ve read maybe 10.

    I highly recommend Mel Gibson’s Hamlet movie for anyone who wants to give Shakespeare another go. It’s long–Frank and I watched it over two evenings–and it’s really well done.

    Similarly, seeing an opera company in a concert series at my college gave me the ability to enjoy opera. They performed La Boheme in English. Suddenly the story made sense. Since then, I have been able to listen to opera and enjoy it, as long as I have the words to keep up with the story the first time I listen.

    I tried several time to give Dickens a second chance and concluded that he forever exemplifies the evil of paying writers by the word.

  3. Karen

    March 31, 2010 at 11:07 am

    I think I was born with a love of reading. That’s one of the few things my mother did that was positive. Encourage it. I tried it with my kids. Angela will read just because she likes to. Joe, he gave it up once he got toys, games & friends. That he can, I’m happy about.