Tag Archives: New Jersey



TM: “Every summer, people from New York and Western New Jersey flood to the Jersey Shore. They invade the beaches, cause traffic, and are generally rude. We call them Bennys.”

PAR: “What does Benny mean?”

TM: “Benny an acronym. It stands for Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark and New York.”


TM lives in New Jersey and has dealt with Bennys his entire life. He said that he first heard the term in middle school but it became much more popular when he was in high school as social media helped to popularize the term. TM claims that Benny is a secret word and these individuals do not know they are being made fun of. He also said that although it is a stereotype, it is a fairly accurate one as he has never met a Benny who did not match his expectation of them.

My Interpretation:

This is a very interesting use of slang. The word Benny is used to foster a divide between the native individuals who live at the Jersey Shore and those who are visiting. In this manner, the word Benny gives the individuals from the Shore power over the vacationers as they have authority over the slang. This is transformative speech.

Spy House


MW: “When I was in the Girl Scouts, we went on a field trip to this place called the Spy House. The lady who worked there said that it used to be a tavern during the Revolutionary War and the British would come and stay in the house. The Americans would be under the floorboards and behind the walls and they would spy on the Red Coats. Then, they would sneak out through a secret tunnel under the bay and give information to the other Patriots. The lady who worked there also said that the ghosts of Revolutionary War veterans lived in the house.”


MW lives in New Jersey and has been to the Spy House several times since that initial trip. Although she has never seen any of the ghosts, she claims to have seen the tunnel which goes under the bay and the hiding places behind the walls. MW says that, unfortunately, the Spy House has been closed for the past few years for general upkeep; however, she claims that the ghosts did not get the message and still haunt the house to this day.

Personal Interpretation:

I think that the Spy House has a very cool story. As a fellow resident of NJ, I have heard claims that the house never harbored British, nor is it haunted. However, I have also heard that the ghosts terrorize anyone who crosses the threshold. I think that the duality between these two stories is what makes the Spy House so unique. Some people claim it is real. Others shout hoax. However, you will never know until you visit it for yourself.


If you want to read more on the Spy House, check out this Weird NJ Article:

Weird NJ Author. “Is the Spy House ‘The Most Haunted House in America’?” Weird NJ, November 3, 2014. https://weirdnj.com/stories/garden-state-ghosts/spy-house/. 

Cooper and Whipporwill Valley Roads


TM: “There are these two haunted roads in Middletown, NJ. They are Cooper Road and Whipporwill Valley Road and the two are right next to each other.”

PAR: “What makes these roads haunted?”

TM: “Where do I begin? So basically, on Cooper Road, there’s this tiny stone bridge. The story is that once a baby drowned in the river below and if you stop and turn your car off at night, you can still hear its screams. However, you don’t want to stop your car on this bridge. If you turn it off, it won’t start back up again.”

PAR: “Does that really happen?”

TM: “It did to me and my friend once. I’m not sure if it has something to do with the spirit of the baby or the witch trials.”

PAR: “Witch trials?”

TM: “From what I’ve heard back in colonial times, there were a bunch of witches in Middletown. Over the course of a month, these women were discovered and taken to Cooper Road and Whipporwill Valley Road late at night. There, they were burned at the stake. But before they died, apparently they cast a curse on the surrounding land.”

PAR: “That’s crazy.”

TM: “I know! The craziest part is that I’m not even finished yet. The most recent evil thing to happen on this road is the KKK. From what I’ve heard, they have a secret house on Whipporwill Valley Road and hold marches and meetings there super late at night. These roads are the most evil place in all of New Jersey!”


TM lives in Middletown, NJ and has driven down these roads multiple times before.

My Interpretation:

There is a lot going on with these two roads and there are various historical legends tied to them. What I think is most interesting is the performative game teens can play. They can go late at night and turn their car off and see the Folklore in action themselves. This makes it into a ritual, as they have the capability of acting on what they believe.


For further research, check out this Weird NJ Article:

Weird NJ Author. “Whipporwill Valley and Cooper Roads: Middletown’s Scariest Byways.” Weird NJ, September 5, 2014. https://weirdnj.com/stories/roads-less-traveled/whippoorwill-valley-and-cooper-road/. 

The Jersey Devil


My informant, NK, is 19 years old and of South Korean descent from both her mother and father’s sides of the family. Her grandparents live close to her, so she spends a lot of time with them. She is very passionate about cooking. Even though she is majoring in biochemical engineering at UC Berkeley, she has always been, and remains to be, extremely interested in conspiracy theories. While she may not necessarily believe them, she enjoys hearing lore from across the world. (I’ll be referring to myself as SW in the actual performance).


NK: So, there’s this urban legend in New Jersey, called the Jersey Devil. I’ve heard about it from different like conspiracy shows or websites, and just word of mouth. Um, and it’s one of those things like Bigfoot. The myth goes that there’s a woman – there’s some variations obviously – but she had one kid or thirteen, depending on who you ask, and she had a pact with the devil or hooked up with him, or something. And so either that one kid or the youngest one was born deformed, so he had like wings and a beak and was human-like but also bat-like. He grew up to huge sizes, and then would be seen around New Jersey, I’m not sure which area. And then there’s been sightings, I’m not sure when the first one was, but there were a lot in the 20th century. I wanna say it’s similar to Mothman: big wings, red eyes, part human. 

SW: Do you know anything about the origins of the story?

NK: I’m not sure, but I think there were some sightings that were hard to explain, so people kind of made up the lore to explain them. 


I love urban legends. As NK pointed out, like many urban legends, it’s safe to assume that the legend of the Jersey Devil developed in response to some unexplained sightings in an effort to make sense of them. There are a few different variations of the Jersey Devil legend. Most seem to identify the woman NK mentioned as Mother Leeds, as Leeds was one of the first settlers in New Jersey, and family with the name Leeds can still be found there today. There have been numerous accounts and sightings of the Jersey Devil, many of which can be found all across the internet. For more background on this urban legend and personal sightings of the Jersey Devil, see “The Jersey Devil.”


“The Jersey Devil.” Weird NJ, Weird NJ, 13 Jan. 2017, weirdnj.com/stories/jersey-devil/.


  • Context: The informant (T) is a 56 yr. old woman originally from Philadelphia, PA. She owns a shore house in South Jersey where she and her extended family spend the summer. She explains to me the term Shoobie and the negative connotation it holds among the inhabitants of Philadelphia and South Jersey. The conversation took place when I asked the informant of a previous encounter she had had in which she used the insult “shoobie” against someone. 
  • Text:

T: “A Shoobie is somebody that would come down from the… Philly… Philadelphia.. to the… the shore… and they would bring their… all their stuff; their lunch, their suntan lotion in a shoe box. And that’s what… they would walk onto the beach with their shoe box for the day and that’s how they got their nickname Shoobie.”

Me: “So whose a Shoobie now? Who says that? Like who do you call a Shoobie?”

T: “A Shoobie now is basically somebody who… still comes down for the day…”

Me: “Comes down where?”

T: “Comes down to the shore for the day… comes down to the beach… or Shoobies are also people who just rent a house for a week.”

Me: “And what’s the shore?”

T: “The shore is the beach… in New Jersey?”

Me: “Like anywhere in New Jersey?

T: “I don’t know if Shoobie goes past, like, Atlantic City, like north of Atlantic City… I don’t know… because I don’t live there.”

Me: “Is it like a good thing to be called a Shoobie?”

T: “Uh-uh. No. You don’t wanna be called a Shoobie.”

Me: “Have you ever called someone a Shoobie?”

T: “Yes.”

Me: “Who’d you call a Shoobie?”

T: “This girl that was on the beach one day who was using really foul language around my parents.”

Me: “Have you ever been called a Shoobie?”

T: “No, I actually haven’t.”

Me: “Are you a Shoobie?”

T: “No. I’m the least amount of a Shoobie!”

  • Analysis: Growing up going to the Jersey Shore, I had always known the term shoobie, and I had always known I never wanted to be one. To be called a shoobie is to say you don’t really belong on the island – you’re not a local. In my town, there is even a restaurant called “Shoobies” in reference to the colloquial term. I think the reason such a term was created was in order to create an in-group and an out-group. It separates those who own houses at the shore and those who rent a house at the shore or just drive down to the beach for the day. It is looked down upon to have outsiders on the beaches, because most of the beach towns are small and everyone in the town knows each other. Different shore towns also have different reputations. For example, you are more likely to find a shoobie in Wildwood or Atlantic City than you are in Stone Harbor or Avalon, so the term is more commonly used as an insult in the towns with less shoobies. As the informant explained, the history of the word comes from day travelers coming to the beach for the day with their lunch in a shoe box, which interrupts the local life. To be considered a shoobie is to be considered lower class, and ultimately unwelcome.

For more about Shoobies, visit…

Ravo, Nick. “FOR EARLY TOURISTS, A TEPID WELCOME AT JERSEY RESORT.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 16 Feb. 1987, www.nytimes.com/1987/02/16/nyregion/talk-long-beach-island-for-early-tourists-tepid-welcome-jersey-resort.html.