- 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.
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?”
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.