Monday, October 15, 2007


Hidden in our boondocks (a.k.a. the pinelands), not far from Six Flags Amusement Park in Jackson, New Jersey, there's a tiny town in Plumsted Township called; New Egypt.

When I was six years old, my family vacationed at a hotel in Lakewood. Across from the ice skating rink there was a sign that read: NEW EGYPT 20 Miles. I was intrigued by what I might find there and always thought one day I'd go. BUT, because I have a life, I never gave into this whimsy. Somehow I managed to be productive and well-adjusted all these years without kowtowing to my visions of overabundant culture.

These memories recently resurfaced when someone I met, mentioned that they spent some time there. According to him, there isn't anything Egyptian about the place. The high school football team (they don't have a high school) aren't the Screamin' Ibises. There are no street signs written in hieroglyphics, they don't have mailboxes shaped like pyramids or even a plastic scaled-down Sphinx in front of city hall. The one supermarket is an IGA and it makes no reference to Cleopatra, King Tut or Mummies. Even Oakford Lake...right in the middle of town, isn't called the Nile.

For more info I googled New Egypt and went to Wikipedia. From them, I learned that the last census gave the town a population of 2519. The people were then broken down into demographics as well as racial percentages. Oddly, individuals of Arab descent...much less specifically Egyptians, made up less than 1%. So my question is, how did the town gets its name. A COMPLETE BLANK. No one knows!

To take this naming idea of one step further, you don't have to be Albert Einstein to figure out how New Mexico got its name. If you use the same logic, you can make a pretty safe guess at how New Hampshire and New York got their names...but what about New Jersey? Hampshire and York are places in England but there is no town of Jersey.
But alas, there is the Bailiwick of Jersey!

The Bailiwick of Jersey, together with Guernsey, is one of the Channel Islands. It is located off northern France's Normandy coast and below England. Like the Isle of Man, Jersey is not part of the U. K. but is referred to as a "separate possession of the crown." However, it does rely on England for defense.

It is unclear how Jersey got its name. The island's strategic locale has put it under Roman, Viking, Celtic and Latin influence...with each culture able to make a case for naming it. The indigenous language spoken there is Jerriais...a variety of Norman French. French is also used but English has become the primary language. It should be noted that in the remote parts of the island there is a grassroots movement to revitalize the teaching and use of Jerriais. This movement is now responsible for many of the signs in St. Helier (the capital and only town) to be bi-lingual.

So how did New jersey get its name? Was it named after the breed of cow? NO! Was it named after athletic shirts? NO!
Actually, its fairly simple; King Charles II of England was exiled to Jersey. In recognition of the help given him by George Carteret, the King gave Carteret a large land grant in the American colonies...which Carteret named NEW Jersey.

Other interesting Jersey tidbits include: There is a town in North-Central Jersey called Carteret.
Jersey prints its own money called pounds and they are interchangeable with English pounds.

During WWII, Jersey was occupied by Germany from July 1, 1940 until May 9, 1945. There is photo that I once saw (google couldn't help this time) of an English bobby opening an English taxi's door and giving the" Heil Hitler" salute as a German officer got out. OUCH !

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