Belmar vs. Bellmawr — North & South Jersey are 2 separate states
"Look hon, they spelled Belmar wrong on that sign."
As I was driving home the other day, I passed a sign I pass every day. It was the exit for I-195, and as many of our signs to it, listed a town that you can get to by taking that road.
It said I-195 East Belmar. About 20 minutes later further down on I-295 I saw the exit for the Blackhorse Pike, also known as Route 168. One of the towns listed on that exit was Bellmawr. Pronounced the same as the other in Belmar but different spelling and a different town.
Also, in a different world.
Anyone who lives north of 195 knows Belmar as the college beach town that kids flock to every summer. Those living south of Route 195 know Bellmawr as that sleepy little borough somewhere near Camden off the Blackhorse Pike.
Recently the town gained notoriety as the home of crusader and defiant gym owner Ian Smith of Atilis gym. The point is not where the line is dividing north and south jersey or if there is a “central Jersey."
The point is that we live in our own little “territory." The differences and similarities of language and affiliation have been illustrated here many times. The northern half of the state is part of the New York media market the southern half of the state is part of the Philadelphia media market, and all of the differences that come with that, such a sport team affiliations pronunciation of some words, etc.
The differences are stark in some cases. That is also the case in many other states. The folks in the Piedmont area of North Carolina have a little in common with the folks in the coastal region. Folks in Northern California have little in common with the folks in Central or Southern California.
The difference here is those are much bigger states. In such a small geographic area, New Jerseyans live in two separate worlds. I’m not calling for the division of the state into two separate states. I’m just saying maybe we should have some sort of exchange program where people spend time in the opposite part of the state for a little while to realize things are pretty different only a few miles away.
At a time when we are divided in so many ways maybe just coming together as one little state would be a good start!
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy. Any opinions expressed are Dennis Malloy's own.