Forget everything you thought you knew about New Jersey
Even those of us born and raised in the Dirty Jerz can be surprised sometimes. Take me for instance. I was born in Union County and lived here most of my life, which in my case means I also lived in Cape May County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Somerset County and Hunterdon County. So yeah, I thought I knew pretty much everything there was to know about New Jersey.
I have a few examples. Some of these I've known for a long time. Others I learned more recently. When I was younger I assumed self-serve gas was just always illegal. It wasn't. Before 1949 there was an entrepreneur named Irving Reingold who set the gasoline retailers' world upside down by establishing a self-service mega-station in Hackensack. It sat on Route 17. 24 pumps dispensed gasoline cheaper than any of the competition for the simple reason drivers did it themselves. It eliminated some labor cost therefore the lower overhead was passed on to the consumer. And unlike the Jersey girl mantra of today, people LOVED it. They were lined up for blocks. Gasoline was sold 15% cheaper than elsewhere. 18.9 cents per gallon versus 21.9 cents per gallon. The competition got nasty. Eventually it got violent when someone shot up his place. He wouldn't give up, installing bullet proof glass. So when that failed, his competition went to the legislature and sure enough, by 1949 one of Jersey's dumbest laws, the Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act was born. It's been illegal ever since. But it was once legal to pump your own gas in New Jersey and it was highly popular.
Also, did you know there's a dormant volcano in New Jersey? I kid you not. It's the Beemerville volcano in Sussex County. 440 million years ago this thing went dormant. It eventually became popular for builders with houses being constructed right up to the summit all along the slope.
Here's another. We all are told New Jersey is a blue state and Republican presidential candidates don't have a chance to take the state, right? If you look at the last 20 years, yes. But not so fast. If you look at New Jersey since 1900, did you know we voted for a Republican president 16 times versus a Democratic president 15 times? And what about the governor's office? Since 1900 the governor's seat has gone to almost as many Republicans as Democrats by 16 to 18. So call it a blue state if you want, but history shows this can change at any time.
Did you know an assassinated president died here? President James Garfield was shot twice in Washington, D.C. on July 2 1881, but he didn't die right away. Weeks later the summer heat in D.C. was not helping efforts to save him and doctors moved him to Elberon, NJ which is part of Long Branch. The salt air by the ocean didn't help and he died here in New Jersey on September 19,1881.
As bad as the Hindenburg tragedy was at Lakehurst, did you know most people survived the explosion? The airship disaster took the lives of 35 people yet 62 passengers and crew lived.
Finally, perhaps Edison, New Jersey should have been named Tesla or Nikola. Many today argue that Thomas Alva Edison was not the genius inventor we were taught back in the day. It's said that he appropriated many ideas from others and was a master at manipulating the media.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.