A. New Jersey
Let’s start in New Jersey, with the wikipedia. I’d decided to make it a point to really learn something new once a week. I mean, really spend some time with it. So I picked NJ, since that’s where I live. I also figured I’d leave the TV off.
OK, so we learned that NJ is 10th most populous state in the Union. Not bad for the 47th in area. Er, well, maybe it is bad if you don’t like your everybody else living right on top of you.
On the other hand, there are some (relatively) wide open spaces. I live in the comparatively (to North Jersey) sparsely populated…
B. South Jersey
According to the wikipedia
New Jersey is broadly divided into three geographic regions: North Jersey, Central Jersey, and South Jersey. North Jersey lies within New York City’s general sphere of influence (i.e. largely within the New York metropolitan area), and some residents commute to the city to work. Central Jersey is a largely suburban area. South Jersey is within Philadelphia, Pennsylvania‘s general sphere of influence, and most of it is included in the Delaware Valley. Such geographic definitions are loosely defined, however, and there is often dispute over where one region begins and another ends. Some people do not consider Central Jersey to exist at all, but most believe it is a separate geographic and cultural area from the North and South.
Ah-ha! I am one of the “Some people who do not consider Central Jersey to exist at all.” This is very simple. If you are a Giants/ Yankees/ Rangers/ Knicks fan, you’re North Jersey. If you are an Eagles/ Phillies/ Flyers/ Sixers fan, you’re South Jersey. The demarcation begins in or about Trenton.
If you’re a Jets/ Mets/ Devils/ Nets fan, fear not. We hate the Giants, Yankees, Rangers and Knicks as much as you do. You’re honorary South Jersey, except when we have to play you.
One of the most famous geographical features of South Jersey is the …
C. Pine Barrens
Despite being near metropolitan areas such as New York City, Philadelphia, and Atlantic City, and the fact that the Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway run directly through it, the Pine Barrens remains largely rural and undeveloped. In fact, the area has the unique distinction of being the largest piece of open space between Boston, Massachusetts and Richmond, Virginia. The Pine Barrens also helps recharge the 17-trillion gallon Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer containing some of the purest water in the United States. As a result of all these factors, the area was designated the Pinelands National Reserve (the nation’s first National Reserve) in 1978, and it was designated a United Nations International Biosphere Reserve in 1983
I happen to live on the very edge of the Pine Barrens, in Gloucester County, very near to where Gloucester, Camden and Atlantic counties border.
For years, residents of the area were called “Pineys” by outsiders, as a derogatory term; today, many Pinelands residents are proud of both the name and the land on which they live.
You can say that again. The Pine Barrens have many remote areas. Homes are often obscured in forests on way-back dirt roads. Plenty of shotguns and pickups. Plenty of Independent Harley-riding types.
It was, however, unfair to pick upon Pineys as somehow genetically inferior, as eugenicist Henry H. Goddard asserted in his book The Kallikak Family: A Study in the Heredity of the Feeble-Mindedness.
Seems Messr. Goddard wasn’t quite the scientist he fancied himself – Stephen Jay Gould says some pictures (like the one here) were doctored to make the family look “more sinister.” Imagine what the man would have done with a firm grasp of Photoshop.
But more interesting to me was that other famous Pine Barren resident, the one who’s been scaring the heck out of listeners at countless campfires for who knows how long …
D. The Jersey Devil
There are a few variations of its origins, but the one I like best is the one in which a witch, Mother Leeds, gave birth to the devil’s son in 1735. The child appeared to be normally formed at first, but suddenly transformed into a beast replete with horse’s head, bat’s wings, hooves and a bifurcated tale. The hideous beast then assaulted everyone in the room that had witnessed the birth, and escaped out of the chimney. Take that Kallikak family!
In one week in January of 1909, over 1,000 people reported sighting the beast. He was seen flying with glowing eyes in the streets of Woodbury, NJ. In Bristol PA residents found strange hoof prints in the snow. A Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Evans of Gloucester reported seeing a strange creature:
It was about three feet and half high, with a head like a collie dog and a face like a horse. It had a long neck, wings about two feet long, and its back legs were like those of a crane, and it had horse’s hooves.
It walked on its back legs and held up two short front legs with paws on them. It didn’t use the front legs at all while we were watching. My wife and I were scared, I tell you, but I managed to open the window and say, ‘Shoo’, and it turned around barked at me, and flew away.
I’m relieved to know that, if encountered, a simple ‘Shoo’ should do the trick.
There are some variations of the legend that claim the Devil was not really a devil at all, but was a child Mrs. Leeds had imprisoned in her attic or her basement. The child, though escaped into the woods, and joined the league of mythical – and sometimes sadly true –
E. Feral Children
Feral children are children who have been raised devoid of human contact. In myths and literature, they do all right: Tarzan, Mowgli and of course those most enterprising twins and wards of a wolf (and woodpecker), Romulus and Remus. Romulus, legend has it, founded Rome. Also he killed Remus. But you’ll have that when you’re raised by wolves, I guess.
The reality of feral children, however, is much more grim. There have been – thankfully – precious few cases to study. Those that exist are gut-wrenching, particularly the story of Genie, who had been essentially tied to a potty chair or imprisoned in a crib covered with a chicken wire lid for the first 13 years of her life. Though not raised by animals, Genie was certainly a victim of acute social deprivation.
Scientists were torn between nurturing and studying her, but eventually the money dried up. The results were mixed. But it was becoming more and more clear that language had to be acquired by a certain age. UCLA’s Michael Phelps:
“The thing that determines which connections are saved is education in the broadest sense of the term,” says UCLA’s Michael Phelps, a biophysicist and co-inventor of the PET scan. “If we teach our children early enough, it will affect the organization or ‘wiring,’ of their brains.”
See also http://www.riggsinst.org/BrainPower.aspx.
So were there any more recent examples? Well, there was indeed a case, a child raised by dogs, in close proximity but not direct social interaction with humans. A case in which a child was “lost” between the ages of 3 and 8; she had certainly at least heard human language, and was rescued before puberty. She is …
F. Oxana Malaya, raised in a Dog Kennel for 6 years
Oxana was abandoned by her parents. She lived in a dog kennel between the ages of 3 and 8. Her case is the subject of a documentary “Mindshock – Feral Children.” Have a look, and see what you think:
Mindshock-Feral Children on YouTube
Remember, I’m not a scientist, I don’t claim to be. I’m no expert, I’m just some guy following a couple of links. Hopefully, though, you’ll have learned something by the end of this.