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"Am I a shoobie?" Readers ask; we try to help

Nobody wants to be a shoobie. But sometimes, no matter how much you love the shore, that's still what you are.

Remains of the day: two people left their chairs, towels, books, etc. on the beach at Ventnor. Presumably they came back at some point to claim them.
Remains of the day: two people left their chairs, towels, books, etc. on the beach at Ventnor. Presumably they came back at some point to claim them.Read moreERIC MENCHER/Staff Photographer

There seems to be a lot of shoobie anxiety out there, which we have stirred up with's new summer series titled, inclusively, "Shore."

I'd have predicted that "Shore" would be a fairly safe title for a series about the Jersey Shore, unlikely to provoke much consternation, but there are in fact some shoobie/local distinctions in usage that involve Shore versus Beach that have bubbled up. More on that below.

The rest of the series description, "Shoobies, Locals and Moments #downaShore," (which if you missed it began with a piece about the Schmoozer himself) has prompted some deep existential searching among some loyal readers. Namely, "Am I a shoobie?"

We're here to help.

Reader J.L. of Pennsylvania writes:

"Good afternoon Amy,

Ok enough with the labels and classification. I currently live in PA with my wife and family.

At one time my past life  I lived in Longport on 17th Street. I worked at Ozzie's in the summer and later in my college years at the Captain's Galley /Margate Fishery.

I hung out and surfed with all my "cool friends from Margate Pier to "The Point," graduated from Stockton State College.

 I even worked in Atlantic City for two years at an insurance agency in the accounting department after I graduated .

The  point of this email is where do I fall into the classifications? 

In my mind and heart I will always be a "local"  even if I live in Pennsylvania .

Just a thought

In short,  J.L. you are a shoobie. Even if you don't feel like one, or want to be one. And yes, locals get to decide.

J.L., though, makes a compelling case for being pretty local.

He further pleads his case:

My grandparents had a house in Longport. I hung out with "The Point Crew and the Nassau Ave Boys "  I spent my summers surfing and working at the real Ozzie's there until I moved down to Longport in 1977 to go to Stockton .

I remember some great times in the winter months from the Blizzard of 1978 to going the Merle's on the weekend  to listen to my friend's band "Stage Door Cartoon"  play  some "Dead" and Little Feat.  

Nothing better than walking on the beach in a snow storm.

 I think I cried the day  I moved back to Pennsylvania for my "real job."

That's some local cred, but still, J.L. gives up the right to be called a local by A. not being born and raised on the island, and B. moving offshore, even with tears in his eyes. And yes, locals refer to the Mainland as "Offshore" even though "offshore" really means out in the ocean, as in offshore wind farms.

As anyone who watched Rocket Power as a kid knows (a New Jersey writer on the staff of the Nickelodean cartoon had the skater kids refer to the (arguably) uncool tourists as Shoobies) the term Shoobie refers to summer visitors to the southern Jersey shore towns (North Jersey has bennies). The term originates with the train-travelers who first came to Atlantic City with lunch in shoeboxes, blah blah blah, and took on dual meaning as a reference to the iconic visitor who wore socks and shoes to the beach (hey my father did that.)

Locals persist in referring to the hordes of people and Wawa swarmers who appear Memorial Day and mostly vanish by late August as "shoobies." It's not complicated, but it does bother people who spend a lot of time at the shore. (Interesting article but I could do without your use of the term shoobie and all its negative connotations, commented one reader in the Ventnor Community Forum on Facebook, which, if you must know, has been hijacked by shoobies.)

People truly do not want to think of themselves as shoobies, because their time at the Jersey shore is so much a part of who they are. Also, they own houses down here, pay taxes, and sometimes come in the off season. Shouldn't there be a way to earn the Not a Shoobie badge?

Locally, shoobies are known to abandon basic norms of parking, driving, crossing the street, supermarket etiquette etc. If it seems a little harsh to dismiss the people who come to spend money in your town, consider the shock each year when the masses arrive as if the islands were uninhabited in their absence. As exemplified by this story,  which never seems to lose popularity, in which we euphemistically refer to shoobies as "Jersey beach-goers." But the behavior, a certain way of walking out into traffic with abandon, is total shoobie.

But enough. I love the shoobs! Then again, I'm not a real local, or, was once pointed out to me, "not like a heavy local." But after two decades, I admit the place has grown on me. But any real local would not have driven to Philly over Memorial Day weekend to eat one last time at Little Pete's.

Another reader, well versed in the ways of the Shoobs and the locals, also can't quite think of himself as a shoobie.

R.S. (noted author) comments on Facebook:

I'm always confused. Am I a Shoobie if I have a summer place at the Shore? Somehow there should be a mid-range term between Shoobie and Local.

The response from Local Facebook was swift and decisive.

Me: Yes, you are. But you're not alone in that feeling.

Mortimer, one of the island's most adored locals: Sorry, you're a shoobie.

Leigh, another adored islander with deep Margate roots: If you say you have a home "at the shore", you are most definitely a shoobie.

(This actually puzzled me, not being a real local. I think she's referring to the fact that locals say beach, not shore. And in fact, we almost called the series "BEACH" except that as, we are in fact, a shoobie publication whose readers go down the shore.)

R.S. persisted: Even if I read "Boardwalk Empire" before it was on HBO? Even if we went to Teplitsky's before it was chi-chi? Even if my cousin is Ed Hurst, host of "Summertime on the Pier?" You guys are tough.

Yes, R.S. we are.

And while some argue for a middle ground: "Resident Shoobie," or "Honorary Local," and while not all shoobies are created equal, some way more shoobie-ish than others, there's really no escaping it. [Update: Facebook locals inform me of another middle ground term in use for favored shoobies who show "appreciation and respect for the island," and pay local taxes to boot: "Shlocal." You know who you are.]

But face it, if you're traveling in to the shore to get there, if you're returning in time for work and school, if you consistently listen to weather forecasts and leave too early or miss those unexpectedly transcendent days, if you don't spend all of September thinking about how beautiful your beach town is, if you're not walking the beach all winter long, if you don't regularly roll your eyes at the behavior of the summer chauvinists, even if you own a big fancy house at the shore, if you don't know how to cut the bagel line, or know to use the never crowded inside counter at the ice cream shop (this last one, I even tried to tell the poor shoobs waiting in line, but they didn't believe me), you're a shoobie.

Embrace it, like Jim Cummings, of Pennsauken, whose family goes to Ocean City every Friday all summer long. He knows who he is.

Glad to see the Inky is finally talking about us shoobies. My wife and I, and our family (and extended family) have spent every summer Friday in the shade of the music pier in Ocean City, for thirty five years. We are even recognized by people who come to the beach for their vacation every year. They often mistakenly think we have a shore home (I wish!).

Some weeks it is just my wife and I but most times we are accompanied by our granddaughter and her friends, sometime by our daughter and often our 25 year old grandson and his buddies join us. Sometimes friends come to visit us and everyone knows we do not respond to any invites on summer Fridays as we are on the beach, downashore.

Nice, Jim. To everyone else, go ahead, feel like a local. Any local will tell you, that's a good feeling.

And stay tuned for this Thursday's second installment of the Shore series, by Tommy Rowan.