Cornelius Van Vorst, ca.1620; 
Jersey City Free Public Library; Grover Cleveland Political Cartoon; 
Grover Cleveland Birthplace Historical Site Collection Peter Lee, former slave, ca.1880; 
Hoboken Historical Photographs Collection; Farm Map of Hillsboro, Somerset County, 1860; 
Historical Maps of New Jersey Collection; Bathing Beauties, 1890-1930; 
American Labor Museum/Botto House National Landmark Collection; Flag Salute, 1950; 
Seabrook Farms Collection;

Poems
Cash Receipts Exact Change EZ-Pass
Directions The following are poems and songs about the NJ Turnpike. Read the following excerpts and answer the questions below.
New Jersey Turnpike
Ridin' on a wet night
Neath the refinery's glow
Out where the great black rivers flow
License, registration
I ain't got none
But I got a clear conscience
Bout the things that I done
Mr. State Trooper
Please don't stop me
In the wee wee hours
Your mind gets hazy
Radio relay towers
Lead me to my baby.
Radio's jammed up
With talk show stations
Just talk, talk, talk
Till you lose your patience
Mr. State Trooper
Please don't stop me
(Bruce Springsteen "State Trooper")

Songs were excerpted from:

Gillespie, Angus Kress and Michael A. Rockland. Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press., 1989.
Travelin' down the turnpike
Headin' for the shore
A thought just then occurred to me
I'd never thought before
I've seen a lot of places
Seen pictures of the rest
But of all the places I can think of
I like Jersey best ....
Lots of dineries, oil refineries
Our highways make you cough
Drinking spots and used car lots
Make the place just grand
(Joseph Cosgriff "I Like Jersey Best")

Songs were excerpted from:

Gillespie, Angus Kress and Michael A. Rockland. Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press., 1989.
I got the NJ T'Pike blues
I got the NJ T'Pike blues
With the front wheel a thumping
And the wipers a pumping
the bright lines a shining
The fog is a blinding
The cotton-picking, ever loving NJ T'Pike Blues."
(Dan Fogarty "NJ T'Pike Blues")

Songs were excerpted from:

Gillespie, Angus Kress and Michael A. Rockland. Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press., 1989.
Let us be lovers
We'll marry our fortunes together
I've got some real estate here in my bag
So we bought a pack of cigarettes
And Mrs. Wagner's pies
And we walked off to look for America
"Cathy," I said, as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh
"Michigan seems like a dream to me now
It took me four day to hitchhike from Saginaw
And I've come to look for America."
"Cathy, I'm lost," I said
Though I knew she was sleeping.
"I'm empty and aching and I don't know why,"
Countin' the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They've all come to look for America.
All come to come to look for America
Countin' the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They've all come to look for America.
All come to come to look for America (refrain)
(Paul Simon "America")

Songs were excerpted from:

Gillespie, Angus Kress and Michael A. Rockland. Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press., 1989.
Near the scrap yard my Father'll be Buried
Near the Newark Airport my father'll be
Under a Winston Cigarette sign buried
On Exit 14 Turnpike NJ South
Through the tollgate Service Road 1 my father buried
Past Merchants Refrigerating concrete on the cattailed marshes
past the Budweiser Anheuser-Busch brick brewery
in the B'Nai Israel Cemetery behind a green painted iron fence
where there used to be a paint factory and farms
where Pennick makes chemicals now
under the Penn Central power Station
transformer wires, at the borderline
between Elizabeth and Newark, next to Aunt Rose
Gaidemack, near Uncle Harry Meltzer
one grave over from Abe's wife Anna my father'll be buried.
(Allen Ginsberg "Don't Grow Old")
Megalopolis with burning factories-
Bayonne refineries behind Newark Hell-light
truck trains passing trans-continental gas-lines,
blinking signs KEEP AWAKE
Giant giant giant transformer,
electricity Stacks' glowing smoke-
More Chimney fires than all Kansas in a mile,
Sulphur chemical Humble gigantic viaducts
networked by road side
What smell burning rubber, oil
"freshens your mouth"
Raliroad rust, deep marsh garbage-fume
(Allen Ginsberg "Bayonne Entering NYC")

Ginsberg, Allen. The Fall of America: Poems of these States. 1965-1971. San Francisco, CA: City Lights. 1972.

Questions
  1. What are some positive aspects or themes that you can identify in the various works?
  2. What are some negative aspects or themes that you can identify in the various works?
  3. Select one poem or song above. What is meaning of the poem/song? What symbolic images are used? What is your reaction to the poem/song?
IMLS Bookmark and Share