Tag: the road

The Wildwood Boardwalk Connected Childhood to Adulthood by Richard Arter Flanagan

When one looks down a road, what do they see? They may see the dawn of a new day. They may see the sun setting after a long day, hoping tomorrow will be better. The road has both a physical and conceptual meaning: it is both a physical road people drive or walk upon, and a path taken from one point to the next such as life or a career.  Whatever one’s interpretation of the road, it is not without its bumps or traffic buildup.  The road has been perceived to be both a place of freedom and a trap, but sometimes it’s merely a mirage created by an individual to avoid issues in their life. Still, the road can create an overwhelming connection between a person and a place.  Wildwood, New Jersey illustrates this concept.

Wildwood has been a staple for summer family vacations since its inception in 1912. The combination of luxurious and spacious beaches, warm weather and great memories made there are what make the destination a tremendous place to vacation to.  What really makes Wildwood such a memorable place is its boardwalk and the more than 70,000 wooden planks which constitute its structural makeup. Still, when one looks down this vast boardwalk and sees Morey’s Piers, all the restaurants and shops, and the laughter of children, people see more than just planks of wood.  They see how the road that leads to the end of the boardwalk has transcended through history.  Particular shops or stands were originally built as something else. Hearing “watch the tramcar, please” invokes memories of when adults would walk the boardwalk as children.

The boardwalk is seen as a path from childhood to adulthood.  With each passing block and the increased sight of shops, games and restaurants, one begins to reminisce about their past visits to Wildwood and how much they’ve grown with the boardwalk.  They’ve walked up and down the boardwalk time and time again, and they’ve see shops and restaurants come and go.  Yet, they continued to return, and bring their family or friends with them.  The boardwalk was a path between childhood and adulthood.  The memories invoked by the boardwalk are a direct connection from one’s childhood to adulthood.  They can always return to the boardwalk, and those memories come back to them almost immediately. Even when the boardwalk has bumps or traffic from bikers, broken planks or construction, the boardwalk has remained the same.  It has always been the connection that binds an adult to their childhood.  An adult may get pulled from the boardwalk with work, family and increased responsibility, but that road down the boardwalk meant something special to them.  They would not have returned if it did not, and something kept making them come back.  The Wildwood Boardwalk is the connection between adulthood and childhood, and it always for an escape.  The only trap put forth by the boardwalk would be spending too much money, but for the creation of special memories, it’s more than worthwhile.


1. http://wildwoodhistory.org/history-of-wildwoods.html


“What Exit?” by Meredith L Pymer

What exit are you from?” If you are from New Jersey, I don’t have to specify that I’m looking for the exit you take on the New Jersey Turnpike. Being from Pennsylvania, this obsession with exits made me furrow my brow and wrinkle my nose. I’m not even sure what exit I take to get off at home. However, having dinner with my friend’s family, in which exit 98 merchandise was distributed, I knew that the exit you took in Jersey was apart of your identity as a resident.

Living in New Jersey, you constantly get tourists and vacationers traveling through your state to get to ‘the shore’. Hence the lingo of ‘Shoebe’ and phrase, ‘Benny, go home!’ New Jersey natives struggle with their own identity in the midst of being a popular summertime destination. Other than calling the next New Yorker you see as a Benny, the use of “What exist?” also tries to distinguish a native from a tourist, promoting community.

Unlike New Jersey and their use of exits, Route 66 has gone from being the means of travel to the destination itself. Andrew Wood writes in Two Roads Diverge “After all, this notion of seeking the ‘real’ through travel, and the presumed inauthenticity of tourism whether related to the American roadside or to the broader process of global tourism” (Wood, 70). Wood discusses how Route 66 has become its own tourist attraction where the ‘authentic experience’ is being replicated by the businesses that inhabit the area, and the people themselves who work there. Wood speaks of finding the “efforts to recreate the road by simulation and simulacra that call to question the very authenticity that Route 66 represents”  (Wood, 70). In a sense, the tourists have taken over the once traveled road, that itself was not a destination but a means of getting there.

In contrast Route 66, tourist attraction, thinking about the use of exists in New Jersey residents’ identities can mirror the use of roads to the authenticity of New Jersey. The claim of being from Jersey can easily be supported by proudly proclaiming what exit you take. The road signifies a sense of authentic nature for New Jersey; one may use the turnpike to get to the beach. Tourists are not able to claim their stake of the road, for the exit they take is not inherently relevant to them. In this sense the use of the road aims to limit and reject tourism in New Jersey unlike Route 66, the destination itself.

Historical Website on New Jersey and its Turnpike: http://www.jerseyhistory.org/what_exit/index.html


Wood, Andrew. “Two Roads Diverge: “Route 66″ and the Mediation of American Ruin.” Critical Studies in Media Communication 27:1. (2010). 67-83.

River Roads: “Proud Mary” by Kelsey Miranda

Creedence Clearwater Revival-


Tina Turner-


In our readings for this week the road symbolized many ideas, primarily the freedom to go anywhere if you have a car and some gas money. It also could symbolize an idea of escapism from responsibility, which can be found in movies that revolve around roads trips and driving across the country.  But before there were roads, there were riverboats and railroads that were used for transportation.  The song “Proud Mary” has a nostalgic awareness within the song that brings the idea of the riverboat as the way to find happiness and freedom. The beginning of the song starts “Left a good job in the city, working for the Man every night and day, But I never lost a minute of sleeping, Worrying about the way things might have been.” This part of the song describes the desire of the rider of the Proud Mary to escape their life from the city.  Despite losing money from leaving their job, the song explains that the rider does not regret their decision. The chorus of the song “Big wheel keep on turning, Proud Mary keep on burning” emphasizes the choice the rider made to go on the riverboat.

The next verse of the song “Proud Mary” discusses the poverty that comes along escapism of responsibility. The verse starts “Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis, Pumped a lot of tane down in New Orleans.” This part of the song suggests the work the rider did to feed him or herself and make some money. Despite not having a lot of money, the rider in this story experiences freedom.

In the last verse of the song,  “If you come down to the River, Bet you’re gonna find some people who live, You don’t have to worry ‘cause you have no money, People on the river are happy to give.” This part of the song the rider describes the people who live around the river. The rider recognizes that the people around the river do not have a lot of money but they are happy. The song ends with the chorus solidifying the decision of riding the Proud Mary riverboat.  The song is about experiencing freedom by following your dream and living life to the fullest.

The writer of the song, John Fogerty, wrote the song after he received a honorable discharge from the Army Reserve during the Vietnam War.  Although Fogerty never took the river journey on the riverboat queen, he ideas of freedom were inspired about his newfound freedom and the riverboat served as symbol of that.  In an interview with the Wall Street Journal Fogerty admits that always loved Mark Twain’s writing, which inspired him to write the lyrics of the song about a riverboat.[1]



[1] http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323648304578494993596953764

“Another Travelin’ Song” – a perfect narrative of The Road’s duality by Jenelle M Janci


While it may be painfully obvious, a song that has always captured the spirit of The Road for me is “Another Travelin’ Song” by Bright Eyes. The song’s bumping country bassline propels you through the song, and I can’t help but to see tires spinning while I listen to it. Bright Eyes’ frontman (and my lifelong obsession) Conor Oberst makes his intention clear from the song’s first stanza.

“Well I’m changing all my strings/

I’m gonna write another traveling song/

About all the billion highways and the cities at the break of dawn/

Well I guess the best that I can do now is pretend that I’ve done nothing wrong/

And to dream about a train that’s gonna take me back where I belong”

In this, Oberst sees the road as both a way to a destination and a destination itself, a duality J.B. Jackson notes in “Roads Belong in the Landscape.” Andrew F. Wood speaks to this too, but specifically in relation to Route 66. In that particular case, The Road itself has become a tourist attraction.

Oberst alludes to some mistakes he’s made, and hints that perhaps The Road could be an escape from them. However, there’s still a purpose of returning home.

 The next two lines echo the problems Oberst just introduced us to.

 “Well now the ocean speaks and spits and I can hear it from the interstate/

And I’m screaming at my brother on a cell phone he’s far away”

Oberst sets the scene here – we can clearly see the type of road he is traveling on. I always loved the image of him yelling at his brother, perhaps because I can relate, having three older ones myself. However, after reading Jackson’s piece and seeing the road as a destination itself, this line has new meaning for me. Oberst was trying to use the road to get away from his problems, but modern technology makes it impossible for him to fully escape them. Even on the road, he’s not away from his issues.

 Fast forward to the end of the song, and Oberst realizes this.

 “So I will find my fears and face them/

Or I will cower like a dog/

I will kick and scream or kneel and plead/

I’ll fight like hell to hide that I’ve given up”

Just like how the road offers two options – taking you to a destination or being the destination itself – Oberst sees that he too has “two paths diverged in the yellow wood”: to face his problems, or to run away from them.

 While our in-class discussions have given new depth to this song, my history with it goes way back. I’ve put this on nearly every traveling playlist I can remember. Most memorably, I remember driving home from Ohio on I-80 during Spring Break 2014. My boyfriend and I went to visit my brother, and as with any road trip, it’s a big step to see if you can handle being in each other’s vicinity for that long of a time.

On our way there, my boyfriend got a speeding ticket – our first ever – and he was pretty sour about it for a bit. However, like Oberst had to in the song, he made the choice to let it not ruin our trip and to deal with it when we got home.

I-80 is a straight shot through Pennsylvania, and is pretty monotonous. However, on our way back, we drove through a mountainous area with a beautiful view. I remember putting on this song as we entered that stretch. While we were definitely headed home, in that moment, The Road was its own destination.


Life is a Highway by Carlee Cantwell

From the earliest stages of childhood, I was exposed to the idea of the road. At just a few months old, I took my very first road trip to the Jersey Shore. Ever since then, every road trip I’ve ever taken has represented a different milestone. Whether it was the first vacation I took without my parents, the first time I drove a car, or my travels across Ireland and Europe, the road has always represented more than just a journey between physical destinations, but more so a journey in my personal growth. A song that immediately jumps into my head when I think about my journeys is “Life is a Highway”. Although originally a Tom Cochrane song, the version I connect most with is the one done by Rascal Flatts for the movie, “Cars”. In particular the lyrics, “Life’s like a road that you travel on…”, and “Life is a highway, I wanna ride it all night long”, speak to the connections I find between the road and its representation of journey and personal growth.

I believe that many people see the road as a representation of a pathway to achieving their goals. They’ll “hit the road” and get out of their town to achieve bigger and better things. In the movie “Cars”, which draws a lot of its imagery from the stereotypical ideas of Route 66, Lightening McQueen, a young race car is traveling across the country to get to California for a big race. However, he runs into the town of Radiator Springs, an old town that lost all its visitors when the new highway was built. From traveling this stretch of road, McQueen learns that life isn’t just about all his shiny trophies, but about enjoying the road you’re on and embracing the journey itself. In the movie, some of the secondary characters like Mater the Tow Truck and Doc Hudson fondly reminisce on the old times in Radiator Springs. While the road holds old memories for them, like many roads do for people today, they also recognize that their memories aren’t how things will be forever. In the end of the movie, the town recieves a revival after McQueen brings his crew through it, providing the typical children’s movie happy ending, just as Route 66 has achieved its own “happy ending” as a tourist attraction. While the people who travel the roads are on physically and personal journeys, the roads themselves take journeys as well. Route 66 for example went from being the route to get you places to being THE place to visit. Old popular roads are replaced with bigger, newer highways. Towns whole landscapes shift because of the use of one road or another. Some people may say a road is just a road, but I think the roads we travel play an integral part in our own stories and experiences. As we travel along the fast-paced highway of life, the exits we choose to get off at dictate our direction, and when old places and memories are replaced it can feel like a part of our journey is gone forever.
Image: Original Cars Movie Poster (2006)