Can Year-Round Residents and Shoobies Be Friends?

Dissecting the Shore wars

I spend every summer at my Jersey Shore home in Margate. Ten years ago, when my only daughter was young, I decided to place her in the township-funded­ camps and activities. My tax dollars are well spent on such things, and I felt entitled to avail myself of the many programs offered. There are sports clubs and teams that include tennis, field hockey, baseball, softball and—naturally—surfing. There are arts and crafts classes, yoga, story time at the library, and excursions off-island.

None of my second-home compatriots put their kids in the local programs, which should have been a red flag, but Hey, I figured, I’m a nice lady and my kid is nice. We’ll fit in. We persevered for three more summers, being tolerated by the local parents and their children and listening to their endless heated arguments about how “shoobies” inundate their community and ruin everything—the lack of beach-block parking, the inability to get in and out of Casel’s supermarket quickly because of all the “obnoxious Philly” people. If I injected a little self-defense, I got the “I wasn’t talking to you” look.

The reality is that it’s the overwhelmingly disparate amount of second-home tax revenue that allows the locals to enjoy all those camp activities, not to mention pristinely maintained ball fields and parks; state-of-the-art fire, rescue and police departments; beautifully paved and manicured roads; the equipment to keep the beach clean and safe; and a student-to-teacher ratio that makes class sizes so small you could hold them in my kitchen.

Eventually, I admitted defeat. While the locals weren’t exactly rude, they weren’t inviting either. No playdates were ever arranged. I never got a phone number from another parent starting with a 609 exchange. Thereafter, playdates were made with other children visiting from Philly. We imported classmates from home.

As Labor Day approaches each summer, the locals’ mantra at Wawa turns to, “Pretty soon they’ll all be gone! Just a few days now!” They laugh and elbow each
other, like it’s some insider secret that in a few weeks the place will be cleared out of all the interlopers. “Yeah,” I’d like to say, “we’ll be gone, all right. Lucky for you, our tax
dollars stay behind.”

This article originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of Philadelphia magazine.