The subject of shoobies came up recently in a friendly conversation. It seems the attitude toward shoobies (aka vacationers) runs from the tolerant and understanding end of the spectrum to those who would make the Jersey Cape a gated community, always locked from May through September. For as long as I’ve lived here, I’ve never understood this, and I guess that’s because, like the majority of locals, I used to be one of those, you know, shoobies.
When I’m talking about shoobies, yes you there on the other side of the computer monitor, I’m not making fun of you. We all know that “shoobie” is a term that’s been applied, sometimes not so nicely, to daytrippers who come to visit our towns and beaches. But, instead of feeling insulted, you should feel proud, because you come from a long and proud heritage of summer visitors.
Back in the late 1800s, Victorian times here in Cape May, many people sought refuge from the heat of the city by taking the train to the shore. Included with their ticket was a boxed lunch packed in a shoebox. You have to remember that, in those days, there wasn’t a McDonald’s or a Wawa on every corner and, while most people could afford the price of train tickets to treat the family, they couldn’t always afford to eat out in restaurants, which were also not as numerous. Plus, you have to admit, that was a pretty great marketing gimmick for the railroad line, promising lunch with every ticket. So, they got off the train here in Cape May and spent the day enjoying the surf and the cool ocean breeze before heading back to their hot city home. And they enjoyed their lunch.
Over the years, the term shoobies has taken on other meanings. Another of those “urban legends” is that only shoobies wear their shoes on the beach. The “locals,” those lucky enough to live near the beach, have toughened up the soles of their feet by walking often on the hot, summer sands. Don’t let anybody kid you on that. When the summer sun heats up our sandy beaches, it will singe anybody’s soles, no matter what your zip code.
Most important to remember, however, is that most of us living here used to be shoobies, just like you. We loved coming to Cape May, and every time we did, we’d say “This is so beautiful! Wouldn’t it be perfect to live here?” When the opportunity arose, we did come to live here. For some, it was as youngsters when parents moved the family here, so we got to grow up in this most perfect place. For others, it was in the golden years of retirement. The bottom line is that being a shoobie is nothing to be ashamed of; treat it as a stepping stone to one day becoming a local and loving it.
So, we hope you enjoy your visit to Cape May. We appreciate your visit and happily share our beach and our wonderful Victorian town with you. And maybe some day your dream of living here will come true, as it did for many of us.