Heading north or south along the Garden State Parkway exists a stretch between exits 144 and 145 that carries with it an ominous bit of urban folklore. You can’t help but notice as the Parkway appears to cut straight through the middle of Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. As a kid, every class trip to Great Adventure down in Jackson involved the entire busload of us collectively holding our breath as the wheels passed over the blacktop cutting between the rows of headstones, the whole while praying there’d be no brake lights to slow us and then gasping for air once we were past.
Holy Sepulchre is a vast necropolis, covering over 20 square blocks. Half the cemetery, including the main office, is located in East Orange, but half of the cemetery lies in Newark. As with any cemetery dating back to the mid 1800s, it is brimming with fascinating history. But what it is most known for to most travelers passing along the Garden State Parkway is how this main artery splits the cemetery in two, with some graves (and their occupants) resting mere feet from the shoulder of the roadway. This had led to much speculation as to the fate of the departed who had been laid to rest beneath where tires now roll. Were there once graves there, and if so, were they moved, (a gruesome thought) or worse yet, were they merely paved over like some highway version of Poltergeist. Is that length of Parkway just waiting to be sucked under by vengeful souls fed up by the sounds of Honda Civics and SUVs ruining their eternal slumber?
Well, kind traveler, not to fear! The truth is no bodies lie beneath the asphalt, nor did they ever. In its early days the cemetery occupied only up to what had been Laurelton Road, where the Parkway was eventually built. It wasn’t until after the Parkway had been constructed that the land on the other side was purchased and the cemetery expanded, creating the appearance that the Garden State Parkway cuts straight through the center.
Now you know.
Years ago I discovered a fun and surprisingly cheap way to spend a day, one that has left my family with years of memories and a few rather durable souvenirs. This was back when my daughter was smaller and all things prehistoric fascinated her beyond compare, and while she enjoyed museums I knew she might enjoy something a bit more ‘hands-on’. That’s when I discovered an amazing but little known detail about certain regions of New Jersey: they’re brimming with Late Cretaceous era (that’s roughly 67-74 Million Years Old) fossils! And not ‘bake in a desert with picks and brushes’ fossils, but wade in shady ankle deep brooks and pick them right up fossils. Yes, readers, it’s true. Spots such as Big Brook, Ramanessin Brook and surrounding brooks in Monmouth County, right off the Garden State Parkway, will provide small (and not so small) children more fossils than they’d ever imagine. The majority of these fossils are shark teeth and other marine fossils exposed as the brooks and creeks cut down into the fossil beds, revealing an ever-changing layer. It’s a wonderfully cool way to spend a hot summer day, peaceful and tranquil aside from the squeals of “I found another one!” and I can promise it will become a favorite tradition, one your children will remember even after they’re grown.
The only ‘tools’ we brought were plastic colanders picked up in the grocery store and large serving spoons for scooping river gravel into the colanders. Half the time we didn’t even need them, we spotted fossils right in plain view. As with sea-shells and beach glass, the rule was we would each only take our five favorite treasures home, the rest were returned to the brook. Do use caution as some areas of these streams can become deep… just stick to the shallows, that’s where you’ll find the most. Bring a small first aid kit, there are overhanging branches and there can be sharp bits in the gravel and an occasional, unfortunate piece of broken glass. My advice: Wear comfy old sneakers you don’t mind mucking up, jeans to protect your legs and a tee shirt. Don’t forget your bug spray, some towels and a change of dry clothes for the trip home.
There are a number of resources online to guide you both in where and how to look and to identify what you’ve found.
For more information, here’s a start:
That sums up my current mood, one I expect to continue throughout the day as people wonder why I’m grinning ear to ear. But here it is… a FIVE STAR REVIEW from Red Adept Reviews!
Anyone familiar with Red Adept’s blog knows she does not give stars out lightly. She’s known for her honesty and her hard-hitting reviews. I consider a 5 star review from her as a great honor and reading her impression of my book makes me happy beyond words.
Oh, and BTW, I now have Last Exit In New Jersey available for various other ereaders and computer downloads through Smashwords.
(So who out there knows the reference in today’s post title?)
Among the glowing reviews I’ve been receiving for Last Exit In New Jersey, one very kind reader informed me he’d encountered a “distracting swarm of missing or unnecessary duplicated words.” He still had wonderful things to say about the book as a whole, stating “This is memorable genre fiction, a crime mystery ennobled by a love story between a homicidal heroine and a suicidal hero,” and more, but that the typos marred the reading experience.
I was surprised and a bit stunned, in truth. I’d been over this book with a fine tooth comb countless times and truly thought all was well, though I now suspect it was a case of rereading so many times that my mind filled in the sentences. But anything that derails a reader’s train of thought breaks the mood, so I was truly grateful this reader had brought this to my attention so I could correct it.
I knew now that re-reading it myself, silently or aloud, clearly wasn’t enough. I needed help! The first thing I did was go onto the writer’s forums. I needed a proof-reader and I needed one fast! I knew there were recommended ones out there, but I’d also heard stories of people paying proof-readers who miss as much as they catch. A few writers mentioned a method they use with great success: using the Kindle’s text-to-speech function and letting IT read aloud. I decided to give it a test, and it wasn’t long before I’d discovered the first of the errant words. And then more, and yet more. In fact, far more than I care to admit. With that smooth, faintly electronic voice reading steadily along every error stood out and waved. I made it my highest priority to track each and every word down, as well as enlisting two volunteer proof-readers, though in the end it was the Kindle and a set of noise-cancelling headphones that caught the most words as well as a few missing periods.
I’ve since uploaded the newly revised version and checked the samples. But for any readers out there who have a typo-marred edition, (or *shudder* discover ANY typos, missing or duplicate words,) send me the flawed phrase and I will send you a new copy ASAP.