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Getting here is half the fun (Shore News Today, by Joan Kostiuk, 6/9/11)

Childhood drives to the shore are fondly remembered

Many family vacations at the beach have created memories that will last a lifetime.

As a child and teenager, long before I moved here permanently, I was fortunate to experience a lot of the Jersey Shore through weekend trips to Cape May and Avalon, and weeklong vacations in Sea Isle City and North Wildwood. Swimming in the pool, going to the beach, eating at restaurants, going fishing, walking the boardwalk or promenade – we did it all.

Recently, though, different memories were jarred loose when I had to travel to Marlton for the funeral of a longtime family friend. Although the occasion was sad, the familiar route brought back memories of rides that were quite joyous.

My parents eschewed the traditional Walt Whiteman Bridge-Atlantic City Expressway-Garden State Parkway route to and from the beach. Instead, we traveled the back roads that led from the hustle and bustle of the big city to the peace and quiet of the Jersey Shore.

Hailing from Northeast Philly, our journey often began on the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, probably the largest bridge I’ve ever been on that opens for boat traffic. From there it was a jaunt down Route 73, which many times resulted in a stop at Roger Wilco in Pennsauken so Mom and Dad could buy an adult beverage (or three) for the weekend. Back in those days (man, I feel old just typing those words) the Route 73 corridor wasn’t as developed as it is today. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, there wasn’t much once you got south of the Marlton-Berlin area. Now it seems as if there is a traffic light every half mile.

At the southern edge of 73 we’d drive past the entrance to the Atlantic City Expressway, and that’s where the journey got fun. In the beginning, I was a 6- or 7-year-old kid who lived right smack in the middle of a street of row homes in the urban jungle, peering wide-eyed at the farms and open spaces in the neat little town of Folsom just outside Hammonton as we drove on a short spur from the end of 73 to Route 54.

Turning south on Route 54, we would see a series of trailer parks and dilapidated homes, and I’d realize how lucky I was to be driving through the area rather than having to call it home.

A little more than halfway down 54, we’d pass a sign for Buena Regional High School. As a shoobie, I always pronounced it “BWAY-nah.” It wasn’t until I moved here in the mid 1990s that I learned that to the locals, it is “BYOU-nah.”

In the heart of Buena Vista Township a series of roads came together. I remember the gas station that still stands there – it was the only Hess station I remember ever seeing as a child – and I recall sometimes being among the long line of cars waiting to fill up during the gas crisis of the 1970s.

From there it was a turn onto a brilliantly scenic ride along Route 557, which cut from the southern edge of Buena Vista through an area just outside of Vineland down to Estell Manor. That road was always the most memorable part of the trip, mostly because we’d often stop at the popular 5 Points Inn for pizza and a peek at the Phillies game on TV. The 5 Points, which still does a booming business, was ahead of its time. It was a great sports bar before the term was even invented.

Below 5 Points was Bertuzzi’s Farm Market – it’s still there – where we’d stop once in a while to grab some fresh fruit. There was nothing like a perfectly ripe peach to bite into in the back seat of our green 1976 Ford Gran Torino, even if I didn’t have anything to wipe my face and hands with when the juice came oozing out. I wonder if my parents ever noticed my brother and me using the back seat as a napkin.

We would pass through Dorothy, a little town where it seemed like no one was ever home in the houses that occasionally appeared along the road. There’s also this road that pops up on the southern side, Route 666, which we never traveled. The darkness of it and its obviously satanic number made me gulp with fear each time we passed it. I swore we’d see the Jersey Devil if Dad ever decided to turn there.

Toward the bottom of 557 we’d cruise over a bridge that brought on the last two or three miles of the road. That part of the road was pitch black at night, since there were no streetlights and the few homes sat back mostly secluded from sight. I remember Dad turning on what back then were called the car’s “double lights,” and they would illuminate the road like a spotlight. As insignificant as it seems now, it was an exciting moment for a city kid, seeing our headlights cut through an endless cloak of darkness.

A right turn onto Route 50 put us back into civilization. Then it was down through another throwback town, Tuckahoe, a place that seemed to have one of each essential – a bank, a diner, a general store and a pizza shop. Oh, and a cheesecake factory.

Our back-road journey essentially ended at the intersection of Routes 9 and 50, which coincidentally is the location of the building from which this publication is produced.

Then it was onto the parkway for the short jaunt to the Sea Isle exit or points beyond.

Upon arrival at the house or motel, I’d all but forget the trip. But then on departure day, I’d always look forward to the journey through all those quirky back roads.

Press of Atlantic City, 5/3/09

A weekly feature that answers reader questions about the people, events, history and news in southern New Jersey.

UPDATE: On Nov. 30, 2008, the Answer Guy delved into the history of the pronunciation of Buena ("Byoona") Vista Township and Buena ("Byoona") Borough in Atlantic County, named after the 1847 Battle of Buena Vista that took place during the Mexican-American War.

Sources in that story, including a history written by Buena Vista Township Mayor Chuck Chiarello, said the altered pronunciation (from the Spanish "bwayna") may have come from Italian farmers who came to settle in the region using "bona," their own word for "good."

In other words, "Bwayna" plus "Bona" equals "Byoona."

Since then, Mark Demitroff, a resident of the Richland section of Buena Vista Township, and a Ph.D. student in the University of Delaware's geography program, has posited a different theory.

According to Demitroff, the repronounced name could date indirectly to 1415, specifically the Battle of Agincourt, a skirmish during the Hundred Years' War in which the English defeated the French. Demitroff says the English were averse to using French pronunciations and so changed them to their liking, an act William Shakespeare highlighted in his historical play Henry V.

"I suggest that in 1848, our residents, triumphant over Spain, would never dignify the name with a Spanish pronunciation," Demitroff wrote. "Like the English at Agincourt in 1415, the Americans in 1847 were outnumbered by formidable foes yet won handily. To the victors go the spoils, and, apparently, the pronunciations."

Got a question?

If you have a question you would like the Answer Guy to tackle, call 609-569-7489, or mail your question to The Press Answer Guy, The Press of Atlantic City, 11 Devins Lane, Pleasantville, NJ 08232. Questions can be faxed to 609-272-7224. E-mail: answerguy@pressofac.com


Answer Guy: How do you say: "Buena"? (Press of Atlantic City, 11/30/08)

Q: My husband and I moved to New Jersey from North Carolina a few years ago. I assumed that Buena was pronounced "bwayna," but we learned that people here pronounce it "byoona." Why is that?

Meg Eagle, Millville

Answer Guy: The word "Buena" traveled a long, hard road from the battlefields of the Southwest to rural southern New Jersey.

The term "Buena Vista" - Spanish for "good view" - first appeared in the region in 1848, when George B. Cake opened the Buena Vista Hotel.

The name was a reference to the Battle of Buena (That's "bwayna") Vista, part of the Mexican-American War of 1846-48.

The name stuck. Buena Vista Township was incorporated in 1867, freeing itself from Hamilton Township, one of the original large land masses that made up Atlantic County when it formed in 1837.

According to Mayor Chuck Chiarello, who wrote the township history on its Web site and addressed the pronunciation issue in a 2003 article in The Press of Atlantic City, Italian farmers who came to settle in the township may have begun tinkering with the name, using their word "bona." The two pronunciations eventually may have combined and evolved into "byoona."

"At least that's the story, but really, it's one of the great mysteries," Chiarello said in 2003.

"Anything like that is not going to be written down," says Gail Benson, of the township historical society. Benson agreed the pronunciation likely is a derivative of the farmers' dialect.

Either way, the word was so nice the county used it twice: Buena Borough broke off from the township in 1949, taking the land but keeping the name.


Source: Buena Vista Township Web site and Historical Society, Buena Borough Web site, Press archives


To whom it may concern:

I am writing you this letter after years of confusion.  With all due respect, should not the proper pronunciation of the name of your town be Buena "pronounced Bwayna" and not Bewna "pronounced Byoona"?  I have always understood Buena Vista to mean Beautiful View in Spanish.  Am I wrong?  If I am not wrong, may I inquire as to why the majority of people in southern New Jersey mispronounce the word Buena?  I am thinking that there must be a reason for this.  Do you have any history on the naming of the town?  Just curious.  Thank you!



Dear Robin:

It has been quite some time since you wrote to us regarding the name and pronunciation of our community.  First, you can find a lot out about us at www.buenavistatownship.org . Our history and other interesting things are on our site. I'm thinking of adding your letter and my response if that's OK?  I apologize for the delay in answering--but I wanted to respond directly to you.
As per "Bwayna" vs. "Bewna" that's local slang and interpretation.  I'm told the early Italian farmers in this area originally said "Bona" instead of Bwayna--and so it evolved.  I've heard "good view" and "beautiful view" for Buena Vista and so on--you pick.  "Bona" eventually became "Beyoona" (Buena).  Someone else may even have another story to tell.
The area also has the "Morris" River spelled Maurice River.  Atlantic City always had "Ar-Kansas" Avenue right where "Ar-kan-saw" Avenue (Arkansas) was located (when I was a kid).  Go figure!!  We know the proper origins but you can't change history--or sometimes you don't want to!  We also know who the  "out-of-towners" are when they say the name of our town--which we are very proud of !  I hope this has been of some help.  
Mayor Chuck Chiarello
Buena Vista Township, NJ

Dear Mayor,
Thank you for your response.  As a Mayor, I know that you must be very busy, so It was nice of you to take the time to write me directly.  I have just always been confused by the pronunciation of the name of the town.  I understand what you mean by how pronunciations of names change.  It is the same with Atzion Lake, which many people pronounce as Adzine.  Well, I was just curious.  The name of your town seems to be European in nature, and I was just wondering why the pronunciation was so a skewed.  My last name is an Italian name and people in this country try to pronounce it phonetically, and then say that they are pronouncing it that way because the are in America.  I never did quite understand that theory, I don't know why it would change according to my locale.  Oh well, again, thank you for taking the time to answer me.  That is very kind of you.  And please, if you wouldn't mind, forward me a copy of my original letter, as I no longer have it.
Robin Bianchi

        Address:   Buena Vista Township
                         890 Harding Highway, PO Box 605
                         Buena NJ, 08310

        Phone:      (856) 697-2100  or  (609) 561-5650
        Fax:          (856) 697-8651

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