Tu B'Shvat has passed and the time has come for the budding scholars to be fruitful and multiply. This means that the infamous Lakewood freezer is unlocked and the saplings of the current year can spring forth and blossom.
צדיק כתמר יפרח
And the righteous will flower like the date tree. So...here come the dates!
In honor of this momentous occasion, and acknowledging that we have entered the 30-days-until-Purim zone, I wish to present a golden oldie from the era of my '77 Buick (A"H).
One of my lesser known talents (and for good reason) is my poetic prowess. But in the romantic days of my youth, my heart was filled with song and there was poetry at my lips. One of my classics was The Ballad of Highway 9 - a tribute to the breathtaking New Jersey landscape where I spent so much of my time (perhaps, most of it :-) ).
This song was written almost 25 years ago and it is modelled (and titled) after the 1948 Stan Jones epic Ghost Riders in the Sky. The stanzas follow the same melody but my chorus is a bit different. Instead of the 2-line chorus, mine is a 4-line chorus that follows the tempo of the main stanzas.
I do not expect anybody except seasoned "Govohas" to really appreciate it. Note that some of the landmarks that existed in my time - most notably Freehold Circle and the Carvel ice-cream chain - are no longer extant.
And here it is:
Ghost Riders on Route 9
To Philly you take the Turnpike, to Monsey the Garden State
To Deal it’s I-195 until route thirty-eight.
But for Brooklyn , Queens, the Five towns or Manhattan's skyline,
You've got to take the scenic route – New Jersey's Highway 9.
Your flyin' down the highway under skies of blue and gray.
Have you hugged New Jersey's Highway number 9, today?
Ghettys, Exxons, Texacos, and numerous Carvels,
Shopping plazas, used car lots, banks, and cheap motels,
Body shops and lumber yards, your choice of spots to dine,
You bet your life you're riding on New Jersey's Highway 9.
When you pass I-one-nine-five to Shore Points, there's no turning back.
Freehold Circle lets you know that you're on the right track.
At the 18 Brunswick turnoff, you'll stay right of the line,
You’ll round the bend at South Amboy for Jersey's Highway 9.
The BQE, the LIE, the Belt, the FDR.
They'll promise you a thrilling ride, a workout for your car.
While bouncing down the Prospect one thought will cross your mind.
"If only I was cruising on New Jersey's Highway 9."
The Belt or Ocean Parkway to Verrazano's gate.
Down through Staten Island on the I-two-seven-eight.
4-4-0, the Outerbridge then look out for the sign.
A sharp right down at Woodbridge lands you on Highway 9.
Through Sayreville, past Matawan you're flying with the wind.
Past Marlboro and Englishtown, through Manalapan.
Freehold township's coming up with Howell down the line.
Full speed ahead to Lakewood on New Jersey's Highway 9.
While cruising down the stretch, red flashing lights light up the night.
A hidden voice advises you, "Pull over to the right."
"How are things, dear Officer?" All he'll say is "Fine!"
"There's a price to pay for speedin' down New Jersey's Highway 9."