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August 12, 2009 > My odyssey: putting down roots in Fremont

My odyssey: putting down roots in Fremont

A Jersey boy makes a 3,000 mile move

By Marty Friedman

I lived in "Nu Joisey" since 1967, and never thought that I had any kind of an accent - until I was greeted by raucous laughter, California style.

I have to be honest. Jersey may have stuck me with my accent, but I loved living there.

Sorry, California. You had the Gold Rush. The Garden State had the American Revolution up and down the whole state. (Not to mention, Princeton and Cape May.)

However, Fremont had something I couldn't find anywhere else in the world: an invite to live with my son, my daughter-in-law and two beautiful granddaughters.

So when my marriage fell apart and my ten-year-old car kept going and going, Fremont started looking really good.

I soon found major differences between Morristown, New Jersey, my hometown, and Fremont, California, my new home.

Restaurants? Where, oh where, can I find a good Jewish bagel, or a simple pizza with just the right amount of garlic? (Wonder if I can get Brothers Pizza in Morristown to ship a large pie out here?)

Of course, when it comes to Thai, Indian, Chinese, or Japanese restaurants, New Jersey could learn a thing or two from Fremont's superb Asian restaurants.

Place names? New Jersey has Newark, Union City and Menlo Park. Guess what names this area has?

People? I think that Fremont folks are at least thirty degrees warmer than Jersey people. Neighbors, clerks, and strangers (there aren't any), all asking me how I am - and really wanting to know.

In Fremont, I can really enjoy the birds... and I don't miss the guano from the countless Canadian geese that infest Jersey's fields. (I don't miss driving down Jersey's roads swerving to avoid thousands of deer, either.)

Trees? I'd have to give the edge to New Jersey trees. They're much more varied - especially in the winter with their leaves gone and their branches outlined against the sky. Of course, there's the endless battle that New Jersey wages with the gypsy moths and the statewide devastation that I pray never reaches California.

Then there are traffic tickets. Shortly after I moved out here I figured I could beat a red light: something I'd gotten very slick at in New Jersey. Not here. I simply wasn't ready for the photo system that nailed me. I wasn't ready for the $490 ticket - including traffic school. Traffic school?!!! I'd been driving for decades. Fremont was a humbling experience.

What will I miss most about Jersey? Blowing on my hands on a frosty morning, shoveling my car out, and watching the flakes come down. In a word, I'll miss snow. (As wonderful as Fremont is, the town can't make it snow.)

Okay, what's the one thing that makes Fremont incomparable? The sleepy splendor of the Niles District on a Sunday afternoon ... featuring the Essanay Silent Film Museum, showing movies filmed in streets that have never changed since Charlie Chaplin used them for his stage.

One last thought. If you have any problems with anything in this brief love letter to two states, please don't yell at the editor of this paper. Scream at me: (973) 886-8492.

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