Growing Up: Memories of Childhood in NJ

New Jersey celebrities share sweet memories of youth in the Garden State.

Illustration by Raul Arias

On his debut album in 1973, Bruce Springsteen memorialized his Freehold childhood with the song “Growin’ Up.” More than 40 years later, the song serves as the opener in his current Broadway show—and as the inspiration for this issue’s cover story.
For Springsteen, growing up in New Jersey had a special quality. Then again, ask pretty much anyone who came of age in the Garden State and they’ll tell you they feel blessed.

Perhaps it’s the diversity of our people, the grittiness of our cities and the comforts of our suburbs. Perhaps it’s the quality of our schools and the talent they nurture. Perhaps it’s the proximity to the Shore, the lakes, the mountains, and all the fun they invite.

Over the years, New Jersey Monthly has interviewed an extraordinary array of homegrown celebrities—actors and comedians, authors and poets, ballplayers and politicians. We’ve always found them eager to wax nostalgic about their formative years here.

For this month’s cover story, we collected many of our favorite quotes about Jersey childhood from past interviews and complemented them with fresh insights from some of our Jersey favorites. We hope their tales will trigger fond memories of your own.





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