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Special Exhibit: “Song of the Open Road: New Jersey and the Automobile”
2015 Spirit of the Jerseys- New Jersey History Fair
Date: Saturday, May 9th, 11am – 5pm
Location: Monmouth Battlefield State Park, Manalapan, NJ

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me…
O highway I travel… You express me better than I can express myself…
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine….
All seems beautiful to me…         “Song of the Open Road” by Walt Whitman

No words capture better the essence of what the automobile (and an open road) has meant to Americans in expressing their freedom.  The American “Poet of Democracy”, Walt Whitman, may have not had the opportunity to own a car (passing on at the dawn of its invention) but certainly sang the praises of American ingenuity and technology that heralded the automotive age; the 20th Century. 
New Jersey’s love affair with the automobile has been timeless.  Think of all those favorite pastimes that would not have been possible without the automobile: Sunday drives, roadside stops, hamburger joints, a ride in the country, a stop at a diner, drives to the shore or mountains, the list goes on and on
Another great New Jersey artist, Bruce Springsteen, carried on the themes first put forth by Walt Whitman, in many of his songs, such as “Thunder Road”, “Born To Run”, and “Open All Night”. Both captured within their work the optimism and significance of the open road to the America Dream. 
The “Song of the Open Road” will present and explore the history of the automobile as it travels New Jersey’s roads. The exhibit will consist of vintage automobiles and a variety of displays in a setting that invokes a sense of nostalgia for New Jerseys past. Visitors to the exhibit will learn of the car’s important connections to art, culture and technical innovation.  An important aspect of this exhibit will be personal stories of vehicle owners and the works of organizations and clubs that perpetuate the story of the auto and the New Jersey road.
In addition to the exhibit display, there will be guest speakers discussing how both Walt Whitman and Bruce Springsteen used the symbolism and imagery of the road in their works.

The following are participating organizations:
Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA)
The AACA is the world's oldest and largest automotive historical society. It is dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and maintenance of automobiles and automotive history.

Mid Jersey Region Antique Automobile Club of America

The Mid-Jersey Region of the AACA has been around for 45 years.  Among its functions are car shows and displays throughout the area and raising funds for scholarships to students attending the Automotive Training Center, Warminster, PA

New Jersey Region Antique Automobile Club of America

Established in 1951, NJAACA has been serving members in northern and central New Jersey for over 64 years.  They have monthly meetings, an annual car show, and a variety of events such as parades, picnics, and tours.

Antique Automobile Club of America Museum

The Antique Automobile Club of America Museum, a proud affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is a world-class automotive experience. The museum, located in Hershey, PA, is dedicated to the preservation and presentation of vintage automobiles and their vast history.

Antique Automobile Club of America Library and Research Center

Recognized as a world-renowned resource for the collectible vehicle community, we strive to continue setting the standard in celebrating, collecting, preserving and sharing automotive legacy.  Beginning in 1977, the AACA Library & Research Center collection and facility has grown into one of the leading automotive library and research centers in the world. 

Flemington Speedway Historical Society

Flemington Speedway, with its origins as a 19th Century Fairgrounds horse track, hosted its first automobile race in 1915. The Historical Society was founded with the purpose of preserving, protecting, and documenting the Flemington Fairgrounds and Speedway.

Hinchliffe Stadium Midget Car Racing
Hinchliffe Stadium, located above the Great Falls in Patterson, was constructed in the early 1930s. Also known as City Stadium, the facility is best known for Negro League Baseball.  Auto racing, beginning in the early 1900s, grew in popularity in the post war years and was among the most well attended events at the Stadium.

Mahwah Museum

Mahwah Ford Assembly Plant, when opened in 1955, was the largest auto plant in the nation. The first car rolled off of the assembly line on July 16 and would be followed by approximately six million more over the next twenty five years. The closing of the Ford Plant is referenced in the first line of Bruce Springsteen’s song, “Johnny 99”.

New Jersey Turnpike Authority

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority oversees and maintains the Garden State Parkway and the New Jersey Turnpike. The Parkway, which opened for traffic in 1954, is the longest highway in the state and the busiest toll road in the nation. The Turnpike, which opened in 1951 connecting the metropolitan areas of New York and Philadelphia, is one of the most iconic highways in the nation.

Vintage Automobile Museum of New Jersey
The Vintage Automobile Museum of New Jersey was established in 2002 in Point Pleasant with the purpose of providing an educational and entertaining family attraction while preserving and sharing an automotive heritage that encouraged and shaped the growth of New Jersey and the nation.

The Batsto Citizens Committee
Batsto, a former industrial center in South Jersey, spans three centuries of history. The historic village consists of over 30 buildings, original to the site and representing various commercial endeavors. What was once a bustling home to over 1,000 residents is now a time capsule, a window to the past.  Located near Hammonton and Egg Harbor City, Batsto is the ideal destination for a Sunday drive as it is surrounded by miles of some of the most scenic roads in the area. The grounds are open seven days a week, all year long. Most of the buildings on site are open to tour from 9:00am until 4:00pm. For more information contact the Visitor Center at 609-561-0024.
Founded in 1956 to aid the State of New Jersey in its development of Batsto Village as a historic site, the Batsto Citizens Committee advises, assists and promotes the restoration and interpretation of the historic and natural aspects of Batsto Village.

The Walt Whitman Association
Originally assembled by a group of Whitman friends and supporters during the author’s lifetime in Camden, NJ, the Walt Whitman Association is the oldest existing society in the world dedicated to the memory of the poet. Its mission is to support the preservation of his home in Camden and to promote the life and legacy of America’s “Great Poet of Democracy”. 

The Meeting of two Literary Giants in Camden – Walt Whitman and Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde’s admiration for Walt Whitman and his poetry is well-known.  What is little known today is that these two literary giants once met right here in Camden, New Jersey.  Although the meeting took place on January 18, 1882, two years before Whitman purchased and moved into his house on Mickle Street (at that time he was living with his brother George at 431 Stevens St.), the poet later recalled this momentous event in a discussion with his friend and biographer Horace Traubel. Come visit us on Mickle Street (today’s Mickle/MLK Jr. Blvd.) at the historic home of the “Good Gray Poet” on Saturday’s in January and February where we’ll discuss these reminiscences and more.   For tour times and availability, call 856-964-5383.

While in Camden, enjoy another nearby literary landmark, Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum and Library which will be highlighting the historical meeting of Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman:

"Everything is Going on Brilliantly: Oscar Wilde and Philadelphia"

On display from January 23-April 26 at the Rosenbach Museum & Library. This exhibition focuses on the life and work of Oscar Wilde; highlighting his historic and ongoing connections and influence in Philadelphia.  One of the most famous cultural personalities of all time, Wilde gave a series of lectures throughout the country in 1882 and made a lasting impression on the Philadelphia area. Wilde materials from several public and private collections will be placed alongside unpublished materials on display for the very first time. For more information, visit here:

Walt Whitman in Mickle Street
When asked why he chose Camden as his home, Whitman replied, "Camden was originally an accident, but I shall never be sorry I was left over in Camden, It has brought me blessed returns." Join us for a tour of Walt Whitman's home in Camden on Mickle Street (today's Mickle/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard). Here we will explore the great writer's last residence, discuss everyday life and share the thoughts of the many visitors who came to see the aging poet in his final years. Admission is free. Call 856-964-5383 for tour times and to schedule a visit.
*Please Note: Tour times and availability are subject to change. Please call ahead to confirm site hours and tour availability. (856) 964-5383.

Previous Events:

Song of Myself Marathon

In partnership with Rutgers University-Camden Whitman Studies Program and the Walt Whitman Association, the Walt Whitman House will be offering special tours all day for participants of a “Song of Myself Marathon” to be held on the Rutgers Campus in the Stedman Gallery on Thursday November 13th at 4pm.

Bursting onto the literary scene in July of 1855 with his first edition of “Leaves of Grass”, readers were introduced to the iconic poetic masterpiece, “Song of Myself” - a celebration of the importance of the individual in light of the new American Democracy.  Whitman’s poem introduced the world to a new poetic form while casting off the intellectual chains of the Old World.  With Song of Myself, Whitman started a poetic journey that continues to unfold today.  Come join us!

Contact the Whitman studies program at 856-225-6306 if you wish to participate in the reading.  For further information on tours of the Walt Whitman House, call 856-964-5383

The Walt Whitman Association Sponsors:

American Boychoir Performance of “I Hear America Singing” at Cooper University Hospital

The American Boychoir, one of the finest musical ensembles in the United States, will perform at Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ, in the Roberts Pavilion lobby on Friday, November 22, 2013, at 12:15 p.m. for patients and visitors as they release a new CD based on the work of America’s poet Walt Whitman called “I Hear America Singing”.

Under the leadership of Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, Litton-Lodal Music Director, the American Boychoir has dazzled audiences with its unique blend of musical sophistication, spirited presentation, and ensemble virtuosity.

Boys in fourth grade through eighth grade, reflecting the ethnic, religious and cultural diversity of the United States, come from across the country and around the world to pursue a rigorous musical and academic curriculum at the American Boychoir School in Princeton, New Jersey. The legacy of the American Boychoir is preserved through an extensive recording catalog, which boasts over 45 commercial recordings and the launch of its own label, Albemarle Records.

Camden was Walt Whitman’s home for the last 19 years of his life.  It was here that he gained international recognition and completed the last edition of his hallmark book of poetry, Leaves of Grass; the choir thought no better place than to share their new album than in the heart of Camden at Cooper University Hospital nearby where the poet lived at 328 Mickle Boulevard – the location of today’s Walt Whitman House Historic Site. Whitman’s attending physician at the time of his death in 1892, Dr. Alexander McAllister, was a practicing physician from Cooper Hospital and also later a trustee of the Walt Whitman Association. The Poet’s home, today’s Walt Whitman House Historic Site, is located just two blocks from the hospital on Mickle Boulevard also known as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The Walt Whitman Association was originally founded as a group of Whitman friends and supporters during the author’s life in Camden. The Walt Whitman Association is the oldest existing Whitman society in the world. Its mission is to support the preservation of his home in Camden and to promote the life works and legacy of America’s “Great Poet of Democracy”.

Event Location:  Cooper University Hospital
                              Roberts Pavilion lobby
                              One Cooper Plaza
                              Camden, NJ 08103
                              (856) 342-2000

2012 Birthday Celebration Guest Speaker – Paul J. Stankard – Artist in Glass

For this year’s Walt Whitman Birthday Celebration, we are honored to have as our guest speaker, the distinguished glass artist, Paul J. Stankard. An avid admirer of Walt Whitman, Stankard is one of the most prestigious and world-renown glass artists, famed for encasing his extremely delicate sculptures of flowers and insects in globes or cubes of clear glass. He is the recipient of numerous awards and holds two honoree doctorates. Stankard's work has shown across the United States and Europe and in Japan and Taiwan. He is currently a Fellow at the Corning Museum of Glass and serves as a founding board member of the Creative Glass Center of America in Millville, New Jersey.

Paul Stankard finds many corresponding themes between his work and that of Walt Whitman:

“From the beginning, I was drawn to Whitman's response to Nature, his view of life as a creative spiritual journey, his references to native flowers, insects and birds which are the subjects of much of my own work. I love the way he takes seemingly ordinary experiences and shows them to be miracles. A simple flower is symbolic of the mystery of living things: "A morning glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.””

"As an artist who has worked with my hands in glass for 35 years, the line 'the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery' continues to amaze me. And the native flowers he chose to write about like pokeberries and common mullein are easily overlooked, ordinary. He speaks of the ant's perfection, the egg of a wren.”

"Experiencing the plant kingdom with Whitman energizes me. I have internalized his works with my feelings to recapitulate and rework those feelings in glass. His work informs my aesthetic and elevates my expectations of myself as an artist. What Whitman did with words, I seek to do with glass on a visual level. My dream is to articulate fresh information about nature in glass. My work is driven by respect for living things, and by delicacy and detail. I try to match Whitman's depth of feeling with my own passion and skill. You have to bring something to Whitman - it isn't immediately available at first. I want from the viewer the same openness, curiosity, and maturity that are needed for Whitman's work. "

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