If you live in Lake Hopatcong and you want a good laugh, listen to how outsiders pronounce the name of our town. Recently, when I ordered a shirt from L.L. Bean, the phone representative confirmed my address for the order.

“You live in Lake Hop-a-long, NJ,” she said.

“No, I live in Lake Hopatcong, NJ,” I answered back.

“Oh, Lake Hop-ta-cong, NJ,” she repeated.

“No, Lake H-O-P-A-T-C-O-N-G,” I said.

“I sent an order to Lopatcong yesterday, is it the same place?” she said.

“No, not even in the same part of the state,” I answered.

She thanked me and quickly moved on to the order.

A Lands End sales associate pronounced it Lake-A-Polack. He then added, “How do you say that?”

I try to stop people before they pronounce Lake Hopatcong and sound like the person who just got a shot of Novocain in his lower lip, but that doesn’t always stop them. I have even had a Northern Tool sales representative ask me if I lived in Lake Ho-Ho-Kus.

For a while I tried Jefferson Township for my home address. I asked an AT&T operator for a telephone number in Jefferson Township.

“You mean Jefferson, NJ,” she answered back.

“No, Jefferson Township,” I said.

She replied that there was no listing for Jefferson Township in New Jersey. I then asked for Lake Hopatcong and she connected me immediately.

And then, there is the one I get always – you live in Hopatcong. I answer back, no Lake Hopatcong and they usually reply – what is the difference?

It seems more people from New York City know Lake Hopatcong than people in New Jersey, plus they all pronounce it right the first time.

My 96-year-old uncle knew exactly where it was because he would come up here with my grandparents in the 20s and 30s.

“Is Bertrand’s Island still there?” he would ask.

Luckily, we just call it the “lake” or just plain home.

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Tony is a 30 year resident of Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey. He is a graduate of Ramapo College with a degree in American Literature and has his New Jersey Teacher’s Certificate. He also has his MBA in Business from FDU. Tony wrote for AIM and had his own column, "For What It’s Worth," for 9 years. He recently retired after working for 46 years in the corporate world.