Binghamton, New York

This is the duplex we rented when we moved to Binghamton.  The photo is from Google Images and we lived in the house on the left.

133 Leroy St

133 Leroy St. Binghamton,NY

Marge and Ingrid 133 Leroy St. Binghamton

133 Leroy St. Binghamton

Marge in rear yard of 133 Leroy

Marge in rear yard of 133 Leroy


We lived in this house and the street next to us to us was Beethoven St. There were quite a few streets in the area named for dead German composers and the locals really mangled the pronunciation of Beethoven. The nearest I can approximate it was called Beth-Hoven and I cringed every time I heard that at first. I did get used to it, but when I did have occasion to refer to I did it properly. We lived there for 2 years and when Ingrid got old enough to walk, we used to go over to a little park on Leroy and Beethoven and spend some play time there. Leroy ended at the Chenango River not too far from us and at the time, there was a local arts center overlooking the river. They had speakers now and then, a movie studio and a small sales area where local artists could sell their art on a consignment basis. The center had a Link organ, I believe commissioned by Ed Link the founder of Link Aviation. Some of you may remember the Link Trainer for airplanes. We bought a large landscape picture there once to go in our living room over the couch.  The center is gone now by looking at the map. There were large trees along the street on both sides and when fully leaved, almost made a complete canopy covering the street. All gone now also replaced by much smaller trees.

We paid $125 a month for the rental which was about the market at the time. The neighborhood was old, I would guess about 40 years old in 1963, and quiet and stable. There were some quite nice single family homes on the street and the manager of the GAF blueprint paper factory lived across from us. We would chat with once in a while when we both happened to be outside. He must have been about 60 years old at the time, and his wife had become wheel chair bound due to some serious illness. He told me wistfully once that they had planned, when he retired, to take some cruises, but of course that was not possible now. Marge and I talked about this and how it was not going to happen to us. Much later, after I had retired early we did take some very pleasant cruises. We had talked of some others that would be nice, but then Marge’s cancer metastasized and travel became impossible. At least, unlike our neighbor we did in fact realize some of our retirement plans.

Marge’s aunt, Mildred Nelson, lived in Binghamton for quite a while and belonged to the First Presbyterian church. So we joined it as well. It was, maybe still is, a big old center city landmark. They had baby sitters for little children during the services so we brought Ingrid. One of the church activities included a group of young married couples and we began to go to that, and met quite a few people with similar backgrounds and interests. Frankly, to me the sermons themselves were incredibly boring. The senior pastor who had a PhD. in Theology said the sermon as if he were a lecturer to Freshman Theology students including long quotations from other theologians who I don’t think any of the congregation were familiar with.

Aunt Mildred also had done the necessary genealogy work to become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Marge also joined the DAR. This did not work out as well since the other members were as old as Marge’s aunt and her mother. So it was not a good fit due to the age difference and Marge had no personal interest in genealogy or revolutionary history, so that did not last long. Aunt Mildred was at that time quite ill, I believe with Leukemia. I remember both of us visiting her once in a hospital, and she died in the fall of 1963. The funeral was held in Hancock NY and I was a pallbearer as well as my brother-in-law law Paul Hammond. I still remember that, the only time I was ever a pallbearer. Mildred is buried in the Nichols family plot, as is Marge now, and when my time comes, I will be there as well. Good company I think.

Speaking of company, Marge’s cousin was Robert Nelson and he and his family lived in Endicott NY not too far from us. We visited them from time to time as did he, his wife and his children, now grown are, as are ours, into middle age. Bob Nelson was involved with the programming of the IBM computer operating systems. He was an amateur radio operator and was interested in small boat sailing. Sailing was fun and I later built a sailboat myself. Both families got along well and for Marge there were at least some people she knew in the area.

My job with GAF was a manufacturing engineer. I started to work in what was the Ansco Camera plant. They no longer made Ansco cameras but bought them from Japan with the Ansco name on them. Their business at the time I started was contract manufacturing producing things such as microwave waveguides and other relatively small metal products.

I was hired to become involved working at the Ozalid blueprint machine shop. All gone now but at the time all architecture and engineering began with hand drawn vellum prints and the copies were made on the Ozalid copiers. The project for which I was hired there involved learning and implementing a new system of time estimating for the manufacturing processes in the plant. This was new to me and I thought it would be a good idea to learn something new and be on the ground floor, as it were. After a while, the novelty wore off and the daily tedium of applying it set in. I worked there until about the summer of 1966 when I was able to get a more challenging job at the Ansco film plant, which did in fact produce photographic film. More on that later.

In 1964 I did start working on an M.S. degree at what was then Harpur College in the Binghamton area. This was originally a 4 year college part of the NY University system. The school had recently started to offer some advanced degrees and by that time the U.S. had finally decided to award veterans, such as I, educational benefits. I had taken quite a few economics courses at Syracuse and declared that to be my area of choice for my MS. As Harpur grew, it changed its name to the State University of New York at Binghamton. It is now Binghamton University, well thought of I understand, and the largest single employer in the area. Not that it matters any more, but I now regard myself as getting my degree from Binghamton University rather than SUNY Binghamton as that name no longer exists.

I really enjoyed my flights on the Royal Dutch airline and Marge and I had talked about how nice it would be to fly to Europe together. At that time, airlines were still regulated although the airlines or any group really could set up a charter flight at rates that were considerably less than buying individual tickets. I think we were planning on having Marge’s mother take care of Ingrid in our absence. I paid the down payment for our flight and I think by that time were number 3 or 4 on the alternates list. I was given verbal assurance that people always cancelled and almost certainly we would get our seats. The date for the flight was still many weeks in advance and this seemed a reasonable assumption. As time passed, I checked in from time to time, but no change. Finally when there was about a week to back out without losing the down payment, there was still no change. Marge and I talked about what we should do and we decided to back out and to use what we had saved to buy our own house. Another step forward, the American Dream, our own house complete with a mortgage to pay off.

This feels to me to be a logical time to end this post and begin the next one telling about our search for, and eventually purchase, our first house.



About R. F.

I am a retired Professional Engineer who spent my working life in the electric utility industry. I am now a volunteer instructor at the University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).
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3 Responses to Binghamton, New York

  1. Allan T. says:

    Hi Robert, we paid $125 for a one bedroom APT in 1971, wow what a difference. Sounds like life is going along smooth and natural at this point in time. Just came back from CA. seeing Janice’s sister for the last time before she moves on. As you can guess, not a fun time. I wish I had words of wisdom for her husband.

  2. I remember the neighborhood….I grew up on the East Side. My Dad was for many years the Protestant Chaplain at Binghamton State Hospital. I think Frank Shaw and his family attended 1st Presbyterian…don’t they have (or had) the carillion operated by hand? One of my cousins was feature in an article about it, yea, many years ago! 🙂

  3. ingridmg2014 says:

    I found it very poignant the way you told us about your neighbor so many years ago, whose dreams of travel were forfeited when his wife became wheelchair bound. Very circle-of-life, tying it in with your own life experiences with Mom. As you say, I am glad that at least in your case you WERE able to do some traveling, both as a couple and with the whole family, before the cancer took that away. We will always have those memories!

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