G is for the Greens

NO ONE left IBM in those days, and certainly not for some likely short-term government job.

rog.leg.meg.1962aprI grew up in Binghamton, which is in the Southern Tier section of New York State, not far from the Pennsylvania border. I had, and have, two sisters, Leslie Ellen Green, born about 16.5 months after my birth, and Marcia Elayne Green, born a little more than five years after me.

We grew up with our parents, Leslie Harold Green and Gertrude Elizabeth (nee Williams) Green, at 5 Gaines Street in the city’s First Ward. When I was born, my parents lived upstairs in the two-family dwelling, but soon my parents moved to the first floor, and my paternal grandparents, McKinley Green and Agatha (nee Walker) Green then lived upstairs.

The house was owned by my maternal grandmother, Gertrude (nee Yates) Williams, who lived a half dozen blocks away at 13 Maple Street with her baby sister Adenia (Deana) Yates. Our house was a small place, with a living room, a couple bedrooms, kitchen and what was essentially a large hallway.

After Marcia was born, when the girls were destined to get the second bedroom, my father built a couple walls in the hallway to create a very small bedroom for me. He painted the solar system on my ceiling.

Our mother worked at McLean’s department store downtown, first as an elevator operator, then later in the bookkeeping department. Although we were supposed to attend Oak Street Elementary School, since we went to Grandma Williams’ house for lunch, it was determined that we would instead go to Daniel Dickinson school instead. This, of course, had a profound effect on us in terms of who our childhood friends were, a surprising number of which we still are in touch with.
Our father had several jobs: truck driver, florist, painter (both artistic and sign painting). He had a job working at IBM for about six years. It was at night, and it wasn’t particularly intellectually stimulating, moving inventory on some conveyance.

When Dad quit his job to work for something called Opportunities for Broome, a project funded the US Office of Economic Opportunity, my ninth grade homework teacher, Mr. Joseph, told me that my father was crazy. NO ONE left IBM in those days, and certainly not for some likely short-term government job. Frankly, I thought it was a great decision, and time proved this to be correct.

Grandma Green died in 1964. She was one of my Sunday school teachers, and she taught me how to play the card game canasta. I taught my Aunt Deana how to play canasta, and we also played 500 rummy and other card games; she died a couple years after Grandma Green. I played bid whist and pinochle with my parents.

Each of my parents was an only child. This meant that my sisters and I never had uncles, aunts or first cousins. This makes our tribe rather small these days, with our parents deceased, and each of my sisters and I each having just one child, a daughter.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

23 thoughts on “G is for the Greens”

  1. Roger, I envy you. Both of my parents had multiple siblings and I am the youngest of 8 siblings so I have aunts, uncles and cousins of every numerical denomination galore, frankly more than I can handle. Since you and I are related, in a sense, by marriage I invite you to adopt (and take off my hands) a few dozen as your cousins. You have a wide variety from which to choose and you will enrich both our lives by so doing.

  2. Thanks, Arnold. I had in the past, especially Ida. Jonny Rosen I’ve spoke to once or twice when Annie & the Hedonists play around here. It was great seeing the Berman cousins at the funeral.

  3. Grew up in the First Ward as well. Were classmates for a few years in Daniel S. Dickinson School.

  4. Roger, It’s Good to hear about your past and your family,
    sounds like you had a Great upbringing.
    It’s most gratifying to know what makes people tick!

    best wishes,
    ABCW team..xx

  5. Nice to learn about your family, Roger. Nicely shared 🙂
    Families are smaller these days.
    Even I have just one daughter. But, she has many uncles and aunts as apart from my siblings, I have many cousins from both my mother’s & father’s side of families 🙂

  6. And a handsome looking bunch you were/are too! I have 8 first cousins all from one side of the family and all with a variety of health complaints. After the age of ten I had little or no contact with them,since we moved up north and travel was not easy in those days. What is now a 3 hour journey took all day back then. But thanks to email and fb we have all got back in touch in the last 7 or 8 years.

    Roger, I try to comment on 7 or 8 ABCers but just randomly. Do your commenters have a system or are they random too?

  7. Since you asked, Chris: I assign all the (currently) readers to (this week) 12 numbers, 1-12, 13-24. etc. Usually I try to mix up the list so that they get to visit different people, on the (sometimes false) theory that most people post roughly at the same time each week. Personally, I try to visit everyone, eventually (though the lasts ones might be over the weekend) , so that, theoretically, two people from ABCW has visited everyone.

  8. Good to look back on family history and childhood days. I had only one sister, but both she and I had six children each so that really expanded the family and there are cousins without number!!! All precious….

  9. It is always interesting to read about one’s family. You were ( and probably are) gorgeously looking kids and adults.
    Roger, I wholeheartedly agree with your comment on Obama’s:” We are not at war with islam!”
    Wil ABCW

  10. Roger, Thank you for sharing a bit of your family history. I grew up on a farm in Iowa. Perhaps I’ll find the occasion to do a bit of sharing sometime.


  11. I really enjoy learning about different families and how they grew up. You three look so happy in your pictures. I come from a big family and have so many cousins, I’ll probably never see them more than a couple of times.

  12. I always wanted to tell this story but haven’t gone round to telling it. In my local council library, the woman librarian was quite strict She fined kids 10 cents per day for being late.

    I started borrowing books when I forgot to return it, and I left it, and accumulating to a few dollars fine. I was afraid to go to the library when I found it.

    One day, my dad says come with me to the library, I am going that way. In tears, I told dad I owe the librarian too much money. Dad offered to explain to the librarian.

    It turned out, the librarian was my dad’s student. She waived the fine saying it was better I returned the book and continuing borrowing books.

    Whew!!! I never go to know was it my dad’s friendship or she would have waived the fine.

    Today, the local council libraries circulate my books.LOl

  13. Thank you for sharing your life with us. So many cool memories. That must’ve been exciting for you as you watched part of the hallway evolve into your bedroom. Very cool.

  14. When I read your post title I thought it was about vegetables :-). But this was a different variety of Greens altogether. Was good to read about your family. That ceiling with the solar system sounds wonderful.

  15. Roger thanks for this beautiful article. Leslie and I have been friends for many years. This was a joy to reaf

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