Dear old dad in Newspapers.com

the Ongleys

When I was on my genealogical journey for my father’s biological male parent, I got a subscription to Newspapers.com. You know, memory is a peculiar thing. I took a deep dive into the records that mentioned Les Green. There were over 300 items in the Binghamton, NY newspapers, most before 1974.

The earliest may have a picture of Les and his stepfather McKinley in 1942 with other Boy Scouts and their dads. I discovered that he was involved in the 1960s as a leader in scouting at the Interracial Center on 45 Carroll Street. Yet in my brief tenure as a Cub Scout, I never got the sense that dad was interested in scouting at all.

I remember that my father was the production chairman of the Civic Theater, the community performance troupe. Specifically, I recall his involvement with the 1960 production of Guys and Dolls, which was very successful. Even then, I thought the show, starting with the title, was rather old-fashioned. (Sidebar: my wife saw Bob Hoskins perform as Nathan Detroit in London in the early 1980s, so she’s more favorably inclined.)

The previous Civic Theater production was Separate Tables by Terrence Rattigan. What I didn’t know was that Helen Foley, speech and drama instructor at Binghamton Central HS was the director. She was my public speaking teacher a decade later, but neither my father nor la Foley ever mentioned to me that they knew each other. Helen Foley, BTW, was also the favorite teacher of Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame, back in the early 1940s.

BTW, the costumes for Separate Tables were done by my grandmother Agatha and “Mrs. George Ongley.” George Ongley was Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls. My family visited their family for a time at the Ongley home in suburban Vestal. They had a couple kids if I’m remembering correctly.

Fighting for justice

Unsurprisingly, most of the clippings in the papers of dad were of him singing and playing the guitar. I knew my father performed at the Binghamton State Hospital, the “first institution designed and constructed to treat alcoholism as a mental disorder in the United States,” several times. But I didn’t know he was President of the hospital’s volunteer council c. November 1963. I wonder why he was so invested in that institution.

He was involved in a variety of civil rights organizations, such as the William L. Moore chapter of CORE. Once, his white colleagues sent me into the local Woolworth’s to see if I, like other black kids, would be harassed by the employees or the police. I was not on that day.

Dad headed the Binghamton-Broome Council of the NYS Division of Human Rights head by 1969. Interestingly, the formation of this body was rejected by the Binghamton city council five years earlier. That action generated a third of a page petition in the paper. “There is not a single day when a Negro does not suffer the indignity… of discrimination” in the city. It was signed by my mother, father, and McKinley, as well as over 230 other adults, many of whom I knew.

My father was Chair of the Human Rights Advisory Council in 1972. Yet I did not recall that he claimed that he was denied entrance to a public billiards parlor in Binghamton because of his race in July 1968, taking his complaint to the state Division of Human Rights in September of that year. I don’t know what the resolution of the case was.

Finally, he was Director for Joint Apprenticeship and Training for the Associated Building Contractors in August 1972. When he lost that position, he ended up moving to Charlotte, NC in 1974. Les Green was rather remarkable when I was growing up. Happy Father’s Day.

Margaret Lia and Freda Gardner

Normandy invasion

Margaret LiaThe mom of my childhood friend Ray, Margaret Lia died recently at the age of 95. She was the Den Mother of our short-lived Cub Scout troop. I was terrible at the craft-driven things I was supposed to do, but she was very patient with me.

I always liked her light British accent. When Ray got married in October 1976 to Pam, I got to escort Mrs. Lia to her seat, and I was quite pleased by that.

I didn’t know this romantic story until I read it in the obituary: “Margaret worked as a stenographer when her company was moved from London to the countryside for the duration of World War II. It was there that she met and fell in love with Albert Lia, a US Army serviceman, whose troops were preparing for the Invasion of Normandy. During Albert’s time in Europe, they corresponded by mail and after the war, he proposed in a letter. Soon she was emigrating to America to become his war bride and their loving marriage lasted 60 years.”

Like most funerals in this period, “a memorial mass will be celebrated at SS Cyril and Methodius Church at a later date.” St. Cyril’s on Clinton Street in Binghamton was very close to my now-razed school, Daniel Dickinson.

“Please consider a donation to the American Civic Association, 131 Front Street, Binghamton, NY, 13905.” The ACA is “an organization committed to helping immigrants and refugees start a new life in our community while preserving their ethnic and cultural diversity.”

My late father, Les Green, was involved with the place. He, sister Leslie and I performed there at least once as the Green Family Singers. In March of 1969, I had my 16th birthday party there. And unfortunately, it was one of those mass shooting sites back in 2009.

A pioneer

Freda Gardner Freda Gardner was a member of my church. We served on a couple of committees together, including Education. We were part of the group working with Pastor Glenn Leupold when he was getting his doctorate c 2012-2015. She was wise, intelligent, compassionate, and always an advocate for equality and justice.

A fellow church member took her to a local presbytery meeting a few years back. He introduced her, at which point everyone laughed. “Oh, WE know Freda!”

Until relatively recently, neither he nor I knew she had been elected Moderator of the 211th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1999 and was the first female full-time faculty member at Princeton Theological Seminary. She was a force in the PCUSA, but never boasted about it.

As Pastor Glenn noted, “Freda was a life-long learner, possessing a masterful use of language. She could explain just about any theological concept with clarity and precision, enabling many to understand.” She was 91. As is often the case recently, “A memorial service will be held at First Presbyterian Church in Albany, New York, at a date to be determined.”

Blows against the empire

Will I see Summer before summer?

Aside from the day-to-day activities, there have been a few events I have missed. The Blows Against the Empire tour was canceled before it got to Clifton Park, near Albany. It wasn’t that I was desperate to see that show. But I was going to go with my oldest friend from my college days. And he was going to pay!

I was planning a trip to my hometown of Binghamton, NY in March 2020 for two reasons. I’m looking for the transcript of the October 1926 trial involving my biological grandfather Raymond Cone, at which my grandmother, then Agatha Walker, testified against him. I also wanted to track her location in the city directories during the 1930s. However, both City Hall and the local library are closed until they aren’t.

Also, my friend since kindergarten Carol, not to be confused with my wife Carol, was going to fly up from Texas to visit her mom. So I’d have a chance for a visit with her and perhaps my Binghamton-area friends. Not yet.

Postponed, so far

At the Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, I have a subscription. The musical Summer, about the disco queen Donna, has moved from March to June. Will that actually come to pass? Or Dear Evan Hansen, still scheduled for June? Or Come From Away in September? What does theater look like in the era of physical distancing? Does the economic model even work?

Then there are the ersatz gatherings. The weekly church services, which get better as the folks have figured out the technology. The Bible studies. The Google Hangouts, Zoom meetings, and whatnot.

Something that I have discovered about sharing screens on these platforms. Sometimes they can be quite useful. On one Zoom call, a guy with the same surname as some of my ancestors wanted to see my family tree. I’m going to be helping my friend with some librarian skills, and her seeing what I’m working on will be great. On the other hand, one ought not to feel obliged to share JUST because one can, technologically.

We’re muddling through.

July rambling: 45 es un titere

The Privilege of Being Normal

fake presidential sealWas American politics always this weird?

Lawyers, guns, and money.

The US Gave Slavers Their Land Back. What About Black Folks’ Reparations? and Slavery is also indefensible on economic grounds.

About the Mueller testimony.

Meet the man who created the fake presidential seal; his website.

Data Show Costly Trump Tax Cut Achieved Little

Britain’s New Prime Minister Is Nationalist, Racist and Vain. Sound Familiar?

The Moon Landing Hoax Theory Started as a Joke.

The First Responders, black paramedics in Pittsburgh

The Privilege of Being Normal.

I was a fast-food worker. Let me tell you about burnout.

How to Cancel Amazon Prime.

What is Regenerative Agriculture?

What John Paul Stevens inadvertently taught conservatives about the Supreme Court.

Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, the first black player on the Boston Red Sox, has died. He was 85. Green played parts of four seasons with the Red Sox and one with the New York Mets from 1959-63, batting .246 with 13 homers and 74 RBIs. But his place in history was made when he stepped on the field as a pinch-runner against the Chicago White Sox on July 21, 1959. The Red Sox were the last team in the major leagues to field a black player.

Safe Deposit Boxes Aren’t Safe.

Binghamton, NY: Valley of Creativity.

Ken Levine interview with director Jim Burrows, Part 1 and Part 2.

Can broadcast legend Susan Zirinsky save CBS News?

Basquiat x Warhol at The School in Kinderhook.

Martha My Dear.

Why Americans Just Can’t Quit Their Microwaves.

New Coke Didn’t Fail. It Was Murdered.

Carbon Copy

Fireworks with film at Saratoga.

Enough With Hamilton, Say Fans of Other Founding Fathers; Success of Broadway show steals limelight from Jefferson, Franklin and others; ‘not a lot of demand for James Madison’

The Evolution of Harley Quinn.

Now I Know: The Elephant With Empathy? and The $91-Per-Square-Foot Very Tiny Estate and The Great Saudi Beauty Pageant Scandal of 2018 and Why Isn’t This Tennis Ball Bouncing? and The Rainbow Grandpa Who Saved His Village and The Incredible Cause of Tasmanian Crop Circles and Why Do Bats Sleep Upside Down? (for AmeriNZ)

MUSIC

I’m Your Puppet – James and Bobby Purify.

Music from the new Lion King movie.

Indra by Gustav Holst.

Blue Bayou – Linda Ronstadt and the Muppets, recipients of the 2019 Kennedy Center Honors.

Coverville: 1269: Cover Stories for Suzanne Vega, Simple Minds and Soft Cell and 1270: The Trevor Horn Cover Story and 1271: The Hard Day’s Night Track-by-Track Album Cover.

Windows XP Waltz

K-Chuck Radio: How to enjoy a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack

Serling Fest 2019: Twilight Zone at 60

appearing live via satellite, BILL MUMY

Serling festTo commemorate the 60th anniversary of The Twilight Zone’s 1959 debut, the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation presents: SERLING FEST 2019: The TZ @ 60, a three-day celebration in Rod Serling’s adopted hometown of Binghamton, New York on the weekend of October 4-6, 2019.

I don’t usually do advertisements for ventures with which I’m not involved in this blog. It must be a function of hometown pride – New “BING” Getting Cooler By the Day, which is true. It’s also my close, personal relationship with the late writer/host; yup.

GUESTS

“Confirmed guests include Rod’s daughter, Anne Serling (author of AS I KNEW HIM: MY DAD, ROD SERLING); Mark Olshaker (co-author of MINDHUNTER, inspiration for the acclaimed Netflix series); Mark Dawidziak (author of EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE); Nicholas Parisi (author of ROD SERLING: HIS LIFE, WORK, AND IMAGINATION); and Martin Grams, Jr. (author of TWILIGHT ZONE: UNLOCKING THE DOOR TO A TELEVISION CLASSIC).

Also attending Serling Fest, “Arlen Schumer (author of VISIONS FROM THE TWILIGHT ZONE); Reba Wissner (author of A DIMENSION OF SOUND: MUSIC IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE); Amy Boyle Johnston (author of UNKNOWN SERLING); and Tony Albarella (editor of AS TIMELESS AS INFINITY: THE TWILIGHT ZONE SCRIPTS OF ROD SERLING).

“And appearing live via satellite (Saturday, October 5th), BILL MUMY (star of ‘It’s a Good Life,’ ‘In Praise of Pip,’ ‘Long Distance Call’ and LOST IN SPACE).” I saw It’s a Good Life in the past six months; it’s still startling.

VENUES

“On Friday, October 4th, the event will be held at various locations in Binghamton – to be announced. On Saturday, October 5th, the event will be at the Broome County Forum Theatre, and on Sunday, October 6th, go to the Helen Foley Theatre at Binghamton High School.

Ah, Binghamton High School, which was Binghamton Central back in my day. And Helen Foley, who was Serling’s drama teacher, was my public speaking teacher. I’m giving serious thought to attending at least part of this.