This is also for you, Carla.
Here’s a map of part of Binghamton, NY. My life growing up, for the most part, was contained in several little blocks. The borders were Prospect Street to the north, Clinton Street to the south, Front Street to the east, and the end of Spring Forest Cemetery, that big green area at Prospect and Mygatt, to the west.
Let’s start at 5 Gaines Street, where I grew up. Gaines St is that one little block between Oak and Front. It is not to be confused to the more interesting block just south, which is Winding Way.
Here’s the Zillow page for 5 Gaines Street. It is brown. and has been for some decades. But when we lived there, it had a GREEN asbestos siding. (The Greenes, at 13 Gaines, had a white house with green trim.)
But looking at pictures at that property, and more so the Realtor pics 4 and 5, there are several things striking. One is that back yard is terribly small. When we would play kickball, the ball might slice over the fence to the rear of the property line.
That fence was wooden, and the property felt as though we were in the woods, going downhill, a gorge, really. Someone’s filled in that ravine and put parking spaces back there. When did THAT happen? Maybe when some of those Front Street properties were renovated in 2016. Next time I’m in town, I’ll have to see this in person.
On Front St, near the corner of Prospect, was the G and H Diner. We ate there a lot, especially during the six-year period when dad was working nights. Or so I recall. Their homemade pies were particularly fabulous.
I had to look up the name of the miniature golf course at 296 Front Street. It was called Front Street Miniature Golf and it was just south of this white behemoth of a building called Cutler Ice. We played minigolf a lot in good weather. I guess it closed around 1968 after about 35 years in business.
We used to play in Valley Street park, the small green area off Front Street. It was your standard playground near the street, but a baseball or softball field farther in. I have two specific memories there.
One was a pickup game of involved playing tackle football. Mike, on our team, caught the kickoff and was slowed by a couple of guys on the other team. But he was big and strong, not easy to bring down. When he was finally tackled, the opponents discovered he didn’t have the ball. In the scrum, he had handed the ball to me, and I scored without anyone noticing. Later that game, we did almost the same thing. This time, someone eventually saw that I had the ball, too late to catch me.
The other event was a baseball game. I was pitching to this girl named Aline, a couple of years older than I. She smashed the ball right back to me, striking me in the left temple and knocking me out cold. When I was revived, I walked home. My mom called the doctor, who said I might have a concussion. The protocol at the time was to not let me go to sleep for a time, lest I die. So my mom kept waking me up all night. And I didn’t die.