Sister Marcia: contribution to the genealogy talk

Someone in the audience knew Charlotte Yates from her time in Binghamton before 1954.

Even though she hasn’t been to our hometown of Binghamton, NY in over a decade, my sister Marcia has contributed mightily to the genealogy talk our cousin Lisa presented recently.

Lisa spoke at the Broome County Area History Conference on April 21 at the Bundy Museum. She came all the way from Washington, DC to introduce two families, one Black and one Jewish, which my wife, daughter and I attended.

As she wrote in the precis, our “second great grandfather, James A. Archer, a free Black man who, along with two other family members, fought in the Civil War. They survived and returned to Binghamton to raise families and start businesses.” In part because of other photos Marcia put online, Lisa was able to ascertain that the post-Civil War photo I’ve posted to this blog included not only James Archer, but the brothers of his wife, Harriet Bell Archer.

“In the late 1800’s the Archer family purchased a house on Maple Street, which became a hub of family activity for several generations to come.” That was the house my grandmother and mother grew up in.”

She also told about her great grandparents, Isaac and Sarah Berman, who were born in Latvia and Lithuania, emigrated, first to Denmark then to the US in 1913 and settled in Binghamton. Isaac “started an egg business that eventually turned into a trucking company that was the first to offer overnight service from the Triple Cities to Boston.

“Both families grew and in 1937, the two came together with the marriage of Ernest Archer Yates and Charlotte Berman, my grandparents, who faced their own challenges as an interracial couple.” Ernie was my grandma’s brother and Charlotte the third child of Isaac and Sarah.

This picture also came from Marcia’s collection, with Ernie and Charlotte together in the back row, my mother’s arm on Ernie’s shoulder. Given the presence of three of their four children, I peg the photo in 1945 or 1946. Someone in the audience knew Charlotte from her time in Binghamton before 1954, when she and the children moved to Queens, NYC after Ernie died unexpectedly.

When Lisa came to Binghamton, she had to take a detour off Front Street onto Gaines Street and pass another Archer property at 5 Gaines Street, where MY nuclear family lived in the 1950s and 1960s.

So Marcia, even though she was far away, was an important part of Lisa’s presentation. Happy birthday, baby sister.

Grandparents Day: my grandmas, and one of my daughter’s

Curiously, this picture triggered a memory of some kind about my OTHER grandmother.

One of those holidays I think WAS created by Hallmark is Grandparents Day. Well, technically not, but it FEELS that way.

Here’s another picture my sister Marcia found, taken at some point in the 1940s; no idea where, when or why. The woman in the top row, second from the right is my great aunt Charlotte and the guy next to her in the sweater is her husband, Ernie Yates. Ernie died while his kids Raymond (directly in front of Charlotte), Frances (sitting on the floor), and Donald (on the blonde girl’s lap) were still young, but Charlotte had grandchildren, as Fran, Donald, and Robert (either not yet born, or an infant) all had children. Fran and Donald now have grandchildren.

The woman behind the blonde girl, partially obscured, is my grandma Continue reading “Grandparents Day: my grandmas, and one of my daughter’s”

B is for the Bermans

The photo portrait of Rosa Parks that hangs in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery was taken by IdaBerman BEFORE Rosa refused to yield her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in December 1955.

Charlotte (Berman) Yates, Gertrude (Yates) Williams, Trudy (Williams) Green, Roger Green- 13 Maple St, Binghamton, NY
When Charlotte Berman married Ernest Yates in 1937, it was a pretty radical event at the time. Charlotte was from a family of Jews from eastern Europe, and Ernie was black.

But let’s back up a bit. “Pinches Barosin, a teacher in the small town of Warklian, Latvia, and his wife, Slatte” had five children, the youngest of which, Isaac, was born in 1886. In the US, Barosin became Berman; Isaac married Sara Schmuelowitsch in 1910. They had eight children Continue reading “B is for the Bermans”

Frances Beal: Voices of Feminism Oral History Project

When my cousin Gertie — Trudie, they call her now — started to date the man who eventually became her husband – my father, Les Green –, he was deemed too dark for the family.

One of my sisters discovered this March 18, 2005 interview with my mother’s first cousin, my first cousin once removed, Frances Beal this autumn, conducted by Loretta Ross. Fran is about 12 years younger than my mother and 13 years older than I am. Her kids are about a dozen years younger than my sisters and I. Her late mother, Charlotte Yates, was my beloved great aunt.

Her politics are far more liberal than mine. She, I suspect, would eschew the term “liberal” altogether, in favor of “radical”. What is truly interesting about the piece though, from my specific POV, is her retelling of her history, which invariably overlaps with mine.

Here’s a picture of Frances Beal.

The info in the italics is mine.

Frances Beal was born in Binghamton, NY, January 13, 1940, the daughter of Ernest Yates [ my maternal grandmother’s brother- ] who was of African American and Native American ancestry, and Charlotte Berman Yates, of radical Russian Jewish immigrant roots. When Fran’s father died in 1954, her mother moved the family to St. Albans, an integrated neighborhood in Queens. In addition to observing her mother’s participation in left politics, Fran was profoundly affected by the murder of Emmett Till , as was I. After graduating from Andrew Jackson High School in 1958, she became involved in civil rights activities and socialist politics while attending the University of Wisconsin.

She married James Beal, and from 1959 to 1966, they lived in France, where they had two children and Fran became attuned to the internationalist/anti-imperialist politics of post-colonial African liberation struggles…

BEAL: OK. I was born in a relatively small city, upstate New York, called Binghamton, New York , as was I. In school they used to tell us, Bing bought a ham and it weighed a ton: that’s how to spell Binghamton…
Continue reading “Frances Beal: Voices of Feminism Oral History Project”

G is for Green Wedding

My father and sister sang at our wedding reception. I think I did too.


When I married Carol Powell on May 15, 1999, it was not only a blending of families, it was a mixing of family sizes. My family is very small, while hers is ginormous. Since both of my parents were only children, and all of my grandparents, by that point, were deceased, this was pretty much it on my side of the ledger: (L-R) my niece Rebecca, her mother/my sister Leslie, Carol, me, my mother Trudy, my late father Les, my niece Alexandria, and her mother/my sister Marcia.

Whereas my new wife had LOTS of relatives. My mother-in-law had seven siblings, my father-in-law two. My wife had three brothers and over 30 first cousins. I, of course, had no first cousins since I had no uncles or aunts. Continue reading “G is for Green Wedding”