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.

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.