Back to the Parlor City

The “new” Route 17

Binghamton, NY, was called the Parlor City. From here: The name “goes back to the 19th century. Binghamton had massive mansions with huge parlors where people would gather and spend time together. There were so many fancy parlors that people started calling Binghamton the ‘Parlor City.'” There was a Parlor City Shoe Store that I recall.

Thursday, October 5: Sister Leslie drove us from Albany. The last time she was in Albany, there were toll booths on the New York State Thruway. The tolls are still applied, but electronically.

There was a lot of road construction. In both directions, one exit was straight ahead while the road continued to the left, and though it was well-marked, the brain was slow to make the translation.

I was going to stay at the spare home of my friend C, while Leslie was going to stay with her friend MJ. However, when Leslie was flying, she got a text from MJ saying she had to go to the hospital. The day we arrived, MJ had surgery. So Leslie stayed at C’s place as well. More Plan B.

Friday, October 6: Leslie drove us all over downtown Binghamton, then to a part of Binghamton I hadn’t been to in over a half-century. Above is a map of the eastern portion of the First Ward in Binghamton. In the lower part of the faded portion, you may see Route 17. This was the “new” 17, which involved tearing down many houses on the north half of Prospect Street, the minor league baseball stadium Johnson Field in nearby Johnson City, and much more.

Lost Horizon

Intellectually, I knew houses were still north of Prospect, as Mygatt Street goes under Route 17. My maternal grandmother’s brother Ed lived up there, somewhere. I’m uncertain where, though he was less than a mile away. Grandma Williams forbade us, and even her adult daughter, my mom, from having anything to do with Ed because he was “living in sin” with a woman named Edna. Also, Leslie had a friend move up there. Though only a mile away, it was like a different world.

So, I haven’t gone up Mygatt and turned right since the walkway to Ely Park entryway came down in the late 1960s.In addition to a golf course, there were some nice houses. What’s most fascinating, though, is that a good chunk feels as though you’re in an undeveloped rural area.
Turning left at the top of Mygatt Street, I had only done once ever, attending a burial at a private cemetery in 2012.


BCHS nametag 1972-2022My sister’s reunion was in two parts. The Friday evening “Ice-Breaker” was at The American Legion on Robinson St. I spent a good deal of time talking to the younger siblings of the friends of mine. Though I didn’t know any of them well, I knew them for a very long time and was some connective tissue. Incidentally, the hors-d’oeuvres were great and plentiful; we were encouraged to take food home.

Saturday, October 7

The “Main Event” was at The Relief Pitcher, on Conklin Ave., Binghamton. I had a surprisingly good time at my sister’s reunion, arguably more than my own the year before. The 1972 class badges were much better than the 1971 ones.

Sunday, October 8

Leslie and I went to our old church, Trinity A.M.E. Zion on the corner of Oak and Lydia. I recognized the keyboardist as someone I grew up with. She recognized my sister but not me, probably because of my vitiligo. My father’s cousin Ruth was there too. The in-person congregation was small, fewer than 10. But there were 13 or 14 tuning in on ZOOM, and two of them participated, reading scripture and giving a prayer.

That evening, we took C and her husband out to dinner as thanks for providing us with accommodations plus plenty of food.

Monday, October 9

Leslie and I returned to Albany, and we had the pleasure of seeing my daughter, who had been taking good care of her mother.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial