Chapter K: Working In the Triple-Cities
This chapter details my experiences incurred in the Tri-Cities area of Upstate New York—more specifically, Binghamton metro. This move to upstate was a profound change from the dense urban environment of Philadelphia. Particulars about my initiation into IBM and my technical career are detailed here.
Binghamton is a city located in upstate New York, just north of the Pennsylvania border. It is the principal city of the Greater Binghamton metropolitan area, which consist of the Triple Cities: Binghamton, Johnson City, and Endicott. Other major towns in the area are Vestal, and Endwell. All are part of Broome County. For a bird’s-eye view of Binghamton on a separate page click here. (same as Conclusion J)
Highlights of the area were 1) the annual Broome County Open, a PGA Tour golf tournament held in Endicott; 2) B.C., a daily syndicated comic strip set in prehistoric times created by the late cartoonist Johnny Hart who lived in Broome County; and 3) the late Rod Serling, fictional creator of the Twilight Zone who lived in Binghamton.
Since I was looking to get away to an area less metropolitan and more cosmopolitan, the region met my first desire, but not my second. Moving to such hickey parts allowed me to escape the hustle-and-bustle and crime of the big city. On the other hand, the area reminded me of the environments of South Jersey and Witchtall Falls, Texas.
A new revelation about folks in those parts was their diet of venison—a term for deer meat that I hadn’t heard before. Some years later, in 1978, the scenes shown in the movie The Deer Hunter, reminded me of the culture and environs of the region. Regardless of how much they relished the wild flesh, I never did acquire a taste for it. In a way though, my engagement into this more subdued life style was a welcomed change—at least initially.
The region is located at the northern tip of the Appalachian Mountain range. Some of the hicks that lived way up north, along the Chenango River, were known as ridge-runners by the locals living down in the metro area. The Susquehanna River that flows through the area is susceptible to flooding, a reality that I have witnessed several times during the rainy seasons. While living in an apartment close to the river’s edge, I would watch and pray as the crest of the flood waters passed by.
At the time of my arrival, there was no arena, nor an enclosed shopping mall in the county. Years later, an arena was built in Binghamton. The first event was a concert by the rock/jazz band Chicago. These hicks were so elated and proud to have the group come to town, that they considered the event to have been a major happening that would establish a reputation for the town. A while later, these folks complained about the major stores built for the opening of Oakdale Mall in Johnson City. Since Wards and Sears were the initial stores built, they considered the mall lacked a touch of class. They would grumble about not having a Macy’s, JCPenny, nor a Nordstrom; therefore they considered the mall to lack a flair of cosmopolitanism, which still left them feeling backwoods.
The prime industry in the area at the time consisted of Endicott Johnson Shoes, IBM, and Link (a flight simulator company). On the academic side is SUNY (State University of New York) at Binghamton, located in Vestal, and Broome Community College on Upper Front Street, also part of the SUNY system. Like most urban areas, the population of the city has declined significantly after WW II at the expense of the surrounding suburbs, a trend called “suburbanization.” Unlike many larger urban areas, whites are still predominate (83 %), with a little over 12 % black and brown.