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"Aunt Lettie" - Journal entry *PIC*

Aunt Lettie

The second story window of Aunt Lettie's spared apartment building overlooks Columbus Park. She's the last from the 'colored section' or Center City of Binghamton, New York. She is in her eighties.

"You're looking at those new gee-chees from South Carolina. The old families are gone," I say.

"Lord, I knew when they tore down them houses nobody was coming back. It's been twenty years."

"Why don't you move? Your family is waiting on you in the suburbs."

"No! This is home. Peoples came from Elmira, Ithaca, and Syracuse. At Gentleman Joe's, your Father's piano playing was tops. If I go, that's the end."

"Daddy passed away eight years ago. Binghamton's changed," it's 1985.

"You be coming out of college soon".

"I came out of college twelve years ago. I want you to meet my wife Cynthia. She's from California."

Urban renewal began, in earnest, during the early 1960's in Binghamton, New York. Center City, the Black community, was being razed to allow for the highway extension. Folks were displaced with the promise they would have first rights to return after construction. That call came nearly twenty years later, better than a generation. The Geders and many of the 'Old Families' did not come back. They left the low-income housing for the new folks from South Carolina and Georgia. The migrants came looking for factory work at IBM and General Electric.

This is a near verbatim conversation with 'Aunt' Lettie Stanton. My sister Sonya, Cynthia and I gave her a visit. I was just getting into genealogy at the time. She told us a few things, but she kept thinking she saw familiar faces (from the past) out of her window. She passed away some time later.

Family, critique away! Is this literate?

Picture of Dad & "Aunt Lettie" Statton, friend of the family. (Daddy's actually at the piano - photo cut/cropped).


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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