Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: our first stop on Day Seven was Binghamton, New York, childhood home of Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling. The celebrated sci-fi writer isn’t the only well-known personality with roots there, but he certainly has more markers than any of the rest.
What you saw in the previous entry wasn’t the whole story. Also marked for historical significance: Binghamton High School, Serling’s old alma mater and home of the Binghamton Patriots. Their athletics program totally missed a merchandising opportunity in not naming themselves the Binghamton Venusians, the Binghamton Invaders, the Binghamton Beholders, or the Binghamton Characters in Search of an Exit.
Serling’s boyhood home is also in the vicinity of Recreation Park, but it’s not marked, it’s privately owned, it’s not exactly a showpiece, and it’s in the kind of neighborhood where strangers who park and loiter around people’s houses will likely be accosted by a sheriff. However, downtown Binghamton boasts a special sidewalk star in his honor, Hollywood style.
Serling isn’t alone in this respect. Binghamton has produced enough notable creative types to merit an entire Sidewalk of Stars in their Metrocenter Courtyard. it’s an endearing, miniature substitute for those of us who live too far away from the Hollywood Walk of Fame for a convenient visit.
Many of the “stars” in the Sidewalk of Stars are folks better known locally than nationally, but we recognized a couple of names. Example: cartoonist Johnny Hart, creator of the long-running comic strip B.C.
Classic-TV character actor Richard Deacon was best known from The Dick Van Dyke Show, Leave It to Beaver, and hundreds of instances of “That guy! I’ve seen that guy somewhere before!”
Our sources had informed us the local theater held a display case with genuine Rod Serling artifacts from way back when, including his autograph. When we asked about it at the box office, they informed us it was long gone, with no idea as to its subsequent whereabouts. For what it was worth, at least this quick, fruitless stop allowed me to add to my marquee collection.
Not unlike our Punxsutawney experience back on Day One, we dropped by just as the town was kicking off an annual festival — in this case, Binghamton’s July Fest in the heart of downtown.
Binghamton was much larger than I expected. I was surprised they even had a downtown, complete with parking garages, roundabouts, and an ornate capitol dome.
Among the most distinct buildings: their First National Bank, which appears to be for sale. It’s probably priced beyond our means, and I forgot my checkbook anyway.
Our first sight as we entered town: Binghamton introducing itself. We neglected to shop around for a single square deal while we were in the area, but I like to think they would’ve accommodated us.
My favorite sign was back in Recreation Park. Because some people need practical advice.
To be continued!
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]