This weekend, we went to Denver for my cousin Tommy's wedding. This out-of-town experience was pretty much my first since I moved here in February (we went to London in March, but at that point I was still mentally in Los Angeles-mode, so it just felt normal to be in another big city). The first thing I thought when we landed in Denver airport was, "There are so many young people here!" In Binghamton, the city has 1/2 the population that it did at its peak in 1950 (it's now at about 44,000, down from nearly 90,000 50 years ago). That dramatic population change is a result of many recent decades of blow after blow to the local economy. For example, IBM, which began in this area around the turn of the century, had over 20,000 employees in Endicott in 1980. Today, there are only about 2,000 IBMers remaining at the old corporate campus.
Back to the Denver weekend- it was wonderful to see all the family, of course, and funny to share details of my new life here. For example, when I told my Uncle Oliver where I lived, and that the population was about 45,000, he (smartly) asked, "Isn't there a Big City nearby?" to which I had to answer, "We are the Big City!"
Coming home was also funny. As John and I sat in the airport in Detroit, waiting for our connecting flight back to Binghamton's regional airport, John looked around at the people waiting with us and got a funny feeling that we were at the wrong gate. He got up no fewer than two times to check the destination, flight number, etc. Finally he realized, and I agreed, that he thought we must be in the wrong place because he couldn't imagine that the 50-or-so people waiting with us could all possibly be headed to tiny Binghamton. What do they do there? Who are these people? We sometimes feel like we know everyone in town because we constantly run into familiar faces.
Final Ha Ha of the weekend: Everyone is always pronouncing Binghamton wrong. They usually say something like "bing-HAMP-ton" or "BING-ing-ton" when it really is pronounced "BING-hamton." Well, the poor flight attendant on the tiny plane definitely mutilated our destination when she announced it at the beginning of the flight, which is pretty discourteous, and she obviously didn't care. As we were exiting the plane, an elderly man in front of me pulled the flight attendant aside on the jetway and firmly told her, "There's no "h" in Binghamton!" (She must have said "bing-HAM-ton") He was probably from here, and he was clearly tired of people screwing it up.
The reason I thought this was particularly funny was because I had a sassy t-shirt made up for John, as part of our 2-person Binghamton marketing team, which says "Ain't no P in Binghamton!" He wore it out to the monthly artwalk and to some bars afterward and, needless to say, it was a huge hit with the locals, who are tired of constant misspellings on credit card statements, address labels, etc.
More to come on the 2-man marketing effort in later posts.