Hi Everyone. My name is Jay. I was born in a small town in upstate New York called Binghamton. The population in Binghamton was around 80,000 in the 1950’s, but was only at about 50,000 when I grew up there in the mid 80’s. If you add in the population of the surrounding areas, the population jumps to around 250,000.
One of Binghamton’s claim to fame is this is the city that International Business Machines (IBM) started. The engineers who worked at IBM were reverently referred to as “zipper heads”. The first flight simulator was also created in Binghamton in the 1920’s and the other main attraction is the State University of New York (SUNY) Binghamton – which later changed its name to Binghamton University.
One of the things I loved about Binghamton was the many different ethnic groups that were represented. Every summer, the Three Rivers Ethnic Festival was held at the Broom County Arena and all weekend we would enjoy food and festivities from different countries. Although Binghamton was small, it was always felt like it was filled with a lot of culture.
The staple restaurant in the area was the Park Diner. Located along the Susquehanna River, the Park Diner was our “go-to” place as a family. We were treated as a family when we were there and 40+ years later, they still treat my dad like everyone’s grandpa. We would go after church, after drinking downtown, and sometimes when mom just didn’t want to cook. It was like our second kitchen.
But no description of Binghamton would be complete without talking about the famous food that puts Binghamton on the map – a spiedie. Although there are a couple of versions of the origin of this delicacy, the reality is I don’t care because it is so delicious. It is a skewer of marinated meat – usually lamb, but can be chicken or beef – that is grilled and served with a slice of Italian bread. Growing up I really didn’t think much of it, but as the saying goes: you don’t know what you have until it is gone. Once I moved away, I realized that I was not able to get anything close to a spiedie anywhere in the world! So of course every visit home we made several trips to Lupos S&S Char Pit, or Sharky’s to get our spiedie fix. These days, thankfully, you can order online and have the marinade delivered to you to enjoy anywhere.
So that brings me to the reason for this blog. As a football fan growing up in Binghamton, New York, the obligatory teams to cheer for were the Giants, Jets and Bills. My older brother played Little League Football for the Colts and Patriots, so I cheered for them once in a while also. But Giants, Jets and Bills really was the focus.