The Old Coot checks the mail

I’ve used a couple of old post cards as bookmarks for the past several years. Keith (Keith and Phyllis from London, Ontario, Canada) found them in an antique shop in Daytona Beach; he bought them and gave them to me because they were from Binghamton, N.Y., where he knew I grew up. The one I’m using at the moment marks my page in the book, Stateless, by Elizabeth Wein. It features the New Armory building, downtown on Washington Street. (An excellent book, by the way.) 

Alice of Binghamton sent the card to Mrs. Elmer A. Lawrence of Stamford, N.Y. (Delaware County), postmarked Oct. 5, 1907; at 9 a.m. It’s interesting that the name of the county was part of the address. A one-cent postage stamp got it there, arriving at the Stamford post office at 9 a.m. on Oct. 7. Pretty fast service in those days, probably by rail. I’m not sure we can match it today.

The armory looks like a castle; it sports a two-story tower on one end of the facility and a five-story tower on the other. It was built in 1904 and existed as an armory until 1932, replaced by a more modern facility on the west side of Binghamton. It became a college in 1948 when New York State created five institutions of Arts & Science around the state, to serve the flood of GI’s returning home after World War ll. Locals called it State Tech. 

Unfortunately, it was destroyed by fire in 1951, leading to the construction of a new campus on upper Front Street called Broome Tech, where I went to college in the early 1960’s. Now it’s referred to as SUNY Broome.

The second postcard, addressed to Ella Whitaker in Hancock, N.Y., pictures the city post office, now a piece of rubble, buried someplace under a parking lot. The postmark shows the card leaving Binghamton at 9:30 p.m. on July 5, 1912. No date is noted on the receiving end. 

The third postcard, residing in Moby Dick, a slow read I’ve been working on for over six months, sports a picture of the United States Post office and Courthouse. The facility is still in operation today, but the postal function has moved down the block. This card was sent in 1937 to Mrs. John Jacob of Seneca Falls, N.Y. This, too, made the journey with a one-cent stamp, 37 years after the first card was sent. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if postal rates held up that long these days? The stamps on the earlier cards had a picture of Benjamin Franklin in a frontal pose. The 1937 stamp showed him in profile, revealing long locks of hair. The country’s first hippie; you’ve got to love it! 

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