Thursday, August 16, 2012

Where I Come From

Today I decided to link up with Shades of Gray and a Pinch of Pink for Where I Come From. She came up with the idea when pondering about where her blof friends came from. What was their back story? Since her and I are from the same neck of the woods, give or take 2 hours, I liked the idea. And this is where I come from...

In the fall of 1984 I said Hello World! and made my presence known in Danville, PA. Fast forward to a time I can actually remember things for myself and you have me in Vestal, NY.

Vestal was a farming town in its hey-day. Or at least that's what I've been told. In any event, this valley is what I call home. It's part of a greater area known as the Southern Tier the "Triple Cities", which is comprised of Binghamton, Johnson City and Endicott. It's considered "upstate" by just about everyone, even though as you can see, it's at the very bottom. You can thank the people of NYC for that oxymoron. People not familiar with the area think it's in the middle of nowhere, in "the sticks". But if you've made your way to Ithaca or Buffalo then you've driven through.

The biggest event of the summer is the Spiedie Fest & Balloon Rally. Every August locals get together for fun, food and hot air balloons (did I just rhyme?!). It's actually a pretty good time if you're into local festivals. Car shows, cook-offs, silent auctions, crafts, etc. There's live music each night, usually local bands but notable bands like 38 Special, Lonestar, O-Town, Lisa Loeb, and Blue Oyster Cult have made appearances. 

Of course the highlight is the spiedies and the balloons. I know, you're thinking "WTF is a spiedie?!" First, it's pronounced "SPEE-dee" and I can't put deliciousness into words. I can show you but it doesn't have the same effect. Tasting is believing.

More or less it's cubed, marinated, grilled chicken. Boring right? Yea, but the awesomeness is in the sauce. Hence, awesomesauce. I refuse to accept that the word 'awesomesauce' came from anywhere else. There are two types, Lupo's and Salamida's, and even though they may seem the same, they're anything but. (IMO, Lupo's is better)

The Southern Tier is also the birthplace of IBM and Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company. It's also known as the "Carousel Capital of the World". George F. Johnson, worker turned part owner of E-J) donated 6 carousels to the area and all are still in use today.  

They're free to ride and if you ride all 6 and get your carousel card stamped you get a special button proclaiming your acheivment. We're also home to Binghamton University and the Binghamton Mets, a AA team. I suppose I could also mention that Jon 'Bones' Jones is also from here. But since he went to Union-Endicott (UE) high school, Vestal's #1 rival, I'm not a fan. Nothin' personal Jon!

Day to day not much goes on but in 2006 the area was ravaged by flooding from winter thaw. Let's put it into perspective shall we? The area is in a 100 year flood zone. That means it should only flood maybe once every 100 years. It was a rare occurence. Unfortunately, not rare enough as it happened again in 2011 when tropical storm Lee came to visit. 

This is at the end of my parents' street

Parking lot at one of the malls

Mom's job

I did a post on this back when it happened, one of my very first. You can find it here

So that's where I hail from. It's rich in local history, it's got its abandoned store fronts and buildings, chain restaurants and typical town fare. But if you know where to look, or even if it's by accident, you might find some hidden gems.

Shades of Gray and a Pinch of Pink


  1. The birthplace of IBM? Burn it to the ground! (That's where the wife works. It's an underpaying shithole)

    Oh, and that spiedie looks incredible. I first pronounced it spy-dee, and was wondering why you ate spiders...

  2. I love, love, love this post! Made me a bit homesick!

  3. I love carousels! I miss them! Maybe I should come visit you and get to work on that stamp card, haha.

  4. Interesting to hear about where you come from :) The flood pictures remind me of India so much. Every few years we had dramatic floods. I always lived on high ground so no problem for me - but for many people the floods were a real hardship.

  5. Yea, I'm not to fond of IBM either. Spiedies are delish! I'm sure you'd enjoy them.

  6. I really loved this post. I think more people should do a "Where I Came From" post - every little niche in our geography is so different, but it really shapes us into who we are.

    Also, I really want to try a spiedie nowf.