Les & Trudy

les and trudyA few months ago, on a Binghamton listserv I follow, I was a tad startled to read, seemingly out of the blue, in response to someone else’s comment:

Q: Do you know who Leslie Greene is/was? he was born in 1927 became very close friends with my parents, he was black, his wife was white…I believe he was elected commissioner in the 70’s.

John (who’s about a decade older than I, and went to my church): Sadly the LESLIE GREEN that I knew passed away some years ago. His son Roger Green is a member of the I AM FROM BINGHAMTON NY site. Knew LES & his Wife as the GREEN Family was a major part of our TRINITY AME ZION CHURCH and active in the general African American Community and the General Binghamton NY area…His wife, was often times mistaken as being white, but that’s NOT unusual.

ROG: My father was Les Green, but his wife, Gertrude, a/k/a Trudy, was NOT white, though she was very fair. BTW, he was born in 1926 (Sept 26) But you could be talking about someone else.

Q: No the Leslie Greene I speak of was born in Binghamton in 1927 His mother was Agatha Greene and His Grandfather was Samuel Walker they lived in the 1st Ward District for many years.

ROG: OK, then we ARE talking about my father, who was born in 1926. His mother was Agatha (no E at the end of Green), who died in the mid-1960s. We attended Trinity AME Zion, first on Sherman Place, then at the corner of Lydia and Oak. My great-grandfather was Samuel Walker, who everyone called Father; I do vaguely remember him, as he lived until I was 7.

Q: Did they live on Valley Street the first house on the left??

ROG: We lived at 5 Gaines Street, between Front and Oak, My sisters and I attended Daniel Dickinson. My father was involved with the Interracial Association, 45 Carroll Street, right across from a playground.

I am fascinated by the long-ago recollections by others of my parents. And since my sisters and I visited Q and her family’s house in Conklin, just outside of Binghamton, a few times, it’s a part of my own lost history.

I’m also interested by the notion that people thought my mother was white. It happened not infrequently, ESPECIALLY when he wore a red wig in from late 1960s, off and on, for decades. But she never, at least in my lifetime, tried to “pass” as white.

Today would have been my parents’ 65th wedding anniversary. My father died in 2000 and my mother in 2011, but the date is practically imprinted in my DNA.

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