January 1984: Binghamton man discovers and preserves Rod Serling’s 1943 signature carved into Backstage door frame at Binghamton Central High School.
It’s not the Dead Sea Scrolls or a piece of King Tut’s Tomb, but a Binghamton man has uncovered a piece of memorabilia from the city’s past.
The memento is a section of door molding from the old Binghamton Central High School on which Rod Serling is believed to have painted his name shortly before he was graduated in 1943.
Serling, who grew op on Binghamton’s Bennett Avenue, went on to win six Emmy awards for his television dramas, including Requiem for a Heavyweight and Patterns, and create and host the Twilight Zone television series.
His distinctive voice and manner are still well known be cause of reruns.
The section of molding disappeared from Central High during its renovation and transformation in 1982 into the consolidated Binghamton High School, said Jules L. Levitt, 39, an amateur Binghamton historian.
When he heard about the lost frame from school Principal John A. Lalley, Levitt said he decided to try to find it.
Levitt managed to trace the molding to a former employee of Miske Electric Inc., 337 Front St., Binghamton, who had taken it while working on the high school’s renovation
Last Monday, Levitt acquired the molding from the employee. He plans to return it to the high school.
“I wanted to look for it because it’s a piece of Rod Serling memorabilia and nostalgia,” said Levitt, who ran for Binghamton mayor seven years ago under the name of Jam Verne.
He concedes some people might think his search was a little eccentric and consider the molding nothing more than junk, but, he added: “One person’s piece of junk is another person’s diamond in the rough.”
Lalley, who has been principal of the consolidated high school since 1981, said the molding was part of a door in back of the school’s stage that tad to the lightboard for the stage
Students who worked on plays at the high school apparently had the tradition of writing their names somewhere back stage, he said.
“I said (to Levitt) we’d like to have it back if Serling’s signature can be verified,” Lalley said.
Cornelius J. Larder, former principal of East Junior High School, former principal of Central High, said he planned to keep the molding, but when he went to recover it, it was already gone.
“I should have gone right in (here with a crow bar and gotten it, but I didn’t,” he said.
Lorden also thinks the molding should be returned to the high school so it can be displayed.
Levitt said he heard from an acquaintance, a bowling partner of the Miske employee, that the employee had taken the molding.
He contacted the employee Don. G Husband, 1 Ayres St., Binghamton, who had stored the molding in his garage.
“I really didn’t expect to find it… To me, in some way, this has been scripted by Rod Serling. It’s too bizarre,” Levitt said.
by GEORGE BASLER
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin: January 1, 1984