BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — The forty-first president of the United States, George H. W. Bush, made a stop to the Southern Tier more than three decades ago.
“He was here to promote the candidacy of David Crowley of the Crowley milk company who was running for local office,” said Broome County historian Gerald Smith. “So they held a fundraising meeting at the Broome County Arena. There were twenty-five hundred people in attendance.”
Smith says the price to get into the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena was $250 for the event. Today that’s $630, factoring in inflation.
Bush was the vice president at the time, under President Ronald Reagan, during his visit on October 14, 1982.
“Obviously I did not have the $250.00 to go see the vice president of the United States,” added Smith.
Former Binghamton Mayor Richard Bucci had the opportunity to meet Bush that day.
“I just said to him welcome to Binghamton. I just said to him have you ever been in this region before and he goes ‘no I haven’t but I have friends who attended Colgate and Syracuse University, so I’m very familiar with the area’,” Bucci explained.
Bucci helped organized Bush’s visit.
“At the time I was one of the coordinators of the event and my job was to be a liaison with schools throughout the region who were sending hundreds of students to be part of the rally,” Bucci said.
Bucci says he’ll never forget not being able to get a photo with the vice president.
“I was out here coordinating with the buses for the students coming in and where they should sit and I just couldn’t break away,” he said.
Eventually, once things calmed down, a conversation sparked and it’s one he’ll never forget.
“At the end of the event, Dave Crowley, the candidate for congress, says, you know two or three times, he asked ‘Where’s Rich? Did he get a picture?’ I was just floored by that,” said Bucci.
Bucci says it’s a good time to remember.
“Only meeting him briefly, he knew I was part of the committee, and I hadn’t had my picture taken with him,” added Bucci. “So the one picture I have at the podium is really my one great shot and memory of the event.”
Media reports from 1982 say more than 1,000 students were at the rally.