As people across the Southern Tier await Friday's scheduled Binghamton University town hall meeting with President Barack Obama, many are recalling Ronald Reagan's visit to Endicott nearly three decades ago.

More than 20,000 people filled Ty Cobb Stadium behind Union-Endicott High School on September 12, 1984.

It was an energetic late-afternoon re-election campaign rally less than two months before Reagan defeated Walter Mondale to win a second term.

Most of those who were on hand reacted enthusiastically to Reagan's 22-minute speech. They enjoyed the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company reference when the president joked about the Air Force One pilot needing some help finding Edwin A. Link Field in the town of Maine. Reagan said he told him to get on the radio and just ask: "Which way E-J?"

Reagan stumbled momentarily when he got to the part of the speech mentioning "Binghamton." There was some laughter as he uttered "Bingamin" and then tried again.

The crowd roared when he mentioned "Endicott." Perhaps a bit ironic since the speech was written by Vestal High School graduate Peter Robinson, who later recalled the big football rivalry between his Golden Bears and the Union-Endicott Tigers.

Most of the people who were at the Endicott rally haven't read what the president wrote in his diary about that day in upstate New York.

Reagan wrote that it was "an uplifting day for me." Regarding the Endicott rally, he noted: "There were a few dissidents but they were almost invisible in that crowd."

The president added he was "amazed at the enthusiasm" and the high turnout of young people.

A few folks who attended the rally have held on to the tickets used to enter the event. One of them, John Cuomo, allowed us to borrow his ticket so it could be featured in this story.


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