Jan. 7 is always a big celebration day in the D’Imperio family. My twin sisters, Teri and Mary, plus my youngest daughter, Katie, all share it as a birthday. The date, however, is not without a dark significance.
Jan. 7, 1966, was quite an exciting day for our family at The Hospital since none of us, including my mom, knew she was having twins. Even my dad was shocked when the nurse poked her head out of the delivery room 22 minutes after one baby girl was born and told him, “Don, you’d better go back down to Jamesway and get another crib.”
But the Hospital was eerie that late afternoon. It was in the air. Nobody knew why, but it was odd. Before long, ambulance sirens, chattering beepers and louder and louder asides between nurses and doctors in the hallway told the story to one and all.
Something had happened in neighboring Bainbridge. Something big and something bad.
A D&H train had come roaring through Bainbridge coming up from Binghamton at dusk. It blitzed through the main crossing, leaving the rails, whipsawing over the railroad grade, taking out houses, ripping the fire station asunder and killing people in trackside homes all before coming to rest in a pile of jumbled, smoking boxcars right smack dab in the middle of little Bainbridge, N.Y.
For baby boomers in my hometown, this would be the seminal disaster that would forever be etched in our memory. Any rivalry that existed, real or imagined, between the towns of Sidney, Unadilla and Bainbridge came to a pause that awful day. Despite the shock of it all, heroism was also on call that day. Scintilla, Bordens, Keith Clark and the other local factories emptied of their first responders, emergency personnel and others, all volunteers, as they heeded the unspoken call to “go to Bainbridge.” What they witnessed upon first glimpse I’m sure is with all of them still today.