I was raised on West Second Street on Corning’s Southside near CFA, and my father was born and raised in Corning, too. This makes me an undeniably honest-to-god Corningite, and no matter how much traveling and moving around I’ve done in the past 10 years or have yet to do, I still reserve the right to take great pride in Corning.
Many say it’s the people that make a place great, and with that in mind, just ahead of another one of my expeditions away from my hometown, I’d like to specifically talk about two of my unsung heroes of Corning.
During my childhood, my dad was the radio announcer at WCBA, so I would listen to Jack & Bob in the morning before school while eating breakfast. At 7:45 a.m. (I believe), they would call up Donna to get her daily specials and to listen to that epic poem that was her list of homemade pies for the day.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I started eating breakfast at Donna’s, and I remember that it took her precisely 2 ½ times of me ordering black coffee, 2 scrambled eggs, and white toast before she had my usual down pat. A few more weeks of regular trips and my order was in before I even sat down.
I love her stories, the photo of Sean Connery among photos of her cats, her unique way of remembering past regulars, her extensive pyrex collection, her pet peeves, her smile, and her steadfast nature. She even put a birthday candle in my scrambled eggs last week for my birthday. In essence, Donna is a beloved Corning Hero.
A few years ago, I spent close to 4 hours clutching a no. 2 pencil, hunched over a green grid of ovals, taking the United States Postal Service Exam (which, long story short, never amounted to anything for me… probably for the best). Ever since I was a kid, I loved anything to do with the mail. I regularly wrote letters to pen pals and to my grandparents, and the squeak of the mailbox opening and closing has always been a favorite sound of mine.
So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I absolutely love going to the post office on Walnut Street. Not only is it a beautiful building a few blocks from my childhood home, but Kate also works there. While postal workers tend to have a reputation of being sourpusses, Kate has one of the most contagious smiles in Corning.
She jokes with me about where I’m headed to next and talks about my dear friend’s love of meticulously picking out perfect stamps. She is always incredibly helpful, superbly friendly, and steadfast, too. Yes, Kate is a beloved Corning Hero.
I also want to pay homage to other Corning Heroes (past and present): Kevin the UPS guy, Daryl, The Whistling Man, The Guy Who Walks Around Everywhere Carrying Weights, Albrecht Durer Look-Alike Running Guy, The Person Who Plays Trumpet Occasionally In The Evenings In My Neighborhood, and, of course, The Omnipresent Greeter Of Corning Garbed In Safety Yellow With A Bike Helmet As His Crown, Jimmy.