Memories of Corning Street
by Lou Bernard
Recently, there has been big news about a body found on Corning Street. It was left on the porch outside the apartment, and a person of interest is in custody. I’m not writing my column on that, not exactly, though in a hundred or so years I hope someone else does. It’s going to go down in local history, so whoever is doing my job in the future, have fun with this one.
I did want to comment, however. Because I have something of a weird connection there.
It’s my old apartment.
I’ve written repeatedly about my current place on South Fairview Street, which is haunted by the ghost of Ida Yost, a teenager who killed herself in 1905. My wife and I bought that house in 2003. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about where we came from, where we lived before that.
We used to live at 5 Corning Street, Apartment 4. Top floor. To say I was shocked when I saw my old place in the news would be something of an understatement.
My wife moved to Lock Haven in November 2001, and we found that apartment sometime around December of the same year. It was a nice little place, we decided. A nice living room and dining room area, a small kitchen, a bedroom. We had a little dog at the time, a Schnauzer named Sam. He happily roamed around the apartment, generally sticking close to my wife.
The stairs in that building are somewhat tight and twisty, and there was no way we were getting a mattress up them. My dad came to help us move, and he tied a rope around the mattress and we hauled it up over the porch, carrying it over and in. There was a couch in there already, and I have no idea how it got there.
Seeing my old porch on the news, shown as “the place where a body spent seventeen months,” was a bit of a surprise. I loved that porch. I used to spend hours out there. It overlooked all of Corning Street. If I stood by the railing, I could look out and see the Civil War monument. I could see out to the mountains. I had a great time on that porch. We had a small, old chair out there, and I would take a book out and sit there and read. Sometimes I’d smoke a cigar. (Before all you health nuts out there e-mail me about the cigars, I’ve backed off considerably since adopting our son.)
There’s an old photo that my wife took, showing me sitting out on that porch. I’m reading a book, and I have both of our dogs, Sam and a lab puppy named Kat, sitting on my lap.
I was running a group for teenagers when I lived at that apartment. I used to run a group called the LS Kids—It’s still around, but I retired a couple of years back—And we had our meetings there. We’d talk, and plan our upcoming projects.
I was living there when I found out my mother had died, back in 2003. I was, in fact, standing on that same porch when I got the call from my sister. A few hours later, a couple of the kids came over, and we stood together on the porch while I made plans to go home for the funeral, and they talked to me and tried to make me feel better.
The closest we ever came to having a dead body in that apartment was a Halloween party my wife threw there in 2002. She had decorations and all sorts of snacks, and she made a concoction she called a “Meathead,” which involved making a literal skull out of sliced ham, with a red gelatin used as an adhesive. The thing looked way too authentic for me; I couldn’t go near it. And I was not alone in that; not too many of us ate the Meathead.
We were living in that apartment at the time we got married. My parents came to visit while we were making the plans, and my mother measured my wife for her wedding dress in that apartment. My mom made the dress, and it was the last thing she ever sewed, in fact. My wife and my mother spent a peaceful afternoon in that place while my father and I went out walking with the dog.
We moved out in October of 2003. We purchased the house on South Fairview Street, and packed our stuff and moved into it. I did a reverse thing with the mattress, lowering it off the porch with a rope. I have no idea what happened to the couch; it was still there when we left. For all I know, it still is.
That apartment will be, at least for a while, the place where the body was found. It’s going to be remembered in local history like that. But I did want to say something, make a mention, and tell everyone that, for a time, a new family was very happy there.