There’s a 1998 Chevrolet Lumina with very hurt feelings sitting in Edith Caroscio’s driveway, evicted from its garage by a new occupant. That vehicle, you see, is not the sort that takes too kindly to snow and slush.
It’s a beautifully restored 1963 white Corvette convertible, which served as the luxurious bait for a recent raffle by Elmira Notre Dame High School. Caroscio, a regular supporter of the school’s fundraisers, had willingly doled out $100 for four tickets, then more or less forgot about the grand prize — until the call came on Jan. 31 that the automobile, which had been on display at Arnot Mall, was now her personal property.
“My first comment was, ‘What am I going to do with a Corvette?'” she recalled.
The obvious answer for many would be to jump in and push the pedal to the metal. Well, that would be quite a sight around the Southern Tier — because Caroscio just celebrated her 87th birthday on March 15.
Caroscio’s son, Bill, was just as stunned at her victory, saying he had purchased a ticket for the same raffle but didn’t know his mom was even involved. “I had no clue,” he said.
In, fact, Bill had been to the mall earlier that day and passed right by the Corvette. “My wife and I were out just doing some shopping; I didn’t even know it was there.” He bumped into Mark Wayne, Notre Dame’s capital-campaign and major-gift director, who encouraged him to stick around for the drawing because it was only an hour away. Bill decided to go home, and a short time later “my mother called saying ‘I won a car.'”
“I was very amazed, very surprised. It’s a beautiful car,” Edith Caroscio remarked. “Of course, all my neighbors come running when they saw it.”
At this point, she said, “It’s in my garage, all covered up like a baby.” Which is just as well because these past few months haven’t exactly been convertible weather — although, as Edith pointed out, “It’s got the hard top so we could still use that.”
Even so, Bill said the Corvette will likely be put up for sale, explaining that it’s less a car and more of a high-maintenance collector’s item. “We’re holding on long enough for everyone to see it. But it’s something that’s not in our lifestyle, to garage it for 10 months and ride it for two,” he explained.
The car has 79,000 miles on it — quite low when you consider it’s 42 years old — and has been appraised at more than $45,000. But before the family parts with it, Bill said he might play the chauffeur role for his mom. “When the roads are dry and the sun is shining, I’d love to take her for a ride,” he said.
Some family members hope that Edith’s hot rod hangs around longer, he acknowledged. “It’s been a lot of fun for the family. Her grandkids have wonderful plans for it — even the ones who can’t drive,” he said with a laugh. “It’s been a great conversation piece.”
Would his mother get behind the wheel? Bill noted that since she learned to drive on a standard transmission, she could probably adjust to the Corvette’s stick shift. But in all honesty, Edith favors the automatic shift of her poor, displaced Chevy, which she still takes around town regularly. “She’s very independent,” Bill said.
Edith is a lifelong Elmira native who attends St. Anthony’s Church in the St. Anthony/St. Patrick cluster. Her six children, all Notre Dame High School graduates, are Mary Anne; Bill; Giovina (who was the longtime director of Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes); Thomas; Margaret Bergh; and Annette Averitt. She also has five grandchildren. Her husband, William, is deceased.
Edith said the Corvette has given her celebrity status around town, with folks “asking for my autograph and making a big issue when I walk into places.” Extra attention also surfaced when she attended her first Sunday Mass after the drawing — thanks to her pastor, Father Walter Wainwright.
“Father Wainwright announced it right at the end of Mass. He did all the announcements, then said he had one more,” she said. “It’s been a real fun win, I’ll tell you.”
Edith added that she’s not accustomed to winning such drawings, saying, “I’m not very lucky.” After a pause, she amended that statement: “I am lucky — I’ve had a wonderful life.”