The Twin Tiers Twins
Courtesy of Cynthia Hart and Candace Barnes
I was nine or ten years old when I first noticed the Elmira Star-Gazette. Everybody locally just called the newspaper out of Elmira, New York, the Star-Gazette.
I was a Star-Gazette kid. The paper was delivered to our home every night without fail.
The boy who delivered our paper was heading off to college and a replacement was needed. So, at age eleven, I became the Star-Gazette paperboy in our neighborhood on the east side of Wellsboro. My route covered the upper end of East Avenue, Woodland Avenue, and the cross streets—Bryden, Jackson, and Helvetia. And I had three customers in “The Pink Lady,” the salmon-colored former Bache mansion behind Stubby Cruttenden’s store. I picked up the papers at Stubby’s and worked my route so that it ended back at his small neighborhood store. To this day, I can ride those streets and name all the people who lived there in the 1950s and 60s. I remember with a great deal of affection some customers. On Fridays, I had to knock on every door to collect the forty cents a week fee for the paper, and Iva Payne always gave me a nickel tip. Kate Dawson made me come in the house and wolf down some of her delicious cookies before she paid for the paper.
I was not aware of it, but something was happening in the media world. The local papers were skirmishing. The battles were not the “take no prisoners” newspaper wars between William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer but a struggle for subscribers nonetheless. Local weekly papers like the Wellsboro Advertiser and the Wellsboro Gazette were no competition for the daily papers, but even those two weeklies fought it out until the Advertiser surrendered to the Gazette. The daily news organs began to wage war. The biggest fight was between the Williamsport Sun-Gazette and the Elmira Star-Gazette. The Star-Gazette was run south while the Williamsport Sun- Gazette shipped its newsprint north. A disputed territory lay equidistant between the two papers.
At about that time, Cove Hoover became publisher of the Elmira Star-Gazette. The paper also had a morning edition, The Elmira Advertiser, and a Sunday edition, The Sunday Telegram. Hoover’s stated goal was to make the Star-Gazette the “go to” newspaper for the two-state distribution area. He hired a young Art Kendall for the task.
Art’s official title was public service and research director for Elmira’s Gazette papers. But Kendall was to become a marketing genius. He got to thinking about the incongruity of the area. The Northern Tier was, in fact, south of the Southern Tier. And the Southern Tier of New York was upstate and north of the Northern Tier. The two tiers rattled around in his head until a lightbulb lit. He thought, “Two… Two…Twins. That’s it! The Twin Tiers.” It was 1968, and it was at that moment that “Twin Tiers” was born. Art ran the idea by Cove Hoover and got the okay. He was off to the races.
Twin Tiers. The term trips off the tongue like your own name. It seems like the label describing our two-state area has been around forever. But the word astronaut preceded it. “Hula Hoop” was common a decade before anyone uttered Twin Tiers…before Art Kendall invented it.
Kendall thought that twins, real twins, might help the campaign. He liked the alliterative effect of “The Twin Tiers Twins.” He contacted an organization of parents of multiple births and asked to interview twins. He was looking for twins that were male and female, a boy and a girl to illustrate the two were alike, yet different. He interviewed a number of sets of twins but was not taken by any of them. He was struck by a picture in the Star-Gazette of a girl doing a handstand in the mirror. He looked closer and realized that the mirror effect was two twin girls who had just won a talent contest.
Art contacted the girls’ parents, Oley and Nelda Doty, and requested a meeting. At the Doty home, Art was impressed by the perky sisters, Cindy and Candy. It took little arm twisting to get the girls and their parents to agree for them to be “The Twin Tiers Twins.” During the discussion, Art thought that it was good that they were perennial talent contest winners. They had poise and personality. If Cove Hoover liked Candy and Cindy, he had his twins. The smiling faces of the twins won Hoover over before they sat in his office.
The girls were sixteen and still in school. They launched a two-year promotional tour that sometimes required their attendance at the drop of a hat. Cove would call Art and Kendall would arrange to pick up the girls. Missing school was no problem, as the Corning-Painted Post School District was proud of their girls, the Twin Tiers Twins. The Doty gals had been taking dance lessons from Madame Halima since they were six, and the dance teacher was willing to reschedule dance sessions.
So off they went to any and all activities that might help reinforce the Twin Tiers concept. They visited Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, the American Legion, and other service groups. They might open a new supermarket or stop by an auto dealer. One time they promoted a blood drive and they donated a pint each because “it was the right thing to do.” The Star-Gazette shot photos of Candy and Cindy everywhere they went. They posed while trying on clothes at a local retailer, or cutting a ribbon, or at “The Falls” in Montour Falls, or Wyalusing Rocks, or the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.
Candy fondly remembered, “Promoting the Twin Tiers was a hidden treasure for two sixteen-year-old kids from Corning, New York. The ‘Twin Tier Twins’ became an icon for the Star-Gazette. I think we covered every inch of the newspaper’s circulating area. We caddied for Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player at a pro golf tournament, did photo shoots with NASCAR drivers, and met several popular entertainers like the Smothers Brothers. We had the privilege of dining with mayors, governors, and a few senators. The best thing was the interaction with the local people. How often, while on a photo shoot, we would hear people shout from their cars, ‘Hey! It’s the Twin Tiers Twins!’”
“The Star-Gazette provided everything: flights, hotels, meals, outfits…it was great,” Cindy added. “I’ll never forget the time we were on a shoot on a college campus. Some students walked by us saying, ‘Wow! They’re Xeroxed!’ (Remember, that was forty-five years ago and Xerox was high technology copying.) And Cove and Art were just young enough and impish enough that they made it fun. One time, they had us stand on the mannequin stand in the front window of a store. We froze. When people stopped, we moved a bit. The expressions were priceless. And one time, we were exhausted. We rested our heads in our hands with elbows on a cosmetics counter. A lady stopped, thinking we were just one girl looking into a mirror. As she stooped to check her make-up, we moved.”
Candy added, “They were spontaneous. We’d be driving by a barn and they’d stop while we posed with a cow or in front of the barn…anything.”
Candy and Cindy bonded with Art. Actually, the Dotys bonded with the Kendalls. When it was time for Art and Sondra Kendall’s daughter to be married, Nelda Doty baked the wedding cake. If Art’s bride liked a dress that Momma Doty had sewn for the girls, she got the pattern from the girls’ mother. The Kendalls were invited to the girls’ weddings. Sondra Kendall still gushes about the girls. “They were so nice, and so polite. Often Art and I would take them to an evening event and we took them out to dinner first. I loved those girls like they were my own.”
Bitten by the show biz bug, the twins entered Indiana University, which was world famous for its ballet, dance, drama, and music programs. Around trips about the Twin Tiers, the girls met Madame Svetlova, the Russian ballet instructor at Indiana University. She worked with them for several years, sharpening their ballet skills. A day after graduating from Corning East High, they trekked to Vermont to work the summer with Svetlova. She wanted them to be ready for the Indiana ballet production in the fall, a prestigious spot for freshmen.
Apparently, the Twin Tiers Twins had made an impression on publisher Cove Hoover, too. He was promoted from the Star-Gazette to publisher of the Rockford, Illinois Rockford Register. A few weekends a month, he flew them from Bloomington, Indiana, to Rockford where they represented his newspaper as “The Aware Pair.”
After college, the girls joined a short-lived troupe called The Paul Caldwell Singers. That group broke up over disagreements with their manager. Then, the girls formed The Auburn Affair with others, using Denver as a base. The band picked up agents in Chicago, Reno, Minneapolis, and elsewhere. “We toured all year and just lived out of a suitcase,” says Candy of that time. Cindy and Candy handled the dancing and vocals while the boys (yes, three boys) played the guitars and drums. They did performances all over the U.S. for five years. The twins are especially proud that their band “came home” and performed for an Ingersoll Rand Christmas party at the Corning Hilton. Their dad was in charge of the event and their performance was a special tribute to their parents. But all good things come to an end…sometimes for better things. Cindy fell in love with the drummer and they married. The Auburn Affair continued to tour for three more years, until Cindy was expecting.
Candy then joined a USO tour and continued to perform for troops all over the world. Asked about her USO experience, Candy said, “My two-year gig with the USO took me to Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Turkey, Germany, Hawaii, and lots of military bases here in the states. Exhausting! But I’d do it all again!”
After the bands and the road tours? “Cindy and I both became facilitators for autistic children, which Cindy is still doing,” said Candy. “My career has changed gears and I work with Alzheimer patients. It’s amazing how close the two arenas are.”
“And we have ESP for each other’s thoughts. Like the time when I was living in Atlanta and Candy was living in Virginia Beach. We hadn’t discussed it, but we went out on the same day and bought cars. The cars were the same make and model down to the color and interior…the same car! And one time, miles apart, we each sent the same anniversary card to our parents.” Candy chimed in, “Well, how about the time we were on the road? Cindy was married to Gary by then, and they were in the next room in the hotel. I was reading a novel and there was a scary section where there was a burning house and the people couldn’t get out. The phone rings. It’s 1:30 a.m. and it’s Cindy, telling me about an awful
nightmare she just had about a burning house and people trapped inside. I just said, ‘Go back to sleep, Cindy. I’ll read the next chapter and you’ll know what happens.’”
How long did their Twin Tiers Twins fame last? Cindy offered, “My husband, Gary, still plays in a rock and roll band in Atlanta. Candy went with me to enjoy the night. Hey, we’d taken dance since we were six. We majored in dance in college…and went on the road. So we danced to Gary’s band. As we returned to our table, a lady came up and asked if we were ‘from here.’ We said, ‘No, we’re not from here.’ Her faced beamed as she exclaimed, ‘You’re the Twin Tiers Twins, aren’t you?’ We had a nice chat with a woman from our hometown.”
Art Kendall, now seventy-seven and living in Elcor, achieved hall-of-fame marketing results. The term Twin Tiers was universally accepted on both sides of the 42nd parallel, the Pennsylvania-New York line. Eventually other newspapers in the area began referring to the Twin Tiers. The Star-Gazette sports editors began choosing a Twin Tiers Team for each high school sport as the seasons ended and “Twin Tiers First Team” was always mentioned on Sports Hall of Fame applications. Just Google Twin Tiers. You’ll find more than a score of listings. Twin Tiers even has a site on Wikipedia. Depending on your pleasure, you can join the Twin Tiers Ballroom Dance Club or the Twin Tiers Western Square Dance Club. WETM TV refers to Twin Tiers often. Station WENY airs “Good Morning Twin Tiers” each weekday. There are Twin Tiers Christian Academies on both sides of the border. There’s the Community Foundation of the Twin Tiers. You’ll find Twin Tiers Paint and Wall Coverings, Twin Tiers Eye Care, Twin Tiers Antiques, Twin Tiers Jazz Festival, and on and on. And it all started with an ambitious publisher, a master marketer, and two teenagers—the Twin Tiers Twins.