Staff photo: Sharna Johnson Morning visitors to downtown Clovis are greeted with a wave and a smile from Don Clark.
By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
Over the years, Don Clark’s unflappable routine has made him something of an icon and part of downtown Clovis.
Without uttering a word, Clark has wished countless people “good morning” with a friendly wave from a small store in the 800 block of Main Street where he has been employed for more than 13 years.
Many know him as “the guy that waves” and others have dubbed him “Mr. Smyth,” associating him with the store’s sign perched above his head, the namesake of an owner who passed away long ago.
Up close, his round, weathered face hosts a humble but wide smile below pronounced and rosy cheekbones. But most only see him through the window as they pass by.
His motives are simple and pure. He wants to give people a little “pick me up” to start the day.
“I was raised to have a good, positive attitude when you get up in the morning,” the 70-year-old said.
“How many people have a good, positive attitude when they get up in the morning?”
For Clark, the thought he might make someone smile is enough to keep waving, day after day.
“As long as I get a nod or a grin I feel I’m successful,” he said. “Then they’re perked up and ready to start the day.”
His mother always made mornings special, the California native said. She never yelled or rushed anyone, always cheerful.
“My mom was always bubbly, especially after her first cup of coffee,” he said. It became important to him to carry the legacy.
The majority of people he waves at he’s never met but said he considers them all friends.
He estimates 90 percent return the gesture with a smile, nod or wave.
People stop and say, “You make my day,” he said. He has even received thank you cards, chocolates and an occasional soda on warm days.
His kindness has touched many who work downtown.
“I blow (the horn) at him,” William Hall said. A longtime friend, Hall said he worries if he doesn’t see Clark.
“Mornings when I leave my house I make a purpose of driving down Main Street just to get a wave from him,” courthouse employee Tommie Means said.
“I’m always here,” Clark said.
“If the weather’s bad, just look in the window and I’ll be there.”