Public Media for Central Pennsylvania
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Navigating Inflation: Lana Conrad on getting by in Tipton with 'just enough'

Lana Conrad, assistant director of Tyrone-Snyder Public Library
Alicia Chiang
News Lab at Penn State
Lana Conrad is the assistant director of Tyrone-Snyder Public Library.

Outside the Tyrone-Snyder Public Library, there’s a cold, whistling October wind accompanied by the saxophone player who Lana Conrad, the assistant director of the library, says she hears outside almost every day but has learned to tune out.

Her office sits right in front of the busiest street in Tyrone, but it’s never all that busy.

Lana grew up in Altoona, just 20 minutes south of Tyrone, and graduated from Penn State Altoona. At first, she was an outdoor educator. She worked with children at a YMCA camp. Then, the Audubon Society. Eventually, she moved to North Carolina. But, even there, none of the jobs paid all that much.

She was “living on chocolate cake and children’s smiles,” she said.

She made her way back to Pennsylvania, worked different jobs to make ends meet, and started at the library in 2015.

But Tyrone wasn’t home yet. She commuted for years from Duncansville. With the end of a long-term relationship, she decided to move closer to where she worked each day.

She landed in Tipton two years ago. Population 826. Home to DelGrosso’s Amusement Park, Austin’s Texas Hot Dogs, Rossi’s Corner Store and Lana Conrad. She was lucky to find a tiny apartment for the same price as her monthly grocery bill. That is all she can afford.

Her income is barely enough to live on, but she loves her job. She loves working with the children who come in and setting up events. Mother Goose on the Loose, Sticks and Skates story time, Lego Club, and Citizen Science Month. She does a little bit of everything.

Jack of all trades and a master of none, she says.

At the end of the workday, she heads back home to her 60-degree apartment, where she uses a space heater to keep warm in the winter, instead of letting her electricity bill go up. She layers up in second-hand finds, and she often counts on an affordable and easy dinner: canned soup.

Although things are tight, Lana cannot recall a day in her life when she didn’t figure out a way to live within her means. It has always been “just enough,” but she worries sometimes about the ever-increasing prices of rent and food.

Read the rest of the profiles of Tyrone area residents Navigating Inflation.

Valeria Quiñones is a student reporter with the News Lab at Penn State.