MAN BEHIND THE WAVE : Moorpark's curbside greeter is a retiree with a heart for the passing working stiff.

Times Staff Writer

Every weekday for the past seven years, Crescencio N. Sepulveda has risen at dawn to try his hand at a formidable task.

He waves at bleary-eyed commuters to get them to crack a smile.

It's a tough job, but Sepulveda, 63, has been standing on the corner of Spring Road and Second Street in Moorpark for so long that some commuters even honk and blow him kisses.

"It gives the town a little flavor," Councilman Scott Montgomery said. "He's a Moorpark institution."

Sepulveda's "habit," as the gray-haired greeter calls it, began after he had a stroke and retired early from a civilian job as a janitor and mail guard at the Point Mugu Naval Air Station. To keep himself fit, he would take long walks along traffic-choked Spring Road, occasionally waving at passing drivers.

Then Sepulveda gained weight, he says, and took fewer and fewer walks until he ended up just standing on the corner waving from 7 to 8:30 a.m.

"I meet lots of people this way," he said. "They see me down at the mall and say, 'I know you!' "

But it isn't hunger for companionship alone that drives Sepulveda to do his bit for grumpy commuters. After 54 years in the area, he says he has many friends. And although he misses his wife, who died 2 1/2 years ago, his daughter Alice and grandson Raymond share his one-story home, which he bought in 1956 for $11,900.

Sepulveda even waltzes and jitterbugs frequently at a local Moose Lodge, despite losing half his right foot to frostbite on a battlefield in Luxembourg during World War II.

So why does he do it?

"I feel sorry for them guys in their stinkbuggies," Sepulveda said of the commuters. "I try to brighten their day."

Sepulveda pauses to wave to a passing trucker who toots as he rushes by.

"It entertains me," he said, adding that sometimes while greeting commuters he thinks "Hey there, suckers, have a good day at work while I do whatever I want."

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