Corbin attended the one-room Stepp School, and, in an age when few completed more than the eighth grade, he walked the five miles to Zalma High School to graduate with a high school diploma in 1933. Of the 11 students in his graduating class, he is the only one still living, a testament to strong genes and an active life.
In the little town of Advance, Corbin is considered a community treasure, having spent his life exploring the United States, digging up its historical treasures and sharing them with the world. In 2001, at the age of 90, he donated $25,000 worth of artifacts to the Cape Girardeau Nature Center. The Bollinger County Museum of Natural History also displays a Corbin exhibit.
At the age of 85, he entered the modern age by teaching himself how to use one of those "new-fangled" computers, and since 2001 he has used it to write for the North Stoddard Countian newspaper, TBY (The Best Years), the Ozark Mountaineer, and several other publications.
In 1945, Corbin and his wife Geneva opened one of the first variety stores in southeast Missouri. Corbin's Variety later became one of the first Ben Franklin franchises in this area. Corbin remembers the first ball point pens, which sold for ten dollars.
More than a businessman, Corbin served the community on the school board that built the elementary school in 1957, and he was one of the volunteers instrumental in the building of a shoe factory, which employed 600 people at its peak.
Corbin is the author of two books, loaded with local history--"Reflections in Missouri Mud" and "Fragments of My Fickle Mind." The books are a testament to the man's amazing memory for detail. He remembers when his father bought a Model T, then left it sitting under a sycamore tree and never drove it again, because gas went up from 11 cents a gallon to 15 cents. His father traded five head of cattle for the Model T. Corbin remembers his first ride in the car with his dad, who yelled, "Whoa!" when he wanted the vehicle to stop.
Corbin remembers, when, at age four, he watched the returning troops from World War I march down the cobblestone streets of Cape Girardeau, Mo. in 1918.
On the third week of September, 2012, Paul Corbin embarked on yet another journey into the unknown: After two falls at his home, he moved into Advance's new assisted living center, which opened only a few short weeks prior to his arrival. Though he chooses to use a walker to keep himself steady, he maneuvers the trip between his room and the central dining room quite well. He has plans to use the centrally-located therapy room soon, and he is looking forward to a trip Saturday to Wappapello Lake to take part in a Corps of Engineers event.
"I probably won't fish," admits the once-avid fisherman.
Paul Corbin has led an active life since his days on the banks of Cato Slough. The remarkable thing is that he remembers it all so vividly and has the words to express it so that we can all share in his remarkable adventures. He is truly Advance's Poet Laureate.
When he was 92, he wrote, "I have always believed that life should not be a spectator sport. We should reach out each day for new and interesting experiences and turn things we would like to see and do into things that we have seen and done."