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Safety Patrol: 1959

Safety Patrol: 1959

Columbus, Georgia, circa 1959. "School Safety Patrol." 4x5 inch acetate negative from the Shorpy News Photo Archive. View full size.


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Another Perk

A free soda and free admission to Memorial Stadium to see the Baltimore Orioles (minor league variety in 1952) on Safety Patrol Day.

Your Safety Patrol belt was the badge of your admission to a general admission seat which was a step up from my usual bleacher seat with my father.

Dad wasn't cheap but the right field bleachers were where he would meet his friends for an afternoon of betting .05 whether the next pitch would be a strike, ball or base hit.

Dad would take me to the ballgame but I had to promise him I wouldn't tell Mom about the betting. It was a good deal all around since Dad got points with Mom for taking me to a ball game and I got to see the ball game with plenty of sodas, peanuts and Cracker Jack.

This is the city. I work here. I carry a flag.

My law enforcement career began and ended in 1976 when, as a 6th grader with good grades, I was asked to be a member of the elite Kiwanis Junior Police. We were responsible for holding a mustard-colored canvas flag when our fellow students were crossing the street before and after school. We did not have helmets, but we did have those odd sash-belt things that I never got the point of. Absolutely no one waited for us to step out in the road and hold the flag like they were supposed to. They just crossed whenever and wherever they wanted. To my chagrin, we also had no authority to arrest people or issue citations. As a reward for our service we were surprised by a hotdog picnic lunch at Kiwanis Park one day with our fellow brothers-in-arms from the other elementary schools in the city. My friend Bill ate 3 hotdogs, then vomited on the bus on the way back to school. You see a lot of gruesome stuff when you're a cop. It's just part of the job, but after that scene, I knew it was time to hang up my sash and turn in my flag. Also because school was out for the summer about a week later and it was on to Junior High.


The advantage of safety patrol was that you could leave class early and return late.

Me Too

Flash forward 20 years from this picture and I too was on Safety Patrol. We had red windbreakers and hard hats and we were coooool maaaan. (Or so we thought.) We were also responsible for raising and lowering the flag. I was the designated flag-folder because of my many years folding Greek tiropites (cheese triangles).

Like Juan de la Cruz, I marvel that the administration allowed 12 year olds to direct traffic. Granted all we did was "reinforce" the existing stop signs and prevent kids from crossing until it was safe. But it was years later before they decided actual adults should monitor the proceedings.

Future cop?

In 8th grade I was appointed captain of the crossing guard. My job was to assist fellow students and an occasional adult through my dangerous intersection by placing my body in the middle of the road only holding a sign and a whistle and a snazzy belt with a badge that said CAPTAIN. The highlight of my deployment was when a habitual criminal insisted on performing a U turn right at my intersection every morning without regard for life and limb. I reported him to the principal and the next morning a policeman was sitting nearby and promptly gave the driver a ticket. After that incident, my mornings became hum drum with no excitement.

I never did pursue the crime fighting career. It was passed to my younger son who is a security forces Sergeant in the USAF.

School's out

I remember bobby sox and penny loafers, saddle shoes, dresses, skirts and cardigan sweaters. Not a backpack in sight. The styles change, but the fun of school's end never does.

The hat kid

As a military brat who lived in Germany for two of my dad's tours, that looks like a Bavarian hat to me. I'm guessing this kid, who is about my age, is an Army kid who recently lived in Germany and whose dad is stationed at nearby Fort Benning.

Cool kid II

My thought, too.

Maybe daddy, uncle, older brother or so just returned from his guided tour to Southern Germany (courtesy of the Uncle Sam Travel Agency) and that felt hat was a souvenir?

The Land of Wynn

This is Wynnton Elementary School, on Wynnton Road near Wynn's hill and the house known as "Wynnton".

Cool kid

I love this youngster only because of his hat!

I Did!

Boy, the memories. At about that age I was on a safety patrol. It was a lot of fun. We directed traffic in the parking lot (stopping cars so buses could back out) and at the gate (letting traffic in and out). Administration got rid of our fun when someone realized it might not have been the best idea to let 10-year-olds be traffic directors.

I did the same thing in high school a number of years later. That was entertaining. Especially when being ignored by a teenage driver since Mom was yelling at him. Rear-ended the car in front. Lots of laughs.

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