To be a traffic boy at Commodore Sloat Elementary School in the late 50ís and very early 60ís was to go through one of the first entry points into the military - industrial complex that so defined the Eisenhower era. How well I remember that the boys of Mrs. To Be Unnamedís 4th grade class (room 220) were regularly informed that if we ever strayed from the academic or the moral straight line that we would NEVER get to be traffic boys. (I can only wonder what the girls in the class were thinking, as we boys were at the receiving end this mantra day after day after day.) I remember being stood up in the front of the class after an indiscretion and being informed that I was lower than scum -- which did not hurt until the dreaded "youíll never become a traffic boy" phrase was hurled at me as Mrs. Unnamedís double-chin puffed out in rage. The look on my face must have been one of fear and failure as the rest of the class members sat there with that deer in the headlights look. Yes, it also happened to Bill and Ron and Wayne and the ever so many Davids and all the rest of the boys of room 220 at one point or another.
Well, we all made it out of fourth grade with a bit of ego left so as to enter Miss Jamesonís 5th grade and with it our opportunity to be traffic boys. There were two squads at Commodore back then. These rotated by the week so it was one week on and one week off. We were each issued a white "Sam Browne" belt with a plastic badge, and we were all taught the "secret manly" way to wrap up the belt so that we could hang it from our pants belts when not on duty. Yet, we were always ready for duty if the Assistant Principal had to call out the traffic boys for any man-made or physical disaster that might hit the school. We were also given a military type cap of poppy colored orange with Commodore Sloat embroidered upon it. (Furthermore, we were informed if we stole either the belt or the hat, we would end up at Lincoln High School rather than Lowell High School --- I ended up at Lincoln, and the hat is still up in my dresser drawer.)