Re: What ever happened to traffic boys or girls

11/09/03 - posted by Leif Hatlen

I was on the school traffic patrol at Jefferson in 1951 and 1952. The traffic patrol was only open to boys in the 5th and 6th grade, I believe. I still have my yellow cap and the white belt we wore. I also have the lieutenants badge I wore because I was one of the squad leaders in the 6th grade. I think 6th graders were allowed to keep their belt,cap and badge when they graduated. The equivalent duty for girls at that time, I belive was to be a lunch time monitor in the schoolyard.
Being on traffic patrol on 19th Ave, I remember being told that once the first person reached the middle of the street, not to let anymore start to cross, since they would not make it across before the light changed. The squad leader would signal when to come in by waving his arms over his head to the boys at each corner. And we would pass the signal on. The boys at each intersection, usually three, would then form up and march to the school.
Once when I was on duty at 19th and Irving, my grandmother came by and gave my 50 cents- I thought that was a great deal.
The school traffic parade was held at Kezar Stadium in the 1950s. A few weeks before the date, we were released from class for a few afternoons to practice marching. Our instructors were ROTC students from nearby high schools. How we tried to impress them with our marching.
On the day of the parade we had to wear white duck trousers, a white shirt, and a green tie (Jefferson colors were green and white). The PTA would make sure that each person had the proper uniform; uniforms would be passed down from year to year.
On the parade day we marched from Jefferson to Kezar, starting right after lunch. We were a proud group of boys marching along Irving Street or Lincoln Way (I don't think we went throught the park). After the parade, the PTA would have ice cream and cake for us. It was an exciting day. Somewhere, I have a phots of myself all dressed up on a parade day.
Several years later, I had further experience with the School Traffic Patrol. I was then attending George Washington High School and was in the ROTC program there. I was selected to be one of the marching instructors for the traffic patrol at a school in the Richmond District (can't remember the name, maybe Cabrillo or Argonne). I do remember calling the school principal and making arrangements for the practice times. I really felt important doing that. I trained the boys in marching and then accompanied them to the parade- still being held at Kezar.
Great experiences, thank you for starting this thread.

The Western Neighborhoods Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.