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Posts tagged: crossing guards

Wondering about the gender barrier

Most of us like to believe we would have been on the right side if we had been around during moments of important social change in the past.

But there's no way to know.

I found myself thinking about that this afternoon when I saw some girls working as crossing guards outside their elementary school.

Would I have welcomed them to the fold back when I was part of an all-male sixth grade patrol-boy unit? Or would I have argued that they lacked the “necessities” to hold out a flag and tell some foot-dragging fourth grader to move his sorry ass?

No telling.

But I must say the girls I saw this afternoon seemed to be doing a fine job.

Stranger things have happened

I don't think there was any kind of ceremony. But I seem to recall that I received an honorable discharge after completing my tour of duty as a patrol boy in sixth grade.


What if I could somehow make a case that I was wrongly terminated and entitled to back pay?

We weren't actually paid, of course. But we patrol boys were granted free admission to high school sports events. So perhaps I could claim that I am owed retroactive admission to decades of basketball games.

Just a thought.     

Ever serve in a similar paramilitary unit?

You know, crossing guards.

I was proud to wear the colors in sixth grade. The few, the proud. We were drunk with power.

“Hey, kid. Wait for my signal! Don't make me report you.”

But unlike the school where this photo was taken, our unit was males-only. It would be years before girls were deemed ready for front-line positions. And then, of course, the whole thing got turned over to adults.  

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Features writer Paul Turner is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review in the Features department. He writes "The Slice" column, which appears six times a week and produces general features stories for the Today section.

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