Sunday, June 16, 2013

Memories of a Crossing Guard



My little sister, Lucy Moses, is retiring from her crossing guard job with the city of Philadelphia. Lucy started this job in 1990 and after twenty-four years, she’s hanging up her bright green neon vest and raincoat.

You may remember my mentioning Lucy in several of my blogs; she’s the peacekeeper between middle sister Jane and me.


Believe me, it’s no small feat keeping me and Jane from fighting. The fighting in the Middle East looks like a Sunday picnic compared to our battles. In this particular picture, you  see me attempting to block Jane from the camera. Right after the picture was taken, Lucy turned around and kicked me; she had had enough!                                                                     

Lucy always held two jobs: As a Crossing Guard where she had to be at her post three times a day; file clerk for Dr. Malloy’s office on Passyunk Ave when not on the corner; and for a few years as a cashier at Thrift Drugs. She also had a house to care for and three boys; 10 years old twin boys and a 14 year old son.

She had earned the name “St. Lucy of the Elements” because she was on the corner of 17th and Ritner and later 18th and Porter Street in all types of weather.

Lucy took her job seriously. The safety of the school children, who crossed her corner, was her number one priority. Every year before the first day of school, Lucy would have the same recurring nightmare. She was shielding the children from an oncoming Mack truck that refused to stop.

I could understand her nightmares, because in reality crossing guards must deal with drivers, who should never be in the driver’s seat, ever!!! Remember this when you see the crossing guards standing on street corners using their bodies as shields to protect the innocents who cross back and forth to school.

I asked my sister to tell me the good stuff of being a crossing guard, and this is what she said.

“I loved interacting with the parents and children who crossed at my corner. I watched as children I crossed grew up in front of me, and later, I would be crossing their children. There is a bond between the children, parents and crossing guard that is based on trust. The parents trust us to keep their children from walking into the path of an oncoming car and that the children head straight to school or home. Even the older adults, who cross at my corner, form a bond with me. I’m the friendly face to confide in.”

I enjoyed the comradery between the crossing guards and also between the crossing guards and the police officers of the 1rst district. We looked out for each other and the children entrusted to our care.


Where there any bad parts to being a crossing guard?

“When it rained, for some reason, drivers pretended they could not see me. This would be unremarkable except that I was dressed in a bright neon green raincoat. I’m pretty sure that the Russian space station could see me. It was so bad sometimes that I felt like borrowing the bright blinking lights from a police cruiser and attaching it to my head to grab the attention of the oblivious drivers.

The worst part of the job was the strain on your feet from standing, the heat, the cold and during the winter the constant dressing and undressing from the multitude of layers to keep me from becoming a human Popsicle.

I don’t even want to mention the bugs. Even though some drivers ignored the neon green vest that I wore, the bugs loved it! I don’t know what type of flower they thought I was, but they were definitely attracted to the color.

Are there funny memories that you would like to share?

It wasn’t too funny when it happened, but now that I look back on it; it is. There were many days over my 24 years of service that during torrential rainstorms, I would need to frequently pull off my boots to empty the rain that had accumulated inside.

One year, after Philadelphia was hit with 30 inches of snow, I came back to the corner to find a 15 foot hill of snow blocking me and the children from safely crossing the street. But, like the mail carriers, neither snow nor rain can keep a crossing guard from carrying out her duties; I found a way to cross the children.

I could always tell by the way people drove past the corner if there was a full moon. You see a lot of strange stuff. I’ve seen people brushing their teeth as they drove by; putting on make-up; and even men shaving their face. You name it; I’ve seen it. I was even mooned by a student on a school bus.

What are your plans for retirement, anything special?

My sister Jane is coming out this month. I plan on doing a lot of day trips. Most importantly, I need to keep Marie from killing Jane.


They constantly disagree on politics and religion. My sister Marie is trying to get me to go ghost hunting with her, but I have enough problems with the living.

I’ll have more time to spend with the grandkids and to work on the house. Whatever I decide to do in the future, I’m happy knowing that I kept a lot of children safe and that is a good way to retire from a job.

                                                                       My Grandkids



  1. Thanks, Marie. I liked this tribute to your sister's life's work. She certainly deserves to retire.

    1. Thank you, Dawn. My sister is pretty neat.

  2. I loved this post. It would make a great local newspaper article too! I may need to steal Lucy's quote about not ghost hunting because of having enough problems with the living.

    1. Thank you Sarah. I didn't think about the newspaper in Philly. I might just do it. Lucy has her hands filled with wacky but loveable family