Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.
This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt inspires thoughts about danger and safety. Every day parents entrust their children to bus drivers who might follow a car too closely or forget to check for sleeping students at the end of their run. At school, students pass through metal detectors and walk down halls monitored by uniformed guards. “Lock-down” is in everyone’s vocabulary. Since the massacres at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech, students’ safety in the classroom is no longer a given.
When I was a student in the 1950s-60s, chewing gum in class was a capital offense. The most dangerous thing we did was run in the halls. There was no uniformed guard to slow us down although maybe a teacher or the principal would call out a warning. Most often though our safety was in the hands of our own: The Safety Patrol.
|Cradock Junior High School 1955-56|
I am not in this photo, but if the school photographer took pictures of the Safety Patrol six years later, then I was in that one. And I was likely smiling as proudly as the members of the 1956 squad.
The Safety Patrol at Cradock Junior High School was a volunteer position. We simply went to the office and signed up. If there was a slot open, we were in. I am not aware of any background check to ensure that we could actually model safe behavior.
Members of our Safety Patrol served several functions. One group stood inside and monitored the halls making sure no one ran. The other group was posted outside on the steps. That was my assignment. We made sure no one entered the building too early – we had to wait for the bell. In the afternoon, I’m not sure what we did. I suppose we held the door and made sure no one fell down the steps. Whether there was more prestige in being assigned inside or outside, I did not care. I actually liked standing on the top step where everyone could be in awe of my little white belt and shiny badge.
During my brief tenure with the Safety Patrol, I was more interested in wearing that belt than recognizing my role in a respected national program to promote safety. Until this week when the prompt sent me scrambling for a topic, I did not know that
- The School Safety Patrol program was organized in 1920;
- The American Automobile Association sponsors the Safety Patrol;
- Former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were patrol members, as were a number of astronauts, a Nobel Prize winner, governor, baseball player, and chief justice;
- The belt has a name: Sam Browne.
Proceed safely to Sepia Saturday for more stories and old photos.
© 2015, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.