Joan Bittner Fry
As I peruse more “stuff” in my house, I look back 70-some years to my days as a patrolman at Sabillasville Elementary School. Some of my teachers were Naomi Martin Waynant, Margaret Leatherman Dutrow, Loretta Kincaid, and Maurice Clarke.
When a student arrived at the upper grades, a coveted duty was to become a safety patrolman. The Automobile Association of America (AAA) sponsored School Safety Patrol, and it was an honored position, which began in 1922. It was established for traffic safety, but since we had no streets to cross, our assignments were hall patrolman, recess patrolman, or bus patrolman. This was quite a position to hold since one could be the boss of one’s peers for a time and then take names and report findings to higher-ups, namely teachers. We wore a patrolman’s canvas belt and were issued badges. Mine says “Patrolman School Safety Patrol” centered with AAA.
Rules and regulations included: reporting for duty on time, performing duties faithfully, striving to prevent accidents, always setting a good example, and reporting dangerous activities of other students. Approval of a parent or guardian was required before taking on this position.
I couldn’t be a bus patrolman since my siblings and neighbors and I walked over a mile to school. I was a hallway patrolman. Some infractions were running the steps, pushing or shoving, talking, chewing gum, or otherwise being unruly. Bullying was not in our vocabulary; however, circumstances weren’t much different from today. Even then there were fellow students who wanted to be first, those who had to speak out, and others who wanted to bend the rules. We just didn’t have a name for it, and maybe that was a good thing.
Going on to Thurmont in eighth grade, the School Safety Patrol took a trip to Washington, D.C., where we marched in the annual parade. The photo above is of Charlie Wastler (whom I met in eighth grade at Thurmont High School) and me on that trip. We became lifelong friends. Notice Charlie’s belt and cap. This was 1951 and may have been the first bus trip I ever took. The other photo is my collection of School Safety Patrol memorabilia (above, left).