They’re some of the first people you see in the morning. They literally stop traffic ... with a whistle, a “Cross!” and a wave. They’re your school crossing guards.
They get the kids safely across the streets by our schools and they alert police to careless drivers. The kids are accustomed to their nuances. They know their names — but, usually only the first or the last. Sometimes — albeit rarely — neither.
They don’t know much about them, just that they’re part of the consistency of their daily routine. They’re always there.
Not an awful lot has changed about the role of the crossing guard. There’s always something memorable about this traffic-stopping person in a day glow vest that keeps them stuck in long term memory, making them stand-outs in a small town upbringing.
If you ask around, bets are that just about anyone would be able to tell you their crossing guard’s name and rattle off some hallmark habit of theirs.
It was that way with Mrs. Breckenridge, who crossed kids in the 1970s with a stern look, a piercing whistle and her signature “CROOOooosss!” Yes, she’s the mom of present day Fair Haven Police Chief Darryl Breckenridge.
I doubt anyone could tell you her first name on the spot, though, including this Fair Haven native. But, rarely will you find anyone, if at all, who does not remember Mrs. Breckenridge, that look and that “CROOOooosss!”
Now there are several guards around town in both Fair Haven and Rumson. One, in particular, was brought to everyone’s attention on the Fair Haven Facebook page yesterday when native Fair Havenite, Tom Kirman, announced it was his 78th birthday — Harvey.
The page was filled with good wishes for Harvey and recounts of crossing guard tales of the past. Fair Haven native Sarah Wilson, in fact, brought up Mrs. Breckenridge, whose first name Fair Havenite Frank Leslie remembered — Dorothy.
Harvey has been crossing kids at the corner of Fair Haven and River roads for 16 years now and has been around town forever, pretty much.
Harvey's always smiling and he’s very serious about keeping his kids safe. He’s been known to assist police with his attention to detail when drivers break the law. And he keeps kids on their toes and mindful of obeying pedestrian rules, too.
Harvey, much like many of the crossing guards with whom true townies have had a daily relationship in their lifetimes, is an icon. But he doesn't know it.
Since Kirman posted a picture of himself and Harvey on the Fair Haven page, 39 people have hit the “like” button and the comments have been streaming in from near and very far.
So, Patch is jumping on the crosswalk and taking people a little farther down the road. First of all, wish Harvey a happy birthday. Then, tell us more about him. Tell us a Harvey story. And, what’s his last name? Tilton. It's Tilton, just so you know.
Who was or is your favorite crossing guard and what do you remember most about them? What is Mrs. Breckenridge’s first name? Do you know? Remember Russ from the 1990s? Tell us your stories and pay some homage to those people you see every day who get the kids across the street with care.