Patrol Boy

by Charles McGrath

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This patrol boy organization originated in Newark circa 1930's and spread throughout the country. The patrol boys were just boys ( no girls ) from the 7th and 8th grades. They were given a metal badge which they wore on their left arm. They attached it to their arm with a leather strap. In class they would place it in the back pocket of their pants with the leather strap hanging out. This was a badge of honor and power that they all enjoyed. The Patrol Boy crossed the students at assigned streets and had the authority to "Report Them " if they did something wrong. For example running, jay walking, throwing snowballs and not behaving.

Once a week in the auditorium at Lincoln Grammar School they would have a trial. The chief of the patrol boys would sit on the stage and act as a judge. A couple of students would also sit on the stage and act as the jury. The student that was reported was brought up on the stage by his accuser. His case was pled before the jury. If the person was found guilty he was given detention.

Some patrol boys had posts as far away as 18th Avenue and Sandford Avenue. None of the boys had watches. Everyone new how soon they had to be in school by the number of bells rung. There were three bells that automatically rang. The first bell indicated that everyone should get ready to enter the building. The second bell indicated that everyone should start entering the building. By the third bell everyone had to be in their classroom. The patrol boys were told which bell rang by a relay method. The ones who had post next to the school would yell and wave to another and indicate what bell rang. This audible and visual communication was passed down the line until the most distant post was updated. The ranks were the following patrol boy, captain and chief. The captain was in charge of several posts and would march his patrol boys to and from their posts. I made the rank of captain in eighth grade. The chief was in charge of everyone. I don't know when this system was replaced by paid crossing guards but I think it was in the 1970's.

Does anyone remember?
* * *
Response by George Burgey
Response by Harry Capko
Response from Bruce Schryver:

I remember those days well. I too was a patrol boy at Sacred Heart and had three posts over the two years, one on Fortuna Street, one on Sanford Avenue, and one on the corner of South Orange Avenue and Halstead Street. At Fortuna and the street that ran between Richelieu Terrace and Sanford Avenue, we had a metal sign on a heavy cast iron base that we rolled to the middle of the street at each shift to close the street except to local traffic. Those were really great days. Little did we know how fondly we would look back on those memories.

Response from Pamala Plastock:

I was a Patrol Girl while attending the Mt. Vernon Grammar School. I remember my swearing in ceremony. We were all brought up onto the stage in the auditorium and we had to raise our right hands and repeat an oath regarding our duties and responsibilities as a Safety Patrol. I still have my Sate Patrol certificate framed on my wall. The certificate is from 1969. It is green and white and was awarded by the City of Newark, Police Department, Dominick A. Spina, Director. It is signed by Franklyn Titus Superintendent of Schools, Anthony Sloppola, Director of Attendance and Mayor Adonnizio.

As a Patrol Girl I was given a while "safety belt" which hooked at the waist and went across my body from right shoulder to left hip. I do remember the Tarzan Yell that let all the patrols know when it was time to leave their posts and go to school and I too remember being allowed to leave school a few minutes early to get to my post. I also think the era of the Safety Patrol ended in the very early 1970's but, I will never forget being a Safety Patrol and the Pride I felt every day when I put on my Safety Patrol Belt.


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