RIPON — Ripon crossing guard Dorothy Patterson has been a guardian angel for thousands of school children for 50 years – that’s some 8,000 days – watching out for their welfare as they arrived for school and again when they went home for the day.
She has braved the wind, rain and fog and a few parents who would call their children to run to them through traffic while others double parked causing a separate hazard. She was the picture of concern as she would point at a youngster with one hand and blow her whistle with the other. There were a few close calls for her, too, caused by errant motorists who weren’t watching where they were going, she recalls.
Thursday afternoon was the last day of school and the last day she would be seen standing as sentry on the corner of Main Street and Acacia Avenue. It was not just the crosswalks she had to control, but also the “all cross” that allowed students to cross the intersection in every direction as she held motorists at the stop signs.
Patterson was in her 30s when she devised the plan to keep an eye on her four kids who were going to Ripon Elementary School – it was to sign up for the crossing guard position. The plan worked, but it wasn’t long that all of her children graduated and went on to high school. She stayed on, though, as the eyes and ears of the parents every day – year in and year out – at the corner in front of the school.
She would be seen daily walking the six blocks from her home to the school site. On her last day parents gave her a bouquet of roses and a box of candy.
Patterson’s daughter Linda Streeter set up a brief family send off for the matriarch of the family at 1:30 p.m. Thursday as her mom was starting on her last shift. Along with Streeter were adult grandchildren Allison and Greg Streeter and great-grandson Madden Streeter, 6.
The city is hosting a special luncheon for their crossing guard on June 14 with an open house for members of the public, scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m.