Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

SAFETY PATROL BOYS

Morning Star, March 12, 2006, pg. 10

This month our theme is “Growing Up in Albion.” I’ll be featuring some very memorable aspects of what it was like growing up in Albion. I hope you’ll identify with these, and enjoy the topics and photographs that come with them.

One thing that Albion boys looked forward to when they reached the 6th grade was being able to be a Safety Patrol boy. The Safety Patrol program was started nationally in 1920 by the American Automobile Association (AAA) which funded the program in local school districts. The program was designed to help insure the safety of children going to and from school. This was in the days when children walked to their neighborhood elementary school each day. Bussing wasn’t invented yet, at least not for school children.

Boys would wear a belt-like strap across their chest and waist. They would be stationed at various intersections where children crossed when they walked to school. For example, there was a Safety Patrol boy stationed on the south side of W. Ash St. at Pearl St. for students walking to the nearby Dalrymple School. The Safety Patrol boy would hold his arms out from his side, and students would line up behind him. When traffic cleared and it was safe to cross, his arms would come down and children would proceed across the intersection.

There were different “ranks,” and training began in the 5th grade. Each boy would wear a nice reflective badge which of course had the AAA emblem on it. I went onto the E-bay website recently, and found out that Safety Patrol items are now collectible, including badges.

Here in Albion, the Safety Patrol program participation began in the 1920s and reached it’s height during the 1950s before it was discontinued in the mid-1960s. Each May, AAA would select a “winner” from each participating school district and send that boy to Washington D.C. with other Safety Patrol boys from across the state for a big national rally. For example, in 1952 Lawrence Pombier of Austin School represented Albion. In 1956, Bruce Maurer from North School went from Albion.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a March, 1952 photo of two of Albion’s 1951-52 school year 6th grade Safety Patrol captains, Robert Carter (center) of Dalrymple School, and Charles Williams (right) of Gardner Grade School. They are presenting Albion Public School Superintendent George Walkotten (1896-1960) (left) with sheets of 3¢ U.S. postage stamps commemorating the 50th anniversary of AAA. This stamp features the AAA emblem in the upper right, an old and new car in the center, and a Safety Patrol boy with two children on the left. This stamp has been one of AAA’s “claims to fame” through the years and is mentioned in standard historical background news releases by this insurance company.


Albion’s 1951-52 6th grade Safety Patrol captains

Yours truly went on E-bay to find one of these stamps to illustrate here as a bonus this week. For the record, the stamp is cataloged as Scott-1007 for you philatelists out there (I am a numismatist). How many of our readers remember the Safety Patrol boys when they walked to school growing up here in Albion, and how many of our readers were Safety Patrol boys themselves?


U.S. postage stamps commemorating AAA 50th anniversary

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