The Boston Globe archive from 1927-79 are now available at the Boston Public Library, so I've taken the opportunity to explore the years of my own childhood. When I did, I found this article about officer Joe Graham, who served as crossing guard at the corner of Centre and Burroughs streets for many years, and was a beloved fixture in the neighborhood. I remember my mother talking about Joe years ago, and as recent as a few weeks ago I saw him mentioned on Facebook. It may surprise some younger people that police served as crossing guards, but it was a different time.
Kids Honor Officer Joe
Boston Globe, May 25, 1963
Big Joe received a 30-foot long grammar school diploma yesterday. It was signed by 550 students at the Agassiz grammar school on Burroughs street, Jamaica Plain, and Joe's only regret is that it is too long to hang on the wall. Joe Graham is a retired Boston police officer. He was on the force for 43 years, and before retiring April 24, had served 38 years as a school crossing officer at Centre and Burroughs streets, opposite the Agassiz school.
Since he first took his post at the school crossing, he has been popular with the students. Each year he took time to train the youngsters is safety.
The students and teachers planned a surprise party for Joe, but he got wind of it about a week ago. They wrote a song for him, and put on a skit in his honor. They also dug up some 30 year old pictures of Joe at his post, with children crowding around him as happily as they did his last day at Centre and Burroughs streets.
Joe is 68 years old, and lives at 11 Weld Hill road(sic), Jamaica Plain.
Maybe Joe will have trouble remembering all of those hours he spent at the crossing, but he'll never forget what happened Friday.
There was cake there and the chef cleverly showed Big Joe in blue frosting against the white candles.
The school orchestra played and the glee club sang and Big Joe was given a mighty hand when he stood up to speak at the school assembly.
And wouldn't you know it... his final words of advice were the same thing he's been telling the kids for so many years: "Be careful crossing the streets, mind your father and mother, and don't misbehave in school."