Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kids Honor Officer Joe

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."


  1. Hey Mark - anything in those Globe Archives about Jim Flanagan, Fire Chief of Bsoton, who lived on Patten St in JP, killed in the 60s when he stopped to help a car stranded on the SE expressway?

  2. You can access the archive at any Boston public library - it's listed under Electronic resources. Unfortunately, it is not available from home.

  3. Hello Mark, I think this blog is just so wonderful! I lived in J.P. from 1964-1972 on Gartland St, next street over from Doyle's Cafe which is quite famous ~ I worked too much then to appreciate all the great things we were able to do during those years. Like taking the train or trolley, either way, Forest Hills or Green St. to Boston or Brookline in minutes not hours ~ Franklin Park & the Rectory, Curtis Hall for a swim, Jamaica Pond not to mention you could leave your doors unlocked home or car. Thanks for reminding me of a great place and all this info I can now look back on and appreciate so many other things that made Jamica Plain a place you could be proud of to have lived in or still do ~

  4. Kathleen - thanks for the kind remarks.