Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Patrol Boys of Ore

I found this Safety Patrol Boys story in the December 8, 1957 issue of the Kingsport Times-News.


A bugle blares its stirring melody in the crisp morning air. Old Glory flutters wildly for a moment as the guide rope becomes entangled. Then she's snapped upward quickly as small hands pull fast and hard. At the top of the pole she waves proudly in a strong breeze.

Young eyes are upraised all about and some young hands come up in snappy salute. Others are placed quickly over the heart. All about, there is a lump of pride in young throats. The scene is Andrew Johnson Elementary School in the Oakwood Forest area. The time is almost every school day morning at about 8:30. The event is the flag-raising ceremony. Tom Milam, principal of the school, brought the idea with him when he assumed his duties there this year.

He gives credit for the success of the program, however, to sixth grade teacher Mrs. Marie Squibb and the children themselves.

Mrs. Squibb is in charge of the school Safety Patrol. She directs the boys in their duties concerning the flag as well as their regular a patrol work.

If they don't give the proper salute, she shows them how they should do it. Should they fail to fold the flag properly, she points out their error.

Flag raising and lowering is serious business at Andrew Johnson, and the children, from the first through the sixth grades, have been quick to assume a serious attitude concerning it.

Milam says occasionally there will be a very young first grader who forgets to show the proper respect, but as a general rule when the bugler blows his first note everyone stops his play and turns toward the flag pole.

All activity on the playground stops until the last note of “Colors” is sounded in the morning.

In the afternoon, the bugler plays “Taps.” “The regular evening ‘Retreat’ is a bit too difficult for our bugler, so we adopted 'Taps' instead," Milam said. "'Retreat is very difficult, even for the very experienced adult bugler," he added. The job of raising and lowering the colors falls to each Patrol squad every other week. Milam explained that there are three regular squads, each composed of a lieutenant and six members. The bugler, Danny Pomeroy, holds the rank of Color Guard captain. Danny's in the fifth grade. His substitute, Rodney Irvin, is also in the fifth grade. The two of them sometimes play together. Danny Thompson, a sixth grader, is in charge of the traffic division of the Safety Patrol. The three lieutenants are Bob Morrison, on Squad 1, Keith Westmoreland, on Squad 2, and, Richard Brumett, on Squad 3. Squad 1 members are Gary Carmichael, Alan Bacon, David Coleman, J.C. McClain, Pat Miller and David McCurry. Squad 2 members are Charles Worrell, Ranny Poe, Terry Glass, Billy Miller, Stan Peirce and Butch Muller. Squad 3 members are John Walters, Kenny Carrico, Johnny Murray, Rodney Irvin, Brant Roberts, and Cal Bainbridge. The Substitute Squad is composed of Phil Franklin, Butch Saylor, Billy Millwood, Rickie Reed, Charles Worrell and Eddie Price.

Milam says the lieutenants are responsible for seeing that the boys are in their proper place each morning and afternoon. If a boy is absent, the lieutenant must call a replacement from the Substitute Squad or serve in his squad member’s place.

The principal said the ceremony isn’t held on days when the weather is bad. However, if the weather turns bad after the morning ceremony, the bugler has the responsibility of lowering the colors himself before the elements have time to damage the flag.

The squads rotate in their duties, Milam said. One week Squad 1 will have charge of the flag-raising with Squad 2 assigned to traffic control. The next week Squad 2 takes over the flag-raising and Squad 3 takes over traffic control, etc.

The purpose of the ceremonies is to instill in the children proper respect for Old Glory and the principles which she represents.


At 3:55 PM, Anonymous Alan Sieg said...

Thanks for the memory jog. I started 1st grade at Johnson School in 1960, and served as a "Patrol Boy" starting in the 4th grade. One of my strongest memories of Elementary School was that cold afternoon in November`63 when a dozen of us were quietly called out of class to lower the flag to half-mast. President Kennedy had just died.
I advanced to rank of Sergeant in 5th grade, but at that age couldn't handle the amazing complexity of peer pressure - and resigned rather than get ridiculed and beat up by some of the bigger kids. That was as close as I ever got to any time in 'the service'.
Scanned this today, surprised that I still haven't been called in to answer to Mr.Milam for not turning in the badge...
Fast forward twenty-some years, living in Denver - rushing to catch a plane to Montana. Driving past the neighborhood school, I saw the Patrol Boys out raising the flag, and remembered that day in `63. After arriving in Billings, I was shocked to learn that while in transit, the Shuttle Challenger had suffered a launch explosion. I wondered if they got called out of class to lower the flag to half-mast. Don't know if html works here, but we try some. (It didn't, so I'll just leave em plain, you can swipe and paste I guess)...
I have been silently reading your columns for many, many years, and have added your blog link to my own.
Just thought it time to say "Thanks".
Take care, Thanks again /;^)


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home