(by AMY WALLACE – Editor, Amherst Bee) A staple at the corner of Main Street and Lamarck Drive in Amherst for the past 35 years, crossing guard Jane Sullivan has seen a lot of life go by in her 50 years on the job.
Sullivan started working as a crossing guard for the Town of Amherst in September 1972 and is still going strong 50 years later.
“I grew up in Snyder,” Sullivan said. “I had 10 siblings and was a graduate of Amherst High School.”
Sullivan earned an associate degree in food science from Erie Community College.
“From ECC, I worked at Roswell Park for a while then decided to try for a crossing guard position,” Sullivan said.
She was hired in 1967 and worked for the Amherst Recreation Department for a time before becoming a crossing guard.
“When I wasn’t crossing, I did babysitting for my niece who is now in her 30s,” Sullivan said.
Being a crossing guard is a part-time, seasonal position that is typically 34 hours a week. The town pays the crossing guards but the Amherst Police Department oversees them.
“I started off at the corner of Ev ans and Eagle streets,” Sullivan said. “Then I went and crossed students at Smallwood Elementary School who took religious education classes at Christ the King Church. I’ve been doing that for the past 35 years at the corner of Main and Lamarck.”
According to a Facebook post from the Amherst Police Department, Sullivan has “safely crossed tens of thousands of children on their journey to and from school… She was asked if she wanted to work as a crossing guard one night while sitting at Chief Zimmerman’s dinner table. Jane was dating the chief’s son at the time. Over the years Jane worked at the Williamsville school where Christian Central Academy is now, Smallwood school, and Christ the King school where you will see her today. Luck has it she partnered up with her sister-in-law Carol at the Main and Lamarck crossing.”
Sullivan said what she enjoys most about her job is the people and being outdoors. “You get to know the people, the same cars when you are at the same location for so long,” Sullivan said. “They get to know you. I really like the outdoors, the kids and dogs. I give out treats for the dogs [being walked] and holiday treats for the kids like for Halloween.”
She said watching the children she crosses grow up is one of the best parts of her job.
“I fell a while back and the doctor that treated me was a kid I used to cross,” she said. “One time, a girl got her foot run over by a car backing out of a driveway and I carried her all the way to Smallwood.”
Sullivan said she always keeps a first aid kit on her when she’s working.
“I’ve patched up kids with scrapped knees or fixed broken bike chains,” Sullivan said. “We’re not supposed to fraternize, but what are you going to do?”
Sullivan said in the early days, the crossing guards used to get full uniforms with skirts, blouses and blazers.
“There’s nothing in the budget for that,” Sullivan said. “I finally got a new hat after they saw I was holding my hat together with Duct tape.”
In her spare time, Sullivan likes to cook, sew, bake, ceramics and quilting. She’s also in a bowling league at Transit Lanes for the last 40 years. She also loves spending time with her dog, Presley Jr. or PJ.
“We would like to commend Jane for her 50 years of dedicated service to our community and for keeping our children safe,” Amherst police said in their post.