He’s always kept to himself. His wife, too. Oh, there have been rumors that she may give Martin a hard time at home, but you know how rumors are.
Martin retired from the Field Ranch a while back after about 40 years. After that, we’d see him out walking or maybe fishing a little along Lewis Creek. Then one day in September, Martin found his new career as a crossing guard down next to the elementary school. He got a blaze orange vest, a paddle sign with “stop” on one side and “slow” on the other. And they gave him a whistle. Oh yes, the whistle. At first, when a child was spotted a block away, Martin would trot out to the middle of the intersection, blow his whistle, hold up his paddle and turn it around so everyone saw “stop,” regardless of where you were. And we’d wait until some third-grader got safely to school.
Then we were waved on through. And with each wave of Martin’s hand there was a blast on the whistle. Oh yes, that whistle.
The school sure picked the right guy for the job. If you want someone who can stand out there every morning in heat and rain and snow and spring winds, just look for an old cowboy. Martin took all his “tough lessons” ages ago.
The problem Martin was having, however, was that he had more time than children, and that led to his current traffic-control methods. He watches carefully, and if a car is coming from a right angle, he steps out and blows the whistle and stops us. And if the car slows, Martin waves him on whether he wants to go that way or not. And that’s when there aren’t any kids around.
But no one complains. He’s there early, he’d stop a train to let kids cross the street, and he works for free. So what’s a few whistle blasts and marching orders among friends?
You have to admire professionalism wherever it is found.
Brought to you by “Sweetgrass Mornings,” a collection of outdoor memories, at www.slimrandles.com.