'What would I do without it?': St. Stephen crossing guard celebrates 30 years on the job
Dorothy Mary Larsen, known to generations in St. Stephen simply as "Dot," says 30 years as a school crossing guard has kept her happy and healthy and she has no plans to hang up her neon vest.
"What would I do without it?" asks Larsen, 78, holding up her stop sign.
In the spring of 1987, Larsen's youngest son was in Grade 2. She asked the school if she could be the one to help students cross busy King Street, the main street that intersects the town near St. Stephen Elementary School.
It was police officer Kenneth Holmes who taught her how to do it, she says.
"He just passed away. The one who trained me."
When Larsen asked if she could keep the job for the following school year, she was told it was hers. And hers it has remained.
On a drizzly Thursday afternoon, Larsen hums to herself and fidgets with the badges and souvenirs pinned to her vest.
Fewer students need her now
She says fewer children need her now, as there are many more children getting rides these days.
Before, she says, they used to pour out of school.
When the 2 p.m. dismissal bell rings, Bob Conley comes down the sidewalk with two granddaughters in tow.
"She walked my children across the crosswalk," he says. "Now I'm a grandfather taking my grandkids across the crosswalk with Dot."
Model of commitment
St. Stephen Elementary principal Colleen Winchester says Larsen is a model of commitment.
She says Larsen minds the crosswalk every school day morning and also at lunch. Plus, she's on duty for both the 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. dismissals.
"Dot is here everyday without fail," says Winchester. "She's very dedicated."
Larsen also keeps a tradition of remembering birthdays and handing out birthday envelopes decorated with stickers and filled with lollipops.
And she's come up with a system to make sure that children with summer birthdays don't miss out.
Before the school year ends, she starts making racks of envelopes marked with their names and filled with suckers.
She'll distribute them in June to cover all the birthdays over July, August and the first week of September.
Larsen is a native of Newfoundland and moved to New Brunswick 38 years ago.
She raised two sons in New Brunswick and when asked why she stayed, she said she loves it here.
"And home is where your children are."