ST. STEPHEN – Close to two dozen people came out on an unseasonably warm, sunny Friday afternoon to wish a long-time crossing guard well as Dot Larsen conducted the last crossing of her 35-year career at St. Stephen Elementary School (SSES).
The day was bittersweet for many. Happy that she was able to leave on her own terms, yet still saddened that she had to stop doing a job she clearly loved.
Larsen still keeps in contact with some of her former charges and others who have moved away will make sure to check in with her when they are back in town visiting.
She waved to the people gathered to wish her well. She waved, as she always has, to the drivers stopped while she ferried a group of children safely across the street.
The only time a smile left her face was when she was asked what it was like on this, her last day. Her eyes welled up and her voice began to break as she said, “I can’t explain. I’m not ready for this.”
Lia Way, a student at Milltown Elementary School, noted that Larsen “still took the time to memorize my name and my birthday, and on my birthday she made me a card and gave me lollipops.”
Lollipops and suckers were Larsen’s signature gift to many children over the years.
Carole Way said that when she and her family were living in Africa for a time, Larsen kept in touch and would let her know about “things from around town she thought we might miss. Dot is just a special, special woman and we love her to bits.”
Joseph Sharpe was a student at SSES and has known Larsen for more than 35 years. He was a student crossing on Larsen’s first day on the job.
“It’s the end of an era. I think everybody in town thought she’d be doing this forever.”
The person picking up the stop sign as the new crossing guard for SSES is former Larsen charge Tiffany Richardson. Richardson is a bit overwhelmed by the responsibility and stepping into the shoes of a local legend.
Said Richardson, “I’m going to try to do my best to be somewhat like Dot, but there’s no way I could ever, ever … I’ll try my best.”