Shawnee resident Edward Vance smiles and waves to a bus driver as she passes under the stop light. He never imagined he would be spending his mornings and afternoons as a crossing guard at the age of 85. But when he retired from working for 56 years as a minister at Argentine Assembly of God Church, he needed to find something to fill his time.
“I wanted something to do and I was told from a contact at the police station about this job,” Vance said. “This is just part-time work and something extra to do. I never thought about it until I had the opportunity to do it.”
As an elementary student rides toward him on her bicycle to cross the street on the corner of Monticello and Johnson Drive, Vance asks her how she’s doing. She smiles and says “good” as she rides away.
“I always say ‘good morning’ or ‘have a nice day’ and they respond,” Vance said. “These are just nice kids to deal with.”
Although Vance enjoys the job, he also takes it very seriously.
“I’m very careful,” Vance said. “I watch, [but] the traffic up here is real good. They watch this area. I’ve never had anything scary happen.”
Vance has been working as a crossing guard for six years, but likes the job just as much now as he did when he started.
“I just enjoyed it then,” Vance said. “And I enjoy doing it now. There is a good bunch of kids up here. They are well-mannered. The parents are nice too.”
Vance believes that his initial attitude towards the students is part of what makes them so easy to deal with. That, as well as the fact that he has four children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“One thing people should know is that kids will treat you like you treat them,” Vance said. “I started when I first got up here saying ‘Did you have a nice day?’ And now if I don’t say it, they’ll say it to me.”
While the conversations he has with kids are many times the most enjoyable parts of Vance’s job, the weather is often his least favorite.
“I don’t like the real hot,” Vance said. “I dress accordingly for the real cold. But I don’t mind the weather. It don’t bother me too much.”
His simplicity is something else that makes Vance stand out. He says that if his house were burning down, he knows what he would grab first.
“My papers,” Vance said. “My personal papers.”
Although he has lived in Shawnee for 35 years, Vance has yet to attend a game at the school, something he hopes to do eventually.
“How’s that football team up there this year?” Vance asked. “I enjoy a good high school football game.”