He was a school crossing guard; we called him the Copsicle. Every September, he was there at the corner waiting for us. In the mornings he was cheerful. At lunchtime he was sullen. But after school, especially starting around Christmastime and up until March, he would stand, immovable, in the middle of the road, clutching his hand-held stop sign in a mittened fist with a smile frozen on his face.
People knew not to drive that way in the winter because the traffic was ridiculous. Three-point turns by drivers not wanting to break the law by going around a school crossing guard were common.
One day, (and I admit to this with no end of shame, even now that I am in my thirties and have children of my own) my friends and I stood in the middle of the road beside him and poked him. And we threw snowballs at him. But the smile never left his face.
I have no idea who came to get him, to warm him up in time to be cheerful for the morning commute. Perhaps they lit a fire around him to thaw him out. I’ll never know. My parents wouldn’t let me out of the house to check.
His legend lives on. My children tell the tale of the school crossing guard who, dedicated to his duty, would stand frozen to his post. And that every afternoon, we could count on the Copsicle to be there, to see us safely across the street.
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