Sarasota News Leader

12/27/2013

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HANGING UP THE VEST Barbara Stallings accepts a plaque from Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino on Nov. 14. Photo by Norman Schimmel A CROSSING GUARD LOOKS BACK AT 41 YEARS ON THE CORNER By Cooper Levey-Baker Associate Editor It was a friend who first suggested Barbara Stallings become a crossing guard in 1972. "Why not?" Stallings remembers thinking. "It'll give me a few pennies in my pocket." Pennies, almost literally. When Stallings started, the weekly pay for a crossing guard was $30 to $35. "That was pretty slim," says Stallings — now 78, with a thick bush of curly white hair on her head. She chuckles. parents. You're just there, and they just spill everything. They're fresh and honest and nice — most of them." Stallings and her husband, LP, moved to Sarasota in 1957. LP's parents already lived here, and he had visited the city in the summers to help his uncle build homes, so they knew the area well. Sarasota was "a lot less But if Stallings started working as a crosscrowded" in those days, Stallings remembers. ing guard to earn some extra change, she Fruitville was a two-lane road. stuck around for 41 years, longer than any other crossing guard in the whole state, for Fewer cars on the road meant becoming a a much stronger reason: the kids. "They just crossing guard was a less dangerous propotell you everything," says Stallings. "They sition than it is today, but Stallings points out talk to you more than they talk to their own that the work when she started was grueling.

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