by Larry Austin
Jeanne Anstett, pictured, has been a crossing guard at the corner of Warner and South Park so long she's helped second generation kids cross the streets to Huth Road Elementary School.
She retired Thursday, the last day of school, after 35 consecutive years on the job.
Anstett's husband, Wayne, son David, daughter Sue Marston and granddaughter Allison Anstett, as well as Grand Island Town Councilman Dick Crawford, were on hand for Anstett's last duties Thursday afternoon, a half-day of school.
"I love it. I love my job," Anstett said. "I do, and I like the kids and everything, but you know what? I'm old. It's time to quit."
Crawford said Anstett is the longest continually serving crossing guard on the Island. Beyond just directing children across the roads, crossing guards "become an institutional part of the whole school experience for the kids," Crawford noted.
Anstett works at one of five intersections - one in the Huth neighborhood and four at Kaegebein Elementary School - with crossing guards hired by the town.
Anstett said the population of the neighborhood - that includes Warner, Wallace, Sandy Beach and Greenway roads - is getting older, with fewer kids, and what kids there are often get a ride to or from school by a parent. She said she used to see 80 to 90 children a day, but now sees between 20 to 30.
In 35 years, Anstett has seen her share of bad weather. She said she hates the rain most of all, but Anita Hawley, a lifelong resident of the neighborhood and a mother of six Huth students and graduates, said no matter how cold it is, Anstett is at the corner before the bell and after school lets out.
"Rain or shine, she's there crossing the kids," Hawley said, noting Anstett is always reminding the bikers that they're just like the walkers and have to watch for the cars.
"Kids love her. Although more kids are driven nowadays because their parents are working more," Hawley said. "And the moms love having a chitchat with her. We sit here and solve the world's problems for about two minutes while we're waiting for our kids to come out."
"She's been here a really long time. We're going to miss her," Hawley said.
Anstett's long recall of the neighborhood's children, such as Hawley and her brothers, runs deep.
"But you get to know them all," Anstett said. "At first, when I would see them driving, I thought, 'Oh, my God, they can't be that old.' Then you hear they're getting married. Then they're having kids. ... They can't possibly ... no way."