Since You Asked: Crossing the street required attention to detail

Back in '52 the crossing guard lady taught all us kids how to cross the street.

Step into the street, feet together, heels in the gutter, torso and head turned toward traffic, extend arm straight out with palm toward traffic.

Wait until traffic slows/stops and then proceed, arm still out watching for other traffic.

At the center of the road, stop and reverse your stance with heels on the center line. Proceed when opposing traffic has slowed/stopped.

For 55 years now, this has worked every time.

On another note, my dad quelled my arrogance with this poem:

Here lies the body of Jonathan Grey,

He died defending his right of way,

He was right, dead right, as he drove/walked along,

But he was just as dead as if he'd been wrong.

— Kevin M., Trail

Did your crossing guard also teach hospital corners? And following her painfully detailed advice to the letter, how many times were you able to complete a crossing in those 55 years?

Bless her heart. In cities where some of us Since You Askeders grew up, the main advice was "Get your tuchus to the other side! Move it!!" And we ran.

Actually our main advice was to look left, right, left and then proceed as fast as possible if there were no cars. And where available our crossing guards ran interference for us, stopping traffic by using a semaphore-flag signaling dance so us kids could scurry safely across. Or at least we pretended that's what it was, because we geeky half-pints really thought semaphore was cool.

Your attention to such crossing detail must have made for an entertaining spectacle, perhaps enough to make some modern drivers stop just to watch the performance. We would have crossed our grubby fingers hoping no bullies were watching our fancy military footwork.

Thankfully most intersections now have marked crosswalks and electronic crossing signals timed with the stoplights. While jaywalking in Oregon is legal, it certainly isn't very smart. We'd suggest using marked and signalled crossings and keeping your eyes peeled for numbskulls text messaging their "BFF" instead of driving. Your military crossing march is certainly optional insurance.

And your dad was dead right. Great advice.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to

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