Safe Crossing: Ralph Piercy nears the end of his many years as Morenci crossing guard 2013.05.15

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN ralph 

There’s one thing Morenci Chief of Police Larry Weeks never has to worry about on school-day mornings. He knows Ralph Piercy will be on the job at the intersection of Main and East streets to help children safely through traffic.

That goes for the afternoon, as well. Ralph has been there every day for nine years. 

“There was never a concern that he wouldn’t show up,” Chief Weeks said. “It’s a position I never had to worry about. It’s just unbelievable that someone would get out there in all weather conditions, and for someone his age, it’s really remarkable.”

Well, there was one day when Ralph, 83, slouched off and missed, but he made sure someone would be there to take his place.

“I only missed one day,” Ralph said. “I went to the zoo with the senior citizens.”

Ralph agrees that the police didn’t have to worry about him being on the job, but it wasn’t that way at first.

“It’s funny,” he said, “the first six months or so the police drove by every day to make sure I was there.”

Eventually, they just knew he would always show up.

“It’s been a really good thing to do,” Ralph said. “I love every one of those kids and I have a great time.”

He’s watched many of the kids grow over the years, and one of them once reminded him of that.

“Last year one of the girls said, ‘You started me in kindergarten.’ They don’t forget you,” Ralph said.

It’s always fun when a student spots him somewhere else in town when he’s not on the job.

“They know me and they let me know it,” he said.

He recognizes the faces, but he doesn’t know them all by name.

Some of the students are closer than others, he said, and a few coming running with their hands up half a block away, ready for a hug.

Once or twice a year Ralph buys a box of suckers and lets the kids take one—at least they’re supposed to take one. Many kids will mention their brother or sister at home and take an extra one or two. It doesn’t bother Ralph. He just enjoys making them happy.

Ralph often gets asked about standing out in the cold weather, but he doesn’t see it as a problem.

“I dress for it,” he says. “I don’t mind the winter at all.”

There was a day about seven below zero that was challenging, but it’s the wind-driven rain that’s the toughest weather to work in.

“You can’t hold an umbrella or it will take you right down the street,” Ralph said.

Before he accepted the job, people told him he would be sorry, that the kids would try to “run all over him,” but that hasn’t been the case. The children are always well behaved, he said, and haven’t given him any problems.

“I’ve enjoyed every day of it,” Ralph said. “I love the job, but I thought I would take a break.”

When school closes for the year next month, Ralph is retiring from the job. That has Chief Weeks worried about finding a new crossing guard who can match Ralph Piercy’s dedication.

Ralph offers some advice to his successor: “All they’ve got to do is be the kids’ friend and they love you for it.” 

  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017