Lolly-Pops and Signals

The primary school I went to in New Zealand had a very prestigious offering for those in their final year at the school (which was the equivalent of Grade 5).

When I was in my final year, I was all of the tender age of 10 and somehow deemed responsible enough for this prestigious offer.  No word of a lie, I was to be a ‘Traffic Monitor’.  Boys and girls were selected and before school and after school we were to stop traffic and tell the students when they could and couldn’t cross the roads.

8kgs of turkey (I ordered 6kg – never mind!)

Sexual discrimination was rampant with the boys being given the more dangerous road to patrol and the girls, (while clearly considered less competent) were given the quieter street that had to be crossed after you came over the railway line at Woburn Station.

The prestigious Traffic Monitors were divided into teams of three and we were each given a day in the week to patrol.  My group of three was given Fridays.  Two of the girls in my group were told they were lollipop girls while I was elevated to being in charge of signals.  We were all given a uniform.  Buttoned up white coats like lab coats on dry days and hard yellow plastic raincoats on wet days that were so stiff you couldn’t bend your elbows.  Being in charge of signals I was also given a notebook and a pen so I could write down the number plates of reckless and dangerous drivers.  I so hoped to encounter a reckless and dangerous driver but never did unlike the boys occupying the busy road who were full of self-importance and regaled their stories of speeding cars and skidding cars and near misses that were so over the top you would have thought every second vehicle was being driven by someone reckless and dangerous.

A hazelnut, parsley and garlic butter I will rub under the skin

So every Friday I had to be at school an hour earlier and I went home an hour later.  And I didn’t mind.  We also had to leave class 15 minutes early on a Friday afternoon so we could put on our uniforms and walk to the crossing, being ready for the first student waiting to cross.  And I certainly didn’t mind the early mark.

Once at the crossing, I stood on one side of the road with a lolly-pop girl beside me and the other lolly-pop girl stood on the other side of the road.  The lolly-pop sticks had white wooden handles with a red lolly-pop on the end saying ‘Stop’.  The girls held their signs horizontally creating a barricade and all the students stood diligently behind the stop sign.  On my signal I would yell, (and this was a very important moment), ‘Signs up’, and the girls would raise their sticks but then hold out a horizontal arm because I hadn’t quite finished my lines, then I would yell, ‘Cross Now’, and the girls would drop their arms and hold their sticks upright so the cars could read ‘stop’ and the students would cross.  And when the time was right I would yell, ‘Signs Down’ and the sticks would again be held like a barricade.

A quinoa, celery leaf and walnut seasoning to fill the cavity

And at some time during that year I did have a birthday and turn 11 but I still can’t believe it was considered perfectly acceptable for children of such a young age to be given so much responsibility.  And even more amazingly, the public suffered no fatalities or even injuries.

At the time, the thought that I might have been too young to be responsible for the safety of others never occurred to me.  I just loved the power of being able to stop traffic.

A forcemeat stuffing for the neck

And after that trip down memory lane, here’s the weekend update…

Today I watched Alfie play rugby (another humiliating defeat ) and tonight I’m off to see Archie perform at the Roxbury Hotel in Glebe.  In between I’ve been making seasonings and wrestling with an 8kg turkey for our Christmas in July event and I’m quite sure today is the coldest day of the year.  And I know this because the dogs won’t budge from having front-row position in front of the heater.

I hope you’re enjoying your weekend.

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  1. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    I have no doubt that you’re still able to stop traffic Charlie! 😉

  2. This looks like you will have excellent experience being the lollipop lady in your retirement years! Its funny how much responsibility we were given and gave our children – now I won’t let the wind blow on my grandchildren. Hope Christmas in July is a success.

  3. What a cute story, Charlie. We had playground monitors but no traffic monitors. I guess the school felt that once we were off their property we were on our own. Either my Mom or my Dad came to pick us up at school everyday, but fortunately, they would wait at the bottom of the yard (at the big rocks) so that our friend’s wouldn’t see them.
    My butcher does that too, I order a smallish turkey and they end up giving us one that is a couple of kilo’s more. I’ve never heard of forcemeat stuffing, is it always just dried fruit and nuts? I look forward to seeing the bird baked in all its glory. What a lovely idea to have Christmas in July; Is it an Australian thing or a blogging thing?

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Eva, yes, it seems whenever I order a turkey it’s a few kilos heavier when I go to pick it up. I did look terribly shocked when he told me 8kgs though because I just know that by the time it’s stuffed, there’s no way it will fit in my roasting dish. I’m taking it around to my friend’s house early tomorrow morning (she’s the host) and I’m just hoping she’ll have something bigger I can transfer it to. Christmas in July is something we poor Aussies do because our Christmas is usually as hot as Hades and slaving away in a hot kitchen roasting turkeys and baking potatoes and then sitting down to a hot lunch followed by plum pudding is often a struggle – but we try! So Christmas in July is our way of enjoying that hot Christmas fare when hot and heavy food is a whole lot more appropriate. It’s not a hugely common practise but it does seem to be becoming more popular. We’re getting together with about five couples and one couple has kindly agreed to be the host. The adults are all close friends but our offspring don’t know each other at all and we thought tomorrow would be the day but alas, mine won’t be appearing. Maybe next year! xx

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Eva, I’ll blog about the forcemeat stuffing later this week. I’m not sure where the name came from. It’s basically a stuffing made with pork and veal mince or sausage mince with like you say, dried fruit and nuts. And yes, it’s a uniquely Australian thing to have Christmas in July. We really just do it because winter time is the right time to be eating Christmas fare. When we eat it in summer we’re usually stifling hot and not really feeling like having the oven on all day long xx

  4. I like that they were called lollipop girls. That’s a fun name. The 5th graders at Mr. N’s school get to be patrols too. No traffic for them, but they are responsible for getting the little kids to the bus and pick-up line. Little less dangerous, but has the same effect of making the 5th graders feel powerful. You can see it in their eyes. 😉 have a great weekend!

  5. A_Boleyn says:

    Ours are called “crossing guards” and consist of retirees and home-makers (ie housewives) paid a nominal fee to be out there in the morning, before and after lunch (as some kids live close enough to go home at noon) and at the end of the day. They have bright orange belts and their red stop signs and work in pairs on either side of the major roads but individually on the side roads. They’re also equipped with whistles but you rarely (see) hear them employed. They get very ‘vocal’ with idiot drivers who don’t slow down and show the proper caution towards the little ones. 🙂

    As part of my pantry (freezer and fridge shelves too) clear-out, the first thing I pulled out was a 5 kg turkey. A lot for one person to get through, you can imagine. I cooked the turkey a month ago and am close to getting ready to use the carcass for stock. Today, I’m doing tex-mex turkey 2 ways using about half one a half breast. Only the thighs and back are left. I’ll be happy to see the end of it but for $12 CDN, I’m certainly getting my money’s worth.

    Most of the goodies I made are under the ‘turkey’ tag, though LJ seems to be holding back on showing some of the pictures posted.

  6. Victoria at Flavors of the Sun says:

    I love this story. I remember something similar from my youth when I got to be on patrol and watch the convoys of Army trucks coming down through South Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when all of Florida expected to be blown off the map. Exhilarating and scary. I love the idea of your Christmas in July and the butter rub for the turkey is truly inspired. Beautiful bird.

  7. Minnesota Prairie Roots says:

    I, too, wonder why such young children are given this responsibility of keeping traffic at bay. They do the same thing here in the U.S. My son was struck by a car (hit-and-run) at age 12 while crossing the street by our house. Nothing to do with crossing guards, but just saying he was 12.

  8. gardencorrespondent says:

    I love the idea of Christmas in July. My mother and I actually bought a small (4 kg) turkey yesterday in a fit of madness. Luckily our weather has gotten a bit cooler!

  9. Oh all these flavors together, they sound like a perfect dinner on a cold evening! I love that butter you put on the chicken, it sounds delicious:-) Hugs, Terra

  10. You were the lucky one!! I longed to be a School Patroller but was never chosen.. I did punch one of them once, but that’s a story for another day!! Those drivers must have seemed reckless to a little wee girl like you!! xx

  11. I want Christmas in July !!

    I was a crossing guard too in grade 5. We just had orange sashes to wear over our snow jackets and ski pants. It was a town of only 10,000 so there wasn’t a lot of traffic. I thought I was hot stuff because I was the only girl selected.

    I made a quinoa stuffing for my last Thanksgiving dinner because one of our guests is a coeliac sufferer and I thought it was really good. I always make a traditional French Canadian pork stuffing too, just to keep my roots happy.

  12. I never had the pleasure of being a lollipop girl because I had to catch a bus home and there was only one. I’m sure all that tyre squealing the boys reported was because the 11-year old boys would be so abrupt in their decisions not knowing anything about braking times and so the surprised drivers had to jam on their brakes to avoid being taken to prison with a death or maiming on their conscience. Today in New Zealand, there is always a teacher present at each crossing.
    Enjoy your glorious-looking turkey.

  13. After being given the power to stop traffic at age 10, one wonders how being 11 could compare. I would love the power to stop traffic even now!

  14. InTolerantChef says:

    What a power rush indeed! I guess the 40km hr zones in front of schools is more OH&S friendly, but I like the idea of kids having some responsibility (but with discreet adult supervision)
    I think I still have a couple of frozen plates of Christmas dinner in the freezer, I might sick them in the microwave and join you in your celebration 🙂

  15. love2dine says:

    Picture perfect! Wow. Just wow

  16. Wow that looks incredible!
    And I can imagine the feeling of absolute power – controlling the traffic 😀
    Something I have in my must-experience list 🙂


  17. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book says:

    I too was part of scholar patrol! I LOVED IT! We all took turns on the safe road and dangerous road and boys and girls were on a team together. We also had to change position with each time we were on duty. We also had a whistle which was added to all of our instructions we had to shout out.
    Enjoy your Christmas in July.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  18. A X’mas dinner in July? wow…I love it. That quinoa walnut stuffing sounds really super!

  19. ChgoJohn says:

    I’ve heard women say that they could stop traffic in their youth. You’re the first to have actually done it. 🙂
    Your roast turkey sounds delicious, Charlie, and I’d love to follow suit. Right now, though, I’ve no plans to turn on that oven. No plans whatsoever.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Ha ha. Yes, we have to do our Christmas in July so we can enjoy the delicious, hot and filling food during the colder months of the year. Enjoy the heat! xx

  20. In my neighborhood, these were called crossing guards. I always wanted to be one but my parents wouldn’t let me put my name in the hat to do it 🙁

  21. You can still stop traffic now, darling.. 🙂

  22. That is awfully young to be directing traffic! I love Celia’s comment, very true!

  23. Charlie, I envied traffic monitors. (I had to ride the bus — didn’t arrive early enough to be among the elite.) However, they did allow me to be a lunch assistant, doling out condiments and wearing a hair net like the lunch ladies. 🙂

  24. Traffic monitors! I don’t think I have anything similar in my school background, but I like the sound of it…very authoritative for a young child! I also like the idea of Christmas in July…it seems apt with your cold winter to prepare a turkey. I love the quinoa stuffing and the rub…I just need to put it away for a couple of months. No turkey roasting for me quite yet! 🙂

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