It was the final day for a Port Hope crossing guard on Friday, September 30, 2022.
Kellie Brooking-Hamilton officially retired after over 30 years as a crossing guard.
Family and friends came to celebrate her last day at the crosswalk she’s been at for years at the corner of Ontario Street and Croft Street, just north of downtown.
It was November 3, 1986 when Brooking -Hamilton stated.
And like the postal carrier, you’d find Brooking-Hamilton in the rain, sleet or snow.
“I just really liked it,” she said on her last day at the Ontario Street, Croft Street crossing in Port Hope.
Spotting a youth walking towards her, the interview stops as Brooking-Hamilton has to safely get the boy across Ontario Street.
It was on Halloween night in 1986, that she and her sister were out. Her sister said that Brooking-Hamilton should go into the town hall and see if they needed a crossing guard – the rest is history.
“Hi sweetie – where were you this morning?” she says to the youth as she gets her sign ready to stop the traffic.
It’s easy to tell she has a great rapport with the children.
As she walks back to the sidewalk though, she lets it out what bothers her the most.
“These drivers are nuts. They’re nutser then they’ve ever been. The pandemic has made them crazy. People are rude.”
As she entered the crossing wearing her bright yellow vest, while one car stopped going southbound, another passed on the inside going right through the crosswalk.
“How could they not see me – I’m a human pylon. I’m not a small woman – so how the hell do you miss me?”
As her final day came to an end, friends and family members came to the corner to wish her well.
One person made special cupcakes, Port Hope Police Constable Tammie Staples and Nicole Ryan brought balloons.
Brooking-Hamilton isn’t just a crossing guard, she’s also the eyes and ears of the area she covers.
“I love my neighbours. All my neighbours are wonderful – they’re good people.”
“I’m Neighbourhood Watch. I can tell you what time they leave for work and what time they come home.”
Brooking-Hamilton said she treats the kids like they are hers. Opening saying she couldn’t have any children of her own – each and everyone of them mean that much to her.
“So what you do is kind of adopt these ones. And when they go to the next stage of their life – it’s like you’re celebrating with them.”
Since she started in the 80’s many of the children back then, have children of their own that she sees daily.
‘It’s going to be hard,” with just minutes away from the end of one career and starting another.
“I cant do the pavement any longer. My feet are killing me. I’ve got fibromyalgia.”
The hours for the day are from 8:15 a.m. to 9:15 a.m., 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. In between the hours, she cleans for seniors.
The part Brooking-Hamilton will miss the most is the friends she’s made over the decades, not just with the children, but with the parents and others as well.
“It’s like family here.”
Pointing to a house across the road, she said they had a baby, and Brooking-Hamilton said, “all I want to see, before I retire is that she comes out that door, and walks down those stairs and goes to school – and I saw it.”
“So my job here is done.”
But Brooking-Hamilton saved the last crossing for a special person – Lynn Solinski.
Her daughter was killed in tragic collision when Brooking-Hamilton first started many years ago.
Since then, Solinski and Brooking-Hamilton have become good friends.
With cars honking and people cheering, Brooking-Hamilton held up the first hand-held stop sign she used and a number of people crossed together.
Brooking-Hamilton said, “I love you,” and passed Solinski her first crossing guard stop sign.
Both Solinski and Brooking-Hamilton looked up the skies and said, “we love ya Tam.”
But that wasn’t all. When the parents and children that had gathered to say good-bye were going home and had to cross the street, even thought she was off-duty, Brooking-Hamilton would have none of it, and held up the sign for one last time.