Kane County History: What It Meant To Be a Patrol Boy at Louise White School

Kane County History: What It Meant To Be a Patrol Boy at Louise White School

  • Editor’s Note: This article is part of a weekly series on Kane County’s amazing history. Today’s post was written by Chris Winter and Batavia Depot Museum Executive Director Jennifer Putzier.

This is the time of year when the children are back in school, please be extra aware of children crossing the street as you’re driving.

The feature photo for this article (also shown at right), taken in 1956, shows a Patrol Boy helping his classmates across the street at Louise White School in Batavia.

With the rising use of automobiles and concerns for the well-being of students as they walked to school, the Chicago Motor Club pioneered the concept of School Safety Patrols in 1920.

That year, there was a tragic speeding accident that killed several students walking to school in Chicago. Charles M. Hayes, president of the Chicago Motor Club, set up the patrol to prevent further automobile incidents. The junior safety patrol movement took hold in the 1930s under the sponsorship of the American Automobile Association.

The idea spread quickly, and Patrols were set up across the nation, including in Batavia. While the Patrols were originally boys, girls soon joined the cause.

The Patrol Boys, as they were known, were proudly identified by their colorful Sam Browne style belts and shiny metal badges. Patrol Boys did not direct traffic, but were trained to understand when it was safe to cross or move in traffic, and assist their fellow students in doing so.

Today, Louise White School’s crossing guard program is run by adults, but the tradition of roadway safety for Batavia’s children started with children helping children.

About the Batavia Depot Museum

The Batavia Depot Museum opened in 1975 as a partnership between the Batavia Park District and the Batavia Historical Society.

The Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad Depot was the first of its kind built in 1854, and is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. Inside, the city’s past comes alive through exhibits detailing the history of rail transportation, manufacture of windmills, agriculture, banking, commerce and a brief stay by Mary Todd Lincoln at Bellevue Place.

The Depot is open seasonally, March to November. The 2018 season ends Nov.18, 2018, and the hours are 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Please join the staff from  5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25, for the Batavia Park District’s special Christmas event, Celebration of Lights. The Depot will feature ornament making for kids, story time in the research center from 6:15 p.m. to 7 p.m., and a special lighting of the Gunzenhauser Smith Gazebo at 6 p.m.

Please visit http://www.bataviahistoricalsociety.org/events/ for more information.

Read The Kane County History Series!