Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Safety Patrol Boys 1950s and 60s

From Leon "Lee" Dixon

A bizarre Detroit thing happened recently while I was at a Packard Meet. 

In the days of yore, young boys (myself included) in Detroit were trained to supervise kids crossing the street at each corner on the way to school. We wore a special white belt made of webbing similar to a seat belt in today's cars. This belt went around the waist and at a diagonal up and over one shoulder and across the chest and back. It was a real thing of pride to wear back in the 1950s and early 60s. (The belts were later changed to dayglo orange.)

At the Meet, I got talking with a fellow by the name of John Ambrogio. We discovered we'd both attended Hilger Elementary School on the east side— although he was there a few years before me—and that we were both on the Safety Patrol. When I mentioned that I was a lieutenant, so was he! We talked about the special white belt we wore and the fact that officers on the Patrol had special badges attached to the belt. At Hilger, there was a captain and two lieutenants. When I mentioned that I'd save my badges, he said... "Wait a minute, I think I saved a couple, too." Sure enough, he reached into his case and pulled out a captain's and a lieutenant's badge! 

I scanned the badges here along with my last original ID card. (I think I re-used the ID card after I left and penned older ages over what originally was "9-10" years old). I also believe that Hilger is misspelled on the card...think it had only one "L". The Safety Patrol was sponsored by AAA Automobile Club of Michigan, hence the "AAA" on the badges.

You could show your Safety Patrol ID and get into various things for free or greatly reduced price. The cards were honored at Tiger games at Briggs Stadium (before it became Tiger Stadium) and the donut shop would give you one free donut. Once a year AAA hosted a special day in the spring where all Detroit Safety Patrol Boys were taken to Briggs Stadium for a free baseball game that included hot dogs from a Detroit area company and Vernor's Ginger Ale. DSR busses would line up at key schools and pick up the boys for a full day of baseball bacchanalia.


  1. john p dainus8:03 AM

    i remember being a safety patrol boy at st scholastica school on southfield and outer drive when i went there in the late forties!

  2. What a great story and memory. wish I had saved mine. I grew up on the west side,went to Epiphany catholic grade school no longer open. It was not far from McKenzie high school. I was actually a safety boy in 5th through 7th grade in 7th grade i got the very busy corner of West Chicago & Meyers. You could not be a Safety boy on that corner without 2 years as a safety boy and in at least 7th grade. I would have been captain of the Safety boy team the following year 8th grade, but we moved to Allen Park in 1969. Yes Tiger Stadium did honor those badges. Thank you for submitting this article.

    Jim Smoltz

  3. Anonymous10:22 AM

    I was also on the safety patrol at Greenfield Park School. I made Lieut. in 1965 and still have my belt and badge. The trips to Tigers games for the safety patrol were great fun. Sitting in left field just behind Willie Horton and having him wave to us was like a dream come true.
    Robert C Haynes

  4. David Priver10:56 AM

    I was a safety patrol boy as well. Hampton School around 1956 or so. One additional benefit was that during the winter, if the temperature was below 20 degrees, we were given hot chocolate after leaving our posts and before going to class.

  5. Bob scurti10:21 AM

    Great picture! I was also on the safety patrol when I attended the Stellwagon school in the early seventies when they used the orange belts.

  6. Anonymous8:37 PM

    I was on the Safety Patrol, as Captain, in the 6th Grade at Haitema Elementary. What I great nostalgic post. I remember the Tigers' games going with our Sponsor. Had to turn our belts, though. I need to find the badge for my son.

  7. I was on the safety patrol at Keeler Elementary School in Redford Township in the winter we will go to the maintenance room for hot chocolate and our annual trip for safety patrol was to Edgewater Park it was sponsored by AAA

  8. Anonymous12:41 AM

    I was also a safety boy at Greenfield Park Elementary School back in the 60's! Brush and Louisiana St., the railroad tracks, can't recall all the locations. Good memories...

  9. Anonymous9:17 PM

    I was safety patrol in front the office in the Herman Gardens in the 60's

  10. Anonymous7:43 PM

    I was a duty girl at Houghten Elmentary school in the late 60s. Loved it.

  11. Anonymous10:20 AM

    i was safety patrol boy at longfellow school on the corner of davison and 14thin 1955-56-iremember doing jumping jacks to indicate to the other boys when it was time to go in.