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Truro crossing guard retires after 19 years on the job

For 19 years, Janet Melanson has been a constant for schoolchildren crossing Truro’s roads. From left, Janet Melanson, Heidi Nicholson and her children, Ila and Ben, who attend Truro Elementary School.
For 19 years, Janet Melanson has been a constant for schoolchildren crossing Truro’s roads. From left, Janet Melanson, Heidi Nicholson and her children, Ila and Ben, who attend Truro Elementary School. - Fram Dinshaw
TRURO, N.S. —

 There have been some severe days for Janet Melanson.
The veteran crossing guard recalled the time she faithfully watched over children walking to school just before a blizzard slammed into Truro, blocking roads and shutting schools for three days straight, in late 2009.
“Icicles,” said Melanson, when asked how she felt. “I’ve been out there when it’s close to minus-30.”
Now 65, she is finally hanging up her fluorescent jacket after 19 years on the job, convinced to do so by yet another harsh winter this year.
“It was getting hard for me to get up and get mobile, with this winter and climate change,” said Melanson.
Come rain or shine however, Melanson greeted each child with a smile and friendly hello every day on Curtis Drive outside Truro Elementary School. Her last day was June 28.
All told, she had about 30 children under her care walking to and from school each day.
“I love the kids, I will miss them when I retire this week,” said Melanson. “It’s the reward of helping these children. I have grandkids, so I hope that someone out there is helping mine.”
She has worked at Truro Elementary School for the last 11 years.
Before then, Melanson manned crosswalks outside the former Willow Street School, since converted to luxury apartments.
Prior to that, she stood guard outside the since-demolished Princess Margaret Rose School on Willow Street, starting in 2000.
In all her years as a crossing guard, Melanson said motorists were courteous and mindful of school zones. She couldn't recall any specific incident of dangerous driving on her watch.
“I was very fortunate.
 “I’m proud of what I did,” said Melanson of her career. “I believe I did a good job.”
Melanson sometimes recognizes parents she once guided across the streets, now walking to and from school with children of their own.
She does not remember their names – but took it as another clear sign to call it a day.
“I would feel old honey, holy cow!” she quipped. “You know it’s time for me to go.”
Nevertheless, Melanson has developed quite the fanbase among today’s parents and children.
On June 26, the last full day of school, mother Heidi Nicholson turned up with her two children, Ben and Ila, handing her a small gift as a thank you for keeping them safe.
“Janet is awesome,” said Nicholson. “She’s all about keeping us safe, she’s always got a smile on her face for us. She’s always there to chat and ... I don’t know what we’re going to do without her.”
When asked what Melanson meant to her, Ila shyly replied, “She…keeps us safe.”
“Don’t be shy – I’m a pain in the butt!,” Melanson joked back.
As she prepares for retirement, Melanson is looking forward to spending more time with her three children and grand-babies.
Her last message to her schoolchildren was a heartfelt one.
“Be safe, be happy,” said Melanson. “Try to make other people happy.”

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