Lehighton woman in 53rd year as crossing guard
Fran Haas, as she’s done for the past 53 years, helps Lehighton Area School District students cross the streets safely. Haas is currently in her 53rd year as a crossing guard. Visit www.tnonline.com for a video. TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS
In a world that’s constantly changing, Fran Haas has remained the one constant in the lives of countless Lehighton area youth.
For over a half-century, children who board and later step off the school bus have been aided by the comforting presence of Haas.
Now in her 53rd year as a crossing guard, Haas has been a staple at the corner of Second and Coal street for decades.
“I love the kids, I feel responsible for my kids,” Haas said. “They are like my own, and you get used to them.”
The early years
Haas said she began her tenure as a crossing guard at the prodding of the late Wilbur “Cap” Bauchspies.
“He was the mayor at the time, and he asked me if I wanted to be a crossing guard,” she said. “I said ‘sure.’ He said, “Put your right hand up,” and swore me in.”
Haas said she began her tenure at the former Scotty’s Fashions, where she remained until being relocated.
“There wasn’t any crossing guards at that area,” she said.
Eventually, Haas was relocated to the corner at Second and Coal streets, where she has remained ever since.
“I love my kids, they love me,” Haas said. “The parents are very nice to me, I never had a problem.”
Haas said it isn’t just school-age children whom she helps cross the streets.
“It’s not just the kids,” she said. “It’s anybody that’s here, and they appreciate it.”
Need for crossing guards
Without question, finding crossing guards of Haas’ ilk is becoming harder.
The Lehighton Borough Police Department recently advertised for crossing guards and took to Facebook to post the following:
“Looking for part-time crossing guards. The borough is in need of coverage for various bus stops to provide safety to our children.”
The crossing guards must possess a criminal record check and PA Child Abuse History Clearance.
Applications must be picked up and returned to the police department from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Haas said perhaps even more now than ever, crossing guards play a vital role in keeping pedestrians safe.
“With the traffic today, it’s terrible,” she said. “They just don’t care, they’re in a hurry.”
Coincidentally, Haas isn’t the only member of her family who is a crossing guard.
Her husband, Hilbert “Hilly” Haas, is currently a part-time crossing guard.
Before that, Hilbert spent over 50 years as a bus driver for the district.
Together, the couple resides on Cypress Street.
As she reflects on her tenure, Haas said she’s proud of what she’s accomplished.
“I think I did a good job all these years,” she said. “I’m proud because nothing ever happened at my corner in all my years.”
Haas, 79, said she plans to continue serving as a crossing guard “for as long as my legs will take me.”
“I thank the kids that I had; they have families of their own, and they stop at the corner and they talk to me,” she said. “They say, ‘you were my crossing guard,’ and that makes you feel good that they remember you.”