BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — In 1974, the United States was transfixed by the Watergate scandal and in love with disco.
It also happens to be the year a Long Island woman began her career as a crossing guard. On the first day of school, she was honored for her 43 years of ensuring kids get to school safely.
As long as students at Brentwood South Middle School can remember, they’ve relied on Suffolk County crossing guard Denee Wood to get them across the street without harm.
But they’ll tell you it’s much more than that.
“Every morning she’s greeted us with a ‘Hello, how are you doing’, asking, ‘how is your summer? How’s your day?’,” 16-year-old Devon Williams said Wednesday.
That caring concern cuts both ways, since it’s also what has gotten Wood up every morning before 7 a.m. for over four decades.
“I love getting up in the morning, seeing the kids and getting my day started and finding out what’s happening,” Wood said.
In front of her fellow crossing guards and with her husband Don at her side, Wood was honored by Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini.
Her husband of 55 years wasn’t surprised.
“She is dedicated and she loves crossing the kids to make sure they get to school,” Don said following the ceremony.
Denee says she still cherishes a photo taken in 1974 when she first donned the uniform. She says through the decades, the school kids have remained polite but their fashion has certainly changed.
“It went from sweatpants to jeans, to ripped jeans, to kids wearing their pants lower and lower and then wearing them higher,” she recalls.
She says an even bigger change is how fast and reckless some drivers are, even around the school.
Wood’s stood on her corner in all types of weather and always has the same wish as the calendar turns — a mild winter.
As for retirement, she says she will remain at her post for as long as she’s physically able and there are kids who need to cross.