After 36 years, Dulin hangs up the vest

Published 11:10 am Thursday, June 1, 2017

GROVES — Wanda Dulin stood in the street near Van Buren Elementary School, bright yellow crossing guard vest distinctly visible, and halted traffic as parents and children left the campus.

A navy blue ball cap shielded her from the afternoon sun and contrasted perfectly with her bright red hair.

Soon, McKayla Hranicky stopped to give Dulin a hug.

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“Every day we talk and say toodle-oo,” Allison Hranicky said.

The Hranicky’s has known Dulin for several years and the recent hug was bittersweet, not just because the school year has come to an end. Dulin is retiring from her post as crossing guard after 36 years.

“She’s the only one I say toodle-oo to,” Dulin said referring the McKayla, who will be going to the fourth grade, and another campus, next year.

Wanda Dulin, right, talks with Jose Huerta and Shirley Walters as Peanut, the Chihuahua, chimes in.
Mary Meaux/The News

Next came an SUV driven by Jose Huerta. Inside was Shirley Walters and her Chihuahua, Peanut.

“We’re going to miss her,” Huerta said of Dulin.

Huerta talked a bit longer with Dulin before moving his SUV on to the school.

“See, I talk to people. I get so attached to people and dogs,” she said with a laugh.

Wanda Dulin directs traffic at Van Buren Elementary School. She will be retiring today
(June 1) after 36 years as a school crossing guard.
Mary Meaux/The News

Dulin said she can’t remember exactly why she began work as a school crossing guard — she just started doing it and kept going.

“I really enjoy it,” Dulin said. “I really enjoy the people. I’m going to miss them.”

She has worked at several other schools but most of her career has been spent at the Van Buren campus.

Dulin has many cherished moments from her time directing traffic and aiding pedestrians. One year a class of third graders drew a picture of her with her signature red hair and vest and stop sign. She still has the signed drawing.

Through more than three decades, Dulin has stood near the school, rain or shine, through freezing temperatures and blazing heat.

“I’m on this little road,” she said. “Sometimes the kids want to touch my hand (as they cross) and I touch their hand and sometimes there’s a dog to touch. I’ve really enjoyed this.”

Dulin said her husband is retired and has been asking her when she will retire as well. He’s ready for them to spend some quality time together. They have a big yard and trees and lots to keep them busy.

Dulin’s eyes misted slightly at the thought of not being out in the street working as a school crossing guard where she spend a lot of time waving — and not just to direct traffic.

She’s persistent in her greeting of the parents and guardians coming and going from the school.

“Some don’t want to wave, but I keep waving and after a while, they wave back,” she said.

Her last day on the job is today. With a big smile she said she’s mulling the idea of hanging out next school year just to wave.


Reporter: Mary Meaux, 409-721-2429

Twitter: @MaryMeauxPANews