People of Charlotte, it's an honor to introduce you to Mr. Weathers, a man with a heart of gold. I was fortunate to have listened to his story firsthand over breakfast at The Flying Biscuit. I learned a lot from Mr. Weathers, as he made me reflect and reminded me to tune into our elders.
On August 17th, I will be 85 years old.
I came out of retirement for my crossing guard position- at Barclay Downs and Runnymede- for Selwyn Elementary and Alexander Graham Middle School. I have been helping all of God’s children (his Kings) safely cross the street for almost six years. After my first day, I knew it was going to be my dream job. All of those beautiful children just make my heart so happy.
What do the kids call you?
Either Mr. John or Mr. Weathers. I would call myself “the crossing guard with the broom.”
Any advice for people driving near your crosswalk?
Have respect for safety.
Tell us about your work schedule:
I wake up at 5 a.m. to allow about 30 minutes for my drive to the school. The morning shift starts at 6:30 a.m. and ends at 8:30 a.m. At 2 p.m., I return to the school to set up for the afternoon- 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. I pack a cooler with water, which I share with the police when they stop by. I also bring a broom, a trashbag that I hang, and a trash picker upper.
What do you do with your time between shifts?
I go home and start checking off my honey-do list. I also enjoy helping people, like moving and hauling items. I get a kick out of it.
You must know that crosswalk pretty well!
Yes! I see many of the same cars and people walking each day. I love when children say hello. One four year old girl has been waving to me from the backseat of her mom’s car since she was two. If her mom forgets to slow down for her to wave, she circles back around.
I have learned a lot about my crosswalk, like where birds like to nest. I have a respect for nature. There is a small tree that I have nursed back to health at the corner.
It was laying flat, had been trampled on. I uprighted it with a brace that I made from branches and it now seems to be growing fine. However, the gumball tree is a lot to keep up with! I don’t want the kids to get hurt from the spiky balls, so I pick them up from the sidewalk.
Tell us about your family:
My wife and I were married in 1953. Dorothy and I met during lunch when I was working with her stepdad. It’s just she and I at home now. Dorothy is just as pretty as she can be! I should have someone go out with her to keep others away.
We have two daughters and one son. Each of them have one boy and one girl. I have one great-great-grandchild- a boy. My eldest grand daughter is 38. My eldest grandson, a sophomore, plays basketball for Queens University. I love to watch him play.
Any parenting advice?
If you plants the seeds for kids to be good people, nourish what you have planted, you can then reap the harvest.
Where do you currently reside?
My wife and I live in the Hidden Valley community off Sugarcreek Road.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in the Steel Creek area, near Carowinds. I then grew up on a sharecropping farm off of Shopton Road- right near what is now the police training academy. My father worked in the fields all day. He is the one who taught me how to drive farm equipment. I attended a high school in Pineville, which was 22 miles away. I remember that bus ride!
Tell us about your family growing up:
There were six of us: three girls and three boys. I had two more sisters who passed away when they were young. One sister passed away at the age of eight from a hole in her heart and my other sister passed away at the age of 12 from an accident. Her dress caught on fire when she was cooking and she ran outside. I saw her running. My family saw her. By the time we caught her, it was too late. I will never forget.
When did you get your driver’s license?
One day after arriving at our high school in Pineville, our bus driver quit. He just quit, leaving about 12 of us without a way to get back home that afternoon. The highway patrol came to the school and asked if any of us were close to turning 16 years old. After letting them know I was almost 16, one of the officers asked, “How would you like to take a driver’s test today?” The patrolman then asked if I would drive the bus with the students back home. I was not too comfortable with that idea but they kept on asking. I ended up getting my driver’s permit that afternoon. The patrol officer told my principal that he now had a bus driver with a special permit. Driving wasn’t too hard to learn since I drove tractors on the farm. I still remember backing the bus into the #3 bus-slot as part of my test. Boy was I scared! The patrolman then had to find my family to sign the driver’s permit. My dad was working in the fields when he was told that I could get my license after turning 16.
What an interesting story! How did your mom react?
When my mother came to the door and saw me driving the bus onto the farm, her eyes were big as doorknobs. She thought I stole the school bus and called for my dad. Interestingly, that event inspired many in my family to become bus-drivers. For three years of my life, I drove a school bus.
What is your story about President John F. Kennedy?
My mother and father worked for Judge Spencer Bell for 15-20 years. They lived on his Providence Road property- mom cooked and dad did maintenance. One notable day, President John F. Kennedy came for a visit and I got to shake his hand! I didn’t want to wash my hands for two days! The visit wasn’t announced to the public since the President and Judge Bell were friends. Mom made her delicious biscuits for the breakfast.
I have a signed photo of President Kennedy and Judge Bell hanging in my house. Judge Bell was such a nice man, he even treated one of my daughters to summer camp.
What kind of work did you do before retiring and becoming a crossing guard?
For over 50 years, I drove a tractor trailer for the same company covering the Southeast (driving up to 500 miles in a day). It was hog heaven when a driver arrived at his destination! When I arrived at the loading docks in Charleston, all the activity there made it sound like bees. In all that time, I never had a sick day. I was also in the army for two years- six weeks prior to shipping out to Korea, the war was ended.
Any highlights from your truck driving days?
When I achieved a safe-driving score of 3.5, I traveled to Raleigh to receive a driver of the month award.
Any highlights from your crossing guard days so far?
I had to look up to keep the tears from coming down when the kids hung a huge birthday banner for me when I was 80. I keep this picture framed in my house.
How do you stay fit?
It’s not about how much you eat, it’s about how much you move. If you keep moving, you keep your health. If you sit down, your body will shut down. The crosswalk keeps me moving everyday.
Fish. I could eat fish three times a day. I love catfish and croaker. There is a delicious fish camp in Mt. Pleasant that we used to visit.
Do you cook?
No, I grill. My wife is a wonderful cook and loves it. I say, if you can cook an egg custard you can cook. She can cook a delicious egg custard.
Any favorite family vacations?
We went to the Mall of America (MN) on the second day it opened. We have also gone to many of the Six Flags parks, even riding the largest roller coasters of their time. Charleston, SC was also a favorite place to visit.
Where do you attend church?
I have been attending McClintock Presbyterian for over 45 years, serving as an officer and an elder, while helping out with Room in the Inn.
Tell us something about you that we may not know.
I like to talk! I could talk all day- I bet you didn’t know I was such a talker! Also, since I love to talk, I have one more story. My daughter caught my father reading the newspaper upside down one day. We all laughed so hard. Afterwards, she taught him to read and write. He was so proud. He passed away at 78 years old and my mother passed at 94 years old.
“The Lord has been good to us.”
“Look up and He’s there.”