NEEDHAM (CBS) – Twice a day the fluorescent vest comes out. The white gloves slip on. David Pinkham puts on his game face and fires himself up.
“I said to myself ‘Alright, Dave, game on. Let’s do this. Let’s get this traffic moving.”
Outside Newman Elementary in Needham, at drop off and pick-up, it’s Pinkham on patrol. No doubt Central Street offers some challenges.
“There’s six lanes of traffic – one, two, three, four, five, six – going into the school, and then you have to weave the kids through that,” Pinkham said as he pointed around excitedly. And pointing is something he does a lot. Pinkham is always pointing, running, waving and – most of all – impressing.
Needham parent Dave Lazarus said, “Mr. Pinkham is the best crossing guard I’ve seen. He keeps traffic moving. He’s great with the kids, and he’s dancing out there every day, and it’s the best.”
Pinkham actually hasn’t been a crossing guard long.
So where did he learn to move kids and cars with military precision? In the military, actually.
“The job was to hunt Soviet submarines. It was anti-submarine warfare squadron.”
Pinkham was in the United States Navy. His Cold War job was to direct air traffic on the tarmac.
“It was very challenging – so much going on, and you had to pay attention. There are so many squadrons of helicopters, jets, P-3s, and they are moving simultaneously all over the place.”
In 1981, the Navy’s magazine profiled Pinkham. The article was about his infectious energy directing planes and how his enthusiasm made him a favorite of Navy pilots.
How does his job as a crossing guard compare to his work in the Navy? With a very serious look, Pinkham said, “It’s pretty much the same.”
Now, it’s busses instead of bombers. Strollers instead of squadrons. But the 60-year-old means business. He works outside of the school– outside of school hours.
But David Pinkham is teaching kids that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
“I want people to know this guy cared, That’s what I do out there. I care.”