By Barbara Jimenez
The last day of school, Friday, June 7, was the last day on the job for Dorothy Brewer, 86, who retired after 40 years as a school crossing guard in Northeast Los Angeles, mostly in Highland Park.
In all, Mrs. Brewer’s assignments have included Garvanza Elementary, Annandale Elementary, Glen Alta Elementary (in El Sereno), Monte Vista Elementary and, for the last 15 years, Buchanan Elementary. So, if you attended grade school in Highland Park anytime since the late 1970s, chances are good it was Mrs. Brewer who walked you safely from curb to curb. Ditto if your kids or grandkids went to school in Highland Park in the past four decades.
Near the end of the school day on Mrs. Brewer’s last working day, her granddaughter, Jasmine Brewer-Carrillo, who lives in Sacramento, made a surprise appearance at Mrs. Brewer’s intersection at Buchanan Street and North Avenue 50. With Jasmine were her husband, Ramiro, and their two children – Mrs. Brewer’s great grandchildren – Jason, 4, and Rexy, 9 months.
That memorable moment capped 40-years’ worth of good memories. “Every day was a good day and I really enjoyed it,” said Mrs. Brewer in an interview with the Boulevard Sentinel. “I couldn’t have done any other job for 40 years and be as happy as I was with this job.”
She chalks up her love of the job to “all the kids,” adding, “Kids come up with some funny things. They tell you all their secrets, some of them bad, too, so I’d just have to perk them up.”
Mrs. Brewer’s roots in Highland Park date to 1958. She and her husband, John Brewer, Sr. moved from Atlanta to Pasadena in 1956 and, two years later, bought a house on one of the steep hillside streets off of Figueroa Street in Highland Park. Mrs. Brewer still lives there. Mr. Brewer, who worked as an engineer in the space shuttle program, died in 2016.
The Brewers had four children — John, Jr., Jeffray, Joan and Jacqueline – all of whom attended Annandale, Luther Burbank Middle School and Franklin High School in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Two of the Brewers’ eight grandchildren, Jasmine and Jonathan, also grew up in Highland Park. The number of great grandchildren has grown to six. Mrs. Brewer’s daughter, Joan, and grandson, Jonathan, still live in NELA.
Before she became a crossing guard with the City of L.A., Mrs. Brewer volunteered at Annandale, was active in the PTA and served with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. She coached youth softball and raised money for local baseball programs by selling popcorn and ice cream at Eagle Rock Little League games.
Mrs. Brewer is now deciding where to volunteer next, perhaps at a senior center. She stays busy with gardening, shopping and attending Jonathan’s softball games that are played on the field at Occidental College. She enjoys traveling to visit Jasmine in Sacramento and other relatives in the Bay Area.
As for her life as a crossing guard, she had this to say: “I’m going to miss it. These have been the best 40 years.”
| All photos by Joan Brewer