A Community Story From Hal Lifson – Charlie The Crossing Guard
By Hal Lifson
When I drop my 5th and 3rd grader daughters (Sofia and Olympia) off at El Rodeo School each morning, I am greeted by Charlie “The Crossing Guard,” always smiling in his day-glo yellow vest and hat, and carrying the big red “stop” sign that I wish I could wave at many school board meetings.
Charlie Topiol has worked for the City of Beverly Hills as a professional crossing guard for many years now, since closing his successful clothing store in Hollywood, where he sold Levis’ jeans to stars like Jerry Seinfeld who always had trouble finding the “black ones” he so loved.
Charlie even has a note from Seinfeld on his wall. Charlie is also a car fanatic with a cool workshop at his home off of Melrose Avenue. When I went to visit his automobile fix-it shop, he was revealed as a real life “Mr. Miyagi” from The Karate Kid, whose backyard is a museum of cars and parts in various stages of repair. Charlie certainly keeps busy when he gets home from school.
The girls love taking turns sitting in his canvas portable chair and hearing his funny stories and jokes. It’s a real blessing for me to have “Uncle” Charlie to rely upon, to keep an eye on the girls before I pick them up, sometimes running late after firing off a few last emails to keep my PR business flowing. We took Charlie to his favorite Canter’s Deli recently and he’s become part of the family, which is how a lot of El Rodeo kids and parents feel that see Charlie and his crew each morning as they diligently serve our community.
He always has a quick story about something in the news and never fails to point out the frustration he feels at so many distracted drivers. But there he is out there each weekday making sure our kids have a safe passage and a friendly greeting to start the day.
The least I can do is buy the guy a corned beef sandwich, right?