Offering More Than Safety and Smiles

East Haven school crossing guard Diann Streeter gets tremendous satisfaction from her work with kids-and from her big Italian family.

Diann Streeter not only has a special way with "her kids" that she sees each weekday as a school crossing guard, but also a very special way with numbers.

That's right, numbers. Rattle off random dates and she can usually tell you what important event happened on that day.

Her memory is amazing with her extended Italian family, as well. She adores her nieces and nephews. "They are the best part of my life," she says.

Her nieces enjoy playing "Ask Aunt Diann." This game entails trying to trip her up about birthdays, anniversary dates, and more.

Diann laughingly recalls her niece Alexis thinking she'd be able to trip up her aunt with a recent question.

Alexis asked her about a random Nov. 10 date and, without missing a beat Diann answered, "That was the date the Marines were founded."

It's a gift Diann has had since she was a teen and fell in love with history in school.

"I wasn't very good in math, but did well in history, and I helped friends in high school when they couldn't remember things," she recalls.

Diann was born in East Haven and has lived here with her brothers her entire life. She comes from what she says is a typical large, Catholic Italian, protective family.

"It can be overbearing at times to have three overly protective brothers, but it's also safe and nice to know that if anything happens they are right there to protect me," Diann says.

She fondly recalls "a great upbringing" growing up, which she finds is rare among friends she knows these days.

The family attended church and Sunday school every week, and Diann was a Girl Scout who used to ride on the parade floats and now enjoys bringing her nieces to Girl Scout meetings.

"I am so thankful and grateful that my grandparents who came from Italy settled in East Haven and that we were able to grow up here," Diann says.

Her mom Phyllis was a homemaker and her father Donald was a firefighter for 25 years in town.

Diann says, "Dad either worked 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. or 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and my mother made sure we never ate dinner without him."

Her dad was also an artist who painted the outside of Old Stone Church. His work also graces the Sandpiper Restaurant.

Diann's youngest brother, Billy, got his artistic skills from their father-he's now a well known artist who paints motorcycles and motorcycle tanks. Diann's brother Tommy is a truck driver and her brother Stevie does remodeling/woodwork.

Diann was not always a school crossing guard-in fact, for 31 years she worked in the real estate field in data entry, but was laid off about two years ago.

Diann noticed a help-wanted ad in the Courier for a school crossing guard and is now grateful the town hired her to do what she loves.

The hardest part of her job was the days following the Newtown tragedy. Diann hid her tears and sorrow behind her trademark sunglasses and cap.

Today, the smiling faces of the kids on the buses and in cars waving madly at Diann as they arrive and depart from school give her a thrill every day.

In her spare time, Diann loves knitting blankets and hats. Each summer she spends time making these items and giving them to charity. Last summer she gave away blankets and about 30 hats to the local church.

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