When she first became a crossing guard in Lynbrook, Randi Dyrvik recalled that her late husband, Oystein, didn’t think she would last a full year. She ended up holding the position for five decades.
“When I got that job, my husband made fun of me and said, ‘You’re never going to make it. It’s never going to happen. You’re going to quit right away,’” Dyrvik said in her Norwegian accent at her home on Fenimore Street in Lynbrook, as classical music played softly in the background. “I hated the job at first. It was miserable, but I said I would stick it out one year just to prove to my husband that I could do it.
“Then you had the summer vacation,” she continued. “And I thought, maybe it wasn’t so bad.”
What started out as motivation to one-up her husband turned into a labor of love for Dyrvic.
For 34 years, she worked a post near Davison Avenue Intermediate School, which has a Lynbrook address but is actually part of the Malverne School District. Then, she was moved near Our Lady of Peace School in Lynbrook, where she remained for several years. In 2013 she was posted at the intersection of Taft Avenue and Merrick Road, to guide students at Lynbrook North Middle School.
On Sept. 29, the day after her 87th birthday, Dyrvik assumed her post one last time before her retirement. It was the end of a long tenure, which began when she was 37, and was sworn into the position by then Lynbrook Mayor Francis X. Becker.
“I was so nervous,” Dyrvik said about that day. “Very nervous. Oh my gosh, I had never done anything like that before. And I was young back then.”
She said she heard about the opening from other crossing guards. She pursued the job because it provided her the same schedule as her children, who attended West End Elementary School at the time.
“It was really nice, because I could relate to the children, because I had so many kids myself the same age,” she said. “So I really enjoyed that job.”
Before immigrating to the United States when she was 25, Dyrvik grew up in Norway and lived there through World War II, while it was occupied by Nazi Germany. She recounted that it was five years of restrictions, including food rationing. People had to ask permission from the government to buy clothes and shoes, and the Germans confiscated their cars. They also had to carry around passports when they traveled by bus so they could show they belonged in the country, Dyrvik said.
In the 1950s, she married Oystein, a cargo ship captain. They came to America after they had a daughter, Guri, because Oystein got a job with a shipping company in New York City.
While in America, they had three more children — all boys — and named them Harald, Per-Erik and Finn. Oystein died in 2002, and all four children now live out of state.
Dyrvic said she and her husband intended to return to Norway, and gave their children common Norwegian names.
“We thought it’d be nice to come here for a few years,” she said. “And we never went back.” She added that she tries to visit Norway at least once a year, but hasn’t since 2016.
For 50 years, Dyrvik began her shift at 7:30 a.m. and remain at her post until 9:30 a.m., Monday through Friday. She would then go home, and shepherd students through her crosswalk from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. For a few years, Dyrvik said, she worked in Lynbrook’s Department of Public Works between shifts while the secretaries there were at lunch, a job she said she enjoyed.
During her final week as a crossing guard, the DPW hung a message congratulating Dyrvic for reaching the 50-year mark on the sign outside its headquarters, which is near her post. “That was a big surprise,” she said. “I didn’t expect that. That was fun.”
The Lynbrook board of trustees also gave her a plaque to commemorate her service to the village. She said she declined an offer from village officials to have the plaque presented to her at next Monday’s televised public meeting because she doesn’t like attention. Instead they will deliver it to her home.
“She was a dedicated and excellent employee,” Police Chief Joseph Neve said, “and she will surely be missed.”
Dyrvik said she would miss interacting with the children the most, and getting to know the three generations of students and parents.
She added that she will also miss her co-workers, but noted that many have retired or moved on over the years. She said she had no plans to celebrate her retirement, but that didn’t stop friends, family members and co-workers from celebrating her. Flowers lined her home in recognition of her final day and her birthday.
Lynbrook North Middle School Principal Sean Fallon surprised Dyrvik at her post with a bouquet on her last day, and some of the students presented her with a card they had signed wishing her a happy retirement.
“All of the kids, they were so cute,” she said. “That surprised me. I almost fell down and passed out.”
Dyrvik said she is unsure what she will do with her free time. “That’s the problem,” she said. “That’s why I didn’t retire before. I’ll have to find something to do. I’ll have to get myself organized. I’m happy. Fifty years is enough.”