Kevin “K” Sampson has been walking the streets of Kingston since he was toddling. He never fails to offer a smile and a wave for anyone willing to receive it. Sampson is most often seen strolling the streets of Uptown, and is also recognized from his work as a crossing guard and security officer from 1977 until he retired in 1994.
Carrie Jones Ross: Where were you born and raised?
Kevin Sampson: I grew up in Kingston. Came in 1968 from Montvale. I went off and on to Kingston Hospital having surgeries. In 1974, I went to Memorial Hospital in New York City. Eight surgeries in New York City in the 1970s, and 1982, I had my last one in Philadelphia.
CJR: Where did you live growing up in Kingston?
KS: I mostly grew up in Rondout Gardens, then moved onto Elmendorf Street. Moved again onto Elmendorf and Foxhall. Then Lafayette Avenue. Now I live on Wall Street. I didn’t like Rondout Gardens because I couldn’t have pets. I love dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, chipmunks, birds, hawks and eagles. I love eagles very much. I care about abuse of animals, children and elderly people. That turns me off. If I had my way, [abusers] would never see a courtroom, but I know they have to. When I hear of things being done to them, I just go berserk. I wonder, “What is wrong with you? How can you do these things?”
KS: A sister Sandra Sampson and her son, my nephew Melik Davis, 40, cousin Rosyln Drake, Patsy Sampson. My grandfather was half-[Native American] and half-black. And my cats: Felix II, Misty, Sammy, Dino and Ninos.
CJR: What did you want to be when you grew up?
KS: I wanted to climb telephone poles and work for Central Hudson. I used to make telephone poles when I played outside, wanting to work for Central Hudson, But then I found out one thing … I couldn’t stand heights.
I had always wanted to be a policeman since I was 6 years old. I always had the highest respect for them. I know they’re not perfect [but] I respect them and the fire department. I like that they protect people and keep people safe. That was my mission to keep people safe in the parking garage and help children cross. First I was a school crossing guard and then security guard. I had people’s lives and children’s [lives] in my hands. I always had the busiest corners… Sunday traffic at Wurts at St. Peter’s Catholic Church. I was always concerned with helping people and keeping them safe. Always helped with shoplifters and held them until the police came at the parking garage. I also used to work downtown at city court; passed out charges and information. The purpose of me having the surgery was to join the military, but it didn’t work out that way. After my surgery, I came back, worked for the Kingston Police Department doing security. Then, I wanted to be a fulltime police officer, but the surgery didn’t turn it out the way I expected it to be. Always very close with the older cops, and the fireman. The juvenile officer I worked with was like a father to me, Officer Joe Kiblin. Otto Short. Brother Harry Short. Rick Parese. Sergeant Buddy Wolf.
I am very patriotic. I wear flag buttons, hats and stuff like that. I fly the American flag and the New York State flag as well.
CJR: Do you have any hobbies?
KS: Yes, I do art. Sky scenes of the moon and sun, collages. I collect tools and I like the cartoons and Japanese anime cartoons, like the older anime cartoons. Used to watch everything having to do with police on TV in the ’70s. Cannon, Barnaby Jones, Magnum, P.I., Police Story, Emergency!, NASA.
CJR: What is different about Uptown Kingston today than 10 years ago?
KS: It is not like back when we were kids. The Kingston Police Department is trying to get rid of the drugs. Every once in a while you hear about shootings. That is so pathetic. That is so evil. But we try to best of our ability to correct it.
CJR: What is your condition?
KS: Tumors, neurofibromatosis.
CJR: Were you born with it?
KS: It came on me at three years old. They are tumors that have been worked on time and time again. But they come back, especially in the face. Just about all over the body. If it’s not bothering me then I just leave it alone.
CJR: How does it affect your health?
KS: Doesn’t affect my health that much. Every once in a while it will pull. It doesn’t hurt; it’s just irritating.
CJR: How do people react when meeting you?
KS: I usually come across stupid and ignorant people. I am very calm and then all of the sudden I let it out. I let people know where to get off. A joke is a joke, but the time isn’t it. But then I feel sorry for them because they have problems with themselves. Big ones. Stress is the number-one killer, and I am not going to let it kill me. If they get smart, then I put them in their place. Sometimes it goes right over their head, and other times it doesn’t.
CJR: As a crossing guard did you have a problem?
KS: Once in a blue moon I did.
CJR: Favorite Uptown hang-out?
KS: Hannford’s, Walgreen’s. Dallas Hot Weiners, Elena’s Diner, Plaza Pizza … The Savonas are good friends of mine. Also Vincenzo’s Pizza.