The School Bus With A Grin

Little Red River Journal, March 17, 1982

For at least 44 years there have been children in our family in school at Pangburn. For most of that time there has been one or several catching the bus at the home place on top of the hill at Pangburn.

There is a break in the trees at the old Goodwin place. So we could see the big yellow bus winding its way down highway 16 in plenty of time to give out the familiar yell, and kids would come pouring out of the houses into the driveway in plenty of time to catch the bus. The buses always had a sound of their own so that even if we couldn't see them we could recognize their sound.

Riding the bus was always a pleasant experience for me. We had bus drivers that joked with us and never gave us a hard time. In the afternoon the bus smelled of children's sweat and bubble gum, and there was a great feeling or promise. School was out and it was time to do whatever the day might bring.

For a long time the bus didn't run back into Pine Snag, because of the roads, I guess, and I can remember seeing students walking down the lane to catch the bus on the road. Our field was cleared then so we could see the lane clearly. One time three boys decided they would take a short cut across Crook's field. Mr. Crook's bull thought that was his field and gave them a run for their lives. They split up and confused him and got away safely.

Mellie Jane Ghent stayed at Della's boarding house some so she could go to school. I am sure a lot of others may have stayed there, too, but I remember seeing her there.

The bus not only took us to school, but who can forget boarding the bus at night with our freshly washed and pressed ball suits. We were heading out to some town or another to play ball. Our bus driver went the extra two miles up the hill to see that I got home safely.

I never memorized Bible verses; they were learned the hard way - they just came to life. One night I was sitting on the edge of the stage in the gym dressed out at a ball game, and I saw my old boy friend getting cozy with a girl named Betty on the top row of bleachers. Right then and there I decided that he was going to take me home. So I waited outside the gym while he walked her to the bus that I should have boarded, knowing full well that he would ask to take me home, and he did.

In my senior year it was reaping time, and the crop really came in. We had a new bus rule that said if you went on the bus to another school, you came home on that bus. We went to Rose Bud where my current boy friend lived. While I was playing ball he was talking to a girl named Betty. She and I sat on either side of him for the other two games, then he walked me to the bus and went back and took her home!

With forced busing, high fuel prices, and sheer numbers of students, busing has been given a black eye in recent years. In our day it was a lifeline to a strange and exciting world outside our own, and a friendly place where the driver was its soul and its personality. I saw the school bus with lights for eyes and always wearing a big grin.