Thursday, August 11, 2011

The School Bus

The school bus came into my life in the fifth grade. During my first through fourth grade years, we lived in the city; my sister and I walked to school then. In the summer between fourth and fifth grade we moved to the suburbs, and school was too far to walk. So began my adventure on the school bus!

Our new house was the first one on our street to be occupied. Our street was in a new development that had sprung up in the midst of farmland. When we moved in, the street had not been paved yet. It rained a lot that summer and the street turned to mud. The mail truck would not come down the street, so we had to walk up to the main road to get our mail. Same with the school bus; it wouldn't come down the street, so my sister and I had to walk up to the main road to catch it.

We rode on bus number nine. I remember it well. Our ride to school took about 45 minutes, and it made a very circuitous route. We went around to all the farms, picking up all the farm kids at the ends of their long driveways. I still remember a lot of our route... Feedwire Road, Social Row Road, etc. Our bus driver was a local farmer, and this was his part-time job. His farm must have been close to us because he picked us up first, so we got to ride the entire route.

Our driver was quite a character. His name was Mr. Reeder. He was a no-nonsense, old-fashioned farmer, who put up with no trouble from us kids. He was a tight-lipped, taciturn man; I don't remember him ever speaking. We weren't at all afraid of him, but we knew we had to behave. Actually, my sister and I weren't the type to misbehave anyway, but we did have some boys on the bus who were known to be pretty rowdy in other situations. Not on Mr. Reeder's bus, though.

My sister and I were lucky to be the first one on the bus because we got to choose on which side we sat. No one wanted to sit on the driver's side, at least not in warm weather. In warm weather the windows were always open, and Mr. Reeder chewed tobacco. Once in a while, he would turn to his side window and spit... a big, juicy wad of brown tobacco juice. It was bad enough in the winter when the windows were closed. Then you had to see it splat against your window. But in warm weather, if you dared to open your window, you risked it flying in. Ugh! I can still remember the smell of it!

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