Riding the Bus

This shot of kids boarding the bus on the south side of Central High School in 1966 has some interesting things in the background. First off, Millikan Car lot is loaded with cars. Griff’s Burger Bar is just out of the frame. There’s a billboard pitching Suedekum and Son Hardware. The Sinclair Dino gasoline in Cape Girardeau sign is for Huckstep Oil Company.

In the far background you can see students walking home down Caruthers.

Standing room only

I remember some days that the bus had late riders standing in the aisle, but I didn’t think it was THIS crowded. I think the Class of 66 might have been bigger than the Class of 65, so that would explain it.

I didn’t mind riding the bus. The driver was a SEMO student picking up some spare money. He was a nice guy; in fact he and his girlfriend would come by the house some evenings and I would help them with their homework and provide them reference materials. I think he was writing some papers on topics we covered in debate.

Bright and early

Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like the bus came by the house at an ungodly hour, like 7 a.m. I had a curious study routine. I found out that if I did my homework before going to bed that I would drag it out and procrastinate for hours.

If, on the other hand, I calculated about how long I thought it would take me to do the homework and got up, leaving just enough time to do it, eat breakfast and get dressed before the bus got there, I could get a decent night’s sleep. It was the classic adage of “A task will expand to occupy all of the time available to it.” Seeing that deadline marching toward me allowed me to focus on the job, something that I always liked about the news business.

When I moved to North Carolina, I was surprised to see they allowed high school students to be bus drivers. The driver would take his (it was a guy thing) bus home at the end of the route and start out from home at the start of the next day. I think the safety record was amazing. I don’t recall ever working a wreck involving a student driver, which is pretty amazing, considering some of the roads they had to go on.

9 Replies to “Riding the Bus”

  1. Stephen Allen is in the top photo facing the camera at the front wheel. He and I rode the bus together. But none of the others look familiar. Having no other busses parked bumper to bumper makes me think this is a special event. Our route took in North Sprigg, Melody Lane (now Lexington at Big Bend), East Cape Rock to the water plant and the Country Club, and North Main from Popp’s Store to the levee. I lived near the end of the route. We did stand in the aisle for some distance through town (remember the hand rails above?) but I don’t remember suffering from crowding or dangerous maneuvers. Actually the most social and enjoyable part of my school experience. We didn’t have problem people on the bus and the YOUNG college student drivers did a good job.

  2. I caught the bus at Vogel’s Grocery on the corner or West End Boulevard and Bloomfield Road. Our stop was the last stop on the way to school and the first to unload in the afternoon. I don’t remember ever having room to sit down on a bus ride to CHS.

  3. I remember riding the bus to Franklin School, junior high and high school. We had city buses then with the side seats as well as the row seats. There were advertisements on the walls by the ceiling and vertical and horizonal handrails. Later we rode the traditional yellow school buses with row seating. After we moved to Grandview Dr, I remember the bus picking up a Kenny Steinhoff and the Garner boys a the bus stop in front of one of their homes. After I got to be an upperclassman in high school, it was no longer “cool” to ride the bus.

  4. Loretta Grantham at The Post used to be a bus driver in N.C. She has wild tales – those mountain roads are tricky in good weather.

  5. The large building in the background was Dow Chemical. The street the kids are walking down is Sheridan Drive which I along with several others (Kay Gilliland, Judith Faris, Danny Upchurch and others) walked every day to and from school. Does anyone remember the trampolines located at the corner of Sheridan and Independence. There were pits dug in the ground with trampolines over the pits; you paid for a certain number of minutes and jumped to your hearts desire. In the next block of Indepence (East), there was a putt putt! Good days!

  6. Oops, I caught you in a technicality; in the first photo, the students in the distant background are walking on Sheridan Drive. Caruthers ended at Independence.

    1. That’s not an error: it’s a feature.

      See, I know that some folks aren’t happy unless they can find a mistake, so I make sure to insert at least one flaw in every story to keep those folks coming back. Sometimes weeks go by without anyone catching one of my inserted errors.

      1. I think you do it on purpose to see if we are really giving your work the attention it deserves. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

  7. I graduated with the class of ’64. I rode the bus and it was always packed! If
    you got on late, you were standing in the aisle. Hello to Delores Langston
    Dietrich! One day some idiot brought a snake on board and began tossing it
    about on a loaded bus! Everyone was freaking out!

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