The following article by David Strange appeared in The Courier-Journal on 31 Aug 2014. It is archived here with additional information for your reading enjoyment.
I sometimes imagine myself as a bus driver. Then I break out in a panic sweat and quickly think better of it. It takes a special kind of person to drive a big modern bus packed with (I'll say it politely) "active" children.
My father-in-law, James Arvil Harris, could do it, and did for many years as a contract driver for Jefferson County Schools. My brother-in-law, Marvin Cundiff, could also do it. Indeed, he expanded into his own bus company, becoming the "C" in "DC Tours".
Driving school buses has always taken a special kind of person, even when buses weren't buses.
Back in the 1920's, Bullitt County school teacher Billy Rouse picked up kids in his Model T car on the way to school in order to help them attend. Adrian Jones, at just 14 years old, started driving fellow students to school from the Pleasant Grove area. When Adrian was brought before Judge C. P. Bradbury (who, by the way, had been school superintendent a few years before becoming Judge), Bradbury saw that Adrian was bringing kids to school who might otherwise not have made it. The Judge wrote a special order allowing Adrian to drive, even though he was way under age. Adrian carried the order with him in case he was ever stopped. Years later, Adrian Jones became Shepherdsville mayor.
The first official Bullitt County school bus that I know of was a 1925 Model T bus. I have a photo of it, dated 1929, sitting outside Bowman Valley School, a school that some good folks are struggling to save right now. The writing on the back of the photo says that Mr. Masden was the driver. I was commenting one day that this little bus would have been miserable to ride in, with no heat and just canvas for windows. But then someone reminded me that in those days, when students had to walk long distances in all weather, a little bus like that would have seemed like luxury.
To this day, I vividly recall my traumatic first ride on a school bus. It was first grade, 1958. Bus 451. I did very good going to school. Mom saw me off like so many mothers have done over the years.
Ah, but the ride home was quite another story for a little boy with a Type-A personality like me. The bus used a circuitous route, passing by my house as it traveled along a busy road, and then circling around through the subdivision, so it could stop more safely directly at my house.
But all I knew was that I saw my house, AND WE WERE PASSING IT! I had not yet really developed a life horizon much beyond that house and I WAS NOT going to miss my stop, going on to who knows where! The very next time the bus stopped to let some students off, I shot out that open bus door, crossed the busy road, and ran across Mr. Neady's yard to my home.
Home! All was well when I got home. Then, of course, it was explained to me by my panicked mother and bus driver that I only had to be patient and wait for the bus to come around to the side road where I was supposed to get off.
Today, there are 115 school buses in the Bullitt County system. There are over 1100 in Jefferson County. Every one of them are loaded several times each day with "active" children and driven by all-enduring men and women.
Thank you, Bus Drivers.
You are awesome.
Copyright 2014 by David Strange, Shepherdsville KY. All rights are reserved. No part of the content of this page may be included in any format in any place without the written permission of the copyright holder.