A few days ago, I was walking home from the supermarket and while doing so, passed some children who were waiting for their school bus to pick them up.
I'm so glad I have a very good memory. I can remember my very first school bus ride in kindergarten and my last one as a high school senior. The first one started badly, as the driver didn't know he was supposed to pick me up. He drove by and then stopped, realizing what had happened.
For a five year old, not the best way to start the whole experience of going to school. And later that day, I had no idea which bus I was supposed to get on. So, I picked one at random.
Bad idea. I wound up so lost it's not even the least bit funny. Now, keep in mind the time frame we're dealing with. It's 1971, and there are no cell phones. There are no GPS systems on board. I had one of the teachers sitting next to me, who kept asking me as gently as anyone ever could, where I lived.
All I could say the first several times was "the trailer park", which in our area, was of little use as there were more parks than you could begin to keep track of. Finally, the thought I needed so desperately popped into my head.
"Kellum Road", I said, and right away the driver knew where I was supposed to be, more or less. When I got home, my mom was very relieved. She made sure that such an incident would never happen again by pinning a note with my bus number to my jacket.
The last ride I took as a senior was as the sole passenger on one of the smaller buses. That was because I was the only student on the route who had a final exam that afternoon.
In between, I had rides that were scary, as when the road was flooded and the driver barely got the bus turned around. We all went back to school and waited for the water to recede. I had rides that were fun from the minute we got on board to the time we got off, as in one of the times our driver let us listen to the radio on the way home. The song "Billie Jean" was a huge hit at the time and we all sang along with Michael Jackson.
And then there were the field trips, all taken on those wonderful yellow buses. Museum tours, going to an opera, going to regional conventions for various national student groups, and of course, the two extended trips to the city of Quebec.