World War II essentially killed dad’s business of moving dirt and building reservoirs. His help was drafted and getting parts was difficult.
Consequently dad operated a ranch 13 miles south of town where there was no phone or electricity. However, there was a path to the outhouse and a coal oil lamp to do homework and read by.
I stayed with dad and he took me in a 1941 Chevy pickup about a mile to catch the bus on school days. The bus was a 1940 Studebaker four door sedan car. If all of the students were there, seven of us crowded into the bus. Three of us were very small and there were four larger students including the driver.
Prior to the busing days, it was a common practice that when a student was ready for high school that the student would room and board with a family in town during the week. The parents would take the student home for the weekend and take them back to town for the week of school. There were several ladies in town that provided room and board for the students at the rate of $1 per day. There were many one-room schools scattered throughout the county that provided an eighth-grade education. That ended the education for many students back then.
The bus was chained up a lot and got stuck occasionally. When that happened, everyone got out and pushed to help the bus get unstuck. The county roads were not plowed often. Miraculously I do not remember leaving the bus and walking to the nearest ranch or having to bum a ride from another passing car.
I had always heard stories of about how tough a bantam (banty) rooster was. I had a chance to buy one from John Land for 25 cents. I transported the rooster home on the bus. I could hardly wait to get home and turn the little rooster loose in the barnyard. I wanted to see the banty thrash our big ornery barnyard rooster. I was terribly disappointed when our barnyard rooster made short work of the banty. I managed to save the banty’s life, but John’s mother was dissatisfied with the deal and made me return the rooster. She gave me back my 25 cents. I was a happy camper because the banty rooster was a flop anyway.
The Thompson boys, Neil and Earnest, were the bus drivers. They were in high school and they like to be in town where the action and the girls were. My dad said, “If there was a howling blizzard, the boys would chain up and shovel all the way to town. On the other hand, if there was one snowflake in the air, it was too tough to try to drive the bus on the route to the ranch.”
After WWII the Studebaker care was replaced with a much better real bus. The route was extended and a licensed driver drove the bus. The road was well graveled and better maintained more often. There were a lot less problems, less crowding and an overall improvement in the busing service.
The Studebaker had served us well in its time!
Guest columnist Bob Huff grew up in Upton. He is a driver for the mini-bus managed by the Senior Center. “Center Stage is written by friends of the Senior Center for the Sheridan Community. It is a collection of insights and stories related to living well at every age.”