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Taking a bus into the past

Carrol Vertrees

Carrol Vertrees

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Updated: July 24, 2013 6:20AM



When I was matriculating or whatever it is that I did in school, I came and went via a wonderful invention called a school bus. Big, bouncy vehicles, cold in winter and a bit warm in the spring.

Only one kid, as I remember, had access to a car — he lived close enough to walk, which he usually did. His name was Charles Edsel Ross — his dad was co-owner of the Ford garage in beautiful downtown Elnora. Edsel was an old Ford name. Charles Edsel was a better product than the Edsel car, and he lasted a lot longer.

I think of our inspired generation every time I drive past Hobart’s wonderful high school during the school year. Car after car. It probably is that way at many schools.

It is a long school bus ride from my generation to this one, in more ways than I can count, even with the aid of my trusty computer. Ah, technology. The world changer.

Most town kids walked to school back home, but we farm kids rode buses and had fun on the rides. I remember seeing an unfolding romance right there in the bus — this kid who became a successful lawyer and a neighbor girl held hands most of the time, and seemed oblivious to the rest of us.

A few years later they got married, and I in my grasp of proper societal behavior, said to no one in particular that “After their public display in the bus, it is good that they got married.”

Kids in my day did not carry huge backpacks filled with books, cell phones and who knows what. A paper bag with some lunch was about it. Do not ask me what was in my bag. Actually, our noon meal was dinner, hence the term “dinner buckets” that some fortunate kids carried.

I remember hearing politicians talking about “a car in every garage,” or something like that. Now I hear educators talking about “a computer in every room.”

Computers are essential, I think. But they do get in the way of what kids used to do for just fun — you know, frolicking on the playground, running, stuff like that. I think schools should teach that again.

I was on the edge of technology when I learned to type — few boys bothered, but of course I was an intellectual wonder. Well. I do recall a couple of the training sentences in typing, like “It is the duty of a man to do me a turn if he can and he is to do so.” Or something like that.

I think of similar heavy adages when I tackle my computer keyboard, and I feel so proud.

Recalling things as they were years ago may be either a symptom of regression, or a sign of appreciative remembering. Modern schools are making their own memories. Maybe generations from now, they will seem quaint. I wonder what kids will carry in their backpacks and where they will eat lunch or have fun on the playground. Will lovebirds hold hands on their buses? Will they text while driving to school?

In my kid culture, women teachers were unmarried and went by their first names, like Miss Ada, etc. Male teachers went by Mr. Jones, etc. One of the mister fellows paddled me when I was in sixth grade, and from then on, I silently called him something else. Not sir or mister.

A lot of this hit me one afternoon when a string of traffic from Hobart High School poured out of the parking lots. I had time to think of it all while waiting for a lane to clear.

Another of those typing training sentences was: “Every good man should come to the aid of his country.” That’s a good one for any generation, even if I remember it wrong.



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