No Business Like “bus” Business…


school bus 2


I get asked how I come up with topics for my weekly blogs.

Many times, it’s something connected to current events that triggers my brain.

Frankly, ideas sometimes just flutter into my head like maple tree seeds.

So, that’s how this one happened.

I didn’t write it hoping for a  free bus ride somewhere.

So, why do we call them buses?

It’s from the Latin word “omnibus” which means “everyone”.

Actually, what triggered this “bus business” was due to a Facebook friend who mentioned he and I waiting for the school bus in our neighborhood many, many years ago.

At the time, our district had one of those nifty, snub-nosed buses (bus #8).

We rode it quite a bit to Wooster Heights and Madison Junior High…before we got too “cool” to ride the school bus and either drove ourselves or road with a buddy who had a car.

Fellow Ram marching band drummer Jim McLead’s Dad drove our bus for many years and I also remember “Gramps”, the bus driver that crossed swords with my neighborhood buddy, Lon Gardner, from time to time.

There was a film in 1956 called “Bus Stop” which starred Marilyn Monroe and Don Murray and it’s been done as a small theater production many times.

How about “The Hollies” and their 1966 hit, “Bus Stop.”

“Bus stop, wet day. She’s there. I say, ‘Please share my umbrella.’ Bus stop, bus goes, she stays. Love grows, under my umbrella.”

One of my favorite “British Invasion” tunes.

One of my most memorable bus trips was from my hometown to the military processing center near Columbus, Ohio in 1969.

I remember looking out the back of the bus and seeing my fiance`, and eventual wife, Geneva, crying while my Dad had his arm around her shoulder.

It was the last time I would see him alive.

He died about a month later while I was in USAF basic training in San Antonio, TX.

Another bus trip of note was from San Antonio, TX to Wichita Falls, TX later in the fall of 1969.

I was headed to Sheppard AFB for tech school and we made the nearly 400 mile trip via bus.

I don’t know for a fact but I suspect we took Texas state highway 16 since we passed through lots of small, nondescript towns on the 7+ hour excursion.

I remember getting out of the bus for a “potty and snack” break and I saw my first tumbleweeds rolling down the town’s main street.

It was like a scene from the 1971 movie, “The Last Picture Show”.

Bus travel started in 1662 when Blaise Pascal invented the first horse-drawn bus in Paris.

Since the cost to ride that bus was pretty steep, it sort of faded away until 1812 when those horse-drawn buses returned.

In the 1830’s, steam-powered buses began to operate, followed in 1882 by the electric trolley bus.

In 1895, the first internal combustion bus was invented.

By the way, did you know that prior to the 1920’s buses had curtains instead of windows?

In 1827 we find the first horse-drawn school bus, created by George Shillibeer for the Quaker school in London.

Why are school buses yellow, you ask?

It’s because the color attracts attention and is noticed  better than any other color in our peripheral vision.

I think it’s safe to say that if you hear the word “bus” you either think of a yellow school bus or perhaps a Greyhound.

That bus line started with its’ first route in Hibbing, Minnesota in 1914, ferrying iron ore miners from Hibbing to Alice.

It cost 15 cents.

Where’d the “Greyhound” name come from?

A bus route operator (Ed Stone) noticed the reflection of the 1920’s era bus in a store window and he thought it looked like a greyhound dog.

Today, Greyhound serves 3,800 destinations around the country.

In 1956, the company came up with that great marketing theme, “Go Greyhound and Leave the Driving to Us”.

The company used that slogan into the 80’s.

Starting in 1972 and for roughly 40 years, Greyhound had the “Ameripass” which translated into “99 Days for $99.”

The “Ameripass” provided bus transportation anywhere and anytime for a dollar a day.

Commercial bus travel is considered by many to be passe` but there is a mode of bus transportation that works for me.

Since retiring, my bride and I have taken several motor coach trips and I’ll tell you, I prefer it to commercial air travel.

Roomier. More comfortable. More neat things to say and do while traveling.

You see parts of this country you normally can’t see when you’re thousands of feet up in the air.

Of course, they haven’t invented a bus that travels travels over oceans…yet!

(I know. They’re called “cruise ships.”)

How about some more bus “odds and ends”?

The world’s largest is supposed to be China’s “Neoplan Jumbocruiser”.

Sounds grotesque.

It has 3 sections, 5 doors and can haul up to 300 riders.

(Can you say, “human sardines?”)

And, if you think bus travel is too slow, well, Wisconsin native Paul Stender  fitted a school bus with an F-4  Phantom jet engine.

“Jet Car Paul” says he did that “to inspire kids to stay off drugs”.

This fire-breathing school bus generates 42,000 horsepower.

It was clocked at 367 miles an hour.

Too fast for most school zones around here.

Might be the only bus requiring a drogue chute!

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