A school bus was a normal part of our everyday school life from first grade through near-graduation to graduation. The first school bus driver I remember was Mrs. Lewis. She was always patient with us kids.
We were one of the first stops on the way home and one of the last stops going to school. We were some of the first students off the bus and some of the last ones on the bus. This was handy when we didn't want to ride the bus a long time. But when I 'forgot' to do my homework, it didn't give me much time to do it or to study on the way to school. School was just a few miles away, whether the elementary and middle school in Reddick or the high school in Sparr. Most of my older siblings went to Reddick when the school went through the 12th grade. About Harold and Donald's time, North Marion High School was built near Sparr and the Reddick school went only to 8th grade after that.
On very cold mornings with heavy frost on the ground, we'd head out to the road to wait for the bus. Wearing patent leather shoes with slick soles, it was fun to run and then slide across the frost, It was almost as if it was a waxed floor. We'd all take turns, in a competition to see who could slide the farthest on the frost. Of course, the young ones would never win but we each had fun taking our own turn.
On other cold mornings and on rainy mornings, we'd all wait inside. One of us would stand inside the house by the window keeping watch. Of course, no one wanted that job. Everyone else could be reading, playing, or whatever they wanted but the one by the window had to keep his/her eyes glued on the spot where the bus would first appear. When the bus was first visible, 1/4 mile away, the one on watch one would yell "bus" and head out the door. We'd all hit the door just behind the watch kid, running out to the road and onto the bus. Mrs. Lewis wanted us right there on the proper side of the road when she drove up. She seemed to always understand rainy days and cold days.
Harold, Donald, Mother
Edith, Sandra, Stanley
It was quite a surprise when Mother came home with a school bus one day. We scrubbed the seats, all of which had turned black with mold over the long hot humid summer. Comet, bleach, rags, and scrub brushes were applied with a generous amount of elbow grease. We cleaned and cleaned the bus, preparing for school. It was exciting for the first half-hour or so. Then it was just plain old dirty work, accompanied with as much whining as we thought we could get away with. For me, the first week of school was always exciting, no matter what grade.
I'd normally ride all the way past our house and back to the house with Mother. Later, Daddy had a school bus too. Two buses were parked in our back yard for 8 or 9 months out of the year.
On the way home, Mother would normally stop at 'George Woods'. Mr. Woods owned a small grocery store in Lowell, a few miles away. We always called it "George Woods". We didn't go to the store, we went to "George Woods".
If I had the trash picked up from the bus floor, the bus swept out, and I was ready to sweep the dirt out the back door, I could have a candy bar and cold drink. When she turned off the motor at George Woods, I'd open the emergency back door and sweep out the dirt. A candy bar and cold drink was good payment for the job. I'd ride the whole trip just for the candy bar and cold drink.
Inside the store we'd go and I'd pick out my goodies.
Back then, we never said 'coke' or 'pop' or any other name for a carbonated beverage. Every carbonated beverage was a 'cold drink'. Water with ice in it was 'iced water'. Tea with ice in it was 'iced tea'. Coca-cola, Pepsi-cola, RC, Dr. Pepper; all of these were 'cold drinks'. Even if it wasn't in the refrigerator and it was the middle of the summer, if it was too hot to drink, it was still a 'cold drink'.